Most of us grew up being told that one day we’ll find The One, get married, have babies, and grow old together. It’s a formula that seems to have served past generations well, so as we came of age, the search was on. And we liked our chances because, thanks to dating apps like Tinder, we have more options at our fingertips than any generation before us. Still, fewer young adults than ever are walking the aisle, and for the first time in America’s history, single adults outnumber married ones. On this episode, we explore the wild world of online dating, which empowers singles to accept or reject hundreds of potential mates an hour without ever really seeing them, and we ask the question: with all these choices, why aren’t more people finding The One? Featured guests include Gossip Girl actress Zuzanna Szadkowski and world-famous psychologist Barry Schwartz.
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Julie Mirlicourtois:Before we begin, please note that the topic we're about to explore may not be suitable for our young listeners.
Speaker:Oh, gosh. Let me tell you something. Let me tell you something. I've been on so many bad dates, I don't even know what to do. I've been on a date so bad, I started a marriage. That's how many bad dates I've been on. My prom date was a gay guy with one eye. I don't even know his name, he ditched me to go to Chili's. I don't even know how that can happened.
Speaker:The first second I go to meet him, I just knew, like oh my gosh, I hate you. I hate you so much. And it wasn't because it was winter and he was wearing flip flops with jeans. It wasn't the only reason, but it was the main reason.
Speaker:I'm the guy on the Houston dating scene who you are supposed to recognize and go swipe left. Walk away.
Speaker:This guy still has the nerve to lean over and kissed me. I was like, ew, you had a sandwich with onions at the restaurant, the nerve.
Speaker:At the end of the lunch, we stood up, she kissed my on the cheek. That was a home run for me. And she said, one day you are going to make one lucky girl a fantastic boyfriend, and at 13 years old that was magic to my ears. Two years later when I went out on my first date, I was filled with confidence, because Barbie Benton said I passed the test.
Eric Huffman:When I got out of my truck she started walking toward me, then she starting running toward me, then she dropped my letter jacket and she reared back her large white hand. She smacked me across the face. She landed the first one, she tried to land another one and gave me the old knee to the crotch and she was the perfect height for it. And it got really bad, I didn't know what to do. I was terrified, so I tried to grab her and pull in close so she couldn't get that motion with her really long arms. I think her mom must have heard my screams and thought and they were hers. I hopped in my truck and speed down their driveway to safety with my letter jacket, and every white girl everywhere in my rear view mirror. And I never looked back.
Eric Huffman:So that's me Eric Huffman talking about the only serious relationship that I ever had in high school and the only white girl I ever dated before meeting my wife Giovanna. When I was just 18 years old. Last month my church gathered singles from all over Houston to talk about sex and dating and romance and relationships.
Speaker:I haven't had a date since 1979. And so...
Eric Huffman:To break the ice on that first night we invited people to open up about their funniest and cringe worthiest and most heartbreaking dating and relationship stories. And spending four nights with a room full of single people confirmed what I had been sensing for a while. That the dating scene in 2019 is a cruel and confusing place.
Speaker:They feel undercut by other women on the dating scene who don't have those same boundaries. So the pressure is on to comprise your values to try to keep a mans attention.
Eric Huffman:And it doesn't seem to be getting any better, even though single adults make up half of Americas total population.
Speaker:For me and a lot of my friends, those guys who send pictures that they shouldn't be, and are really off putting to a lot of women, make us a little more reserved and not as self confident because we just kind of expect that's what we are seen as. We're not all out there trying to get into your pants. We do want emotional connections, not just these random hookups.
Eric Huffman:If dating as we know it isn't working for most of us, if we'll suggest in this episode dating is doing more harm than good than what needs to change. What should single people be searching for the one. That's today, on Maybe God.
Radio:(Maybe God Intro)
Eric Huffman:You're listening to Maybe God, I'm Eric Huffman.
Eric Huffman:Hello there Maybe God listeners. Thank you for joining us today, I've just been in awe about how quickly this pod cast has been growing. We now have listeners in over 40 countries worldwide and we are seeing about 1000 new listeners every week. If you are one of those, I want to say, especially to you, welcome to Maybe God. All this growth has happened with very little promotion on our end, it's almost 100% thanks to you, our loyal listeners, who are sharing this podcast with your friends and your family and coworkers. Thank you so much. And please keep sharing and keep writing your reviews on iTunes so more and more people can find out about Maybe God.
Eric Huffman:Your passion for this podcast motivates us to work even harder and we are just so grateful.
Eric Huffman:Okay, so let's get started. Today's topic is something that I have very little personal experience with and honestly knowing what I now know about the state of the dating scene, I'm so relieved I met my wife at 18. I never had to create a Tinder profile or try to pick some girl up at a bar. I don't think I would last a day in that world. Now because I'm a pastor people often feel comfortable sharing their most personal stories with me. Sometimes I wish I knew a little bit less, than I know about what's going on out there. Or a lot less. I honestly think that the single people in my church are struggling more than any other group. Statistical fewer adults are getting married than ever before, and the ones that are getting married are waiting long to wed then any other generation before them has waited.
Eric Huffman:But that doesn't mean that the desire for marriage and family and kids that it's going away. That drive is just as strong as ever. Most single people that I know walk through the world feeling incomplete. Like they are missing a piece of themselves and that part is what wrecks me. Because I believe that everybody is created in the image of God and as a whole person. The bible never says that love and marriage is what makes us complete. Strictly speaking, marriage, in the New Testament is only for those of us who aren't strong enough to not sleep around. So the push towards romance in this idolization of marriage and family, that's not biblical. That's cultural. And its making single people feel like their lives are on hold until they meet the one and walk down the aisle.
Eric Huffman:And almost without fail, one of the first questions out of a married persons mouth whenever we see a single friend is, so are you seeing anyone yet? Surely, we can do better then that. So this episode isn't just for single people, we all have our work cut out for us to fundamentally change the conversation around dating and sex and marriage.
Eric Huffman:But first, let's paint a better picture of what its like today for singles. If you haven't dated in a while you might not realize that 40,000,000 Americans now use online dating platforms like Match, and Tinder, Bumble and Christian Mingle. Its been estimated that adults 18-30 spend about 10 hours a week on these apps and websites. Maybe God producer, Julie M., with our first story about a Tinder date gone wrong. Hey Julie.
Julie Mirlicourtois:Hey Eric.
Eric Huffman:So what is it you have for us today?
Julie Mirlicourtois:Well this first story comes to us from my favorite New York Times column of all time called Modern Love. I've been reading it since I was a single myself living in New York City.
Eric Huffman:So, you were single in New York City. Which one were you during that time?
Julie Mirlicourtois:Which one was I?
Eric Huffman:Yeah, were you Carrie, a Samantha, a Charlotte, a Miranda?
Julie Mirlicourtois:You're kidding right?
Eric Huffman:I mean, everyone's a something. I'm a Carrie.
Julie Mirlicourtois:Oh my gosh, of course you are. But anyway, Modern Love is all real stories about romance and relationships. But they are not just a bunch of happy love stories, it's real life stuff. And so last summer I was reading this crazy story about a Tinder romance gone wrong and the more we worked on this episode, the more I thought back to it and how it's really and extreme but totally symbolic example of what so many people are putting up with these days on the dating apps. So I started chatting back and forth with the author of the piece over email and I didn't realize it at first, but she's actually a well known actress who played one of the most loved characters on the hit CW series Gossip Girl. For six seasons.
Eric Huffman:Oh wow.
Julie Mirlicourtois:Have you seen it Eric?
Eric Huffman:I have not. Not a favorite of mine.
Julie Mirlicourtois:The show actually revolves around the lives of several super privileged teens who live on the upper east side of Manhattan and involves its own fair share of relationship sagas.
Julie Mirlicourtois:So we have to start from the beginning and talk about Derota.
Julie Mirlicourtois:Actress Zuzanna Szadkowski played Dorota on Gossip Girl, a countess from Poland who escaped her arranged marriage by moving to US and becoming the housekeeping and closest confidant of wealthy teenage Blair Waldorf, played Leighton Meester.
Zuzanna Szadkowski:The quintessential thing was just the way I would say all their names. Miss Blair, Mister Chuck, Miss Serena.
Julie Mirlicourtois:Zuzanna was 28 years old when she landed the role of playing the Waldorf's lovable and strange maid.
Zuzanna Szadkowski:This world of Gossip Girl was so glamorous and all of these characters were so fabulous, upper east side, young people but just glamed out to the most degree. And then here's Dorota this downstairs housekeeper. I think that the appeal was that she was kind of like the moral center of the show in a way. Because she was the kind of mother figure, maternal figure. She always came from a place of love and protecting her charge, Blair.
GG Narrator:Every girl fantasizes about finding her princess charming, but if that prince refuses to come.
Dorota:You are late. Time for breakfast.
Blair:I'll be down in a minute. I just have to finish something.
GG Narrator:A girl has to take matters into her own hands.
Dorota:Don't forget, God always watching Miss Blair.
Julie Mirlicourtois:Did people always assume you had that accent in real life?
Zuzanna Szadkowski:Oh always, that's the only one thing when I meet fans in the world, the first and foremost thing on everyone's mind is that they thought I was really that, that that was my real voice. Which is a nice compliment because I was working hard to represent my Polish people. I was born in Poland and I came to the U.S. when I was 3 but my parents have thick accents and I'm fluent in Polish, but to be on scene and to pass as 100% Pole, I was very proud of that.
Julie Mirlicourtois:Just like Dorota, Zuzanna was raised roman Catholic by her Polish parents. Her mom and dad took a lot of pride in the fact that Zuzanna was born on the day that Pope John Paul the second, a Polish man, delivered his first speech.
Julie Mirlicourtois:But unlike Dorota, Zuzanna left her childhood religion behind when she moved out of her parents house. Today the actress describes herself as an atheist with slight Buddhist inclinations. Zuzanna's love life was also very different from Dorota's. In season three of Gossip Girl, the housekeeper married and upper east side Russian doorman named, Vannia.
Speaker:What do you love most about Dorota?
Speaker:This is tough question. So many things I love about her.
Zuzanna Szadkowski:There was this huge wedding and tons of extras and there's an ice sculpture of us and all this stuff. It was really fun because I got to have this big grand wedding, as Dorota.
Julie Mirlicourtois:Zuzanna has never experienced that big grand wedding in real life. She did have a boyfriend the entire time she acted in Gossip Girl but she says she put that relationship on autopilot. She put all of her effort into acting and very little effort into her boyfriend. So when both the show and that relationship ended in 2012, she found herself single. In her mid 30's, and learning how to date in a totally different world.
Zuzanna Szadkowski:I remember the first time somebody showed me the Tinder app and I was like, what? You swipe the people and it was so crazy, I would never do that, but then after a little while it was like, I want to go on dates so that was to me the only option I could see, so I signed up and started. What shocked me the most is the lack of respect for each other. If I were to meet somebody in real life, like say at the super market, and we were to go on a date. It's like I feel like there would be an immediate sense of humanity between us because we met on a playing field that's two humans. So I think that if one person wasn't interested in the other they would say thank you, that was fun but I don't want to do it again. Some kind of a person to person basis level of respect. I think in the dating apps what's amazing is, because you're playing the field with like five people at once, once you don't have use for somebody you drop them and a sense of no caring about each other in a social way.
Zuzanna Szadkowski:So you really lose your trust in other peoples humanity really quickly when you are on these apps.
Julie Mirlicourtois:Zuzanna said she was looking for man with a great sense of humor and lots of passion for his work, similar to her passion for acting. Although on her dating profiles she made sure never to mention her role as Dorota.
Zuzanna Szadkowski:I think I'm much sexy more useful, more flirty than a Dorota type character. I just really didn't want potential dates googling me and finding an old Polish housekeeper. So I didn't lead with that at all.
Julie Mirlicourtois:But she did make it very clear on her profiles that she wasn't just looking for hookups. She was dating to find a long term boyfriend.
Zuzanna Szadkowski:I matched with this guys James and he was cute. We wrote a little bit and he was kind of funny. So I met him and the minute he got there, he was really funny and open and was really responsive to me, I could tell he really liked me and there's kind of a nice thing about that. So we started just dating and the things is it's just a lot really fast. Once he was in my life, it's like he didn't leave for a week.
Julie Mirlicourtois:James told Zuzanna that he worked in real estate. Which is why he had a very flexible schedule and lots of time to spend with her. He was between apartments too. Living with friends who needed help with their baby while he planned his next move. That's why they'd spend time at her place during their 13 day relationship and that's where they had sex for the first time.
Zuzanna Szadkowski:He started saying, I love you to me which was, I remember laughing and being like that's crazy, you can't say that to somebody, and he's like. You know you love me too, and I was like ha ha no. It was kind of light hearted but it was also super intense. One of my best girlfriends lives close by in my neighborhood she and her husband wanted to have dinner, so I was like I'll bring James and then they can get a look at him or whatever. And the dinner was fine and my friend Jill thought he was so affectionate and so into you, you know, and I'm not the most affectionate person, I'm not super huggy and she kind of thought it was funny because I was getting all kissy on the whole time. After that dinner was when he told me there was something he had to tell me.
Zuzanna Szadkowski:I had a very dark feeling, I was like what it this going to be because he seemed really serious about it and he told me that what I'm going to tell you is going to change everything. I brought him back to my house for the conversation and we were sitting on the couch and then he basically said, everything that I've told you use to be true, but it's not true anymore. So I use to be a real estate agent, I use to live in my friends apartment, and I don't have a job, and I don't have a home, in fact I live in a men's shelter.
Zuzanna Szadkowski:The very first thing I said in response was, but you have so many shoes. That's truly what I said because it was first visual that came into my mind because there were no external signs to me that he was homeless because he always was fashionable. He did have different pair of shoes on almost every time I saw him. I had this weird confusion at first, and it was crazy because it was like I was sitting with a person had some familiarity with, and he changed in front of my eyes with somebody that was... I felt like I was suddenly the victim of a home invasion.
Zuzanna Szadkowski:I immediately felt, first hit was like this weird fear, and I felt violated and then the second hit I had was, I felt great empathy for him because I was like, he's a mess, he's a person who has nothing, and he's like suffering and so I immediately felt a great surge of wanting to be kind to him wanting to like care for him in the moment. So I had this really strange back and forth because I wanted him out, and I wanted to scream and get him out but also didn't want him to be hurt. So I was doing a lot of weird double talk, and it wasn't until I got him out of my house that I basically said I have stuff to do. He left and I basically shut the door and occurred to me later it was more than just dishonesty I think he was actually using me like I believe that he was really lost in his life, and he didn't someone to help him, and he needed a place to stay, he needed good to eat and stuff.
Zuzanna Szadkowski:And the thing was that guy doesn't reserve to date and to have love and to be in someones life it's just that you have to fix the homelessness before you start the Tindering, you know what I mean. That's like fundamentally where... because of that it become clear to me that he was using Tindering to fix his homelessness.
Julie Mirlicourtois:Zuzanna never saw James again. He tried to work his way back into her life asking repeatedly over text message to see her again, but Zuzanna made it very clear that their relationship was over. What wasn't over was this new trend in her dating life.
Zuzanna Szadkowski:I started to think of it in terms of, I'm a walking talking Tinder life boat. But these guys are on Tinder and they see me and they like jump on to save themselves.
Julie Mirlicourtois:Shortly after she kicked James out of her apartment at 36 years old she met Carlos. She didn't feel an instant connection to him, and their personalities just weren't a great match. She admits she even found him boring, but he was smart at the time he was a PHD student and seemed nice enough to deserve a chance.
Zuzanna Szadkowski:I went on several dates with him and they were all kind of the same, a little bit boring but I was trying it. And then he just disappeared. Sometimes that happens, that's how people deal with each other in this internet dating world just rude, just totally ignoring. And then two weeks later he came back around and texted me and wanted to have a date, I thought okay, I'll say hi to him, but I'll explain that I don't really want it to continue. So we sat down in the park and within the first 10 ten minutes of conversation he basically asked me if I wanted to be his girlfriend.
Zuzanna Szadkowski:I thought, so weird, I don't know you at all. I haven't talked to you for two weeks, I was kind of laughing if off, and said that's not very reasonable, like no I don't. Maybe then a little later in the conversation he said I'm really sorry that I was out of touch for two weeks, two weeks ago I tried to kill myself and my roommate found me and so he caught it just in time and called 911 and they were able to resuscitate me, you know because of that I was on a two week psych hold, so that's why I wasn't able to call.
Zuzanna Szadkowski:And I was sitting there and was a gasp and he was like, please don't feel sorry for me. And a part of me wanted to say, I don't even feel that sorry for you because I don't know you I just feel scared. I hit me so clearly somehow I was a beacon of safety I was life boat yet again. I think walked away from that one really reevaluating, thinking basically twice in a row had a guy who needed me for dear life, it wasn't about me at all. So it was eye opening.
Eric Huffman:Zuzanna's story doesn't end there, we'll hear more in just a bit. But while her Tinder nightmares may seem a little bit over the top they are actually on par with a lot of what the people I know are experiencing on dating apps all the time. The cat fishing, the ghosting, the severe deception, that's all very real and very common. In a recent survey 53% of people who use dating apps admitted to lying on their profiles. It's not uncommon to find people who are in serious relationships ever married people on these dating apps. About one third of Tinder users in the United States are in long term relationships.
Eric Huffman:Hey, how you doing?
Zuzanna Szadkowski:I'm good, how are you?
Eric Huffman:I decided to spend an evening hearing first time dating stories for singles in the trenches, first by drinking wine with a group of single women, ranging from age 24-36, all of them go to my church.
Eric Huffman:Hi everybody.
Eric Huffman:This isn't awkward at all. I've never been more terrified. And then by having a beer with mostly single guys who helped me experience a dating app for the first time in my life.
Eric Huffman:So what do I do here, so I'm looking at the girls.
Speaker:Are you on the discover tab?
Speaker:Yeah, he's on the discover.
Speaker:How do you feel about Asian girls? Cause she really likes you.
Eric Huffman:So everything I heard mostly confirmed what I believed to be true about dating, but most dating that is happening, is happening through apps like Tinder, Bump, okCupid and all the rest.
Speaker:Definitely the majority.
Eric Huffman:Over half of the weddings I officiate these days are for couples who met online. So it's not surprising that the online dating industry is doing quite well. They are generating about 2.5 billion dollars in revenue each year in the United States alone. But what's strange to me, how no one seems to like these apps. Tinder started as an experience in college fraternity and sorority houses. It was designed in Silicone Valley, not to find your perfect match, but to hook you to the app with the same techniques used by slot machines in Las Vegas. Tinder wants you to become addicted to swiping left and swiping right. And let's just be clear, the maker of these apps, don't benefit when you find the one and live happily ever after. They profit most when you aren't finding the one, but you are too hooked to the process of swiping that you can't walk away.
Eric Huffman:But in the 21st Century, online dating has become a necessary evil, for just about everyone that wants to find the one.
Speaker:I think that it's so convenient, like right now I'm not on any apps, and then I won't have a date for a while. So then I guess I need to get back on one, then I'm on a week, yep hate this, off again.
Speaker:I think it's tiring too, for a lot of people to go on first dates like over and over and over and there's no real connections and it's just not working out and it just gets frustrating after a while. It's exhausting.
Eric Huffman:Back to my first time swiping, on someone else's app of course, what's crazy is how quickly it feels so natural to judge a potential date on one picture.
Eric Huffman:This will be a no for me, she looks high maintenance.
Speaker:They all do. That's like a picture from-
Eric Huffman:It's really amazing how the littlest things, like who took their profile picture in, where was it taken, it all becomes an indicator of whether or not you could spend the rest of your life with this person.
Eric Huffman:What are the dealer breakers when you are looking at a guys profile?
Speaker:If they have their shirt off.
Eric Huffman:If they have their shirt off. Wait, wait, wait.
Speaker:Shirt off selfie in the bathroom, bye.
Eric Huffman:Shirt off in the bathroom.
Speaker:Selfies are creepy too.
Eric Huffman:Wait, you just you take selfies.
Speaker:That's different I'm a girl.
Eric Huffman:Oh. A guy who takes selfies is weird.
Speaker:Yeah, it's like all selfies.
Eric Huffman:What about information, height or weight or like anything.
Speaker:If they're an atheist.
Eric Huffman:If they are an atheist their out.
Speaker:Yeah. Or agnostic. I'm like ah.
Eric Huffman:You're agnostic about the agnostics.
Speaker:Binging Netflix's. If she puts that as one of her interests, you're probably not my person.
Speaker:That's a deal breaker?
Speaker:I could never be the one for you then.
Speaker:Girls posting pics at the gym.
Eric Huffman:That's a bad thing?
Speaker:That's a huge bad thing. Yeah.
Speaker:Pics at the gym in full make up, you're going to the gym to work out, why you need make up. The not looking at the camera, like someones taking your picture out here and you're like gazing off into the wilderness, like Instagram photo.
Speaker:I think the best thing you could do is just have pictures with organic friends. A lot of friends and family pictures are great. They are just real, they are you.
Eric Huffman:All right, this is intense, I didn't realize how complicated this could be.
Eric Huffman:I'm starting to think it's a miracle anyone ever goes on a first date, forget about getting married. With the rate at which single people are scrutinizing profile pictures on dating apps. I'm also not surprised to hear the first in person meet ups are even more intensely scrutinized. Especially by the ladies. Sorry ladies.
Speaker:He wanted to hold my hand during church, I'm not a hand holder, and then afterwards he was silent and mad at me and told me a was the worst girlfriend he ever had and he had never felt so distant from me. And I was like, but we met yesterday. So I go, and he talks about his cats, has many cats, like at least five, all female, and he calls them crotchety old ladies. I'm just thinking, I need so much wine for this. And he's showing the cats and he's like you want to order and I'm like, no. And I left.
Speaker:He goes, hey so I found out my room mate's really good friends with your ex-boyfriend. I was like are you serious, and he said, my roommate said that you're a really big bitch and you have a lot of food allergies and it would be really hard to date you. I was like, [inaudible 00:29:11]
Speaker:I matched with this guy and we were talking for, I don't know, a week, and all of a sudden I get a picture of his private parts. And I'm like hey, I'm actually not into that or looking for that, take care, and he was like-
Eric Huffman:Out of the blue, he just dropped it on you.
Speaker:Yeah. And he's like, what do you mean, you just sent me a picture of your private part. And he was like no, no, it wasn't me. And all my friends investigated and you tell his hand was the same hand, [crosstalk 00:29:40] his hand was in there. The plus part was that the following Sunday I'm serving communion and guess who I see walking up.
Eric Huffman:Oh no.
Speaker:And he looked at me and just turned the other way and I was like you better because I'm not giving you communion.
Eric Huffman:I'm not serving you communion. Those hands don't deserve the body of Christ. Side bar on this then, you get the dick pic, are you done?
Speaker:Yeah. Oh yeah.
Eric Huffman:Yep, you just heard me right, a pastor just send dick pic, one of the hazards of having a young congregation is that they don't hold back. Once, I did a series of sermons in church about dating. And when I asked single people to let me know what frustrates them most about people of the opposite sex. I received about a half dozen screen shots from women that showed these guys they have never met making these advances and then sending pics of their private parts to total strangers, completely unsolicited. I guess you could say I've become desensitized to it, just like many of these women have. I've rarely heard a single woman say she's never gotten one of those pictures.
Eric Huffman:But what some of these women do with those pictures might surprise you. Especially, if you are one of the guys who sends them.
Speaker:No one ever wants that photo.
Speaker:And what we do is show all of our friends and laugh.
Speaker:I airdrop it all the time, I think it's hilarious.
Eric Huffman:Oh wow. That's right, they airdrop them in coffee shops, airports any public place where any unsuspecting stranger might access it.
Speaker:One guy made mistake and had his face in it. Which was the dumbest thing in life, I think everyone I know has seen it. It was the funniest thing ever. Well look at this idiot. You clearly have zero idea what we want, except for comedic relief.
Eric Huffman:Right. But if they knew. If it's going to get airdropped.
Speaker:The airport, just sitting there watching, it's very funny.
Eric Huffman:Oh man, this is going to end dick pics forever.
Eric Huffman:I've spent more time than I'd like to admit trying to understand why in the world men send these pictures. Is it need for attention? Is it about validation. Is it a cry for help? Are we no better than baboons at the zoo who present themselves to the opposite sex before procreating together. I tried confronting our group of young single guys, hoping that someone there would enlighten me.
Speaker:Do people actually do that? Ah.
Eric Huffman:They actually told me that any of you all who said, you haven't done it, are lying. I'm not naming names here, I'm just saying.
Speaker:I only know one person, unless all my friends are lying.
Eric Huffman:They're not sending them to you. Maybe I'm naive, but I actually believe these guys, when they tell me, their not the kind of guys sending these kind of pictures. They were genuinely upset by how other men online are ruining it for them.
Speaker:Because they damage women, in that is kind of understand what goes on.
Speaker:Personally I think that the guys who have a longer term mind set it is kind of an anomaly. Like we're just being outnumbered. In a way.
Eric Huffman:I'm getting a sense of how hard it is because the sense is, that guys that don't want to get into girls pants, what's weird about him? Why doesn't he want to, is it that kind of thing? So it's a catch 22.
Speaker:Yeah. I think there is an issue with men not knowing exactly how to be men.
Eric Huffman:That's highly confusing from people, especially those trying to be good guys. Because there is no real model for that anymore.
Eric Huffman:It used to be a certain set of things. You respectfully approach a woman you're interested in, you invited her out, after a date or two you met her parents, then you asked her to go steady. It was this whole progression of stuff that you took the lead on, and now with the [inaudible 00:34:08] guys are hesitant to be too forward and then I hear a lot of criticism from women saying men aren't forward enough.
Speaker:I wish so much there was a clear set of rules and guidelines to follow, like my goodness, even if they were boring and tedious, instructions, please.
Eric Huffman:Ironically, there is nothing that will show a man and lead a man to be a better man than a really great woman who sort of shepherds and loves him into that.
Eric Huffman:Psychologist Barry Schwartz has had a woman shepherding him for the past five decades.
Barry Schwartz:I met my wife in junior high school, we paired up in high school, and we've been married for 52 years.
Barry Schwartz:So this is not exactly a typical romantic biography for these days.
Eric Huffman:I think it's highly romantic.
Eric Huffman:Barry is not surprised that his story is an anomaly today. And he thinks he knows exactly why people are having a harder and harder time choosing a mate.
Barry Schwartz:As in choices go there can be too much of a good thing.
Eric Huffman:In 2004, Barry broke ground when he released his book, The Paradox of Choice, Why Less is More.
Barry Schwartz:All this choice has two effects. One effect, paradoxically is that it produces paralysis rather than liberation. With so many options to choose from, people find it very difficult to choose at all.
Eric Huffman:Since 2005, over 13,000,000 people have watched his Ted talk on the Paradox of choice.
Barry Schwartz:Even if we manage to over come the paralysis and make a choice, we end up less satisfied with the choice than we would be if we had few options to choose from. And there are several reasons for this, one of them is with so many different salad dressings to choose from if you buy one and it's not perfect, and what salad dressing is. It's easy to imagine you could have made a different choice that would have been better. And what happens is this imagined alternative induces you to regret the decision you made and this regret subtracts from the satisfaction you get out the decision you made, even if it was a good decision. The more options there, the easier it is to regret anything at all that is disappointing about the option that you chose.
Barry Schwartz:The book is 15 years old and but my lights the problem has only grown since then. Thanks largely to the sort of digital transformation of society, there aren't even costs anymore associated with going to multiple stores. Because you never have to leave your living room couch, to do that. So now the choice set is close to infinite.
Eric Huffman:You always have this fear in your mind, there's some better deal out there somewhere, if you can just search hard enough in the right places you'll find.
Barry Schwartz:That's exactly right. And there is work that I've done with a former student of mine that isn't published yet, that shows something quite interesting and important, and that is, when the choice set is limited, the choice you make doesn't say much to yourself or the world about who you are. So to take a concrete example, if the only jeans available are Lees and Levis, what you buy is kind irrelevant to who you are. Because there isn't enough variety.
Barry Schwartz:When there are 2000 kinds of jeans, well now, all of a sudden, it's not just about covering your butt now it's a statement to the world.
Barry Schwartz:I am the kind of person who wears x. And what that means is even trivial choices become important because they all become statements of identity.
Eric Huffman:When Barry presented his research 15 years ago, dating wasn't on his radar at all. At that time online dating was just getting started.
Barry Schwartz:There was a study published before I wrote my book, that involves speed dating. Which was the precursor to social media, I don't even know if you're aware of what that is. People get together and you spend 10 or 15 minutes talking to somebody and then somebody blows a whistle and you move on and talk to the next somebody. So the study was done of that, where on one occasion you met 6 potential partners and the next you met 12. And the finding was there were fewer matches made when you saw 12 people than when you saw 6 people. Which is very counter intuitive.
Eric Huffman:It is.
Barry Schwartz:This is with the notion that when you give people lots of options you sit there wondering, there's got to be something better out there and you end up empty handed.
Barry Schwartz:I'm happy to report I'm not a participate in things like Tinder. You know now all you have to do it swipe. How good does your perspective partner have to be before you'll be interested and the answer is unbelievably good.
Barry Schwartz:So you end up, even if you make matches there is an unwillingness to make anything like an enduring commitment, even to get to know the other person, let alone to actually pair up. Because you know there are 1000's of alternatives out there.
Eric Huffman:Are you suggesting that the more choices a person has when dating the less likely that person is to find love and happiness?
Barry Schwartz:Not just find, find is the misleading word. I think that you create it, and the problem with all this choice is that it creates this kind of attitude that it is something you have to find. That somewhere out there is the perfect person and I have to find them, find that person. I think what happens is that relationships that start out on the basis of attraction that's pretty superficial becomes something else because they get created by the parties. That takes time it takes work, it takes getting over occasional rough spots, and so the notion that your job is to create a long lasting relationship rather than find it, changes everything. And I think this proliferation of options just convinces people that it's really about finding not creating.
Barry Schwartz:The same thing is true with work. People want work that means something. The attitude that increasingly young people have is that that involves finding your passion. And I think that is exactly the wrong attitude, you don't want to find your passion, you want to create a passion. That takes work, that takes time, that takes sticking with something and transform it rather than swiping left and swiping right and seeing whether the next job or the next partner is going to be the perfect job or partner.
Eric Huffman:Okay, time for a little humble brag now. It feels pretty good to hear a world famous psychologist backing up what I've been saying for years. There's just no such thing as the one, the one who was made just for you. There's no soul mate out there waiting for you to find them. And every wedding sermon that I preach I always say, that these two people getting married today are not right for each other. And that's something that no bride or groom expects to hear on their wedding day. But it's true. No one ever marries, the one. And the truth is, there is more than one person out there for all of us. My wife, I'd like to think is reasonably happy in our marriage. But I'm not the only man in the world that could make her happy. And the same goes for me. A great marriage isn't about finding the best one, it's about finding one who's good enough and making it work together.
Eric Huffman:What we need is a paradigm shift when it comes to dating, because the best relationships aren't just handed to us as a finished product. We have to work for them. If you are dating, that means instead of searching for Gods great master piece, you are looking for someone who is a work in progress. You're looking for someone who is humble enough to be shaped by you and someone who is honest enough to shape you too. Because while it's true, your finished product isn't out there waiting for you to find them, it is also true that you're not someone else's finished product either, not yet, anyway. You're not your dream dates, dream date. Yet. So it's important I think that single people don't feel entitled to the best. And instead that they start looking for someone with the raw materials that are required to build an amazing relationship.
Eric Huffman:I tried to push our groups of singles to adopt that way of thinking. And for the women of my church one of the biggest deal breakers seems to be whether a guy that they're seeing is a Christian.
Eric Huffman:If a guys not a Christian are you out?
Speaker:Because I believe that our belief system and how I want to raise my kids and stuff just clash.
Eric Huffman:Okay. Maybe you can convert him.
Speaker:That's a lot of work.
Eric Huffman:It is.
Eric Huffman:So I am faced with these situations all the time with people at church. Usually, it's young women, sometimes it's young men that have met a girl that doesn't go to church. And they are like, what do I do? You know, what should me priories here be. And I think a good sign is if they're willing to come with you, when you ask them to. Is there openness. Is capacity for grace. And what I mean by grace is somebody who feels empathy toward your priorities your heart on this. I can see this means a lot to you, yeah, I'm happy to go, twice a month or once a month or whatever. That's a good sign.
Eric Huffman:One of the biggest deal breakers for men, especially for men around 30 years old, seems to be a women's age and especially how quickly a woman wants to get serious about the future.
Speaker:I was speaking to my mother about this.
Eric Huffman:I bet you were.
Speaker:She was trying to convince me to date one of her friends, 31, 32. And I just said, I don't know if I'm into that pace. Maybe they are in a different stage of life that want to do things faster than I'm ready for.
Speaker:I don't know, I have dated girls that were older than me.
Eric Huffman:How old are you?
Speaker:30. So it's not an automatic disqualification but I just know I've got to decide quick and if maybe I'm not as quick into the immediately full on dating committed relationship, that she's not going to be into that. And so you fast forward, their going to want kids quicker than you do.
Eric Huffman:I do think that there is a common thread a lot of times and this is not about you personally or anything. I think that men would do well, especially men of faith would do well to broadening their horizons a little bit. In terms of seeing marriage as more than just our fulfillment but as an opportunity to fulfill others and serve a purpose right? I'm not saying everyone needs to go out and find a single mom to marry. But it that opportunity presents itself it shouldn't be a deal breaker.
Eric Huffman:Knowing what your deal breakers are is always important when dating. Healthy boundaries are never a bad idea, but lately I've been noticing how a persons deal breakers can create road blocks to real love. Like when a woman says, no, to bald guys for example. How many amazing bald guys is she missing out on. She's missing out Jason Stathom and Dwayne The Rock Johnson, Seal is bald and he was good enough for Heidi Klum. And on the other hand, men who say they are turned off by a woman who wants to have kids. It's like these men have forgotten how much fun it is to make a baby. Not to mention the fact that there is this beautiful woman in front of you, who wants to give you the privilege of making a human with you.
Eric Huffman:We can't let our deal breakers become self defeating. And this is what Barry Schwartz is getting at when he distinguish between people who are maximizer's and those of us who are satisfizer's.
Barry Schwartz:There are two broad classes of strategies you can take in making a decision about anything. One is to look for the best. And my colleges and I call people that have to strategy maximizer's. I want the cereal, the best restaurant the best vacation the best job, the best romantic partner. If that's the attitude you have, the only to know you have the best is to look at every option. And looking at every option has become impossible. There are too many.
Barry Schwartz:The alternative is to look for a good enough option. Where looking for a good enough cereal, a good enough restaurant, a good enough place to go on vacation and a good enough romantic partner.
Barry Schwartz:The difference between these two approaches is that, if you are looking for good enough you don't have look at every option. You need have some set of criteria and as soon as you find something that satisfies those criteria you stop looking.
Eric Huffman:Satisfizer's right?
Barry Schwartz:Satisfizer's, you can turn essentially an infinite amount of possibilities into a much smaller one, because you don't need to look at all the candidates, you just need to look until you find somebody who is good enough. And what we find in our research is that the people who want the best typically do better when they are making decisions and feel worse about how they've done.
Barry Schwartz:They are always worried that they missed something even better than what they have chosen. They are always worried about what they have given up, and some of the alternatives that they have rejected. They have unrealistically high expectations about how good the thing they choose will be and so when it's only very good instead of spectacular they feel like somehow they have made a mistake. And I certainly think this is true when it comes to intimate relations.
Barry Schwartz:You've done okay, but you could do better, we are always going to be looking over your partners shoulder in case that somebody happens to be walking by.
Eric Huffman:A lot of people her sanitizer's and think that is sounds like settling. Like here's Eric Huffmann telling me to settle for whatever man or woman that the cat might drag in. But that's not it. Being a satisfizer means being realistic about romance, it's knowing that there is always going to be somebody out there who is better looking, or taller or richer or more nurturing than the one you're with, it doesn't matter. Because you and this one person have both made the choice to love each other and only each other. And to love each toward your God given potential. And some days, of course it would be easier to walk out the door and find someone better. But real love is always worth the hard work and sacrifice.
Eric Huffman:From my experience satisfizer's are generally happier and healthier than maximizer's, who are perpetually miserable. Because no matter who or what they have its never enough. Still, I recognize that being a satisfizer isn't easy. Especially in a choice driven consumer society that tells you never to settle for anything but the best. Barry thinks the only solution for meaningful dating in such a society is to find a way to impose limits on yourself. I was really surprised when he brought up the value of limits that are imposed in some religious communities.
Eric Huffman:Barry was raised Jewish and even though he's not observant today he admits that religion can help people set healthy limits.
Barry Schwartz:All the religious practices that I know about, impose constraints on people. Those constraints can really be frustrating in a world where options are limited. But in a world where options are unlimited I think these constraints save people. I have a good friend who is an academic like I am and he started observing the Sabbath. Which requires that you stop working at sun down on Friday and don't do any work until sun down on Saturday. And he started observing the Sabbath because as you may know, there is no limit to the work an academic can do. And there was no way he could limit his work encroaching on the rest of his life if he was simply making a series of decisions. Like is this important enough for me to do a Saturday afternoon. Or can it wait. So he decided that the only way to seek and maintain balance in his life was to have an ironclad rule that there was nothing important enough to disrupt his observation of the Sabbath, and he found this constraint liberating.
Barry Schwartz:And I think a lot of the constraints that religious institutions impose in the current world liberate people rather than confining them. Now this will not be true of all people and will not be true of all constraints. But I think people now are hungry for limits more than they are inclined to rebel against them.
Eric Huffman:At one point during my conversation with the group of single men from my church I mentioned that in the old days a pastor like me would set people up with a potential spouse. They all laughed, but for a moment I think I saw a glimmer of hope in their eyes. I think they half expected that a line of women would parade in at any moment and they'd be matched up together. And I sensed that maybe that would have been a welcome relief.
Eric Huffman:Both groups I met with, the men and the women, seemed fed up with dating. And whether or not they admit it they are probably exhausted by the infinite wealth of choices that online dating has afforded them. Because the more options they have, the less likely they are ever going to invest in one person. And that's terrifying to people who have always imagined themselves getting married, having children and even growing old with their one and only.
Eric Huffman:Actress Zuzanna Szadkowski did eventually settle down in a healthy relationship and it was one that she created. First by looking inward and working on herself.
Julie Mirlicourtois:How do you get to the place where you decided that you weren't going
Julie Mirlicourtois:to ignore these red flags anymore and you weren't going to be a life boat for people anymore.
Zuzanna Szadkowski:I started to see that I had not prioritized love, connection, relationship, partnership in my life. That I had been very single minded about my acting career. And by the fact that I started meeting all these crazy disrespectful bad guys, is really honestly about me. Because I don't feel like I deserve better or could get better. Which is really a reflection of my relationship to myself and the fact that I somehow really believe in myself as an actor and I really believe in myself as a friend, never suffered from low self esteem in any particular way. But I think is this romantic context all of my insecurities come out and I'm not a valuable person. And that's the place I was working from.
Julie Mirlicourtois:Zuzanna opened up to her close friend, Katie Rose, about these relationships with James and Carlos. She told Katie.
Zuzanna Szadkowski:I can't have that guy who's deceitful, who doesn't have his stuff together first, who doesn't have anything to offer me. Who isn't listening to me or wanting... in a relationship that's not about something magical happening between us, its just that they need something from me more than they want something from me.
Julie Mirlicourtois:And Katie Rose advised her.
Zuzanna Szadkowski:Rather than coming from a place of negativity maybe I should reframe that and think about what it is a want to have. And to put that on paper or put it in the world, so that it can be a real thing.
Julie Mirlicourtois:So three years ago Zuzanna sat down in one window Brooklyn Heights Apartment and wrote a list of her expectations of the men she dates. I asked her to dig up that old list.
Zuzanna Szadkowski:My guy will be dot dot dot. I said a real man, I don't know exactly what I meant by that, accomplished in his field, thriving, sexy and substantial with man hands. That's my one physical attribute. Funny, funny. Social. I want this man to dote on me physically and I want heat. I want to be the one person that is in his life. I want to be respected. I want to be told the truth. I want a meeting of wits and souls and humor. I want him to like my dog. I want to go out to brunches and neighborhood stuff. I want to be taken out, treated and cared for sometimes. That's my list.
Julie Mirlicourtois:And did you find that guy?
Zuzanna Szadkowski:Yeah, I totally did.
Julie Mirlicourtois:Zuzanna matched with Damon on Tinder too and it was love at first sight for her when they met for the first time at a dive bar in midtown Manhattan. But as they started to date she realized that he was not meeting her expectations for how she wanted to be treated. So she ended their relationship. Damon ended up moving away for a year and when he came back, he was ready to be the boyfriend she believed she deserved.
Zuzanna Szadkowski:I actually have a really good Tinder story but I wouldn't have had it if it wasn't for some sort of conscious behavior I had to expect of myself. I wouldn't have the relationship with him I have now if I didn't sort of demand excellence. And it's the way I live my life, I demand it from my friends and my family and my work and the rest of everything. I definitely consciously learned something from James and the other Tinder nightmares. I applied it here and now I have this part of my life is starting to look really good.
Eric Huffman:At first glance, Zuzanna's story might seem to contradict the advice of Barry Schwartz. Which is it? Should we be super choosie and wait for the right person or should we be okay with someone who is just good enough. But if you listen closely to Zuzanna's story, you heard her say two very important things about Damon. First, even though he looked like the one in the beginning, he wasn't ready to be the kind of man she was looking for. So she let him go. Without fear of losing him and without fawning over him. And then after waiting a year, he came back. And here's the key. Even though Zuzanna had already decided that Damon wasn't perfect for her she was willing to give him another chance.
Eric Huffman:And when Damon demonstrated to her that he was willing to change, that was all she needed to know. He wasn't perfect, but he was good enough, and he was willing try to become even a better man. Obviously, some stories don't end like Zuzanna's. Many 30 and 40 something women in my church are left asking why? Why God, can't I have the husband and family that I want. And some men are in the same position, wondering why they haven't found the one. There's a lot of real pain going on there.
Eric Huffman:In part 2 of this episode we are going to bring God into this conversation. And we will hear the amazing story of a young single woman who has over come some incredible obstacles on her path toward healing and wholeness. And somehow along the way she found the love of her life. And believe me, it's not what it sounds like. For me, her story touches on what I think is most important message singles need to hear. Part 2 will be dropping very soon, so be sure to check back.
Eric Huffman:As always, thanks for listening to Maybe God.
Julie Mirlicourtois:This episode of Maybe God was produced by Julie Mirlicourtois and Eric Huffmann, Nathan Bonnes and Aubrey Snider are the sound engineers and our editors are Shannon Steffen, Brittany Holland and Justin Mayer. For more information or to tell us what you think head to our website MaybeGodpod.com.