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How to Find Love in the New Normal, According to Science

Are you a romanticizer, a maximizer or a hesitater?
by Ara Eugenio
Apr 7, 2022
Photo/s: Shutterstock

Bas* is ready to find the one after the pandemic inadvertently prolonged his singlehood to four years since his last serious relationship, and he's looking for love the way it should be doneorganically.

The 26-year-old said he "[doesn’t] have any patience with dating apps" after swiping through Bumble one day. Unlike many singles who look for love, the possibility of love or at least a fling, he figured he wasn't one to chase love this way.

"I still trust the traditional way of dating," he said, all while acknowledging a sort of pressure he feels as a man nearing marrying age. But having seen his parents' union as testament, he maintains that "Love is something that we should wait for.. It may take some time, but all you really got to do is wait and have faith."

Bas shares the dilemma of those identified in relationship science as a "romanticizer", which, according to the book "How To Not Die Alone" written by Harvard-trained behavioral scientist Logan Ury, are one of three dating blindspots commonly identified among those struggling to couple up. 

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There's no right or wrong way to find love and be loved, no matter how the poets might disagree, according to popular culture. But whether you're gearing up to go back, or swimming in the dating pool already, dispelling dating behaviors flagged by love scientists could lead to a more satisfying dating life, no matter what your goal is. 

"In so many aspects of our lives, we want to understand nutrition, science, exercise, and financing careers. Why would we not apply a scientific lens to this? Because it's such an important part of people's lives. And so what I try to do is not take the magic out of dating, but actually reframe the magic," Ury, the Director of Relationship Science at dating app Hinge, told Vox Conversations.

"I think people are really focused on this wrong, calm, fairytale aspect of things.. At the end of the day, when I really look at the research, I think this idea of the spark or instant chemistry is actually leading us astray," she added, explaining how she came to identify three blindspots in her work.

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'The Romanticizer'

"You want the soul mate, the happily ever after—the whole fairy tale. You love love. You believe you are single because you haven’t met the right person yet.

Your motto: It’ll happen when it’s meant to happen."

While there's nothing wrong with being a hopeless romantic, Ury warns of the tendency for one to let themself down if they continue to expect that things can only go one way.

The antidote to this is to shift to the "work-it-out mindset", which entails learning that love requires work -- both in looking for it (who cares if you met in a dating app?), and staying in love once you did manage to find it (this is where the real work starts).

'The Maximizer'

"You love doing research, exploring all of your options, turning over every stone until you’re condent you’ve found the right one. You make decisions carefully. And you want to be 100 percent certain about something before you make your choice.

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Your motto: Why settle?

Ury describes maximizers as those who have unrealitics expectations of their partners, a mindset problem that "culture is really contributing to" given an era of dating apps. 

"They're always wondering what else is out there... They want to understand all the possible people that they could date and then choose the best one. But that's just not possible. You can't date every single person in your city, let alone every single person in the world. And so at a certain point, you just have to choose someone and make it work," she said.

Unlike Bas, Stella*, 21, said dating apps actually served her well, noting how the convenience it gives in laying out a potential match's "interests, location, and even how they seem to vibe all in just one profile." 

While she admitted to liking the validation she got from the matches she was getting, Stella said she eventually learned to hold onto a connection when it felt right. 

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As described by Ury, this is what maximizers should learn to be -- satisficers. "They don’t settle, they merely stop worrying what else is out there once they’ve made a decision," Ury said, citing research that show how satisficers tend to be happier, "because in the end, satisfaction comes from how you feel about your decision, not the decision itself."

'The Hesitater'

"You don’t think you’re ready for dating because you’re not the person you want to be yet. You hold yourself to a high standard. You want to feel completely ready before you start a new project; the same goes for dating.

Your motto: I’ll wait until I’m a catch."

If romanticizers have unreastic expectations of relationships, and maximizers of their partners, the problem hesitaters has is geared towards their own selves.

Hesitating is a problem when it comes to dating, especially if one concerns themselves too much with not being "perfect enough" to date. "But no one's ever 100% ready for anything. At some point, you just have to put yourself out there," Ury said, noting how dating is a skill that one can only get better at by practicing.

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"And that means going on dates and getting your reps in the other thing is that it takes a lot of time to figure out who you want to be with. And you can only figure that out by testing your hypothesis, right?," she added.

In the end, Ury said post-pandemic dating is like going to be hard anyway. 

"You're going to feel awkward on those first few dates. You might say the wrong thing, the person might cancel it. We're all just doing our best to kind of get out of this collective trauma that we've all been going through," she said.

But as long one keeps doing the right things, which are giving people a chance, putting themselves out there, being honest and vulnerable about who they are and what they want, eventually, they're going to find someone who's looking for the same things they are, she said. 

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