I have had an aha moment:
There are too many available singles.
Believe me I never once thought I would hear myself say those words. And believe me I have never walked into a bar and said, “Wow, there are way too many cute, single men here. This is horrible”.
Lend me an ear. I’ll quickly take you back to basic economics.
You know, the invisible hand, Adam Smith, supply and demand. Stripped to its most basic the law of supply and demand states when an oversupply of a good exists, prices fall. And vice versa. When there is a high demand, prices tend to rise.
Now, let’s say there’s way too much of something. Well, that’s a supply shock. Typically this occurs from an unexpected event and a positive supply shock will exert downward pressure on its price. And this is where you ask, what does all this have to do with dating?
Dating apps have skyrocketed the amount of singles at our fingertips to unprecedented proportions. Unlike generations before us, we are not limited to the people we come into direct, face-to-face contact with. The dating radius has been widely enlarged and we do not depend on meeting our neighbors, being set up with a family friend or meeting a mutual friend as some of our sole options for meeting our future partner. We can log into a dating app and swipe left or right for hours.
With the supply of singles increasing so dramatically, I have found the dating world has experienced this downward pressure on “price”. Of course, we can’t put numbered values on humans. But I will argue we certainly have begun to devalue the way we treat others in this dating atmosphere where we believe so many singles are readily available.
So, not only are we experiencing a dating crisis, but we are becoming a disconnected, unfeeling generation. It is as if dating has become an experience of disconnection instead of connection. And that is truly a crisis.
An oversupply of singles has created five mindsets that are preventing us from connecting and developing healthy relationships:
1. There is Always Something Else Out There
We can spend our time going on a million first dates. We can find small reasons to not go on a second. We can all be a lot more picky when we have the idea in the back of our mind that there will probably always be something else out there. You didn’t like one of their jokes, didn’t like their laugh, something was a bit off about their outfit? That’s fine, no second date necessary. On to the next one.
2. We Don’t Give Anyone a Chance
And this plays again to point one. When you don’t have a backup pool of available singles you tend to give people a chance. Instead of cutting them off after date one because they have horrible taste in beer, or a slightly crooked smile, you would have an interest in getting to know them beyond some superficial flaws. Dating has become like one big episode of MTV’s Next. You can’t get to know a stranger in one or even two dates. Getting to know someone and connecting with them takes time. Time we just don’t seem to always be willing to give people.
3. Scared to Commit
We are trading the filet mignon option for the unlimited buffet. We would prefer to have quantity vs. quality; options vs. committing to one entree. I mean, people are pushing getting married further and further back. Why commit to someone when you can just wait and maybe even find something better?
4.The Illusion of the Perfect Mate
We have this idea that we will find someone we are passionately in love with, incredibly attracted to who also fits perfectly into our life. We don’t have time for flaws, obstacles, or inconvenience. We hear relationships are hard work, but do we actually want to work hard to find and keep a great partner? And what is motivating us to make it work? If we don’t make a commitment to someone, we don’t have those shared commitments (like a marriage license or children) to help motivate us to fight through obstacles. The less commitment we have to people, the easier it is to quit when times get rough.
5. Connecting Is Instantaneous and Less Meaningful
Without Tinder or other online dating apps people did not have access to hundreds of singles at their fingertips at any given moment. They had to write a personal ad, place a personal ad, and then…wait. In a world of instant gratification I’m not sure we can even define the word wait anymore. Meeting people took actual work. It wasn’t something you did bored on your couch on a Tuesday. When you work for something it often feels more meaningful.
If we are in a dating crisis, how do we get out of it? I don’t have the answers but I do know that disconnecting and devaluing isn’t it. If we want healthy relationships we have to give people a chance by getting to know them, connecting and coming to someone in the moment and not focusing on a false archetype of a mate that doesn’t exist. That is the only way we will actually open ourselves up enough to have the chance to let the right person in.