Lessons from Love Island: online dating and the paradox of choice

August 15th, 2023

Series 10 of Love Island has just finished, and after nearly two months on our screens – Jess Harding and Sammy Root were crowned the winning couple.

In total, 32 islanders walked through the doors of the Mallorca villa this summer looking for love (and let’s be real here – a blue tick on Instagram), and though the ITV2 show can easily be written off as “cheap (and sometimes very annoying) entertainment”, there are actually some valuable lessons in dating that we can take from it.

Whether that’s the importance of being open and honest with the people you’re seeing – no Mitch, you can’t tell two different girls you like them best – or the need to be vulnerable in a relationship in order to enhance your connection as a couple, it can be argued that Love Island serves as a microcosm of wider society, exposing the pitfalls of modern dating and delivering pointers on how to navigate them.

Is there such a thing as having too much choice?

In the villa, people swap partners a lot – always looking for the next bombshell to make their entrance and constantly wondering if the grass is greener.  

This mirrors real life in the age of modern technology because nowadays, you can swipe through hundreds of potential partners from the comfort of your own home before it’s even 9am.

However, is there such a thing as having too much choice?

In series 4 of Love Island, one of the popular phrases became “I’m happy. But could I be happier?” and whilst it’s good to have a list of qualities you’re looking for in a potential partner, it’s also important to understand that striving for “perfection”, and disregarding someone because they’re only 99% of what you’re looking for, isn’t always going to end well.

Variety can be a good thing, but it can also lead to a phenomenon known as the “paradox of choice” – a phrase coined by Psychologist Barry Schwartz who described this concept as the dilemma individuals face when presented with an excessive number of choices, resulting in anxiety, indecision, and ultimately, dissatisfaction.

With so many profiles to swipe through and conversations to initiate, the fear of missing out on a better option can become overwhelming.

Five ways to navigate this paradox

  1. Clarify your non-negotiables

Before entering into any potential partnership, it’s really important to determine what’s truly important to you in a relationship. Write a list of everything you’d like in someone and then decide what is non-negotiable and what you can compromise on. Reflect on your core values, interests, and long-term goals when you do this.

  1. Limit your options

Whether it’s Tinder or Hinge or another app, swiping for hours on end can become very depressing. So while it may seem counterintuitive – limiting your time on dating apps can reduce decision fatigue and anxiety. Focus more on investing in meaningful conversations as opposed to pursuing a high volume of matches.

  1. Trust your gut 

Intuition plays a crucial role in online dating. Trust your gut and prioritise your wellbeing. Remain polite and respectful of course, but don’t feel bad for moving on if something isn’t working for you.

  1. Embrace vulnerability

Authentic connections are built on vulnerability and open communication. Don’t be afraid to share your thoughts, feelings, and experiences with potential partners. Vulnerability fosters intimacy and allows for a deeper understanding of each other which is needed if you’re going to work long-term.

  1. Take breaks

Swipe-fatigue is a real thing and periodically stepping away from online dating platforms can help recharge your mental and emotional wellbeing. So make sure you spend time away from your phone – meet up with family and friends, continue pursuing your hobbies and interests, and invest time in self-care.

How can therapy help?

The perception that therapy is just for when you have hit rock-bottom couldn’t be further from the truth, and here at The Therapy Room, people come through our doors for a variety of reasons – from those who have experienced severe trauma, to people wanting to make sense of big life decisions in a safe space.

Through therapy, you can gain self-awareness, build confidence, and develop effective communication skills, as well as being offered a supportive space to explore and address underlying fears, insecurities, and patterns that may be impacting your dating experiences.   

It may also be an opportunity for you to learn more about yourself through talking about your past and spending time thinking about what exactly you need from another person to make you feel happy and fulfilled.

Our therapeutic approach is based on the understanding that people are complex and lead complicated lives.

Tailored to your personal needs, we make a commitment to structuring and working for you as an individual.

Founder Jay L Pink Ad.Prof.Dip MBACP PC MNCS (ACC) established The Therapy Room to offer high quality, expert counselling and therapy services to people of all ages, as well as to couples for relationship and partner counselling and groups for corporate and family therapy. Jay’s commitment to anyone visiting The Therapy Room is to unconditionally respect values, lifestyle, background and beliefs, offering a discreet and professional service tailored to their needs.

Therapy is held either in-person at The Therapy Room in Northampton or online. 

To organise a booking, please visit our bookings and payment page.