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Too Many Choices: Online Dating Overload

How does a reasonable person use online dating more successfully?

When people grew up in small towns, they knew early on who their primary prospects for romance, marriage, and continued participation in their lifetime communities. Everyone knew everyone, and the whereabouts and experiences of each member of that society were known and shared. The partner people ended up with was no surprise to anyone.

Contrast that to what relationship seekers face today. Many people have long left their supportive origins, and must now rely on creating new social networks for encouragement, support, and connection. Though those chosen friendship communities do provide an alternative to isolation, they cannot always provide enough dating opportunities within their limitations.

As a result, many turn to online dating to fill that gap and face an overwhelming challenge. With more than 8,000 online dating sites to choose from, there is a literal smorgasbord of opportunities for potential partners. Even though less than 20 partners of daters use them regularly, they do match up prospective partners in about one out of five or six connections.

Focused interest in online dating can produce literally hundreds of responses. It is virtually only possible for any busy person to take the hours needed weekly to sort through them without a full-time assistant.

And, as AI is more available, dating sites will be even better able to track people more specifically and sort out successfully prospective matches. But they can only do that based on what information is provided by the users and what those customers feel comfortable sharing. Effective but chancy.

With so many options, how does any reasonable person use online dating apps more efficiently and successfully?

There are six things you can do.

1. Focus Down

You can’t have everything you want nor provide everything another person asks. What have you found are your non-negotiables? What mindsets, behaviors, beliefs, and actions that, over time, you will just not be able to tolerate, no matter how good the relationship is?

What do you know you can’t live without and still maintain your integrity and your sense of worth? What fills your heart with joy and what makes life meaningless? What are your commitments and involvements that you cannot imagine living life without?

2. Practice Flexibility and Resilience

Life’s disappointments and disillusionments can too often leave people less trusting and more rigid. If they fall prey to those pessimistic predictions and self-protective cynicism, they cannot see beyond them anymore. They can miss out on opportunities that might actually work out. Teaching them the art of being authentically attached without giving up themselves is a beautiful skill to embrace.

Stay away from stereotyping when you can and use it to predict what is most likely to happen. But don’t lock into believing that’s all that can happen.

3. Get Out of Your Comfort Zone

Children are open to the world. They only tune out that innate curiosity when their elders tell them not to explore that venue. Over time, those children, now adults, don’t think, feel, search, or explore anything they were taught to ignore or disbelieve.

Without giving up on what is important to you, ask yourself what part of your life has become a soap opera that just changes the characters but not the actual script. If your friends can check in with you every once in a while, and never learn anything new about the way you live your life, it may be time to think outside the box.

4. Learn to Recognize Authenticity

There are firms that write dating profiles Some firms write samples of suggested profiles online that offer a one-size-fits-all boilerplate. Some people can’t write as well as they can speak. Some use friends to write their profiles for them based on what they value.

Some have professional photos done while others take selfies. Shouldn’t we wonder about how a person feels and behaves in grief, frustration, fear, or longing? Can they maintain devotion under stress or separation? Who is the narrator behind the story?

5. Learn What Alarms You or Turns You Off

Though your assessment may not always be accurate, you must learn what words or phrases set off your resistance alarms. Yes, you can be limited by prior disappointments and fears. But you still need to recognize signals that your body is telling you are representing attitudes and behaviors that will not be good for you, no matter how physically appealing that person is.

Here are some examples my patients have shared with me that turned out to be disasters:

  • strong opinions that do not coincide with your comfort

  • glib generalizations that show off without regard to the possible reception of the receiver

  • too many sentences that start with “I”

  • contradictions in different parts of the profile

  • no “footprints” anywhere on the internet

  • searching for the perfect soul mate, or hardened cynicism

6. Be Realistic as to What You Can Expect

It may be truly hard to skip a profile that appears delicious. It is also painful to not be responded to, or ghosted after an initial connection. Be honest with yourself as to why that person you are interested in you might want you, or whether or not the person on the other end of you might want you more than you want to be wanted.

There are tiers of desirability in many areas of life, but the dating world is harsh for those who aspire to be with people who may not have any interest in them.

The media is a suspicious ally in these fantasy-related non-workable choices:

  • “You can have anything you want if you just try hard enough.”

  • “He, or she, or they, will realize how wonderful you are and change the standards they have used to search in the past.”

When people know who they are, acknowledge their assets and liabilities, see how they are valued in the dating world, and search for what works, rather than what is fantasized or ideal, they are much more likely to be successful in finding a realistic and workable relationship.


Choose Dr. Randi Gunther a Clinical Psychologist & Marriage Counselor who truly understands the complexities of human connection.

Reach out to Dr. Randi today and take the first step toward a brighter, more fulfilling future together.

Dr. Gunther is available by Zoom or Facetime


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