It’s 7 a.m. (Ok, it’s really 7:14 a.m. because it took you 14 minutes to get out of bed and into the bathroom to get ready for work.) So, it’s 7:14 a.m. You rub the sleep out of your eyes while reaching for your pink toothbrush. The oral kingdom needs to be cleaned! To your disappointment, there is barely any toothpaste left. You squeeze the last little bit of paste out and vow to stop at the supermarket on your way home from work to pick up a new tube.
It’s 7:14 p.m. You’re driving home from work thinking about the glass of re-purposed grapes you’re going to pour yourself upon arriving home. Then it dawns on you that you need to be inconvenienced with a supermarket stop. You pull in the parking lot and park your car. You make your way into the store annoyed by the little human spawn running around and the reckless shopping cart pushers in your way impeding your progress. Realizing that GPS cannot navigate you through the aisles, you locate the toothpaste by reading the handy-dandy signs posted for your grocery store guidance.
Alas, you’ve made it to your destination. Don’t unfasten your seat belt yet because here comes the hard part: selecting a toothpaste. You see, you thought there would be an option of gel or paste, mint or spearmint, Colgate or Crest. The various combination of those options would yield eight choices (check my math). But, no. Instead, there are 239,234,984,954 options. There are gels, pastes, and hybrids. In fact, there are gel/paste combos with mouthwash in them. Tell me, how does one suspend a liquid in a paste gel? There are flavors galore too: mint, spearmint, cinnamon, orange, bubble gum, bubblemint, cinnaorange, spearigum. Oh and the brands – the endless number of brands: Colgate, Crest, Aquafresh, Sensawhatever, Toothcleanerade, Oralshampoo, etc. (Ok, I made some of those brands up, but you get the point.)
Then, there are the different purpose variations: cavity fighting, tartar blocker, whitening, breath freshening. Why must I — I mean you — choose just one of those purposes? Now, you stand there in the aisle, feeling lost, anxious, and helpless, barely treading water in this vast sea of toothpastes. Which one to choose? What once seemed like a simple task has turned into an arduous weighing of toothpaste pros and cons. Finally, after 45 ridiculous minutes of reading the stupid labels on the stupid toothpastes, you pick one. It contains baking soda because, let’s be honest, baking soda is one of the most versatile, awesome products. No, really, think about it. Baking soda is capable of fighting odor in the most noxious smelling fridge. Baking soda is an incredible cleaning agent. Baking soda is used for — wait for it– baking! My God. What a remarkable product. So, yeah, you choose a toothpaste with baking soda.
You go up to the register, not fully convinced with your selection, but knowing that you need to get the fuck out of the grocery store. You pay the $4.87 for whatever you ended up selecting and you walk to your car almost feeling defeated. You drive home, pull into your driveway (or front lawn if you’re into parking in an unsightly manner), and step out of your vehicle. You enter your home and taking your purchased paste (or perhaps gel or hybrid with mouthwash magically suspended in it) to the bathroom. As you open the packaging, you start wondering, “WHAT HAVE I DONE? Perhaps I should have spent a little more time in the aisle and done a little more research. Is this toothpaste the ONE?! Am I cool with saying, ‘Until Crest do us part?'”
After three days, you stop agonizing about your choice of toothpaste and just accept it for what it is. You spend about two months with the toothpaste, day in and day out, lathering your oral peasants with it at least three times a day.
What’s my point? The point is that had you pulled into a WaWa, Quick Chek, or some other similar store, you would have been limited to one or two options thereby making the choice a lot easier and lowering the chances that you’d second guess your decision. You’d likely end up a lot more satisfied with your decision than if you had 239,234,984,954 options instead of two. It may seem counterintuitive at first, but it’s true. Not only would there be less room for buyers’ remorse, but the level of anxiety in the selection process would be reduced by significantly reducing the number of options. So while there is some benefit to having more than one option, there is diminishing marginal utility in adding more and more options. (Indeed, there are many studies and books that arrive at the same conclusions.)
Now, pretend specimens are toothpaste and the grocery store is life (well, except for the aisle signs because life isn’t as conveniently labeled). The natural inclination is to be thankful and feel privileged that one is not constrained to the one single, age-appropriate villager of the opposite gender. Not only do we have the option to choose from many villagers, but also onliners and across-the-worlders. How much do your odds of findings your soul mate increase with such a drastic increase in potential specimens?! The world is your dating oyster! Or is it?
As it turns out, it appears to be more detrimental to increase dating options so exponentially. Why?
First, it makes it more difficult to focus on one person. Focus is imperative in developing a relationship. One cannot focus on setting a foundation for a long term relationship if he is busy checking out plots of land elsewhere.
Second, if one is on his way to setting a foundation with one person, having several other plots of land available is a distraction. When half of the foundation is set, if one sets his eyes on a different plot of land, he may lose sight of changing conditions on the original plot of land.
Third, if one remains focused throughout the foundation setting process, but then a plot that he hand previously set his sights on becomes available, he may second-guess the plot he set the foundation on or quit building altogether to pursue a new plot.
Now, you may be thinking, “Perhaps he’s a large-scale developer. He can build several structures all at once.” Yeah, that’s your dick thinking and your dick is stupid, very stupid, and incapable of conquering on the scale it would lead you to believe you are able to conquer. One cannot be fully devoted to a person if he’s spreading his resources all over the land! A developer has several people working for him. In dating, one does not have a team doing his bidding. It’s a one-on-one relationship. So it isn’t a fair analogy.
When there are countless options in the dating arena, it is difficult to be satisfied with just one.
So what’s the solution? If you do happen to meet someone with whom you have amazing chemistry, fight the temptation to pursue other options. You reap what you sow. Plant your seeds in that person (not literally or in the carnal sense) and sow the rewards of meaningful relationship. Or, keep pollinating different plants and end up as a single bee that will eventually plant its stinger in the wrong person and die as a result.