If your herd is larger, your top choice is likely to be better, in theory, anyway. When there is something better out there, you can’t help trying to find it.
You fall prey to the tyranny of choice—the idea that people, when faced with too many options, find it harder to make a selection.
If you are trying to choose a boyfriend out of a herd of thousands, you may choose none of them.
Or you see someone until someone better comes along.
The Pill, women in the workforce, widespread deferment of marriage, rising divorce rates, gay rights—these set off a prolonged but erratic improvisation on a replacement.
They started seeing each other, and two years afterward they were married. The process of selecting and securing a partner, whether for conceiving and rearing children, or for enhancing one’s socioeconomic standing, or for attempting motel-room acrobatics, or merely for finding companionship in a cold and lonely universe, is as consequential as it can be inefficient or irresolute. Women were asked to look at a trio of sketches of men in various settings, and to say where they’d prefer to find their ideal man: in camp chopping wood, in a studio painting a canvas, or in a garage working a pillar drill. 1400 Series computer, which then spit out your matches: five blue cards, if you were a woman, or five pink ones, if you were a man. Men were asked to rank drawings of women’s hair styles: a back-combed updo, a Patty Duke bob.Others choose for you; they bring five boxes of cereal to your door, ask you to select one, and then return to the warehouse with the four others. It is tempting to think of online dating as a sophisticated way to address the ancient and fundamental problem of sorting humans into pairs, except that the problem isn’t very old.Civilization, in its various guises, had it pretty much worked out.
The term for this is “trading up.” It can lead you to think that your opportunities are virtually infinite, and therefore to question what you have. For some, of course, there is no end game; Internet dating can be sport, an end in itself.