The Overwhelming Choices of Online Dating - Justin Lioi, LCSW - Brooklyn, NY

overwhelmed_by_online_datingLast week I wrote about the pressure some people put onto a first date. I had a few more thoughts since then and wanted to focus a bit more on being overwhelmed by online dating. This world can lead to the opposite response of trying to force a relationship from a first date.

Online dating can be like the shift that happened when we went from having TV channels 2 to 13 on our sets (without remote controls, I might add) to the unlimited amount of programming that is our current reality. It can be so hard to choose what to watch because there might be an even better Law & Order rerun on another channel.

Choices have led us to being overwhelmed by online dating—and the dreaded FOMO.  

So Many (Too Many?) Possibilities

Online dating’s perils often begin before any meeting occurs and I write about how to deal with “ghosting“.

While there are some people who view the Brave New Online Dating World as a revolving door of new and exciting people to meet you may be one of the bunch who are truly looking for a partner. Many, even though they think they may be looking for The One, are so intrigued by What’s Next that they find it impossible to slow down and take in the person on their date. For those overwhelmed by online dating, Match & OKCupid are the laser pointer for all the cats constantly distracted with shiny objects. 

A great first date with someone who has one foot out the door can sour you on any more first dates with real, possible matches. There’s only so much pre-screening we can do. Still, even knowing this, it continues to be important to remind yourself that the person you are out with you are still getting to know. So be excited, be optimistic, but even if you’ve had many, many phone calls and emails, you are still getting to know them.

Keeping Your Heart and Head Open

Often in the dating world we just want so much.

We want the next person to really be the one. We’re so tired of the getting-to-know-you phase. Wouldn’t it be great to just jump to date six or seven? Most of the time the people who are definitely not right for you are exorcised by the third date. At that point you can say you’ve gotten a feel for the person, you’re not “closing my eyes to reality” way as Ali Waller discovered. You’re more likely to be making a decision about a person, not your idea of a person. 

We want to know that there are actual, real possibilities. While jumping in and planning a wedding is overwhelming for you and your first date, there are some basics that you want to know before you or your date get too attached. If you’re certain you want children, don’t you think that it’s important to know if this other person does before you fall for each other?

So, how do you go on a first date and not sabotage it by expecting the worst or oversell it by hoping too much for the best? The best way to not be overwhelmed by online dating is to remember the dance in yourself of being open to the possibilities while being aware of the reality. The problem: many of us don’t want to remember the last part. 

If you’re finding dating overwhelming and want some support in moving through the process in a more meaningful and intentional way, please give me a call or shoot me an email.

Justin Lioi, LCSW is a men’s mental health and relationship expert. He practices counseling in Brooklyn, NY (and online throughout New York State and internationally.) He received his degree from New York University and has been working with men and their families for over 10 years. Justin is on the Board of the National Association of Social Workers and writes a weekly column for the Good Men Project called Unmasking Masculinity. He can be found on local and national podcasts talking about assertiveness, anger, self-compassion, all with the goal of becoming the man you want to be.