Credit: Gerd Altmann /Pixaby

“Isn’t it ironic that our highly connected world makes it harder to be connected?” This is probably the #1 complaint I hear from my clients. We are trying to find love, get over a break-up or understand why we get ghosted in a world that seems to have so much abundance. Yet, so many tell me they are lonely and want to find just one decent person. 

The main reason is simple, but love is complex. It is the hardest decision we ever make in life. What other decision takes decades to get right? Dating apps are creating a paradox effect. They are giving off the illusion of many choices while making it harder to find viable options. Apps have become the new bar, but sometimes we unknowingly walk into a frat party that may exclude women; a drunk feast; 2 a.m. stragglers looking for any hookup potential; or a concubine expecting to find decent people. This is not just disempowering, it erodes your self-esteem and alters your decision-making ability.

We’re treating people like we do our social media streams.

The shiniest object is what we stop at, then move onto the next shiny object. Are we creating a false reality? What is it doing to our sense of self? Are we becoming more narcissistic? Are we becoming more insecure? Are dating decision-making patterns just an extension of how we behave on social networks? Are we able to make snap judgments based on such little data?

Technically, your brain does detect what you think is attractive in just a few seconds [actually, milliseconds].

Sounds great, right? You can find a match in milliseconds. No. That limits you to just what you *think* are ideal physical characteristics. Here’s the next wave of data that your brain provides. Your brain also is simultaneously processing subconscious factors that trigger emotional factors along with the physical characteristics and that is what makes you decide on that person’s image. 

Oh, but it doesn’t just end at that completely complex process. The other fun brain fact that impacts our ability to make decisions on what we see is inattentional blindness. This factor happens because the brain only focuses on the things we expect to see. It’s the main reason in gaming that you can miss someone that will kill you. It’s also why you can drive along the countryside for an hour and not remember the details of the scenery.

When it comes to dating decision-making, your brain will discount data when you are actively searching for your match. 

That’s just determining a swipe. But, we all know that partner selection and who is an ideal fit for a person isn’t simply reasoned away by brain functioning. Essentially, what is happening is that we’re overlooking good candidates. In my Your Happiness Hypothesis study, 65% of the active online dating users found that 90% of the time they were overlooking ideal candidates because they kept using the same parameters for their searches. Only when we were able to explore the subconscious factors that led their search for their ideal partner were we able to change the quality of their dating approach.