What’s Love Got To Do With It? – Or Why Technology is Not Going to Help You Find The One.


In a follow up to her last webcast which I explored in my article on The Neurobiology of Sex, relationship therapist and expert Pat Love looks at the increasing phenomena of online dating and the negative impact she believes this is having on our long-term staying power in monogamous relationships. She blames “choice fatigue” for this –  and explains that “with hundreds of dating websites, thousands of potential partners to choose from, and the ability to specify attributes of a perfect mate in exacting detail, people are, paradoxically, less confident about their selections and increasingly dissatisfied with their current relationships.”

Intuitively, if we take even a brief glimpse back at our parent’s generation and their’s before that, the figures seem to support her claims. Relationship longevity on average was higher and divorce rates lower than they are now. Times were simpler and people seemed more content with the mate selections that they made.  And this, she believes,  can be explained by the fact that technology today is providing us with more options than ever before when it comes to relationships. Love says this results in ” choice fatigue” which can be explained as “the greater the options, the greater the dissatisfaction with what we choose.” In short, we make longer lists of attributes we expect in potential partners and fall in love with the illusion that this exists – and are consequentially more easily disappointed and fickle about long term commitment.

While not wanting to diminish the success stories that undoubtedly exist out there as a result of the online dating world, I think it’s important to keep our expectations in check when it comes to using technology to meet and greet new suitors. On a purely factual level , there is something to be said for the high percentage ( almost 80%) of non-verbal communication that gets exchanged in a face-to-face conversation that perhaps gets lost in translation when we are using txts , emails or other online screening filters to find new dates. So what we may then have are not only higher expectations as a result of higher perceived number of choices out there (and access to them), but also less discerning selection protocols – which could be the perfect cocktail for repeated relationship disappointment.

Perhaps I’m just old fashioned, but I still advocate trying the traditional route when it comes to dating these days if you’re looking for increasing the likelihood of finding the person that is right for you and vice versa. Signing up for a hobby where you might find someone with common interests, introductions through friends or even going to events/workshops of interest are a few suggestions. In other words, get off your computer or your phone and get out there instead. Doing some self-reflection on the kinds of attributes that you are looking for in a partner, while consciously separating your ‘Needs’ from your ‘Wants’, is also a great pre-dating exercise to help you create a clear roadmap of what you are looking for in your next relationship so that when he or she turns up, you have the confidence to recognise and know the opportunity that is standing right in front of you. For more on finding a partner that’s right for you and other relationship guidance, contact Anoushka at anoushka@abehpsych.com. 



http://www.psychotherapynetworker.org/home/2014/10/couples-np0062-vhl01/, Choice Fatigue in a World of Online Dating. Pat Love for Psychotherapy Networker, Oct 30 2014.



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