Decision Making Fatigue and Dating

Don’t go back to less, just because you’re too impatient to wait for more.”

Decision Making Fatigue and Dating.

There are so many angles to use when we consider the most effective way to do creative dating. I just would like to offer you my perspective here on some of the problems that so many people face when they try online dating. I’m going to focus, here, on the role that decision-making plays in online dating.

Often, participants in my workshops ask whether it is really possible to find a partner online. They suggest that nobody is “there” for them. Often, frustrated by their lack of success, they cancel their subscription to the dating site. And, after a few months, the cycle begins all over again; they start at a different website, only to cancel their subscription yet again. There are a few points that I want you to take under consideration.

Dating is all about decision making. Do I like this person? Is he or she the right person for me? Should I stay in this relationship? As we all know, decision making tends to be both complicated and painful. The root of the word “to decide” is Latin and literally meaning “ to cut off”. In other words, “making up your mind” means choosing one option and terminating all the other possible options. Clearly, this is a difficult process.

In some cases, people simply refuse to make any decision at all. A person involved in an extramarital relationship is not able to make a decision, for example. They cannot decide whether to leave their spouse and start a new life with their affair partner, or whether to end the affair and try again to make their marriage work.  When no decision is reached, a “marriage triangle” is created. The situation drags on for years even decades. This failure to make decisions doesn’t just happen in the dating world, of course. College students often put off deciding on their majors for a long time. They leave two options open for as long as they can. Even though this complicates their academic life, and prolongs their studies, it still feels easier than making a decision. After all, for some students, choosing one major – and choosing against another major – feels almost as though they are eliminating, or “cutting off,” a part of themselves.

 There are other factors that makes decision making difficult. Our modern lives are so full and busy that many of us are plagued with “decision fatigue.” This comes into play when we open up a dating app and browse through hundreds of images, trying desperately to make a choice. After a long of work and chores, our natural energy is depleted. In fact, our energy is so low that online dating starts to feel like yet another chore to get through – instead of like the beginning of the greatest adventure of our life. This also reduces our ability to make good choices. “Decision fatigue” is a psychological term that describes a situation in which we are not able to make a rational decision. If you’ve ever scrolled through Netflix looking for something to watch, only to end up picking nothing at all, then you’ll understand this problem. Too many choices can leave us exhausted and unable to make any choice at all. It is a negative force of abundance. 

Choosing the right mate can be especially difficult for ambitious, hard-working people – especially in New York City. Spending a prolonged amount of time in school to pursue a professional career, moving to an urban area, changing moral values, increased self-expression, contraceptive pills, and of course social media all are factors that impact our quest for love. Together, these factors create the illusion that “the right” partner is just around the corner. In our area [New York] many educated, attractive people complain that in the Big Apple it is not possible to find a partner. Manhattan has the highest percentage of single people in any county in America. [Except Kalauppa, one of the islands of Maloka, Hawaii – which is leprosy colony. People there range in age from 73 to 93].

What forces keep people apart in our city? When sociologists analyzed the ads from dating sites in major metropolises in the USA, they noticed that New Yorkers are the choosiest people in the country. Simply speaking, they are the most demanding, and they have the highest expectations. New Yorkers have the highest number of criteria for their potential mates. Obviously single people in our area are blinded by the enormous number of possible choices they face. A typical intro on a woman’s dating profile might read, “I love everything that New York can offer. My potential partner must be attractive, 5.9” tall, financially independent, healthy, age between 27 and 35”.  But women aren’t the only ones who require a lot from their potential partners. One lawyer [a man] was surprised at his failure to find a partner. And yet, on his dating profile, he listed 27 qualities that a woman must have before he would consider dating them.

More and more details and attributes are required in order to enroll in any dating service. In theory this selectivity should help you find your “dream partner”. In practice, it creates a high level of expectation, and “decision fatigue” — the two states of mind that impair your decision-making ability.

What did we learn from the data today? Let me put it this way: “Maturity is when you stop complaining and making excuses, and start making changes by making better choices.”



Discobolus – Discus Thrower

Today we are going to examine the idea of beauty.

They say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. But in fact, this phrase over-simplifies a complex concept. Beauty is not determined only by the individual observer; it’s a concept which is shaped, stretched, and formed by the whole of society.

And in fact, the idea of beauty has changed throughout the course of human history. The oldest known depicted beauty is the Venus of Willendorf, a paleolithic sculpture of a woman which dates back to at least 25,000BC. The current idea of beauty may be best represented by Thylane Blondeau, the French model who was named the most beautiful face of 2018. At a glance, we can see that the Venus of Willendorf and Thylane Blondeau have very different functions. The Venus of Willendorf glorifies fertility and motherhood, while Thylane is a fashion icon who glorifies a globe-trotting, materialistic lifestyle. And yet these are not the only forms of beauty. Over the centuries, religion has proposed its own, very different notion of what beauty is. Look at Michalangelo’s “Pieta,” for example: Mary’s tragic, self-denying beauty is very different from either the Venus of Willendorf or Thylane Blondeau.

The question then arises: What idea of beauty should we extract from the noise, the misleading information, and the commercials that bombard us, turning everything – and everyone – into a commodity?

For our purposes, we are going to arbitrary build our framework of beauty in ancient Greece. Like every arbitrary decision, this has lot of weak elements. But it is good enough as a starting point. And here is why:

Nowhere in the Western Hemisphere was the idea of the human body depicted more gloriously than in ancient Greece. Just look at the Discobolus of Myron [Discus Thrower]. It depicts a man of action and vitality, full of energy and ready to rise meet any challenge. It is a perfect example of how classical Greek society glorified training, sacrifice, strength, health and movement. Beautiful sculptures like the Discobolus were displayed in public places in order to motivate the public to work on their physical fitness; these sculptures were used as role models for ordinary Greek citizens.

The classical Greek ideal of beauty brought together many of the elements needed today in our quest for “Creative Dating”. Those elements include self-confidence, the ability to protect others, readiness to sacrifice present pleasure for the sake of future success, hard work, and the ability to surmount anxiety to have a chance to present ourselves in glory. It is there that we find an element of potential victory. Classical Greece also teaches us the perspective that the human body has God’s qualities, and God’s beauty. This can suggest to us that, perhaps if we are god-like creatures, then we need to rise to our fullest potential by becoming heroes and following the path to glory and perfection. In other words, we all need to work to become the best possible versions of ourselves, because we contain the qualities of the gods imprinted within us.

The gods in ancient Greece had an important role to play. They made their capricious presence felt everywhere. They interfered with human existence and often changed the whole trajectory of individual lives. They were able to transform human life into an endless string of victories — but they could also create a deep misery that was virtually  impossible to bear. It’s important for us to maintain, and even strengthen, our awareness of the fact that there are forces far stronger than us. The unpredictability and capriciousness of the gods turns human beings into mere puppets. Remember, for example, the Journey of Odysseus who spent 10 years struggling to get home so that he could embrace Penelope.

In our “Creative Dating” sessions, we will anchor ourselves in the wisdom of ancient Greece, from which we are going to borrow many useful ideas. It will be our reference point. Some of the Greek ideas are challenging, such as the emphasis on cultivating a fit body. Some of them are self-reflective, like “know yourself,” the axiom which commands us to to know who we are and where we are going. We need to also remember that every journey may take some time. But as we already know “Great things take time”. We aim to get the best from our dating, don’t we?

First Deserve, than Desire.

Workshop about dating

Hello everyone,

It is my great pleasure to welcome you to the idea of creative dating.

This is the supplemental material for our Dating Workshop in Rego Park. During our Sunday meetings there is not enough time to introduce all of the ideas about dating, so I will introduce some of those ideas here, instead. Our curriculum at “Creative dating” will be different from our group meetings, so you will be exposed to the issue of dating from different angles.

Whenever we deal with subjects as complex as love and dating, it’s useful to draw on the wisdom of those who have gone before us. Thus, I have relied on a great range of contributions from the fields of art, history, psychiatry, mindfulness, sports, and the social sciences. All these contributions have helped me to develop a strong understanding of love, relationships, and dating. I’ve included some of them on our supplemental reading list, in the hopes that they’ll enrich our discussions.

At the core of our conversation will be an idea: “First deserve; then desire”. What I mean by this is that even before we begin dating, we need to build up a healthy personality, develop good coping skills, and create an ethical framework that can help us navigate successfully through life. The concept of “first deserve” is based on the need for ambitious, far-reaching self-improvement and personal growth before we get into a relationship. That effort is what will, over time, transform us into loving, kind, and compassionate human beings, capable of loving and being loved on the deepest possible level.

Now, you may be thinking: “Hey, why not accept myself the way I am and jump into a relationship right now? My partner and I will surely find a way to live together happily!”

The question, although interesting, however has a weak point. What if your shortcomings create more relational problems than you expect? What if the relationship comes to a painful end? This could have lasting repercussions for you. The loss of any relationship is painful, since it spells the end of an opportunity for connection. But the end of a relationship can also leave you shaken, with your confidence crushed and an overwhelming sense of being rejected and unworthy of love.

This is my interpretation of the idea, but it’s only one of millions of ideas about dating. And that, of course, is exactly the point of what we’re all doing here. There are so many ideas available to us, mine and others. We look at all those ideas together, review some interesting concepts, and choose those which are the most fruitful for your particular place in life.

The second part of the proverb “first deserve; then desire” is about the reward that comes when, after hard, creative work, you finally have the chance to put your passion into practice. As you already know, there are no shortcuts in real life. As the saying goes: “The elevator to success is out of order, but the stairs are always open”. In other words, the more work you do, and the more sacrifices you make, the stronger the foundation will be for your desire.

Of course, the word desire evokes some questions. Who should be the object of our deepest desires? In our media-driven environment, superficial attributes such as beauty, financial freedom, and athletic abilities are often overvalued. In fact, it may be dangerous to choose your partner based on such unreliable, even accidental attributes. Other qualities such as hard work, intelligence, and the ability to learn are more long-lasting. After all, we are looking for successful, fulfilling relationships. We cannot overlook the deep and steady traits that are so crucial for meaningful life: compassion, kindness, generosity, and the ability to succeed.

Simply said, our conversation here is about the sacrifice that we need to undergo in order to find a long-lasting connection with the right person – with someone who will become a source of inspiration to us and contribute to our emotional and ethical growth. We want to find the person who will bring out the best in us and accept who we truly are.

How we can achieve the goal of “first deserve; then desire?” For now, you just need to remember that life is not a restaurant where you sit comfortably in candlelight and order wonderful French dishes and cold bottles of champagne. In such a restaurant, you enjoy an exquisite meal and a luxurious desert — and then you pay with a credit card. This is not how real-life works. Life is not a restaurant where you get what you want and pay later. Life is like a Chinese buffet where a huge array of fantastic dishes are spread out before you in an amazing variety of possibilities. All those choices are here and they are available right now. But you need to pay first – then, and only then, can you enjoy the meal.

What is the lesson to take away from this? Striving for success without hard work is like trying to harvest where you haven’t planted.