By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Detrimental dating: Too many choices might not be a good thing for single adults
Research and experts suggest too many dating choices hinder a person's overall dating happiness. - photo by Phong Pham,

Can a single adult ever have too many dating options? Research and experts suggest too many dating choices hinder a person's overall dating happiness and ability to make a decision.

This dilemma has the potential to affect many singles across the nation. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 124.6 million single Americans, 16 and older, as of August, which is nearly half of the national population, Bloomberg reported.

Ian Kerner, a sexuality counselor and New York Times best-selling author, wrote forCNN that dating options have expanded since more men and women are marrying outside their ethnicities and religions. In addition, the advancement in technology and transportation allows people to date in various geographic areas. Long distance relationships are more of a reality than ever before.

"Never in history have we had so many potential partners to choose from — and never have we had so much difficulty choosing" he wrote. "In fact, several recent studies suggest that this explosion of options has made men and women feel more confused and uncertain about finding a partner than ever before."

But relationship experts and other observers are wondering if the increase in dating options has any negative effects on single adults.

"The availability of seemingly unlimited possibilities is of course not exclusive to dating sites. We live in a world of abundance, where we can find and purchase virtually anything that we want. But this wealth of choices can become an overwhelming experience," Liraz Margalit wrote for The Entrepreneur.

study (paywall), conducted by Sheena S. Iyengar and Mark R. Lepper was published in 2000 by the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology and provides further insight into the dilemma of overwhelming choice. In the study, customers at a market were asked to take part in sampling various jam flavors. On the first day customers had a choice of six jams and on the second day there were 24 jams.

Customers tasted the same amount of jams, but their purchase choices were different. Only 3 percent of those offered 24 jam choices bought a jam jar, while 30 percent of those who were offered six jams bought a jar.

Iyengar said the study "raised the hypothesis that the presence of choice might be appealing as a theory, but in reality, people might find more and more choice to actually be debilitating," The New York Times reported.

People have a natural tendency toward indecisiveness and more choices compound this issue. Single adults can become distracted by the thought that there is a better man or woman around the corner.

The New York Times quoted author Lori Gottlieb, who said that too many single women think, "I have to pick just the right one. Instead of wondering, ‘Am I happy?’ they wonder, ‘Is this the best I can do?’ ”

Sophie Blystone, a columnist from the Richmond, wrote, "I completely understand that when you’re single and desperately looking for love, the idea that you have too many options might sound ridiculous."

Blystone continued, "To a certain extent you are right. I mean, you do have to keep looking. But you also need to be willing to settle at some point. I know “settle” is a controversial word, so please don’t misinterpret what I’m saying. … My goal at the end of the day is still for all of us to have meaningful and long-lasting relationships."