• Calvin Acker

The Paradox of Choice and How it Effects Dating

The Paradox of Choice is a psychology concept pioneered by Professor Barry Schwartz of Swarthmore College. "Schwartz maintained that an overabundance of options can actually lead to anxiety, indecision, paralysis and dissatisfaction."
Option Overflow - JustInMind

The real world example of this is buying jam. Imagine you're heart set on making toast with jam and realize you're out of jam. You got to the store and there is one jam. You will walk out satisfied because your needs were filled and you got the best option you could. On the other hand if the store had fifty jams, then when you leave your needs would be met but you would be less satisficed as you ponder if you picked the right one. Would apricot have been better? Should I have gotten raspberry?

The Paradox of Choice in Online Dating

When considering dating apps, it becomes very evident that the results of having too many options are at play. You have access to millions of people at your finger tips at any point. The perfect person is just one swipe away... right?

The problem occurs when people don't prioritize the matches they get. The abundance of dating options subconsciously biases everyone to be overly critical of matches. Due to the fact they believe they have so many other amazing options daters ask themselves questions like: "Could I do better?", "Is he cute enough?" and "Are we really clicking enough?".

Due to the fact that they have seemingly infinite options they are letting your best matches slip away. Aziz Ansari in Modern Romance says that it is better to go on three dates with one person that three first dates with different people. His logic is that it takes time to find what is most attractive about someone. It takes time to get to know someone and begin to appreciate them fully.

And yet getting to three dates doesn't happen enough. Daters critically conclude after one date not perfect date, or one not perfect message, that their time is better spent elsewhere. Rather than giving their matches a real shot at getting to know them and deeply connecting they already have their foot out the door as they're looking for the little thing that justifies them finding someone else who they're certain is one swipe away. These conclusions come from indecision from having too many options.

This underlying problem played a big role in the design of Glimpse.

There is a maximum amount of matches any user can have and when this max is achieved swiping is taken away. This is an effort to get users to focus on getting to know the matches they have.

The reward system of the app incentives you to give your matches a real chance, users get no reward if they let non "perfect" messages stop the conversation with matches.

Users can't re-evaluate their physical attraction decision from earlier. If you unmatch with someone before 20 messages you don't know if you just unmatched with the most attractive person you swiped on or the least. This forces them to focus on the conversation.


All of these are efforts to get users passed the effects of The Paradox of Choice. The real lesson here is online dating biases you to be overly critical of your matches. Recognizing this and trying hard to get to know a match well before un-matching is going to be the biggest factor in your success.

Leave a comment below about how you see this effecting your dating success and regular life.

23 views0 comments