Is more less when it comes to dating?

Remember when choices were as simple as “regular latte” or “skinny latte”? These days it’s more like “decaf latte, double shot, caramel syrup, half-soy, half-oat, 180-degrees, no-foam, with a sprinkle of chocolate powder on top”. Let me tell you something… the online dating landscape is not too dissimilar! The challenge these days for many singletons, particularly where dating apps are concerned, is not just about dishonesty, but decision-making as well.

Once upon a time I found dating apps fun and interesting but after using them for a few months, the novelty quickly wore off. Now I merely see them as tedious and exhausting… it’s like an endless stream of “potentials” along with endless swiping (left), every time I open the apps. While the barrage of choice should make connections easier, it also makes us more picky. Whether we’re looking for something better or just completely overlooking, do we miss a good opportunity when it’s presented right in front of our eyes?

The paradox of choice

“Maximising” is a term coined by Barry Schwartz, a psychology professor at Swarthmore College and author of “The Paradox of Choice”. Briefly summarised, “maximisers” are those who believe the grass is always greener on the other side. This particular pool of people treat dating and relationships very much like clothing. They might try a few options before committing to the right item, perhaps they’ll stay on the look out “just in case” or if they really can’t decide, it’s possible they’ll end up with two similar garments and flit between them. The only difference is, there’s no refunds or exchanges in the dating world! Have you ever found yourself in this type of situation? I know I have… and I’m talking metaphorically and literally.

I once dated two guys at the same time… whilst also lightly entertaining three others potentials just because I could. Normally I’m someone that likes to stick with one person, at least that way they can have my full attention plus it means less faffing around. But for the sake of trying out a new strategy, I decided to run an A/B split test.

The subjects

Although the two had very different personalities, I found them equally attractive. Guy #1 was the extrovert. In a nutshell I’d describe him as extremely social, well dressed, nicely built, perfect height, super chatty, great fun, hilarious, confident but not cocky. Guy #2 was quite the opposite. Totally introverted. Had a whole lot less to say but any time he opened his mouth, there was good, intellectual substance behind his words. Slightly more mature in the mind which was a nice change in comparison to other men I’ve dated previously! A little on the short side( though that didn’t bug me too much), kinda geeky, generous, thoughtful, well put together and also had a great build!

Activity

After a couple months in, I realised it was getting a bit too much! Multi-dating is honestly so mentally and physically draining. It’s the constant upkeep of texting back and forth trying to maintain several conversations at once, managing dates to ensure there’s no clashes, getting paranoid in case one guy would see me with the other, the effort of getting dressed up to actually go out on these dates (between 3-4 times a week!) …all of this while you’re still trying to suss them out. And that’s just the dating side of my life! Your mind is always in a pickle about which one to eventually kick to the curb, not to mention date requests coming in from the other potentials! This was a mess. It was time to optimise the strategy.

Results

So I ended up getting rid of both guys… and deleted all apps from my phone. Sometimes that’s the way it needs to be. Truthfully I was getting bored and felt overwhelmed with the whole dating palaver. I couldn’t be arsed to make a choice and I definitely couldn’t be bothered to go on any more new dates. It was all unnecessary drama that I didn’t need in my life.

What I found particularly interesting about the “A/B test” was the correlation between my handling of the situation and one of the studies discussed in Schwartz’s book. It concluded that while having increased options can be beneficial to a certain point, giving people too much choice would likely cause poor decision making, feelings of dissatisfaction, regret, or we become exhausted and make no decision at all!

If you think about it, it’s not just dating where we might experience over-abundance of options. It happens in everyday life. At restaurants when looking at a menu, down each aisle during grocery shopping, choosing a Netflix film to watch, figuring out which stocks to invest in, etc. Dating apps are great in bringing you closer to someone compatible, but if you’re hitting it off with one person and still have another 78 others waiting for you to match with them; is it worth having a look through? Or do we focus on this one person and keep those as part of an “emergency stash”?
In my opinion, if you’re someone who is actually serious about making a real, long term connection then the approach needs to be adjusted to fit your objective. Here are a few of my suggestions/thoughts:

1. If you have multiple dating apps, why not stick with your preferred one? At least this will cut down your swipes and choices.

2. If you’re already dating/chatting to someone, spend the time to get to know them properly before jumping ship. Don’t be quick to judge and learn to give people the benefit of the doubt… no one is perfect!

3. We need to stop treating a people as if they’re disposable or some type of commodity. It’s only fair to base a person on his or her own merits and not in comparison to 3, 5 or 10 other people. If I’ve instantly clicked with someone and things have progressed to a second date then they definitely warrant 100% of my attention.

Are we burning ourselves out with all these matches?

Dating apps… there are far too many options out there (I’m talking apps and potentials), it’s been said that the golden rule of dating is to never put all your eggs in once basket. I’m not opposed to this, however if you’re not on your A-game or you’re a newbie to dating apps, this multi dating palaver can quickly become confusing, tedious, tiring and kind of messy! I know because I used to be a multi-dater once upon a time. I got to a point where I was having 3 dates a week. And no I’m not bragging here. It was fun and a great laugh at first, but I started pondering… is it really worth the time and energy? Is multi dating truly the way forward in search of a suitable partner?

Repeating the same small talk, asking the same questions to X number of guys over and over — while also trying to remember what they’ve/you’ve said… it’s far too exhausting! Keeping up with several conversations simultaneously meant that I had to leverage my organisational skills (good thing I’ve worked in Project Management). I used to have copy and paste questions (and answers) saved in my phone notes! Basically a bunch of templates. Cheeky huh? It was certainly an efficient way of doing things… but in hindsight, I probably shouldn’t have treated dating as if it were some kind of routine/chore! 😬

Multi dating = Multi confusion?

So I refrained from multi dating strategy and wanted to share my reasons why:

1. As mentioned above. Small talk. It’s necessary but painful… and I’d rather not multiply the number of times I have to do it.
2. I love getting glammed up… but truthfully it’s effort! For me, I’m either dressed to the nines to looking like a peasant — there’s no in-between!
3. When you’re not quite getting that spark and you have to drop the awkward “I’ve had a great time, you’re lovely but…” message. Eeek.
4. Constantly looking over my shoulder during a dating incase I get caught by one of the other dudes!
5. Guilt. I know I shouldn’t feel guilty but… I have a good heart! I feel so bad if a guy starts pouring their feelings out and it’s not mutual.

Some people start wondering whether the grass is greener on the other side. Dating then becomes a numbers game and everyone feels disposable. The problem is that this way of thinking doesn’t allow you to properly connect with someone — keeping one foot out the door ultimately means your efforts are half-hearted.

By the way, how you choose to date is totally up to you. I’m merely sharing my experiences 🙂 So why did I multi-date in the first place? Well I’m not going to lie, boredom was the main reason. But in the early stages of dating (especially when you don’t actually know what you’re looking for) it’s nice to connect with different types of people, have a laugh, suss out what type of people you gel with, what qualities/characteristics you like in a person and what you don’t. Then if you happen to share mutual interests, values, humour and enjoy each other’s company then great! I do think multi dating is ideal for those who prefer to keep it casual… although I know people who do it for the ego boost.

Providing that you’re someone who’s unsure about what you’re looking for, here are some other reasons why multi dating can be a good idea:

1. It prevents you from becoming too attached (if that’s your dating style).
2. You won’t feel the pressure or need to rush things.
3. You’ll have a clearer, more rational observation of individual traits you like and dislike.

Why do you want this position?

Multi dating is like being an employer, you’re looking for the right person to fill a role. The first stage is essentially pre-screening, you know… going through their photos and bios (CV), then selecting candidates to match and chat with. I think my record is holding 17 different conversations across 4 apps at one time — I won’t be doing that again! 😬

Then comes the process of elimination. If the conversation is dead, you unmatch. If all goes well and the candidate has kept my interest then they move to second stage (WhatsApp, maybe a phone or video call). A little after this point, if I haven’t blocked them yet, then it’s final stage (setting up a date). Scheduling dates was a bit of a madness… I had to keep a diary to remember who I was seeing and when. Many articles advise letting the other party know that you’re dating around from the start, I don’t think that’s necessary, but that’s just me.

Disclaimer: My definition of multi dating isn’t having a full blown relationship with multiple people. Nor does it mean I get intimate with every single guy at the same time! Once I’m into someone and the feeling is reciprocated, I cut ties with the others.

Conclusion

I think multi dating is kinda long! I guess my attitude around it has changed, I honestly can’t be arsed! These days I’d prefer to invest time in one person. It requires less effort, I don’t get caught up in any complications, it’s an opportunity to get to know someone on a deeper level without other “distractions”, it’s respectful, and if things don’t work out then it’s just a simple case of dropping them, moving on to the next one or chilling! Why make life more difficult right? What’s your take on it?