It's easy to think couples, couples, couples on Valentine's Day. I would therefore like to dedicate this two minute read to singles and debunk a few myths (which I found here). With all the contradicting dating advice out there, I intend to clean up the mess and make economics useful for people in their daily lives: love-o-nomics!
1. "You'll find it when you aren't looking!"
Your economist says nay. To the contrary, I'd recommend to look, and look carefully. First decide WHAT you are looking for, then look. If there aren't enough members of the opposite gender where you typically roam, roam somewhere else. Men might want to try the arts, yoga, Zumba, prancercise or philanthropy, and women might try stadium sports, outdoors, computer related hobbies and about everything that involves speed: car racing, speed boats and space tourism (examples courtesy of my husband.)
Before you hit the dating game, it makes sense to sit down with yourself and list the top 3-8 MUST HAVE criteria you are looking for. The criteria should be perceivable on the first two dates. (E.g. wants kids, has a stable job, not more than 4 inches shorter/taller, etc).
2) "You can't be happy in a relationship unless you're happy with yourself first."
Partially true, moreover there are many singles who are happy with themselves. This is not the point. What's more important is to define what will make you happy in a relationship and what won't -- before you get there. The dating game is not all roses and women and men sometimes look for different things. You may need to negotiate until you get what you deserve.
3) "You're still young, you got all the time in the world."
Well, exactly. Singles want to USE that time and maybe spend it in a relationship. Good news from your economist: it needn't take ages or gazillions of dates to find the right one. Dating 12 different people should roughly be enough.
4) "You deserve someone who wants to give you everything."
Afraid this is a little vague for an economist. What is "everything" supposed to mean? As I said, sit down, clarify for yourself (in clear, not vague) terms, what exactly you are looking for in a person. List the traits, decide how you will find out about them, and swear to yourself that you will not waste more than two dates with someone who fails the list. (As a friend of mine likes to say: who will find an apartment faster, the person that has a list of five criteria, or the person that has no idea?)
5) "You're looking in the wrong places."
A "place" is never "wrong." When it's about dating, it's gender ratios that matter. So if you are a man, don't hang out too much in places with many more men than women (and for women the other way round.) Do the opposite.
6) "You should try online dating!"
This one the economist happens to agree with. It's good to cast your net widely. Also, knowledgeable intermediaries make markets more efficient. So, choose your intermediary wisely. The traditional matchmaker (aka marriage counselor) may have much more knowledge than Internet sites. But some internet sites also embody a lot of acquired knowledge. (And some don't.)
7) "You're too picky."
I'm all for picky. Dear, you will be happy about every year you waited when you finally find the right one without settling. Trust me.
8) "Oh hey, but also, never settle."
As I said.
9) "You need to put yourself out there more."
"Out there"?? Are you kidding me, what is that supposed to mean? Unless advice gets more PRECISE than this it's just not helpful. Apart from that, it's not about "putting oneself out there" but more about "leaning in there." Cultivate your favorite hobbies and values with others. Find a group that practices them, whether a sport, environmentalism, a faith, you name it. The likelihood of meeting someone that matches your criteria is much higher in circles with shared values.
10) "I'm Engaged!"
I know it's super hard, but just imagine you actually WILL get engaged in 6 or 9 months. Imagine you had that certainty. Just for a minute. Do you realize how much more it would make you savor your last months as a single? I am just saying this because I wish I had spent the last years and months of my singlehood with a more relaxed mind. You will never again have this much control over your time. Enjoy it.
Dr. Rebekka Grun is a PhD in economics and works as a senior economist for a large international organization. She has over 15 years' experience advising public and private persons on relationship and political decisions.