Going on dates is not a good way to find love. The process itself gets you biased if you do end up starting a relationship.
One of the things that makes dating a fucked up business is the concept called relationship escalator. Dates – kiss – sex – relationship – moving in – getting married – having kids, often in that order. You’ve been on a date and couldn’t understand who is the person, you don’t know if you like them or could love them. You go on a second date cause you want more information, you have a good time, but can’t really tell. You go on the next and by now it feels like it’s weird if you’re not kissing yet. Relationship escalator is like a set of expectations that make you feel like after each step you’ve taken in a relationship, the next step should follow. The problem is, it makes people’s relationships progress because they progress, and not because they genuinely want the other person. Accepting to go on a date already sets the expectation for the both of you that you’re having a job interview, you’re considering the other as a potential partner, and not just any person to spend good time with. That expectation sets limits to what your options are for activities, and if those are limited, you’re also going to see the person from limited perspectives, hence not really getting to know them.
If you’ve been on a few dates and you have progressed to the wake of a relationship, the question you should ask yourself now, sooner than later, is:
Am I together with that person because I genuinely love who the person is in character, behavior, motivation, emotion, as a whole, and they are just the most awesome human on Earth I want to spend my time with – or am I together with them because the relationship has “naturally progressed” to this place and you get along?
If it’s the latter, you might be in it for the wrong reasons, or even for no real reasons. In that regard, dating because of the relationship escalator expectation it sets on you is a type of bias.
The second thing that biases us in finding partners are situational factors. I’ve written an extensive post about bottleneck relationships, i.e the relationships that form when your dating pool is limited so you find the best possible mate out of the options that you have. E.g Erasmus+ or being stuck on a somewhat lonely island. I call bottleneck that situation when you start to like a person because in comparison to other options your current person of fancy is the best for you.
Other situational factors that make us like others more than we intrinsically would are situations like being conditioned. For example, every time you have someone over and you watch the same movie you end up in bed. Next time you have someone over and you watch the same movie but don’t end up in bed you are likely to find yourself having a crush on that person. Other situational factors include receiving support from them on an emotionally difficult time; taking part of a workshop where people open up and have to be vulnerable with each other; happy accidents or coincidences like running into each other on the way to work every morning or getting help from a stranger with your broken down car on the roadside. Possibilities are endless.
Do you see a common thread? Although many of the situations that lead people to attraction sound romantic, they are less likely that way because of intrinsic reasons. The question to ask yourself is:
Am I together with that person because I genuinely love who the person is in character, behavior, motivation, expression, as a whole, and they are just the most awesome human on Earth I want to spend my time with – or am I together with them because they are better than someone else or we have met in romantic or unlikely circumstances that made me excited to meet someone?
If it is the latter, you are likely to have come to it because of situation bias.
I’m trying to advocate something here. That something is cherishing people for intrinsic reasons. Choosing them because who they are is what you love. It’s probably not so easy to distinguish between these reasons in our own lives. And maybe it is sometimes wrong, because if a relationship that progressed on the escalator works, why ruin it, right? Yes, if it works, keep up the good work and enjoy life as you can. For some, however, it wouldn’t suffice.
For choosing a partner, the Sudoku metaphor prevails. If you are a horizontal line and your potential partner is a vertical line in a Sudoku, and a 9 in the intersection would represent a relationship between you, you can’t force the 9 in that square or you’d end up changing the whole foundation of who the both of you are. The 9 in that square must be the optimal solution. In that regard, these biases are a bit like faulty strategies to solve a Sudoku: “Eh ok this big square is missing 3, 5 and a 9, here they go! (not noticing that all 6 configurations were possible at this stage).” Chances are less favorable for it to fit.
And so you cannot know if your Sudokus could match if you haven’t taken the time to get to know the configuration of your potential partner’s Sudoku.
They shouldn’t be the best for you because they are better than other options. They should be the best for you because who you are and who they are is a match [made in heaven hehe cheesy line], a Sudoku that gets solved.
People usually get in relationship with the ones they have known for a longer time from childhood or a school bench – this way they have all the information about the person they are trying to build the relationship with. Some on the other hand just can’t feel the connection with people they are with as they seem so different. As you mentioned the bottleneck situation, it also appears in the everyday city life. You are limited by connections you have at work or at school. And here you get a perfect tool to get out of this limitation – Dates.
Dating is an art of sort. You are not forced to progress with a person. You can choose to bail on a second or a third date if you are not ready to move on. Dating just helps to meet new people, start conversation on similar themes, put into awkward situations and see the outcomes how people are handling those together. You can still have your time and do the extra homework as the interest grows and see whether his/hers mindset fits with yours. Social media helps and you totally have all the time you need.
Stop looking for mister/missis right. There won’t be a perfect fit ever, as even in sudoku – with the hardest ones – you seriously have multiple configurations to fill in the puzzle. Yes this person might not be the coolest in the world, but if he/she is reliable enough, makes you laugh, takes care of you and you have at least some common interests – why should it even matter? You forgot about the main point of relationship – compromise. You have to sacrifice something in order for both to be happy.
I would say that Tinder had its influence on you in this sense. You expect all the knowledge about the person in the matter of swipe left or right, forgetting, that this platform was invented to bring together people for one night stands and not for serious relationship – men in Estonia at least usually use app for this reason only (such a low score 😦 I feel ashamed ) – so don’t expect serious mind changing conversations from there. The system itself forces you progress already starting with the first swipe and its no wonder that you feel bit forced moving on this way.
Just be chill and don’t approach dating as a system. You still have a freedom of choice – otherwise how you will find someone if you won’t be looking 😉
Actually, most people I have personally met on Tinder have been desperate to find a partner to have babies with and one in particular succeeded in just a bit over a year since I met the guy.
I disagree with your recommendations, especially with compromise. In negotiations compromise is lose-lose. There is always a reason why someone wants certain things in certain ways and in most cases there’s a way to accommodate both.