we have too many choices these days, as technology has increased our options in many ways & many things including dates & partners. This may also have contributed to the fact that many women have difficulty finding a suitable partner & many man do not want to settle with one woman thinking they may be missing out on something better. I watched a TED talk by Barry Schwartz on ‘The Paradox of Choice’ which I found very interesting. It is a complex issue and the PsyBlog has a neat summary of the talk:
Too many choices cause:
Paralysis rather than liberation – people prefer to make no decision rather than make a complicated choice.
Less satisfaction with decisions as people have greater reason to regret the decisions they have made.
Self-blame – when experiences are not perfect, people blame themselves.
Schwartz also argues that in modern affluent societies, too much choice may be a significant contributor to depression. He is the author of ‘The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less’.
The TimesOnline also has an older article ‘Spoilt for choice’ about Schwartz’s theories:
He adds that when it comes to achieving happiness it is better to be a “satisficer” who accepts a good-enough choice than a “maximiser” who always wants to make the best possible decision. Perhaps we should all learn to love the constraints on our lives. After all, being restricted to a local job because you can’t move your children out of school, or having to buy a house near elderly relatives, makes you (and them) feel better. “It challenges a lot of our beliefs, but it could just be that choice within constraints will make us feel a lot better,” says Professor Schwartz. “We need to live in the moment, appreciate what we have and not think about all the other things that we could choose instead.”
In a Telegraph article called Too much choice leaving us bewildered and depressed another study by Professor Hazel Rose Markus, the author from Stanford University’s Department of Psychology:
People can become paralysed by too much variety and wracked with uncertainty and regret about whether they have made the right decision. Ultimately they can be less satisfied by the choices they have made. The study believes that the problem is that when you have too much choice, you become obsessed about what your decision will say about you. Then when you have made the choice you worry that it is wrong. Choice can also foster selfishness and a lack of empathy because it can focus people on their own preferences and on themselves at the expense of what is good for society as a whole.
“A pessimist is one who, when he has the choice of two evils, chooses both.” Oscar Wilde
When it comes to relationships this issue can be solved by settling for good enough, so says Lori Gottlieb. Her book Marry Him: The Case for Settling for Mr Good Enough is reviewed in the TimesOnline: Wise girls settle for Mr Good Enough:
“Based on my observations, settling will probably make you happier in the long run, since many of those who marry with great expectations become more disillusioned with each passing year.”
“I’m all for the feminist movement but I think what happened is we took certain feminist ideals — for instance, the idea of ‘you can have it all’, or ‘you deserve the best’, or girl power in general — and we applied that to dating,” she says. “That doesn’t work because we’re dealing with real life and where human beings are concerned you have to make a compromise.”
Gottlieb doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to the competitive reality of trying to find a mate. The problem is not, she says, that there’s an epidemic of commitment phobia among the males.
“If you think all men are commitment-phobes, then commitment-phobes are clearly the only kind of man you date,” she says tartly.
Rather, women don’t know how to manage their own expectations when it comes to looking for a suitable man. Single women often declare they’d “rather be alone” than settle for someone who doesn’t fill out their (usually unrealistic) checklist. Gottlieb’s advice is: think carefully, ladies. Because, with that mentality, alone is how you’re probably going to end up.
“Feminism gave women this sense of entitlement that we deserve someone who’s perfect. And then we meet the so-called perfect guy and he’s out of our league and has no interest in us and we tell our girlfriends, ‘He must be secretly gay’ when in fact he’s just really not that into us,” she says.
We can find partners through online dating sites or even social networks or through the old fashioned ways of meeting others. We are faced with a multitude of choices now when searching for partners. Let’s hope we are not distracted from actually having relationships.
I’ll leave you with this cute animated video about women’s choices, enjoy…
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- TED is About Storytelling (lib.uiowa.edu)
- Book Review – The Art of Choosing – By Sheena Iyengar (nytimes.com)
- Shortcuts: Too Many Choices: A Problem That Can Paralyze (nytimes.com)
- Indecision-Making (3quarksdaily.com)
- The Paradox of Choice (toolness.com)