How to cope with too much choice when dating online

by Charly Lester - June 10, 2016

As online dating has developed, so has the number of romantic options available out there. But what can you do when you’re paralysed by choice? And how do you know if you’ve finally found ‘the one’? Charly Lester explains

Choice is a funny thing, isn’t it? We all think that we want more, but then there’s a point where the choices just become too overwhelming, like looking at a menu that’s ten pages long. What if you choose the wrong option? Yes, it might be okay, but what if something on the next page would have been even better?

As online dating has developed, our net of options as singletons has become wider and wider. We’re no longer restricted to relationships with people we meet at work or in our area; we can find love on the other side of the world at the touch of a button. But how wide do we really want to cast the net?

Growing up I used to believe in the idea of ‘the one’. I think it was a combination of watching too many fairy stories and romantic comedies, and the fact that my parents met when my Dad was travelling around the world. He was British and my Mum was Romanian, living in a tiny town in a middle of nowhere. My Dad wasn’t even supposed to be visiting Romania, let alone the town that Mum was living in. Dad’s train broke down and he had to stay the night in the boarding house where my Mum was living while she studied at the nearby college. Whenever they told the story it was love at first sight. It all just seemed so fated. And they stayed together for the rest of their lives; a real-life fairy story.

The older I get, the longer I work in the dating industry, and the more people I meet, the more I’ve come to realise that love isn’t simply a case of finding ‘the one.’ Or rather, that there can be multiple candidates, all capable of becoming ‘the one’ for you.

Instead of searching for that one specific person – a corresponding jigsaw piece – and believing that only that person can ‘complete’ you, the reality of love is far more complex. Multiple people come into our lives that have the potential to become that person. And countless different forces can affect whether or not those people end up becoming your significant other.

One such force is actively deciding when to commit – when to ‘settle’. Not in the negative sense of the word, but deciding when to stop the search. For someone to become ‘the one’ you have to take a chance and forsake all others, as the good old wedding vows tell us. And in 2016, that really means shrugging off that voice that’s telling you that there might be a better option out there, because, particularly in the early days, that voice can make or break a relationship.

But how can you get to that point when there are so many options out there? How do you know that someone is good enough and you can stop the search?

The answer is that you don’t necessarily know – you just have to pause and give that other person a real chance. And it can be a lot easier to pause when you don’t feel inundated with options.

By letting someone else narrow down your options to a smaller number, all of whom are a good fit for you in different ways, you can cut out the noise that comes with seemingly countless options. No, I’m not saying that you should relinquish all decision-making – you need to choose your own relationship. But if you’re finding all the choice overwhelming, why not turn to someone else to help you narrow down the options? Often, it’s only when someone else presents us with a strict choice – A or B – and tells us that we can only have one, that we are able to make a choice and identify the reasons behind the choice.