The Paradox of Choice: Why having a plethora of options is causing Vancouverites to choose none

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One of the most common criticisms of our wonderful city is how difficult dating is here. If you’re single and you live in a city like Vancouver full of beautiful, smart and sexy singles, you have options – lots of options. According to Statistics Canada, Vancouver’s single men and women make up half our population. While you’re nodding your heads and wondering what the problem is, I actually just stated the issue: too many options.

Too much choice is ruining dating in Vancouver. Popular dating apps such as Tinder, POF and Match.com provide us with effortless access to all of these options, leaving us with plenty of opportunity at our fingertips. This, however, is not always a good thing and can lead to dating stagnation.

Having too many options certainly overwhelms Vancouverites. Even worse, we end up alone during our prime because the deceptive perception of something better always being around the corner can cause us to never just choose someone and stop looking. Perhaps this is why “Vancouver Women are the Pickiest in Canada” and “Vancouver men suck.” It’s likely we will take for granted an amazing catch – someone special who we meet and discard.

No matter how great any one option seems, you can’t seem to stop looking because one particular option may not be as great as another option out there, right? This mindset couldn’t be more misguided. Thinking that you have a ton of amazing options to choose from makes it difficult to choose, so you choose no one – and that’s getting you nowhere.

The paradox of choice causes the single men and women of Vancouver to feel lonely even while surrounded by options because they have trouble choosing when there is so much choice. This could be why so many Vancouverites inadvertently choose to remain single, neglecting promising opportunities that present themselves. The privilege of being able to choose may be more detrimental to your dating life than it is advantageous.

Being picky is not the only problem

It’s not simply a matter of Vancouver singles being hesitant, picky or indecisive. Yes, if you happen to be seeing more than one person who you have feelings for, indecisiveness comes into play. However, other problems include narrow-mindedness, greed and a sense of entitlement.

The issue is not that you are too choosy, the issue is that there is too much choice – choice that you eagerly indulge in often, whether it’s because you can’t bring yourself to delete that dating app or you can’t help but be interested in someone else even if you’re already dating someone amazing.

It is choice that causes you to be extremely picky, and it is choice that causes your narrow-mindedness. It’s common to also feel entitled to something or someone better because of your awareness of your city’s options.

The privilege of choice causes ridiculously high expectations

The more options Vancouverites have the privilege to choose from, the pickier they become. Someone has to really stand out among all of those options to get our attention. Our expectations are too high. If you keep second-guessing whether or not a man or woman is right for you, you’ll lose out on scoring someone amazing.

Dating uncertainty caused by too much choice

Having too much choice makes us second-guess ourselves. Having options can be quite confusing. It is common to feel uncertain when you start to get serious with someone because you start to second-guess whether or not he or she is the right one. It’s easy to think “the right one is still out there” when dating apps like POF, Tinder and Match.com are constantly reminding you just how many really are “still out there.” It’s quite the modern dating dilemma.

While many people agree that in general, too much choice can complicate life, one of the biggest believers in this theory is Dr. David Schwartz. In 2004, he wrote an influential book entitled The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less, in which he points out that having so much choice causes us to be unsatisfied with any one choice.

The feeling of uncertainty when you’re dating someone great but you aren’t sure how you feel is a common problem in Vancouver. It is caused by us feeling unsatisfied with a prospect because we’re sure we’d be settling, and we’re sure we could do better – but if what if we’re wrong? The more choices we have, the less content we will be with someone, no matter how great he or she is – unless we stop letting those choices distract us and instead focus on who is in front of us.

Vancouver’s hookup culture is caused by the plethora of options

The hookup culture is thriving in Vancouver. Casual hookups are a dime a dozen, but what about meaningful relationships that leave you feeling fulfilled and at peace instead of empty, anxious and alone? Having a plethora of options is tempting us to participate solely in the hookup culture instead of being content with one person – no matter how wonderful he or she is.

While hooking up is fun – and easy due to our accessibility to singles via dating apps – it’s not getting us anywhere.

Earlier generations of Vancouverites were not as distracted by options

Our parent’s generation found it much simpler to choose a partner. There were no dating apps available to them, and they were not provided with a plethora of options. When they met someone special, they held on to that person. The choice was easy to be with that person because there were not a lot of options to begin with, and no distractions complicating their relationships.

Online dating has tremendous advantages, but our parents didn’t have online dating and they were blissfully ignorant to who else was available to them. Granted, they may not have had as easy a time meeting someone, but this made their dating decisions much easier.

Conquering dating difficulty caused by too much choice

If the amount of choice you have is causing you to feel uncertain about someone you are dating, ask yourself: Is this person a good catch? How sure are you that you could do better than this person? Have you given this person a real chance, and really gotten to know them yet? The solution is to forget about the fact that you have other options and focus on the prospect in question for awhile, just to be sure.

If you put your other options out of your mind and spend some quality time with one person, the results will likely be quite positive. Your feelings for them will grow with time, especially if during that time you are not distracted by other options. For example, if you used a dating app to meet someone, that’s great – but delete that dating app once you’ve met someone with whom you feel a connection, especially if you feel that they possess the qualities you are looking for.

A good catch isn’t as common to find as you might think. It may take self-discipline to see where things go with one person rather than continue looking, but the rewards of a fulfilling relationship with someone special are well worth sacrificing other options. Vancouver may have a lot to offer when it comes to beautiful, smart and sexy singles, but don’t let FOMO get the best of you.

 

Feature image: Girls kissing guy via Shutterstock

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Erica Gordon Erica Gordon Majored in Psychology at UBC and has a passion for writing and journalism. She works in the glorious dating industry and moonlights as a freelance writer. You can read more of her articles and get an inside scoop into the minds of both sexes on her awesome advice column TheBabeReport.com or follow her on Instagram @ericaleighgordon.

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