But that whole approach is fueled by an expectation that our search for love is like finding a needle in a haystack. And from what I’ve seen, love doesn’t often work that way. Having too many choices is in itself inefficient and fantasy inducing.
In my view, love is best found not in a haystack but in a pea pod. Here are your five peas. Or maybe nine peas. The anthropologist Helen Fisher claims that a human brain can reasonably consider only nine or 10 choices; beyond that, they turn to noise. So if you were to limit yourself to nine people and get to know them, give each a chance, you’d probably fall in love with one.
Even so, I’m not one of those people who moan about how dating apps make things worse. It’s just different, much the way online shopping differs from brick-and-mortar.
When shopping online, you buy more stuff because it’s so easy. Then you probably fantasize a little more about your new shoes or flying drone as you await their arrival, which means you’re going to be disappointed more often because the shoes don’t fit or the drone is poorly made. So you return them and start over — same as with the average online date. In the store, meanwhile, all of that trying on and rejecting would have happened in real time, much like getting to know and rejecting people at the bar or a party happens in real time, leaving you little time to fantasize.
What’s particularly misleading about online dating is how everyone on the site is trying to seduce you. They’re trying to seduce everyone. They’re all saying, “Date me!”
When you walk into a bar, does everyone rush up to you with a big smile and a glowing résumé? No. Everyone ignores you. But online, a little piece of you…