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!

Romantic realism: get rid of your “perfect man” checklist

Most single women I know have a list in some form or another of qualities their ideal partner should have. This list may be extensive or it may be short but either way it summarises a lifetime of accumulated hopes, dreams and desires about the kind of person they think and believe they would fall in love with.

Whilst I have never had a defined list per se, I am guilty of having some vague ideas of the kind of qualities I have looked for in a partner: number one being a sense of humour and a great personality (though doesn’t everyone say that?).

Seeing as there are billions of people on this planet I don’t think there is anything wrong with having some kind of filter which will help you to sort through the masses of people that pass us by everyday. Those filters exist everywhere in online dating sites and apps – they might be geographical, by height, interests, age – and they may be genuinely useful.

At the same time we should all remain open-minded about the fact that people can surprise us. Someone that we wouldn’t ordinary look twice at if we were to follow our ‘lists’ may have qualities that complement us perfectly.

When we connect with someone romantically there is something intangible that happens, it is chemical and it defies comprehension or description. For that reason we can’t expect to be able to find the person that connects with our body and soul through a long list of very specific qualities.

For us to be truly open to finding love, there needs to be room for discovery, for people to click with us in ways we weren’t expecting, and to realize that the person on your list, that ‘Mr. Perfect’, may not exist. Even if there is someone out there who meets that criteria, he may not be someone you click with romantically.

So next time you are on the look out for love, give someone new and different a chance. Try swiping right on someone out of the ordinary or engaging in a conversation with someone who may not be your exact type. You never know if someone might just surprise you.