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  • feedwordpress 14:00:30 on 2017/02/24 Permalink
    Tags: apps, , , Dating in the digital age, , how to choose a partner, , , technology,   

    The Paradox of Choice: How to Choose a Partner 

    “I’m currently in the early stages of dating three people that I met online. Each of them has interesting and attractive qualities. I only want one life partner. But how do I know I’m choosing the right person?” – Jim, 35

    Online dating can be overwhelming – as your dating apps twinkle and beep and blink at you, you may find yourself overwhelmed by the choice of millions of potential partners. In this second article of my two-part series on online dating, we will explore the paradox of choice.

    Roughly 40 million Americans are looking for love on the Internet. To put that in relative terms that is about the entire population of Poland who are scrolling the human market, which offers row upon row of shiny, eclectic human beings to chose from.

    The online world has opened up circles of possibilities – concentric rings that ripple beyond the tiny villages of the past where you had a handful of mates to eye across the square. The beauty of an app like Tinder is that it works in place of your grandmother (whose ancient rolodex may limit her matchmaking potential) and replaces her with an algorithm. This has opened more avenues for human connection, but it has also created confusion. This confusion comes from the vast swathe of people to select, which creates uncertainty and self-doubt. After all, how can you know the person you settle on is the right choice when there are so many other options?

    Not long ago, anthropologist Helen Fisher and I had a stimulating debate on the Ted stage about whether or not technology has changed the way we love. I believe the need for love is ubiquitous and universal but the way we love is changing fundamentally.

    Our previous model of duty and obligation has shifted to free choice – emphasizing individual rights, self-fulfillment and happiness. But this rushing tide of high ideals often washes us out of our depth: we are drowning in cognitive overload, floundering in the uncertainty and self-doubt that comes with choice.

    Here are some ways to tease out your thinking about decision-making and online dating that will help you deal with the paradox of choice.

    Do the Curiosity Test

    Curiosity – a counterpart to desire – can be a great indicator of your interest in another person. When you are curious and interested in another person, they appear to you like a great novel: you are so captivated that you want to turn the page and read the next chapter.  You want to know them more intimately; you want to see them again. So instead of asking yourself if you have certainty about the other person, and interrogating all aspects of your future life together, ask yourself: am I curious?

    You may also ask: How do I feel in the presence of this person? Do I feel understood? Do I feel enhanced? Do I feel more interesting when I talk to them? Do I feel more beautiful? Great novels, like great art, elevate you and engage you in the mysteries of life. If you have zero curiosity, then you know that you are not in the right place.

    Be the Partner You Want

    Jim and so many others are asking themselves: is this other person right for me? Turn this question towards yourself. Remember, you have agency too – you are the co-author of the story between you and the other person. Love is not just about finding the right person; love is an action, a verb. Think about the kind of lover you are going to be, rather than just focusing on the kind of lover you want. How are you going to practice love with the other person?

    Embrace Ambivalence

    There is a mistaken hope that we will meet someone who is going to be the rejoinder to our uncertainty. They will calm our inner rumblings and anxiety; they will turn our heads from away from an attractive person who passes us on the street. We place impossible demands and expectations upon our future beloved. We want someone to completely captivate our imagination and free us from our fears.

    I’m sorry to have to tell you this, but this person you are dreaming of is a mythical creature, a beautiful illusion that simply does not exist. You will find more happiness when you allow for some ambivalence – maturity is the ability to live with the not knowing, not to erase it. This notion can be an epitaph for life and love.

    Free Yourself by Making a Choice

    The paradox of choice is crippling. The hundreds of profile photos that can be swiped through give a sense that there are always other options. But when faced with a multiplicity of options, in order to move forward, we need to choose. Choice frees us up. It allows us to breathe. Instead of placing the emphasis on the other person and whether or not we trust them, we need to trust ourselves.

    It is easier to make a choice when you acknowledge that there isn’t just one person for you, nor is there just one relationship and one life we can lead. We simply pick one. Of course, we all live with longings for unlived life and the people who we passed over. I believe this is true whether you are dealing with arranged marriages or the free choice market.

    So make a choice and make the best of it. You may find glorious freedom on the other side of a decision. And the beauty of freedom is that it’s your life to lead.

    I am curious about your online dating conundrums. Do you have too many or too few choices? If you found someone online, how did you ultimately choose that person? Let me know in the comments below.

    The post The Paradox of Choice: How to Choose a Partner appeared first on Esther Perel.

     
  • feedwordpress 16:09:06 on 2017/02/17 Permalink
    Tags: , curiosity test, , , Dating in the digital age, , , ,   

    Video: How to Address Uncertainty in Dating 

    “How can I be certain I am making the right choice when I start dating someone I meet online?” – Joy

    I’m sorry to disappoint you, Joy, but the certainty you’re looking for is hardly possible in the beginning. In fact, all that uncertainty is part of the excitement. The start of relationships are ripe with the delicious elements of curiosity, the unknown, the mystery of meeting someone new, and the vulnerability of it all.

    In our commodified society, a date is no longer an open-ended exploration, but an intake interview to see if a person matches your pre-determined check list.

    We are overwhelmed by the paradox of choice, and want so badly to find happiness. We are drowning in cognitive overload, floundering in the uncertainty and self-doubt that comes with limitless choice.

    The only way you will become certain about a potential mate is simply by spending time with that person. Discovering, communicating, asking questions, sharing experiences and getting to know them. And if you really want to get to know somebody, challenges, crisis, and loss will give you a view like no other.

    Try keeping yourself open to a gradual unfolding of the many layers of a person. Allow yourself to be surprised. You may discover something you didn’t even know you were looking for.

    Here a couple ways to gauge your early connection:

    The curiosity test

    The level of curiosity you have about a person is a great indicator of your interest. If you are captivated and want to learn more, that’s a great start. If you have zero curiosity, then you’re probably not in the right place.

    How you feel in the presence of this person

    Do you feel heard and understood? Do you feel expanded? Are you present? Do you feel beautiful?

    If you allow yourself that uncertainty and openness, rather than forcing yourself to know right away, it will ease a lot of the anxiety around choosing the right person.

    How do you feel when you first meet someone new?

    The post Video: How to Address Uncertainty in Dating appeared first on Esther Perel.

     
  • feedwordpress 15:33:07 on 2017/02/10 Permalink
    Tags: , Confidence, , Dating in the digital age, , , Speaking with confidence, , YouTube   

    Video: How to Speak with Confidence 

    “How do you get the confidence to go up to someone in real life?” – Jaime 

    In today’s video, I answer this question from Jamie in Florida. 

    The bottom line is that we all want to create meaningful connections with others. Human connection and being seen by another person is a fundamental human experience.

    Most of us also have a deep rooted fear of rejection.

    Personally, I experienced an insecurity when I felt that my accent was blocking me from being able to connect with people in real life. Until I understood from a teacher that this is something I could use and say “I don’t know what you are saying” or they would ask me “Where are you from?” In fact, I didn’t have to say anything because they were asking me all the questions. You are a mystery as much as they are a mystery to you.
     

    When dating and seeking connections from others, we can hide behind screens and profiles. Step outside of your comfort zone, and try to connect with someone in real life.

    I want to hear from you, how are you connecting with people in real life

    The post Video: How to Speak with Confidence appeared first on Esther Perel.

     
  • feedwordpress 14:00:09 on 2017/02/03 Permalink
    Tags: , , Dating in the digital age, divorced, , single,   

    How to Deal with Online Dating Fatigue 

    Recently the dating app Tinder gave January 8th, 2017 the moniker “Dating Sunday”. The first Sunday after New Year’s Eve is one of the most trafficked days of the year for those swiping left or right. It is no surprise that as the new year arises you are considering new paths, new resolutions and that new somebody, so I decided to put together a two-part series on online dating to help you navigate the complex terrain of the online world.  

    How to Deal with Online Dating Fatigue

    “I’ve been online dating for a while and I’m tired of the endless messaging back and forth and having to come up with witty banter that never evolves into meeting up. No one seems serious. How do I actually meet people?” – Tessa, 29

    I was at a dinner in Paris recently and everyone was exchanging those stories that never fail to captivate us: the “how I met my partner” fairytale.

    One woman told a story about how when she was living in a fifth floor walkup, she threw a banana peel out the window that landed on a man’s head. That man walked five floors to return the banana peel and never left.

    This narrative of charming happenstance is rapidly disappearing in the digital age where every interaction is curated in advance. With over 40 million Americans dating online, a fatigue has taken hold as a result of the endless swiping, messaging and communicating that it takes to reach the moment of setting eyes upon a flesh-and-blood human being.

    So how do you negotiate the never-ending supermarket of people online and reinvigorate yourself so that you can find new opportunities for curiosity, playfulness and real life interactions?

    Be Open To What’s In Front Of You

    While online dating has proven successful, with millions meeting and marrying through these platforms, it is not the only path to connection.

    It’s no mistake that in parallel to the isolating digital fortresses that we have built around ourselves, there is also a proliferation of festivals, dance parties and seminars where people gather, brush forearms and enjoy the presence of others. Open your eyes to the people that cross your path every day.

    Challenge yourself to counter your discomfort and turn to the person who is smiling at you on the subway, in a café or sitting next to you on the airplane. The most banal chitchat – a snowstorm, the delayed C train, the breed of someone’s puppy – opens intriguing possibilities for interaction and real life connection.

    If you are particularly nervous about approaching strangers, think of a specific question or interest of yours that you want to raise with others around you to start the conversation. Remember, life is always unfolding right in front of us. Stay open to the surprises that it holds for you.

    Check Yourself: Are You Delaying Meeting Up?

    Online dating has become a form of entertainment for some – there is great appeal to the swiping, the heart-pulsing that jolts with the ding of your phone and the epistolary wonders of writing witty texts at 2am.

    As evidenced by the question Tessa asks, this can quickly lead to frustration when you never actually meet in person. But Tessa may also need to ask herself if she is engaged in stalling. Delaying tactics, such as simmering or icing, detailed in this relationship chart, are easy online. They can happen for a number of inexplicable reasons – perhaps the other person is not actually serious about dating or they simply feel uncomfortable about meeting face to face.

    Engage in the delicious play of flirting and teasing your potential date through words but also try accelerating the meeting process. Send a message to the effect of: “I love chatting online but I’d prefer to get on the phone, here’s my number”. A phone conversation will quickly tell you if you want to meet in person. If you prefer real interaction, set a time and meet at your favorite bar. You have nothing to lose.

    Take Breaks

    Many people I speak to experience the initial sense of exhilaration that online platforms open up, which can evolve into boredom, fatigue, frustration and a sense of defeat when their expectations are not met. These feelings are true to offline dating too but the sheer number of options online can accelerate this exhaustion. But you are free to take a break. You have the agency to log out. Which doesn’t mean you have to stop dating – you can stay open to the possibilities of meeting someone at a concert, on a bus or on your way to meeting your friend. Be kind to yourself so that taking a break doesn’t feel like a failure, just a shift in your current approach.

    Put Your Friends On The Case

    A recently divorced friend of mine sent out an email to all his friends, letting them know that he is interesting in being set up. As his friends, we are well acquainted with his likes and dislikes, the kind of people he would find attractive and his hobbies and interests. We care about his romantic happiness and are willing to play a part.

    Send an email to your friends and ask to be introduced or set up with their friends. I always say to people when I set them up that I can’t promise chemistry but I can promise that they won’t be bored and wonder, what the heck am I doing here?

    Let me know how your online dating is going. Are you tired, bored or exhilarated by the possibilities online? Or tell me the story of how you met your partner – whether it be in real life or via online dating.

    The post How to Deal with Online Dating Fatigue appeared first on Esther Perel.

     
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