I admit: I have a few bad habits — and no, I’m not talking about my affinity for drinking and swearing. I quite like those habits, thankyouverymuch. I’ve been giving some thought lately to one such habit in particular, and the way it has bled into all different aspects of my life: I can be a bit indecisive.
We live in an age in which we are spoiled for choice. While it’s certainly nice to have options, sometimes it’s too much of a good thing. As I was packing for a week of housesitting in the country, I was tempted to grab a new book from my seemingly-endless ‘to read’ pile. However, I looked at my also seemingly-endless ‘started reading’ pile and realized I am in medias res of no less than seven books (some I have been working on for months because I keep putting them down to start something new). I decided that between World War Z, The Andromeda Strain, and The American Way of Death, I will have more than enough to choose from in the next seven days. The crazy thing is I am a pretty fast reader — with only the books I could pack at the family cottage, I finished Lord of the Rings in six days. Give me free rein, however, and I’ll bounce from book to book so often that it’ll take me months to finish just one.
I know you didn’t come here to listen to me talk about books, but it relates to other parts of my life. There are nights I spend as much time browsing Netflix as I do watching whatever awesomely cheesy horror movie I eventually settle on. When I’m driving, I have this weird need to know what all the radio stations are playing before I decide on a song (only to do it all again when said song ends), and I bounce from tab to tab in Chrome like the Internet is going to shut down tomorrow and it’s my last chance to absorb all the webz. And here’s the thing: while I know this behaviour may seem a bit batty, I also know I’m not alone, and it goes beyond just stuff. The combination of a veritable smorgasbord of options and fomo have left us as indecisive with relationships and people as we are when it comes to choosing a restaurant for dinner.
When Ahab and I first started seeing each other again I told him I was dating other people, and while he said he was fine with it at the time (he wasn’t), he also warned me not to get so caught up that I missed out on something with potential. Good advice from a bad source. A guy from Tinder seemed almost offended by the idea of ‘multi-dating’ (his god-awful term, not mine), but I told him I couldn’t be exclusive with someone before even meeting them. That being said, I did have my moment of epic un-Steph-ness when I tried to lock Edwin down in the middle of the first date (in my defence there was a hell of a lot of booze and very little food that evening). More recently, Tindude and I talked about this whole ‘dating in Toronto’ thing: how it can feel like you’re just one of many, that everyone is always looking for something else, something better. It’s fucking exhausting.
Part of it is a bit of self defence: if things go to hell, at least you don’t have all your eggs in one basket. It’ll be so much easier to pick yourself up and dust yourself off if you have
something someone else to fall back on. That decision not to ‘keep looking,’ especially with the immediate validation that apps like Tinder and OK Cupid offer (Feeling a bit low? Here are a bunch of dudes telling you nice things. And some not so nice things, but ignore them!), can seem like a big step. But is it really? Will I be losing out on something if I don’t have a bunch of profiles to swipe through when I’m waiting in line at the bank? Will I really feel like a connection was missed if I don’t ever talk to the random guy I never managed to meet up with who says ‘Hey. Sup?’ once every week or three?
Maybe, just maybe, I’ll be gaining something instead. Maybe, like the ability to actually finish a book again, I’ll find it a bit calmer (inside my head, at least) to not have quite so many balls in the air at one time. Apparently multi-tasking is bad for us and terribly unproductive from a career standpoint:
I seriously doubt it’s all that helpful when it comes to our love lives. The trick is to find that sweet spot between out there enough to actually find a connection and not so far out there that you can’t take a step back when you need to.
3 responses to “Choose your choices”
To be honest, I’ve never really understood the desire to multi-date. Now I totally get talking to a few different people before you actually get together, but if you do, and you want to see each other again – is it such a bad thing to focus on one possibility for a week or two?
Then again, with the whole feeling of being one of many, it’s an easy way to protect your feelings. I just can’t help thinking that if we gave each at least a date or two of focus, we might be surprised at the outcome. I don’t know anyone who likes feeling like their not someone’s first choice.
You’re right, focusing on one thing isn’t bad idea. It’s a strange dance in the beginning though: the logistics of online dating and talking to multiple people, combined with balancing fears and managing expectations, while still remaining optimistic and open enough to plod ahead. Plus there’s always the worry that they’re not on the same page as you — which means having an actual conversation about it. The horror.
The horror indeed! The beginning dance is always a tricky one and everyone does it differently. I just wish that the conversation was standard practice rather than the exception to the rule. At least if you’ve made it past the first date, ya know?