IS THERE SUCH A THING AS TOO MANY OPTIONS WHEN IT COMES TO FORMING SOLID RELATIONSHIPS? EXPERTS WEIGH IN
BY LAILA ELISE
Fine bird in hand is better than two in a bush. But what about two million? There’s no doubt that the internet and dating apps have given us access to more potential dates and partners than ever before. By casting a wider net, we have a much greater chance of finding “the one.” But can too many options also be a bad thing? Can it prevent us from focusing on those loved ones who are real and present in our lives? Is there any validity to the old adage “love the one you’re with?” A relationship expert provides tips that may be helpful to keep in mind while navigating the chaotic field of online dating.
Choice overload effect is a real thing. The “Relationship Doctor” Rachel Vanderbilt, PhD, a relationship scientist who studies conflict communication in romantic relationships, explained that too many options can leave us feeling unsatisfied with the choices that we make because it provokes us to second guess ourselves, and therefore has the potential to sabotage our current (otherwise happy) relationships. The concept of choice overload, also referred to as option paralysis, has long been studied in the consumer realm. For instance, one study showed that customers were more satisfied with their choice between six flavors of jam versus 25 flavors. When there were considerably more options, people started to second guess whatever choice they made. is too can be applied to our romantic relationships, particularly with the proliferation of dating apps, where the opportunities are seemingly endless.
Be mindful of relationship shopping. Dr. Vanderbilt also warns about the concept of treating people as commodities on a shelf. Apps like Hinge and Instagram present limitless “options” via highly curated photos and entertaining taglines set up to attract attention. is not only leads to the perception that there are endless possibilities available at any given time, but it can also invite unnecessary doubt into the minds of those who’ve already made a great choice, as well as set unrealistic expectations for what people are actually like on the other side of the screen.
Is “what if?” thinking really helpful? There are certainly many valid reasons for questioning a relationship, and it’s a healthy habit to check in with both ourselves and our partners every now and then to foster open, honest communication and satisfaction on both sides. However, dwelling on the thought that there may be someone better out there can put serious doubts in anybody’s head. Instead of constantly wondering “what if?” and mindlessly scrolling, putting the focus and energy into our current relationships instead may very well yield more lasting and fulfilling results.