You're Not Shopping for a Car

You're Not Shopping for a Car


“Back in the day” shopping for a car meant choosing exactly what make and model just like today, but a consumer could also choose the interior and exterior colors as well as what “hi-fi” package. If you were really advanced and a cautious person, you might even choose to include seat belts. Nothing was standard and you could completely customize your car.

After a New Year’s water leak in our home left my family needing to make many repairs, I found shopping for bathroom fixtures equally customizable. How many sinks in your vanity? How tall? How wide? How deep? What color? Center mount faucets? What material? What manufacturer? What style? All my purchases could be sorted through myriad filters until I arrived at the perfect product at the perfect price point.  Whew!

I wonder if we aren’t using the same framework in choosing a mate these days. Dating is no longer a fun discovery of other human beings, but a sifting of potential mates through a series of ever-refined filters until we achieve the perfect constellation of factors that we believe will produce a happy relationship. Online dating sites really thrive on matching along these dimensions and even matchmakers (myself included), spend a lot of time discussing what characteristics our clients are looking for in another. Just like my new bathroom vanity (which is gorgeous, BTW), prospective dates pass through endless filters.

Specific evidence of this filtering process was detailed in a statistic from Bottom Line, based on research. “iPhone users are 21 times more likely to judge Android-phone owners negatively… while Android owners are 15 times more likely to think poorly of iPhone users.” I mentioned this to one colleague who had recently been in the dating scene and he said that a lot of people are going to need to change their cell phones. Two other friends suggested that there really are differences between people who use Android phones and those that use Apple phones and that this is a legitimate way to narrow down the pool of suitors. I thought I had entered the Twilight Zone!

There are, indeed, many prospective mates in the world and it may seem like narrowing the field is critical to success. Still, it is important to be thoughtful about what criteria we are using to narrow the field. Is a mate’s choice of cell phone really going to matter in a long term relationship? Or is it those factors that cannot easily be quantified that will make all the difference? Factors like, honesty, integrity, a sense of humor about life and about themselves, compassion, adventure? These are just some of the non-tangibles that are the foundation of a great relationship.

So, watch out for “shopper’s mind” and start enjoying the possibilities when you look to get to know another person in a deeper way.

With love,

-Dr. Kate Freiman-Fox