Have you ever been at a Baskin Robbins Ice Cream counter pacing back and forth in front of the display trying to decide on a flavor? That one has cookie dough, but the next one has real pieces of brownies, and then there’s the one with walnuts or the one with pistachios, and of course, there are the fruit varieties, the cheesecake varieties and 15 separate options with chocolate! How in the world can you possibly pick just one (or two) flavors for your ice cream cone?
That is exactly how it feels when you venture into the world of online dating! Setting up your profile is exciting and you are filled with anticipation for the new and fun people soon to be filling up your inbox. Whether you are looking for a serious relationship, or just casually dating, you are anxious to check out the options. What you may not be prepared for is the sheer volume of options. That’s a good thing, right? Right?? Well, of course, having variety is nice. It means feeling you do not have to settle or compromise on what you really want. The downside is the anxiety involved in deciding which ‘flavor’ to try.
There’s the solid guy/gal with a good job and 1.5 dogs; the meet-your-family type. All the right boxes are checked with this one and in theory, your search could be over. However…then you notice the exciting world traveler. This person could expand your horizons; literally. You begin to think about all the experiences and amazing places to explore. Theirs is a free spirit without true roots, just waiting on the next exotic trek. Wait, though, the next one looks super fun; a night owl making the rounds of all the best hot spots in town and friends with all the ‘right’ people. How fascinating to be in the inner circle of that world. The next one presents themselves as a serious-minded intellectual. That’s impressive; to be with an individual who is smart, has their act together and can maybe help with yours. Then again, the great looking quintessential bad boy/girl is so very hard to resist. Everything about them is intoxicating and inviting. Oh dear, what to do now?
The reality here is that it is ok to talk to whoever strikes your fancy. You can opt for someone with similar interests, who would be relaxing and easy to get to know. Or you could go the other way, find someone outside your normal comfort zone that would excite and challenge. There really isn’t a wrong way, yet many fall into one of two traps when faced with these many options. Some refuse to pick at all for fear of the wrong choice. They get caught up in the ‘what ifs’ and find something negative about each one before ever meeting. They become overwhelmed and check out of the process entirely, missing the forest for the trees so to speak. They miss the opportunity to find someone because they are distracted by all the ones.
Even worse, are the people who actually decide on someone then quickly lose interest and drop them for the next pick-of-the-day; a rolodex of dates if you will. They never put in the time and energy to really learn about the other person. The temptation to see if the next one might just be a little bit better is too hard to resist. The greener grass syndrome is never more prevalent than in online dating. It can hurt our chances to find the right fit when we never stay with anyone long enough to determine their values, goals and lifestyle compatibility. I am not suggesting you stop at the first person you meet and jump into a serious relationship. This is the perfect opportunity to take your time and explore the next steps towards your future, but it is not a good idea to randomly play leap frog with people’s emotions. We are wise to keep in mind that behind that screen is a real person who is making the best of their single status just as we are. They, nor we, are disposable markers meant to calm a temporary fear or need and then be replaced. The term is player or even serial dater; and both mean the same thing, too many choices, not enough sincerity. This isn’t a gender issue either, both sides participate. I understand the variety can be enticing, especially if you are just coming out of a long relationship/marriage. The urge is there to leave no dating stone unturned, but just remember there is truth to the lesson on quality over quantity. While I am a huge fan of being open to new experiences and expanding your circle, I do always recommend using caution and respect when dating. Be honest about your intentions and realistic about what you hope to accomplish.
This can be an exciting and fun-filled chapter of your life. Starting over fresh with new goals and a greater understanding of what you want is a huge step. If part of what you want is to sample several of those flavors in the bin, try not to go too fast and get a heart freeze. Take your time and savor each moment. There is a big world out there full of wonderful and amazing people. Pay attention and choose those who will inspire and delight you; then actually get to know them to find out if you are right. There may be hundreds of flavors at your fingertips, and while all of them may be good, only a few of them will truly be great.
Hope With Abandon