Sunday, August 3, 2014

Are We Really After Our "Perfect Match"?

On Thursday I watched an MTV series called "Are You the One?" I watched a couple episodes in the past with my reality-junky teenage sister, but somehow I lost track of the show. The short synopsis is that they put 10 women and 10 men in the same house, and they have to find their predetermined (By some scientific process) "perfect match". If they find all the perfect matches, they get to split $1 Million dollars or roughly $50K apiece. Ultimately they all found their perfect match but enough about that as this isn't a review of the show, but rather how the show relates to finding love and our perfect match in reality.

The most interesting aspect of the show and I believe it to be true in real life as well, is how determined everyone seemed to NOT want to find their perfect match. Of course, they claimed to want to find their perfect match but it seems that they were trying to take the quickest and easiest path to their perfect match. That usually involved an early attraction to the person they were most attracted to or the person whom conversation flowed naturally with. The thing is, that no matter how good those things sound, they are two of the biggest deceptions in regards to finding your perfect match. It's a flaw of first impression which I will address a bit more later. Finding the perfect match was also often hindered by the excessive desire for "hookups" and the fallacy of that culture. People were quickly hooking up and developing a sexual bond that they wanted to force, oftentimes one-sided, and letting that drive their opinion to whom their perfect match was. Some people weren't even really playing the perfect match game and were just trying to hook-up with people, clouding everyone else's mind in the process. I'm pretty sure everyone can relate to that at some extent.

As the show went on, despite finding out who weren't their perfect match, people kept trying to force something with them. This was usually to the detriment of their real perfect match. As I mentioned before they ended up pairing together all the perfect matches, but that doesn't mean that they were actually interested in each other. For the most part they weren't. Out of the 10 perfect matches only 2 or 3 left the show with any real interest in trying to be together, and ultimately only one couple is together (they are engaged now). That summarizes our culture's dating arrogance perfectly. Go on a show because you aren't having dating success. Once you get there, continue to make the same errors which has led to countless bad hookups in the past. After finding your perfect match which seems like a gift, promptly show no interest in being with them. Now as "reality television", I'm aware the authenticity of the show could be questioned, but it is pretty consistent with how people act in real life.

So do people actually want to find their perfect match? I think people are more interested in obtaining and utilizing the power to chose. Maybe it's our misguided attempt at "free-will". We're all familiar with the slang word choosing, and it relates to our obsession with choice. Our generation values choice over success and compatibility, and any choice that we don't believe is our own constitutes "settling". That singular phrase defines 21st-Century dating. It's also used as a crutch, and allows us to justify our mistakes and shortcomings by refusing to change and evolve. It's much easier to say, "I don't like that, so it's settling", opposed to leaving our comfort zones, trying different things and questioning our own rationale. It's sad to say, but we even have people that are more interested in a partner that would get Instagram likes and approval more than something authentic (Social Media's effect on dating is a topic for another day). Even though we are relatively young, don't let that limit you either. You never know when you're going to meet your perfect match, there's no guarantee that because you're not ready at 24 that you'll still get another perfect match at 31. Or maybe you won't meet your perfect match until 31, the point is don't take your age for granted.

An often used phrase that I believe is misquoted is "you can't choose who you love." We use that phrase in justification of actually choosing who we want to love, and as an excuse to continually pursue non-perfect matches. That quote is supposed to mean that you are drawn to people and there's no real explanation, instead we use it to mean that that's the person we decided that we want and hopefully all our differences and incompatibility will just fall together. Going back to the show, there was a couple who hit it off instantly but weren't a perfect match. Throughout the show they still dated and went through the motions of finding their true match. Well after the show, they didn't last very long because even though they connected instantly they weren't a perfect match for a reason. Maybe instant sparks are more important to us than long-term sustainability. I think it's hard for us to accept, that the person that gives us those instant butterflies and fireworks, isn't really the one. It's strange to say but sometimes the reason you are attracted to a person is the exact reason you could never really be with them. In my opinion a "perfect match" is the perfect symmetrical balance between the mind and the heart, which means there is a level of rational thought required. First impressions are anything but rational, and maybe that impedes our progress. I think if you talked to people who found their perfect match, they would tell you that they had to not only open their heart but their mind as well to different possibilities. 

A great quote from a book I read is that "we humans question all our beliefs, except for the ones that we really believe, and those we never think to question" (Speaker For The Dead by Orson Scott Card). It is pretty straightforward how that relates to dating. We have already clouded our mind by what we absolutely believe our "soul-mate" will/should be, and by how we feel relationships should go that we never really think as to whether there could be a better way. Despite how often we are faced with the fact that maybe our beliefs (in regards to relationships) are wrong, we still hold on to them in hopes of a miracle. I challenge you to change, I promise it's not "settling". Every change won't work, but it will give you different experiences to base your perspective on.

Be more open-minded, less arrogant, and don't be so quick to call things you aren't familiar with "boring" (another word that has negatively influenced dating). Maybe I should have mentioned this earlier, but finding yourself first is imperative to finding your perfect match. Until you've realized who you are, your judgement will always be blurred. Good luck to finding your match.