Here’s Why Too Much Choice Is Ruining Dating

Modern dating sucks. You’ve heard that before, right? It seems strange, since modern daters have more choice than any previous generation had. Being single in the digital age, we have options – lots of options. Several eligible bachelors and bachelorettes are only a few swipes away – or a few martinis away at your local bar. You might consider this to be a great thing, but there’s a pretty serious issue that comes with this: too many options.

Your dates are always too distracted by other options to give you a real shot. And maybe you’re not going all-in, either, due to the delusion of choice.

Too much choice is ruining dating, and if you aren’t supposed to date ‘unavailable’ people that means you can’t date anyone who is chronically distracted by other options. Anyone who gets caught up in the illusion of ‘choice’ is not going to be relationship-material.

Think about it: the popularity of dating apps provide us with effortless access to all of these choices, leaving us with plenty of opportunity at our fingertips. This, however, is not always a good thing and can lead to dating stagnation if you don’t become aware of the paradox of choice.

Having too many options can certainly be overwhelming, and can prevent you from giving up the single life. You could get overwhelmed by the ‘options’ and suddenly feel paralyzed, not acting on any of them. Even worse, you could end up alone because the deceptive perception of something better always being around the corner can cause you to never just choose someone and stop looking. Perhaps this is why some of us are so picky. It’s likely we will take for granted an amazing catch – someone special who we meet and discard.

If you meet someone special, how likely are you to stop using online dating sites altogether and just focus on that one person? What sometimes happens, is that no matter how much you like the person you’re dating, you’ll still chat with others and explore other options. When you always think someone better is right around the corner, you’re allowing yourself to get distracted from the amazing person right in front of you. It’s your call, but just know that your inability to focus on him or her could completely screw things up for you. If you can break this habit and try dating one person at a time, that’s you giving it a real shot.

The paradox of choice has the ability to cause you to hesitate instead of committing, because you’re reluctant to give up your other options. But what if these ‘better options’ are a mere illusion, and giving them up is the path to happiness and fulfillment?

Imagining 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 and typifying you as unavailable.

The paradox of choice causes single men and women 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 of us 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.

If you do decide that you want a meaningful relationship, you have to give up your other options, and it’s not as scary as you think to do so.

Being picky and entitled won’t get you anywhere. It’s not simply a matter of 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 may be tempted to 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 we 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.

Instead of having high expectations, we should focus on the root of relationships: the feeling you get when you’re with someone special. Focus on how someone makes you feel, rather than focusing on whether or not they live up to your ‘expectations’.

Dating uncertainty is caused by too much choice. Having too much choice makes us second-guess ourselves, and makes us second-guess the person we’re with, which could be one of the reasons why you’re still single.

It’s common to feel uncertain about someone you’re newly dating, second-guessing whether or not he or she is the right one. But is the delusion of other options the only reason you’re second-guessing? It’s easy to think “the right one is still out there” when dating apps are constantly reminding you just how many really are “still out there.” It is a modern-day 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. 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.

The hookup culture is caused by the plethora of options. The hookup culture is thriving. Meanwhile, real relationships are few and far between. What happened? 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 where we want to be. It’s not getting us closer to finding love.

Earlier generations 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.

How to overcome dating difficulties caused by too much choice: If the amount of choice you have is causing you to feel uncertain about someone you’re 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 have you genuinely 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, 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.

If you feel something with this person, it’s worth exploring. But you can’t really explore anything if you’re distracted by ‘other options’.

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 choices. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

This article is an excerpt from the new dating advice book Aren’t You Glad You Read This?

Erica Gordon is the author of Aren’t You Glad You Read This? The Complete How-To Guide for Singles with a History of Failed Relationships Who Want their Next Relationship to Succeed, available here.


Erica is a dating expert and hopeless romantic who always keeps it real, no matter what the outcome of that realness might be. She loves to post memes, travel pics and dating advice on her Instagram @the_babe_report and she’s the author of the modern relationship advice book “Aren’t You Glad You Read This?”

Keep up with Erica on Instagram, Twitter and

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