Singletude: A Positive Blog for Singles

Singletude is a positive, supportive singles blog about life choices for the new single majority. It's about dating and relationships, yes, but it's also about the other 90% of your life--family, friends, career, hobbies--and flying solo and sane in this crazy, coupled world. Singletude isn't about denying loneliness. It's about realizing that whether you're single by choice or by circumstance, this single life is your life to live.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The Perfect Match: Are We Too Picky About Our Dates?

As you know, Singletude doesn't advise embarking on a relationship with someone due to loneliness, social pressure, insecurity, or any reason other than that you really like the person you're seeing. But in today's age of customizable cells, computers, and cable packages, sometimes it seems singles expect to find a custom-made mate.

A few hundred years ago, most Americans grew up in small communities in which they chose one out of maybe 10 or 15 neighborhood teens who was reasonably attractive, pleasant to be around, and came from a good family, courted for a few years, and got married. These days, buzz words like "soulmate" and "settle" indicate how many singles feel about that mentality.

Perhaps it's due to fairy-tale indoctrination, which convinces every child that he or she should have a castle, a white horse, and a prince or princess. Or maybe it's because of the high standards set by Hollywood hotties, their airbrushed lips and cheeks plumped with enough Botox to inflate a black hole. Then there are the New Age theories of love, which relentlessly remind us that we can never be complete unless we find the twin soul from whom we were separated at birth. Maybe it's the increased choice provided by our mobile, global society or at least the illusion of increased choice perpetuated by Internet dating sites. Whatever it is, many singles feel entitled to find someone who fits snuggly inside their definition of "perfect."

I wonder, though, how common it is for people to find and actually end up with someone they consider "perfect" for them. How many couples really believe that their partners were the best choice for them, and how many simply know that their partners were the best they could get?

It always disturbs me when someone settles down with a girl or guy they admit isn't right for them just because "it's time" or they "don't want to grow old alone" or for any number of other commonly heard reasons. But then sometimes the prevalence of this kind of sentiment makes me wonder if the problem lies with the "imperfect" partner or with the one who demands perfection.

Is it possible that part of the reason people are remaining single in record numbers is because we're so picky that we eliminate many candidates we might be very happy with in the long run?

According to the mere exposure effect, familiarity breeds affinity, not contempt. Thus, the more time we spend with someone, the more we tend to like them. This may help explain why couples in arranged marriages sometimes speak of coming to love and appreciate each other over time even if they felt little or no affection at the start. Given that this is the case, it's possible that many people discard partners they don't immediately "click" with on every level and, in doing so, miss out on potentially fulfilling relationships.

What do you think? Are singles too picky these days? If so, why? Share your personal experience!

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Wizardry said...

I would defiantly agree that people are way too picky. And there is a defining difference between being picky and being realistic. Being realistic is not considering certain persons because you know that the two of you can’t get along; perhaps because of background, relationships, logistics or other factors that would always be looming large over your relationship and are know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, to be truthful to both persons. Being picky is refusing to like someone, either romantically or mutually, because thy don’t agree with your top five favorite bands, your political ideals, or your standard on how everyone should act; most people that are this picky end up finding a duplicate of the opposite sex, which ends up creating a relationship that’s more like a cloning process.

But I see this all as a larger part of indoctrination. Like you said in your post Elsie, “Perhaps it's due to fairy-tale indoctrination, which convinces every child that he or she should have a castle, a white horse, and a prince or princess.” In the same way that kids are taught that they can be whatever they want to be and are just as good as everyone else, this too is a lie that is more detrimental than beneficial. Some kids just can’t wrap their heads around complex math, but are phenomenal artists, which, on its own, would not be a bad thing; but when schools tell every kid that they can do these things as well as all the others and they can’t, they feel something is wrong with them. It’s a deception that hurts them; but what’s worse is this deception goes beyond what they can and can’t do, but who they can and cannot be. This is the part that affects relationships. Every kid thinks they can grow up to be the next great movie star or athlete with the perfect partner by their side, as represented by the infallible television, when in reality, the chances of such are slim to none. One of two things will happen; first, the now grown child will give up their goal and feel inadequate or, second, the now grown child will continue to hammer their impossible dream and during the process of such, pass up plenty of good relationships for the “perfect” one awaiting them, which will never come. Either way, for children of such lies, it’s a loose-loose situation.

And this really fits into my overall view of finding, “that person.” I’m quite enamored of quotes today; as Elsie said, “According to the mere exposure effect, familiarity breeds affinity, not contempt. Thus, the more time we spend with someone, the more we tend to like them.” This is why I don’t think an active scouring of the world is needed. The person you’ll love will be someone you get along with, and grow with over time. We see this happen with friends through school as children and work as adults. (Of course, we make enemies, but that aside…) Because of all the time we spend with them, we come to like their company. Now, granted, there are a few more details, but so far as I see it, the person we love is just someone we are with, but we don’t just end up liking them because of their company, it goes much deeper, into the relationship we’re all looking for.

Well, that was quite a bit of dialogue. I can’t wait for Imbolc!

Victoria Gothic

bobbyboy said...

"embarking on a relationship with someone due to loneliness, social pressure, insecurity, or any reason other than that you really like the person you're seeing."

I had always thought that loneliness was a valid reason for people to seek a relationship. If we settle for a partner just because it fulfills that void of loneliness, then I agree it shouldn't happen, which I believe is what you're saying?

But, would it be correct to be lonely and want a relationship or even actively look for one, yet still not settle?

I have used the word "click" many times to people to explain that there has to be more meat to the relationship than just looks or being horny. You made me think that I should reconsider using that word because it does sound like something that should happen immediately (which I don't necessarily believe.)

I think the more time we spend with someone has always meant to me the better we get to know them. It goes with the idea I have always followed that it's better to be friends first and then advance from there if we both decide that we care more for each other. Not across the board, but as a general rule.

You know sometimes we read something that that makes us think in a different way than we had always believed. This post is certainly one of them.

Back to the drawing board for me!

Great post Elsie!

Clever Elsie said...

Victoria--Well said. I don't think I could possibly add anything to that. :)

Bobby--I'm sorry I wasn't completely clear. I meant it's not a good idea to enter a relationship just because you're lonely.

Loneliness is a normal response to a lack of human contact. If we didn't get lonely, we'd never be motivated to build relationships with other people! Of course there's nothing wrong with looking for people to fill this natural need for closeness and interaction.

As you surmised, the problem is when we use people we don't really care about to help fill that need. It's not fair to them, and usually it's not really satisfying for us, either.

Btw, I think the "friends first" policy is excellent. I wish more people weren't so set on rushing into things.