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Online Dating - Giving Singles a Real Chance
Americans are good at shopping. Americans are very good at shopping. And, most Americans are also extremely good at shopping online. We can compare all the products and versions to find the absolute best one for us. We compare all the features, all the specifications of all the competing products before selecting the one which has the most bells and whistles, the least compromise. Then we do the same thing when looking for the absolute best deal to purchase that absolute best product. We are truly very good at this process. We’ve had a lot of practice. So, naturally when we look online for our match we transfer our online shopping talents to our online dating. But, is that a good idea?
“His nose is too big.” “She could lose some weight.” “He has too much hair.” “He doesn’t have enough hair.” Each of us who have jumped into the online dating pool have had thoughts like these immediately after opening someone’s online dating profile, and just before we click away to the next one. In fact, the whole look, judge, and look for the next one process usually happens within only a few seconds. What could we possibly know about that person we’ve just crossed off our mental list of possible matches forever, in just a few seconds? Is anything we do know in that few seconds of any real value to us as a decision point? Are we helping ourselves, or hurting ourselves? Did we just miss out on someone extremely special and possibly right for us simply because of a bad picture?
We rule out the vast majority of potential matches based on extremely quick judgments which are based on very little real information. Someone’s profile is an abstraction of who they are. When we post our online dating profile, we intend to put our best foot forward but how well do we do that? Does our abstraction of ourselves actually do us justice? Some people end up posting pictures that are not nearly as attractive as they really are, in person. Frankly, some people are just better at advertising themselves online than others. So, when we apply our critical shopping comparison eye we may not actually be comparing apples to apples, as we go from dating profile to dating profile.
In addition, as important as physical appearance is in our society, those attributes do fade; no matter how hard the plastic surgeons try to stem the tide. What are we left with then? Do we discard our partner for a newer model? And, if the overriding dating currency is physical appearance, and our own superficial attributes have faded over time as well, what do we have left to purchase that new model with? What do we want from our partners anyway? Do we want to show them off to others? Or, might we want them to be there for us and love us, for exactly who we are, as our looks fade and the sands of our time slip down the hourglass? How do we judge those types of traits, those types of abilities, in a glance at a digital abstraction of who they really are?
So, let’s say we do get past the difficult superficial dating hurdle and we actually email each other a couple of times. There is another aspect of our shopping expertise that seems to come into play at this point. It is our tiny attention span. We have become so good at combing through product literature, warehouse store inventory, and online stores that our attention span has become extremely short. It is a necessary thing, really, if you are going to be an expert shopper in a world where there are almost infinite choices. But how does it affect our email exchanges at such a critical point in our dating journey?
When we have decided to give someone a chance by exchanging a few emails, all too often it seems as if we are looking for any opportunity to rule them out, rather than reasons to rule them in. This is most efficient, allowing you to get on to the next product as soon as this particular product, err…person, says something that isn’t exactly perfect or fits like a glove into your current life. But, emails are often misunderstood. Emails are most accurately interpreted when the parties know each other extremely well. When, in this case, the parties haven’t even met, and know very little about each other, emails are almost always interpreted incorrectly, despite people’s best intentions of clarity.
Perhaps the most difficult hurdle of all though comes after we’ve managed to get over the hurdles of emails and phone conversations. And, it is also a direct result of the extremely short attention span we expert consumers have. It is when we’ve actually met and found our possible match. It happens after we’ve had a great time with each other on our first date, or first few dates. We’ve been impressed. We’ve laughed. We’ve had fun. We’ve seen things in each other that make us believe we might ultimately be able to get to mutual trust, mutual respect, and mutual appreciation. We see signs that this might be possible. They might actually be the match we’ve been looking for. But, as soon as we get home, away from their presence, away from the great feeling of joy that we’ve just experienced, we seemingly can’t resist seeing what is behind door number three…
So, we log back on, to check our emails from other perspective matches. We end up searching the online dating shopping store a little more. The great date experience we’ve just had starts to fade a little from our mind as we check out other potential matches, as we continue email conversations with other prospective dates. And then, we get that little twinge inside when we see that the person we just had such a great experience with just logged back on to the dating site as well. Ouch. How could they?! After we just shared… Oh, yeah, we’re both back online…
So, our really great connection just, in only a few hours, turned a little less special, a little less than what it really was, all because of our short shopper attention span mentality. What can we do about all of this?
We could try to give people a little more consideration, a little more compassion and understanding. We could take the time to really read the dating profiles of perspective matches. We could be a little more tolerant of email exchanges. We could give our prospective match the precious gift of our attention, at least until we find out, conclusively, we aren’t a match. We could just truly give people a real chance with us. If we did, we might find the best gift we gave away was actually addressed to ourselves.