Romance in the Tinder age: the paradox of choice

I have had many conversations with my friends about the uninspiring treadmill that is the dating scene. In London it seems to be particularly atrocious though it can be hard to pinpoint exactly why this is.

London is a city with a population of over 8 million people. Reports indicate that in 2014 25% of people living in Inner London and 16% in Outer London were aged 25 to 34. What this shows is that there are a lot of young adults living in London. I don’t know exactly how many of these people are single but my guess is that the dating pool of unattached singletons should be vast. Maybe that is where the problem lies.

A couple of years ago I read a fantastic book called The Paradox Of Choice, which argues that excessive choice can paralyse our ability to make decisions and leave us less satisfied with the choices we do make.

When applied to dating it would seem that having all those young people on the dating scene doesn’t necessarily make things easier. In fact, it would suggest that the more fish there are in the sea, the harder it is to catch one.

That may be because there are plenty of other fish that catch your attention all at the same time, which creates paralysis and reluctance to stick with just the one fish. Or once a fish has been chosen there is less contentment with that choice, leaving fears that better options could be out there ready to be caught. Okay, enough with the fishing analogies!

Dating apps don’t exactly make things easier. In fact I think that they exacerbate the problem. In the past people would traditionally have met their partners through friends, or work, or some kind of social activity and the pool of people available to date would have seemed to be relatively small.

With dating apps the options appear to be limitless. On Tinder you may match with hundreds of people all living within a 5 mile radius of you. While this may seem great, for one reason or another many guys then go on to waste away most of the matches they get by sending monosyllabic messages, ignoring them or sending them a lewd message that is only hilarious in hindsight once posted to the Tinder Nightmares feed. In fairness, I am sure some women do this too (I just don’t know about them).

When dates do get arranged many have a one date mentality, which consists of going on a date and if there is no immediate connection, moving on to the next, and then the next, until you have had 20 dates with different people in a one month period.

So what is the answer? I think there is something to be said for going on a date with someone and giving them a chance if there is even a glimmer of a spark which might develop over multiple dates. First impressions may not be the best indicator of a person’s true qualities, especially when first date nerves are also involved.

What we can take from all of this is that dating in London is hard. Perhaps it is time to start giving people second (and third and fourth) dates so that you can narrow those choices down and invest more in people. Hopefully that will eventually lead you to someone you really connect with, which will save you from that nasty paradox of choice!

12 thoughts on “Romance in the Tinder age: the paradox of choice

  1. I absolutely have had similar experiences in the US, so it’s not just a London thing. I saw a video where someone was talking about how social media made it more difficult to cultivate true relationships, and Tinder dating is the most obvious example of that very thing, only you worded it better. Thank you for sharing!

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    1. Thanks for your feedback Elizabeth! It does seem that social media and the proliferation of mobile technology in general has made it easier to meet people but also more difficult in many ways. Let’s hope that as time goes on people adapt and find better ways to form relationships through technology.

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      1. There was a time when I would have wished for the technology just to go away, but that doesn’t seem likely. Fingers crossed people grow to use the technology wisely!

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    1. I love Aziz Ansari! Yes, it’s a really tough time to be single. Despite all of the difficulties modern daters face, I hope we are still able to cut through it all when we meet someone we connect with. That is all that counts in the end!

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      1. I honestly feel the same. Also I highly recommend his book. He actually took a year off of comedy to do research with psychologist to understand romantic relationships today.

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    1. A couple of my friends have met people on Tinder too. There are many genuine people out there though I do find that the excessive amount of choice makes it difficult for even the most genuine people to settle on one person. I think when you find someone who is right for you those issues do go away though.

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  2. I think part of the problem with dating apps/sites is that they are so cold and sterile. I grew up before those things and met people face to face; like you said, networking and such. It was far easier for me because I could get a feel for what they were like and respond accordingly, which is extremely difficult when all you see are words on a screen.

    Now you can look for other people and decide based on a picture and maybe a bio, which has a decidedly unsettling feel to it. It’s like you’re shopping for a sweater in a magazine, and that’s about as impersonal and unemotional as you can get. Of course, people will still judge you based on shallow criteria either way you do it, but it’s easier to be dismissive when you don’t even interact with the other person. I gave up on them years ago for that very reason, and I don’t think I’ll ever go back.

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    1. I know what you mean, apps and online sites do feel very impersonal. There is something vital that is missing from the process. Meeting someone in person gives you a much better gauge of who they are and whether there is any connection. It is a double edged sword as apps seem to have made it harder to meet people ‘in real life’ now. Despite that, many people I know are giving up on the apps and hope to meet someone organically.

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