Why Are You Single? Perhaps It's The Choice Effect

“It’s impossible not to constantly wonder if there’s something better, someone better.”

My good female friend picked up her third glass of Syrah-Merlot and continued: “If I could only choose between three decent guys, it’d be a done deal. I’d be married already.”

I nodded. Having options—perceived infinite choice—isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. How, then, do you tame indecision, particularly in relationships?

The following guest post, written by Claire Williams, explores some of the more successful approaches… and realizations.


In 2000, Drs. Sheena S. Iyengar and Mark R. Lepper set up a tasting booth at an upscale grocery store in California. On some days, they put out a selection of six types of jam; on other days they set out twenty-four. Although the wider selection attracted more shoppers, more people bought the jam when there were fewer options. It seemed the more choices people had, the harder it was to make a decision.

The Paradox of Choice explored this infamous dilemma, in which having more options tends to leave us paralyzed and increase our buyer’s remorse. But what does that mean when you’re not just shopping? What about when you’re doing much more important stuff…like picking a job, a house, or – gasp – a life partner?…

If you ever listened to your teachers, talked to your parents, or watched Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood, you learned that you were a special snowflake and the world was yours for the taking. But for a generation with more options than ever before, how do you choose when you’ve been taught you can have it all?


Today’s twenty- and thirty-somethings approach life and love very differently than past generations. The explosion of choices now available has impacted our desires and expectations, and led us to reconsider traditional decisions. Young men and women are increasingly reluctant to make the ultimate commitment and get married, and much of

that is due to all the other glittery options out there competing for our attention – friends, professional success, 30 Rock, the people in the world you haven’t yet dated.

If you love choices and think the world is your oyster, you’re a choister.

In a world where you might have twenty careers by your 31st birthday, you just might want to cultivate some more stability in your relationships.

The “choice effect” is that pit in your stomach as soon as the waiter walks away with your food order and you realize you wanted what she’s having. It’s a reality, and one that impacts our love


So how do you overcome this paradox in relationships? For your mother’s sake, take notes.

5 Ways to Tame the Choice Effect:

Use the following “C”-words to make the other “C”-word–commitment–less daunting.

1. Criteria:

Before I decided to settled down with “J”, my now fiancé from Argentina, there were several key moments where I questioned the very basis of our relationship. As foreigners in each other’s lands, cultural and language barriers have been an ongoing theme. It’s taken him years to accept that in my country we eat omelets for breakfast – not lunch – and my visible upset at the break-up of Tipper and Al made him more than pause (okay, maybe that’s not cultural). But one day while I related a particularly hysterical Jon Stewart shtick, the worst happened. He told me it didn’t sound very funny. And that’s when I asked myself: could I really spend a lifetime single-handedly explaining the nuances of The Daily Show to a newbie?

My non-negotiables had been there from the start: internationalism, spirituality, and ambition. Although J matched me well on these fronts, we weren’t carbon copies of one another by any stretch of the imagination. He spends hundreds of hours a year on photography, and I traveled around the world for an entire year without bringing my own camera. I still don’t understand if a bass and a bass guitar are the same thing, but there are apparently three of them displayed in our foyer. I had never heard of Maradona.

We make trade offs in our love lives – J’s cultural “shortcomings” are made up for by key compatibilities. As I’ve come to believe, a man who has never tasted peanut butter can still make an excellent father. So think about what you need. Not a never-ending wish list about how the perfect partner will want to attend Lilith Fair and share your love of Neti pots. Pick the stuff that matters and find someone with those qualities.

2. Concentration:

Like Stephen Stills once sung: “Love the one you’re with.”

When J and I had been dating less than a year, I moved half-way around the world for an MBA program. Suddenly

my wonderful, intelligent, handsome boyfriend was a pixelated photo to Skype with. Meanwhile, real, warm-blooded men played lacrosse around me. This world will pull us in lots of directions, and you need to decide what your prize is and keep your eye on it. Don’t get distracted by every boy or girl that musters the energy for a “how YOU doin’?” Don’t forget your fiance’s cello concert because you’re wall-flirting with your middle school crush on Facebook. I’m all for canvassing your options, but beware the shiny ball syndrome.

3. Common Sense:

Does your ideal life involve a mud hut in Nicaragua with a partner equally thrilled by jungle monkies? Then don’t go trolling for men on what’s left of Wall Street. If you’re a conservative Christian who’s into side hugs, don’t make eyes at the atheist hippie at the local coffee shop. Yes, opposites attract. Paula Abdul said so. But they aren’t a long-term win. Don’t fall into a relationship that checks none of your boxes. Although you may think this is destiny slapping you on the face, this is actually just adrenaline. Probably heightened from the fog of patchouli.

4. Calculation:

Keep an eye on the clock. Not in the Marisa-Tomei-stomping-your-foot kind of way. But there’s being picky and then there’s being paralyzed. So ask yourself – whether you’re choosing a pair of shoes, a healthcare plan, or a spouse – “How long SHOULD this take?” For example – would you agree with the following: you should spend no longer than an hour of your life at GAP deciding between unremarkable fragrances, and no longer than 5 years to decide on a partner? Like my best friend who, after dating her boyfriend for seven years, suddenly thought, “How much more data can I expect to gather?” and suggested they elope to Vegas. You don’t have to adhere perfectly, but it’s good to step back, pick a number (I just might recommend two years), and buy a watch.

5. Choose Already:

If you went into an ice-cream store and saw a child ordering an ice cream cone with 7 different scoops, you’d tell him he was idiot (or not, because that is mean and he is small). Don’t be that kid. You don’t get to have everything.

And, to be fair, you don’t want to. College buffet lines were fun at the beginning, but a plate full of pasta-pizza-ranch-dressing-Fruit Loops loses its appeal after a while. So choose.

What stops so many of us from making a commitment is our fear that once we make a choice we have to close the door on all the other options. If we marry Andy, we will never date Charles. True. If we become an architect, we will never be a ferret trainer. Also true. However, if we do sack up and choose to become an architect, then we have a whole host of new and shiny choices to think about! Should we make a doghouse or a people house? Should the house be blue or red? Should the building be small, medium, or big?

Choosing doesn’t limit choices—it just changes them. So feel free to pick that city, that career, that partner, knowing that even commitment brings a whole new set of options – children/pets/red and blue houses – to be excited (and angsty) about.

By the way, I picked me an architect. (See how I tied that up?)


Claire Williams is co-author of The Choice Effect, which explores overcoming the Paradox of Choice in decisions–big and small–that affect your life. Her previous writing on navigating choices can be found here.

The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with more than 900 million downloads. It has been selected for "Best of Apple Podcasts" three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it's been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.

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337 Replies to “Why Are You Single? Perhaps It's The Choice Effect”

  1. What a great read. I was getting giddy thinking that Tim has met the man of his dreams in Argentina. How romantic would that be?

  2. But what about love?

    I might be a strange and unmodern person, but what about just failing, literally falling, in love?

  3. Wow, great post! Really enjoyed reading this one.

    I agree with the criteria one. I’ve actually been told to implement it before. I made a mental list (somewhat long list) and kept my eyes and ears open. It wasn’t terribly long before the perfect man came along! We’ve been together for almost two years now and are planning our wedding. 🙂

  4. Timely advice as I navigate the dating world in my late 30’s. Perhaps I can finally shed my ‘choister’ ways!

  5. Hi all-

    A great talk on the subject of choice is the Malcolm Gladwell talk on spaghetti sauce at the TED site.

    Great read, interesting extension of the choice paradox research, but…

    1. Humans aren’t hair products.

    The problem with choice here is that there are other humanbeings involved. For example, let’s say you’ve narrowed your criteria, limited your choice, and commited to some given person or even personality type. This gives you no guarantee that this person or type of person is going to be attracted to you. Generalizing traits and qualities of attraction and healthy relationship choice is only marginally helpful. IE. It might help you to use it to AVOID toxic relationships. Relationships happen in a complex adaptive system in which the players usually don’t know or can’t be honest with themselves with what they really want.

    2. Love is alot of things but is rarely logical in anything but hindsight…

    People often try to define relationship success in a rearview mirror by stating all of the reasons that things made sense and all of the traits shared by those involved that made it possible. Its such a charged and desirable subject matter that people will latch onto reasons and defend them to the death. The truth is: noone really knows what they’ll fall for until they’ve fallen. The only way to prepare for anything that one might want with other humanbeings is to deserve their attention…IE If you think you might want to meet a great woman…Deserve a great woman.

    If you’re not sure of any decision involving a romantic or otherwise deep relationship…Then you’re simply not ready to make a decision or haven’t gotten to the point where you’re able to be honest with yourself that you probably don’t want what’s being offered to you…this is a decision in and of itself btw.

    Love isn’t a goal. Love isn’t measurable. Love just is.



  6. Wow.

    This is quite a blog… so glad it was passed on to me. I love to hang on trees too and balance on random objects, which was my initial draw to the blog post…

    But then sitting here in my grad school ethics class, bored out of my mind (still in class right now, pretending to look engaged), I really enjoyed reading the guest article on Choices and Choisters. Choisters could also be a hipster/ /choice/single hybrid I imagine 🙂

  7. Advice from my favorite happy ‘old’ couple; I live and love by them:

    “1) Find someone who is good to everyone, through the hard times they will be good to you

    2) Find someone who will make you a priority… ”

    People change, lifestyles change; so best to find someone who loves you for the good in you and gives you the freedom to grow and change. Expectations otherwise can lead to unhappiness, dissappointment and even resentment.

  8. I didn’t think this article advanced a negative view of the single life; it’s simply written for an audience that would prefer not to be single.

    That audience may have lost a few members after reading Claire’s piece. Her description of the mating game is so… clinical. It did not appeal to me at all.

    Then again, I’m young(ish) and have not yet lost my taste for the occasional Shakespearean fling. I use my egg timer for eggs and not relationships. Check back with me in a few years and I’ll be timing my relationships around my eggs.

  9. All great advice! These are all things I do intuitively. Once I recognize I’ve been holding off on a decision for too long, I gather all the data I have available to me and I make the best choice given what I have in front of me to base that decision off of.

    One way to reduce the nasty effects of the choice paradox is to avoid it altogether. That is where the wonderful world of filters comes into play. Having a friend who has an identical opinion as you in a particular area of life can help cut down choices. Reviews and testimonials and competing products help cut down choices. And by the very nature of where you spend your recreational time cuts down on the people you are exposed to. Just don’t get greedy with your choices… you don’t truly know what you have until you get rid of it for something else in the distance.

  10. PPC4… I think you echo my own thoughts fairly well. This is the first of Tim’s postings that really doesn’t strike a chord with me.

    I’ve found that the older I get the less inspired I am about our conventional relationships, i.e. marriage. I think it’s fast becoming an outdated concept. Historically marriage was a practical thing to do and if you look at our parents’ parents… it was less for love and more for economics. Today the notion of marriage has swung the pendulum the other direction – women don’t need a bread winner for the family (in most western societies) they’re perfectly capable of providing for themselves. Women also don’t need men as “seed” providers, science and adoption (ala Angelina J.) have gotten around that issue. What that leaves is “love”… what the hell is that you ask? Beats me, if I knew I’d be a billionaire. I think the concept of “love” is highly individualized and per TIm’s previous post sometime ago about “happiness” is entirely vague in definition.

    So when I hear someone talk about applying the “paradox of choice” to something as highly complex as a life partner I have to say “good for you, all the best.” Personally, I don’t want to be someone’s good enough.. he’ll do. I’m not some acceptable variable to be plugged into someone else’s life equation. Conversely, I’m not looking for that perfect (whatever that is) or ideal partner to fit into my life. Actually, I’m not looking at all… no time limit… no 5 years… no stop watch. If I meet someone and it “feels” right then it will just happen without any great big life decision. No, it’s not scientific.. not even rational.. but “love” isn’t.

    Thanks for the post Tim…



  11. Great guest article. I just I’m a choister, but the article made me realize I was and now I know and can fix it… if I want to.

  12. I could not agree more. I am in the beginning stages of collecting research for a book about dating! This is a great article that I think explains today’s dating world – especially with online dating. The idea of “shopping” for a significant other! TOO many choices – and most are just mediocre. But, we have to keep looking… just in case! 😉

  13. I used to have trouble with choices until I learned to think of them in terms of the Pareto principle: only 20% matter. Thus, 80% of our choices make no difference whatsoever! Menu items, flowers to plant, brands of shampoo: not that important – and almost always recoverable if you don’t like what you ended up choosing. ( So you grab the first bottle of shampoo, and you hate it; get another different one tomorrow. Go back to that restaurant tomorrow, or even order a second meal.)

    As for choosing a mate…that’s probably in the 20% category, although that might even be up for debate.

  14. First -just a couple of observations:

    Tim: Rarely, do you feature women writers, or ideas from women. Thanks, for this insightful article from Claire. Really enjoyed it. I noticed the % of women respondents was much larger in the responses to this guest post than to any of your typical posts. Good to know you have so may women readers, yeah?

    Choices: It’s a crucial insight to realize a “decision paralysis” occurs in the presence of too much variety. In a real sense our freedom/liberty/luxury turns out to be confining. Perhaps our best resolutions come by way of a simple array wisely chosen.

    Claire: I couldn’t help but wonder if the “Christians and sidehug” reference referred to writer Jon Acuff’s satirical blog (stuffchristianslike.net) and new book by that title. Did it? We’re friends (same lit. agent) and I’ve guest posted on his blog (popcorn prayer post. He’s got the ‘God-BOOTY-God’ thing too…what a hoot!

    This post was poignant, thank you.

    Tim: your ideas, and your generosity make this blog a great experience. Much thanks and blessing to you.

  15. The paradox of choice can be cured with a one syllable word. GUT. Go with it. 90% of the time, your nervous system and subconscious will eliminate the “Choister” out of you and steer you in the best direction.

  16. I agree, figuring out what you want first is the way to go. When you date like the way you shop, there is always bigger and better choices and you can never commit to one thing. But a lot of things look good on the outside, yet don’t end up being that way all the way through.

  17. Great post.

    I get the “why are you single?” question a lot, being a youthful 41 (no kids, never married, never engaged, and never been close).

    Personally, it’s not so much a problem of choices for me as it is trying to find someone who fits my criteria. Just when I think I have my list figured out, when I think I have found the guy, other things that are surprisingly important to me sudden come to the forefront.

    For example, I never put religion/spirituality on the list because I know that I’m not the most religious person. However, I do have faith in God and find that grounds me especially during difficult times. The last two guys I dated claimed to be spiritual, but when it came down to it, they showed disrespect for anything remotely resembling religion.

    So I guess I’ll continue to learn, tweak my criteria, and perhaps the right guy will come along…

    I have hope!



  18. Its great discovering this blog! Of course I’d heard of the famous “Four Hour Work Week” but found out much later that you wrote a blog too Tim. This is an inspiring blog.

    Oh yeah I too thought you were hitching up with an Argentinian. Quite touched by the sensitive way in which “you” were describing him! As for hot blooded men playing lacrosse around “you” …well… 🙂

  19. Great article, picking a partner is sometimes harder then it seems at first but picking someone instead of hoping some more will come along to choose from is the best way. The one you love right then also will get some more choices and that might prove you wrong in the end.

    More of this, loved it.

  20. Thanks Claire for the stand in post.

    i have to say reading this as a woman i think the main thing is our clocks as woman are ticking…our biological clocks and that makes the difference in how some of us are viewing and responding to this subject!

    men can have children in their late 80’s ,as long as their parts are functioning in good form and working!

    (btw i know of one these exact men in this very scenario from friends family!)


    children with no love=fail

    look at all the children in todays world that are being let down by the fathers.

    had to mention that as i find it a recurrent theme atm and believe people need to open their eyes alittle to their responsibilities

    choice is a great thing but what would you rather a family and children included in that in a loving environment or the freedom to have single life with “one-night-stands-a-la gogo” as much as you like?

    about as basic as it gets in choice!

  21. This was a good article and really made me reflect on my own personal life. I can easily make choices on 99% of things. I’ll take my time on bigs things like a house or car, but I don’t like to dilly dally and keep the train from moving along, so to speak.

    Irony always seems to set in when it comes to relationships. I’m ready to marry, and over 5 years later he still isn’t. How long do you wait? What’s the deciding factor in saying “enough is enough” and moving forward? I’m indecisive about his indecisiveness. Arghhhh!

    I personally think that intimate relationships is where EVERYONE makes stupid choices. I mean look at the divorce rate. I’m sure we’ve all seen a situation where we ask ourselves “what are they thinking?” when we see a couple who soooo should not be together run off and get married. Even if you are indecisive in your relationship, that’s still technically a choice your making, isn’t it?

    Good article!

  22. Tim

    The article hits something that too many people suffer from multiple choices.

    The range includes foods films theatres books partners destinations, the choices are for some too much. They are all around us bu that does not mean we must look at every one. Just enough to mae a determination that enough information has been gathered. From here we can make an informed choice.

    Choices opens not closes options and the person with the most options has power. As in the book Less is More to narrow ones focus and create niche thinking improves the quality of our lives. 😉

  23. What a wonderful blog – and thoughtful comments. How about this one? What if you’re a divorced, pretty, physically fit woman just about to turn 65 years old, and the most attention paid to you in the past many years has been by the long-married fathers of your daughter’s friends or the husbands of your best friends – even your currently married ex-husband? It’s flattering, of course, but so disheartening. I’ve gotten very philosophical about fidelity, as a result. If I ever decide to start dating again, it will be with the full knowledge that men roam – and that if I can turn a “blind eye”, perhaps the relationship can still flourish. However, I’m one of an always exploring, busy, happy, large group of women who, while we dearly miss sex and companionship, just aren’t willing to put up with what appears to be men’s never ending search for a taste of someone different. Plus, I like just throwing a PB&J together on pumpernickel with lettuce and calling it dinner! So, make that reality part of your grownup, mature selection process – talk with each other about how you’re going to deal with that. It’s important.

  24. I took away nothing from this post of value except the reminder that increased choice reduces buying. Perhaps it was aimed at females. A male is well advised to date heavily and widely before settling.

    I find broadness of choice very valuable in many areas, for instance nootrophics and information management applications.

    The writing style was cloying, cutesy, and contemptible in its concentration on c-words.

  25. I would suggest, as does Eckhart Tolle in the “Power of Now,” and in his other writings, that the fear of actually choosing is a symptom of the ego that thrives on MORE, MORE, MORE stuff, relationships, etc. The ego is threatened with a choice as it views that action as a limiter to MORE. If your ego is in control 100% of the time, you will constantly be disappointed and unhappy as your shiny new objects dull with ever increasing frequency.

    In the case of relationships, some people want their relationships to make them happy. Once the novelty wears off, they are on to the next selection or flavor of the month. I believe choice can become much easier when one feels complete and content with being who they are without a partner, and then an opportunity will arise to commit to a relationship with a clear head and a present self. Any strong anticipation for a better future is not rooted your being, but a hope (ego) that someone or something will make your life better than it is right now, but all you have is now so embrace it.

  26. Hi guys,

    I’m not convinced about setting criteria, what for?

    Is having a relation a reasonable goal?

    Or is falling in love and be loved the real one to chase in a lifetime?

    And does still make sense to consider relation as a one-to-one commitment?

    I’m full of questions 🙂


  27. ???? ????? ????? ???????, ????? ??????? ??????,

    ??? ?????? ??????? ??????? ??? ??????:

    ?? ????? ???????, ??? ??? ?????? ????,

    ? ????? ???? ????, ??? ?????? ? ??? ??????.

    Omar Khayam

    The Rubaiyat

    Sorry, I didn,t find correct english translation and I dare not do it myself. It’s eternal orient wisdom I think.

  28. I subscribe to the general notion that I will always be wiser tomorrow than I am today and consequently decisions made today claiming to have enough foreknowledge of future thoughts and feelings to engage in legitimately long-term, let alone lifetime, contracts/engagements/etc are decidedly presumptuous. This is the honesty and utility of liquidity; it doesn’t presume to predict the future. Granted, it’s absolutely unrealistic to think that one can operate with perfect liquidity, but just because that’s unattainable, it doesn’t mean that what is available can’t be maximized with respect to reasonably defined minimum levels of fitness/stability/etc.

    Perhaps before engaging in criteria selection – which can be just as, if not more, difficult as making the actual choice – the more important question is whether a particular decision needs to be made at all! All choices are made with imperfect information, and being able to determine whether it’s worth making in the first place can save much energy/stress/etc.

    If a decision has to be made, then streamline the process by defining the non-negotiables and other criteria aggressively, but not unrealistically; aggressive enough to where you would say – ‘I would be perfectly comfortable selecting the first apparent option that met these mindful, ambitious-enough criteria.’ Stressing over a potential 99 when you decided on a 98 is a waste of time. There comes a point when our pal diminishing marginal returns knocks on the door and says that potential nanoimprovements over the current choice isn’t worth the life energy spent neuroticizing over it.

    This reminds me of ‘The Trouble With Geniuses’ chapters from Gladwell’s Outliers. The gist of it was that after certain thresholds, it doesn’t seem to matter. Michigan Law students with greater entrance credentials were found to ultimately be no more successful/content/etc in their careers than those with inferior entrance credentials. All that mattered was that they were good enough to get into Michigan Law. Beyond that threshold, each was as likely to succeed as the other.

    Ultimately, and inevitably, it seems you’re damned if you do or damned if you don’t; you either choose between not making a choice or trying to make the least-mindless one. If it’s a decision that positively has to be made, and often times it isn’t, then set aggressive, but not unrealistic criteria, select the first option that satisfies said criteria, and move on!

    Personally, I will always rather be frustrated by too much freedom than too little.


  29. Good Post, however I tend to view partner choice from a different paradigm, as I think many others attempted to express but I think this is the simplest way to explain it…

    The article assumes that marriage is one person “choosing” another, like the way we choose pants or a car. It’s not. It’s TWO PEOPLE CHOOSING MARRIAGE. The two people together are the choosers and marriage (a lifetime commitment to one another) is what’s being chosen.

  30. I am a choister as well. This is something I will experiment with for 1 week. And then I will continue week after week and I will see how it works out for me:).

    Good post, Tim.

  31. Lace, I love that George Bernard Shaw quote: “Few of us have vitality enough to make any of our instincts imperious.”

    It’s very interesting that multiple people have noted a sense that the article purveys a “single is bad” tone. That’s not *at all* our intent with The Choice Effect – and the book is very much in favor of singleness.

    So much so that we’re in an article in Newsweek today that is actually called “The Case Against Marriage!”: http://www.newsweek.com/2010/06/11/i-don-t.html

    A little extreme for my tastes as well!

  32. My choices narrowed very quickly when I started doing spiritual clearing for myself and for others. Finding a sexually attractive mate who shared my goal of “Zero Compulsive Urges/Games” was like finding a needle in a haystack, but somehow we did find each other, thanks to the internet too.

    We also practice the art of “Spaces between the Togetherness”.

  33. LOL, The first read of the article I thought you were speaking and had been engaged to some dude some Argentina. (Not that theres anything wrong with that)


  34. @ Maria Brilaki

    Its not deciding who to like like that, rather its making the choice of who to give what chance, it does not mean that you are neccessarily turning your romantic life into a cold calculated souless existence. Basically its deciding whether you want to call the guy you met in the bar back or if you want to meet the guy your mom met while shopping. Not trading your feelings for ideas. Or at least thats how I see it.

  35. The option you can’t have if you are a ‘choister ‘ is the deeply fulfilling experience of a decades long intimate relationship, which can only be created by time. It involves compromise, but it’s pretty special, and not many people experience it anymore…

    Really enjoyed your writing style Claire, a fun post.

  36. WOW. Totally my least favorite article that you’ve ever posted, just plain sad. Love is one of life’s greatest gifts and true love is one of the MOST amazing feelings a human can experience. Love is not a business decision or a house or a car or a f’n career. It’s heart and love and soul and yes we ALL have a right to want EVERYTHING, everything that we want. Hopefully those wants are in check to what makes us happy healthy beings creating a happy healthy world. And NO, you don’t have to make a commitment for life and I don’t believe in marri5age … that’s legal paperwork and religious bull shit with a title and a boxed stigmata that more often then not makes people miserable. We all have different phases in our life and if you tell me now that your exactly the same person you were 5 or 10 years ago then you’re not growing and living the amazing life that’s been given to you. Maybe you’ll fall in love and you’ll stay on the same wavelength and stay together forever … or maybe in 5 years you’ll both have changed so much that the other looks like a stranger. Either is OK … really it’s totally fine … and maybe you’ll have many loves! Most of the people we admire most in history had more then one love … and sometimes there is just that one love that’s different then all the rest … still doesn’t mean you want to wake up staring at that person every single day. That’s ok too! DON’T settle! DON’T think of it as a choice … when you feel overwhelming love FOLLOW YOUR HEART it will lead down a very happy road … yes I used the word happy. Doesn’t mean you won’t fight or have bad days but I promise you if you follow your heart you’ll never have regrets! Live everyday of YOUR life. Ugh, I can’t even believe after all the inspiration on living, breathing, working, traveling outside the box that you’d post how to box your self in – in the most damaging and heart breaking ways of all. If you follow your heart in life love will eventually find you … be patient and believe.

  37. I wonder if people would feel less “paralysed” if there weren’t such large expectations around marriage. What if marriage were like most other contracts – maybe for a five year term with rights of renewal. There are other good sides to this as well – continuous dating and never taking the relationship for granted.

    At the end of the day I believe Richard Gere had it right in Runaway Bride – all we can do is know from the bottom of our heart at the time we commit to another person that we believe we’ll be with them forever – it doesn’t mean things can’t or won’t change.

    Choice theory is interesting – and in shopping behaviour (and I suggest it applies with relationships as well), people aren’t nearly as concerned with making the best choice, as they are fearful of making a wrong choice.

  38. It might be true but it doesn’t apply in all situation. Life is more complicated than that….I know mine is.

    Good writing though. Keep it up.

  39. I absolutely loved “The Paradox of Choice” and it made so much sense, Tim. Thank you for posting that on your blog, more people need to understand this concept.

  40. Tim, why are you single you beautiful man? You are the epitome of a person who truly enjoys life to the fullest. I choose to be single because I feel like I don’t need anyone to complete me but me… I would love to have someone there to share my life with me, but quoting one of my favorites: “The purpose of a relationship is not to have another who might complete you; but to have another whom you might share your completeness.” Love that. So true. Keep doing what you’re doing, kid— you are going places!! Wish there were more people like you and myself out there who understand the meaning of life! 🙂 Enjoy, you’re awesome, thank you for sharing your advice with all of this! We love you.

  41. I choose an equation of life (one of many) that’s wealth=choice. It’s not the currency, coin or even the amount. Money is congealed energy as stated by Joseph Campbell. Energy requires attention to be harnessed and focused. Resources require energy regardless of state it comes from.

    A relationship of peace (not of control) demands Concentration, paid through 100% devotion to the experience. Acknowledging the body’s cocktail of neuropeptides helps to avoid cracking a pool stick over a drunk college girl’s head for interrupting a pool game with brother. (It ended peacefully) Still working on the anger neuropeptides myself….

    Criteria cites a commonality of not interests alone, and also valuing of the essence of each other. Respect is a loaded word, various meanings are varied as our opinions. Acceptance of the life partners speed of growth and comprehension of words and meanings given from another’s experience.

    So if single life is preferred, be sure to tell him every uncensored thought about his mom’s apron strings.

    Common sense requires experience of mistakes. There are those special people who require helmets in daily living. (My sister insists I get one for daily wear.) So when f@#%ing up at full speed: Adapt, Modify, Improvise and Overcome. Ohhh, and Remember. The learning curve is steep for those acclimated to sticking with the unwanted story we create about ourselves. (I identify as “Eternal Child who Has Real Super Human Powers.” Woohoo for parkour & capoeira!)

    Calculation is patience, timing, ingenuity, creativity and oh yeah and math….It’s taken years to learn about one’s self.

    “Dig a little deeper find out who you are, you gotta dig a little deeper, it really ain’t that hard. Once you find out who you are, you’ll find out what you need, you gotta dig a little deeper…Then you’ll know.” Mama Odie

    (I threw in some Disney; Sis that’s for you)

    Choose Allready. Analysis Paralysis is hard to shake once the thought pattern insists the reasons to delay deserve greater attention than the physical action required. It’s a numbers game. Starting though would help.

    For me personally, he’s out there, “I Just Haven’t Met You Yet.”

    Micheal Buble, sing it!

  42. What comes to mind is Bonnie Hunt’s marital tale she told to Bob Costas years ago. Hunt said (paraphrase from memory), “I tried to crack show business for years, and I didn’t get anywhere. So I gave up and moved back to Chicago and got a middle-class 9-to-5 job and met and married my middle-class husband. And then my agent called and said, `I know you’ve quit show biz, but I think you should audition for this one part. You’re perfect for it.'” So Hunt did. And got the part. Which led to others. And then to fame and fortune. And she told Costas (which was cruel to her husband, but her point is valid), “I married my husband when I had this limited middle-class life. But since I’ve become famous I’ve met all these wonderful men, and I’m thinking, `Why did I lock myself into a marriage back in Chicago?!’ But we’re working on our marriage, and trying to keep it together.” Subsequently, around 2006, she and her husband divorced. She experienced the female equivalent of the Village Venus effect. When she left “the village” she saw her Venus/Adonis wasn’t.

  43. I’m single in my twenties because I’ve not done enough with my life to impress an SO. Is that a paradox or something normal?

  44. Wow, interesting post, only just got round to reading it and the comments and it’s made even more interesting by the synchronicity that it was posted on my 31st Birthday. I find too many options can sometimes be overwhelming but I guess you have to choose something, I don’t think their is a choice to not choose.

  45. Really nice post,

    but can all of it be summarized in just too many choices? This is definitely a part of it, but shouldn’t we be also more concerned that we are all in the “instant relationship” mode. We are not willing to put in any effort to make the relationship work. We just want instant satisfaction, whatever it might be and at the minute it looks as it does not function any more we turn the leaf in search of new perfect partner and the new “in love” emotions. To make it short, I think the answer is in the priorities- or the prize, like Claire said.

    PS nice fresh posts Tim, love them.


  46. Nice one. Well, I know some with tooo many choices while some with seriously none. It is not all those abnormal personality reasons, both types are attractive. I guess it is one’s ‘tao hua yuen’!

    Tim, are you a Choister?

  47. I think it also has to do with finance. I’d love to be married with two point four children, but I can’t afford it.

  48. I suppose, my commet was deleted… I can repeat. Choice can be easy if you know, what you DOESEN’T want.

    To be wise,one should know too much.Two rules to begin with…You’d better starve,than to eat anything And better be alone,than to be with anybody.

    Omar Khayam

    The Rubayat

  49. Fun post, but I’m not sure things are so different for today’s 20 or 30 somethings than it was for me at that age. Maybe things were different in our grandparents day, but the choices with marriage and partnerships have been wide open for a long time.

    As someone who has been happily married for almost 20 years to my soulmate, I think choices are a good thing. I went after finding my life mate and father of my child in much the same way I go after manifesting anything that I want in my life. Timing is everything & we were both ready to commit as we hit our late thirties and we married after knowing each other only 3 months! He was one of the first men I met after making up my mind that I was ready.He knew instantly, it took me a little longer.

    I think the younger you are, the harder it is to make a good choice in marriage because everyone changes a LOT during their 20’s and 30’s. I’m always amazed at people who are *happy* in long marriages that started when they were really young and I think it is rare because it is hard to do. Of course WHO you marry is more important than when, but the more things in your favor the better because long term healthy relationships take work and commitment.

    I was willing to risk not having a family at all if I didn’t find the right partner. We both certainly learned a lot from other long term relationships in our 20’s and 30’s.

    Although I do agree with @Dan’s great point:

    “The two people together are the choosers and marriage (a lifetime commitment to one another) is what’s being chosen.”

    Even as a kid I always thought I’d marry late and have just one child at the last moment and I advise the same to my daughter. Once you add a child, there is a huge change in the relationship and responsibilities. Having total freedom in your 20’s and 30’s is a luxury and a wonderful time to learn about yourself and what is important to you.

    Women are at a certain disadvantage time-wise because of biological clocks and they still statistically do more of the housecleaning, cooking, and care of children in a marriage.

    We thought we’d have a child right away, but things did not work that way & that turned out to be a blessing in disguise because having a long time as couple before having a child gave us time to cement that dynamic before adding another.

    I so agree with you @Lynda “deeply fulfilling experience of a decades long intimate relationship” is perhaps one of the greatest joys of life and so sadly, it’s rare today. For the sake of the kids, I wish more would do the work required once they make the choice and commitment.

  50. Lucky me I don’t have this choister habit, because I always follow my instincts.

    When I met my partner a long time ago, there was this “babababoom” and that’s it! No complications of going through this choosing stuff!


    Alex Tagus

  51. I was in a food co-op the other day and commented to a girl about the massive variety of milk substitutes. Five shelves filled five-feet wide with milk-ish options. “Wow!” I said to her. She laughed and told me her simple solution…

    Her mother had purchased every single brand and type of rice, almond, and soy milk and tried them at home. Dozens of varieties. She told her daughter which one tasted the best. So that’s the one her daughter drinks.

    So her daughter told me. She was right and now that’s the one I drink.

    See! All you need to do is find someone to do that with relationship partners for you. It’s easy as Organic-Unsweetened-Vegan-Raw-Pie!

  52. Hello Tim,

    We plan to visit San Francisco from July 10 to July 15 2010. Do you suggest any food we should try and place to hang out.


  53. Part of my choice paralysis (a college chum called it being a “decision magician”) was not being clear on what I wanted in a partner. How do you know what to look for when you’re not sure about what you want?

    Doing the free in-depth questionnaire on eHarmony is very useful, even if you don’t sign up for matching service. The analysis it told me a lot about myself and I started thinking about very specific qualities to look for in a person. Then I signed up for eHarmony and looked at matches they sent me, trying very hard to keep focused on specific qualities and not trying to get hung up on any one guy. A lot of the men had the same first names, so to keep track of them I gave them nicknames (“Mountain Man” posted a photo of himself canoeing on a mountain lake, “The Dish” was a guy that made me say, “Would you look at the dish?” when I first saw his photo…).

    Another method I used to think about qualities was to use tarot cards (you don’t need to be. I selected 30 cards and put them in a circle around me. Chose the ten cards with images that disturbed me the most, and those were bad qualities to look out for in a potential mate. I chose another 10 cards that I didn’t care for, and those were things to watch out for in my own psyche or lessons to be learned. The ten cards that remained were the qualities I could look for in a partner.

    Between the cards and the eHarmony profile, I got a much better understanding of myself and was able to relax and have fun checking out the guys that were potential matches. I found a guy pretty quickly who fit the bill. Of course, I let my dog and horse confirm my selection, as they are both very sensitive and are good judges of character.

    It was a bit of red tape (“The Dish” turned out to be a Kiwi and we had to apply for a green card in the US), but we got married last year and I am very happy with the choice I made. My mother told me just this week that I couldn’t have picked a better son-in-law for her — and I owe it all to a dating site, a deck of tarot cards, a dog and a horse.

    I loved reading Claire’s story, although when I first read it I thought that Tim had found the guy of his dreams! I’m still chuckling about that.

  54. I too thought Tim was engaged to an Argentinian boy at first…which would be a happy choice I’m sure. But I’m secretly pleased he is not and is still avaialble to choose (me).

    Thanks for the good read!

  55. I find it so funny how confused Americans are when it comes to relationships and what they want from those relationships. The rest of the world has a much easier time making these types of decisions–trust me, there are plenty of better options in some places than some here. We should learn from what folks abroad do (innovation happens in both directions).

    Most guys are dishonest. Most girls are dishonest. Stick with the most honest one and you’ll be fine. Liking peanut butter or knowing who Maradona is the least of your worries. Lower expectations, it’s goin to be alright.

  56. This pretty much sums up the people of Los Angeles. WAY too many choices. Anyway, after two years of dating I told my bf I was going to leave some things at his house other than a toothbrush. It was a BIG step. Gathering data is one thing, learning to live with it for the rest of your life is another!! LOL

  57. Hey all

    Being effective? Judge for your self!

    2 weeks ago I revisited “dream line”, to my surprise, being in an intimate relationship was my 1st priority.

    Lacking experience in the world of dating, I realized, doing the 80/20 analysis, that it will be time consuming and far from effective (in my case) to go online dating.

    I choose to be open about it and tell everyone (and I mean everyone) I’m looking for a date.

    Earlier today my friend calls asking if he can give my number to his friend, I replied with some basic questions until I got that they’re irrelevant. At this point I still need to practice dating

    This evening as I complete my class, the phone rings, it’s him-my date.

    We happen to be just a few blocks away from each other, so we decide to meet on the corner of 50th st & 7th ave.

    By the time we get to 51st st I tell him: I’m sorry you’re not my type (damn pheromones) and I wouldn’t waste your time. (I was sincere, yet compassionate in my speaking)

    At 1st he seemed confused (as most will), than he asked: how do you know? I nicely answered: from looking at you! I kissed him on both cheeks (where I’m from, we kiss) and went on my way.

    The point of it all?

    If you know this isn’t it, “be ruthless and cut the fat” for them, as much as for your self.

    “You’ve got to find what you love, and that is as true for work as it is for your lovers. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking, and DON’T settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. ” Jobs, Steve Jobs

    Love and happy dating


    On the subway home, I saw a cute guy and gave him my number. 😉

  58. Hi Claire, Tim,

    Excellent post … enjoyed reading it, but luckily and maybe also strangely, the “paradox of choice” has only ever paralised me concerning the “little things” in life. I can spend ages deciding whether to buy something or not, which version/colour to go for, is this really the best place to stay at when travelling, etc.

    However, about the “big things in life” my inner voice/compass has always guided me correctly … I always just knew what was right for me (at that time) and often took a (slightly) different path.

    I can’t really explain this?! I’m more the scientific type, rather than the airy-fairy new-age type.

    I met my partner in Bangkok while we were both travelling (good start). We share the same values and ideas about the bigger things in life, but we couldn’t have more different characters really. She is very grounded, while I’m not at all. It does make us very complimentary and she really manages to “balance” me out and makes me put things in perspective. If she would be as “freaky” (read neurotic) as I am about life’s details, that wouldn’t be a good thing. Just as Claire has experienced, you don’t need to be similar in order to hit it off … as long as you share the same ideas about the major things in life.

    Being from different countries I ended up moving from Brussels to Manchester.

    And, since 2 months ago, everything seems to have finally fallen into place for me. I am working from home, spend less hours working and have just become the father of a beautiful and smiley daughter!

    The way I got there was kind of a cross between the 4HWW and Leap (Rick Smith).

    However, I must admit that the 4HWW made the biggest impact and it motivated me to persevere in trying to break out of the 9 to 5 employee cycle. Tim, listening to your audiobook, during my daily commute, just gave me the extra motivation to take a different path.

    Tim, if you ever end up near Manchester, please let me know because I would love to buy you a drink! Thanks to you I get to see my daughter grow up and enjoy life more!

    Can’t thank you enough!

    Kind regards


  59. I think this a great article in solving the problem of choice related issues. But I think the distance/cultural paradox in relationships can add different dimensions in choice. Including the relationship cost which will eventually evolve the creation of a central relationship hub and also the financial expenses evolved in cultivating such a relationship. It is much harder to please someone from a distance while knowing that the prospects of work and career will ultimately change greatly for one of these people. The ability to comment to change and the willingness to combine into a coherent structure will ultimately decide the fate of any relationship.

  60. Why One have to choose another person for a life long commitment?

    Mariage simply killing fun and pollute fresh air, it is the death of love and passion, it’s still and will be always valide truth…..

  61. Really insightful article Claire.

    I myself have been through these phases and can relate to what you wrote about.

  62. This is an interesting article to me, because I am an MBA student and have found myself in an eerily similar situation to the one described by Claire. The problem to me is that in our conscious minds, we know the pitfalls of non-commitment, but in reality our bodies have evolved to always look for the best possible mate. To me there isn’t a great way to approach it, because it seems that either way you may end up unhappy.

  63. The best people are usually taken, I myself gave up after a long relationship ended and I realised this… but then I met someone lovely at the covent garden poetry cafe, we get on very well. We are getting married in August.

    Believe me, when you meet the right person for you, you just ‘know’ who it is, in fact, I wrote a poem about the whole thing… here it is

    My Love

    Solitude for me, thought I

    Books and music for me

    All gone wrong, you see

    Then you came along

    Fill my life with sun

    All so easy

    So right

    Turns out

    In the end

    I just had to wait

    For you

    The one!

    for more poems by me, google j”ason palmer poemhunter”

  64. Interesting article! I wonder if choice has a major effect also on divorce rates, infidelity, and break-ups? I would like to see a study of The Choice Effect on relationships.

  65. More and more our choices must lead to sustainable outcomes otherwise were headed for collapse or radical change. Choices are getting easier for me since I started making sustainability my ultimate value.

  66. Tim,

    I’m reminded of chatwin’s anatomy of restlessness and how 1) adornment is a primitive impulse-could not choice be an abstract Vegas strip of mental cachophony? 2) your articulation of psychic weight. your quote in 4hww from bruce lee where simplicity is the goal.

    just knowing there of the paradox has helped me reduce the egg options (local large in paper cartons vs omega brown free range in styrofoam)

    but then that’s why i love tapas. lil bit o this lil bit o that.

    anybody have experience with children in this manner? it must be exhausting for a 10 year old with some resources.

  67. Partner choice is an easier ‘game’ for men, than for women. Age is merciless to women, because they lose their fertility. It is fertility that is most attractive to men, which is why men tend to favor younger women.

    Women are more attracted to older men, because they tend to be more established, mature, and are better able to provide for the women and her children.

    The best thing for young women to do is to find a good man early before they lose their fertility signals. By the time women get to 30, they start looking a little more “cougarish” with each passing year. And no, that is not a good thing, despite what “cougars” wish to think.

    Someone mentioned Helen Mirren. Yes, she used to be quite a looker, but no sane man today would call her a looker, unless he was closer to her age or older. That’s the truth.

    It used to be that women in a family would guide the young woman towards a good mate that took into account things other than her “tingles” for the man. Nowadays, the “advice” is to follow your “feelings”, which amounts to “follow your tingle.”

    It’s not the best advice for young women to follow their tingle after the bad boys, walking past the good ones who can give her a family life when her looks have faded.

    That is reality, that is fact.

    And will remain so until science figures out how to stop aging utterly in its tracks. (Don’t hold your breath waiting for it.)

    This won’t matter to some women… that’s fine. But it will matter to most women, and it will matter more and more to them as they get older. The ‘clock’ is said to get louder for a reason.

  68. I agree that having more choices often makes it difficult to choose.

    However, I think it’s somewhat important to point out that you don’t NEED to choose. Picking a life long partner isn’t a requirement these days, and many of the factors that made it so important 100 years ago simply don’t exist any more. People don’t wait until marriage to have sex. Women have plenty of high quality employment opportunities. The social stigma of being single, while still around, is much less of a factor.

    Aside from having children, I really don’t see a point in settling. If you really aren’t 101% happy, there is no need to commit.

    Just my thoughts.

  69. love is worth the time to find… if your lucky, here is a little youtube film i made , about a nice day out, to the botanic gardens, with my girlfriend…

    cuddles and kisses rule

  70. In my experience, the “choice” factor in dating and relationships is significantly different than in shampoos, cars, TV shows or restaurants.

    First of all, lets not assume that everyone lives surrounded by other people. I am from (originally) a very small town, but now live in Brooklyn NY. Guess what? MOST people from my high school class are married with kids – in many cases, happily so. Small communities foster connections and relationships. Many people who live in the big city feel this isolation. Here we are, surrounded by people, and it is truly much harder to connect. This isolation is less of an issue in small towns. The phenomenon of ‘choice’ there is also significantly different.

    So, what to do? I counsel men to simulate, in a way, this small town phenomena, and create a strong, vital social circle. From this, healthy, lasting relationships often form. People are more open to each other here, and one can find people that one shares things in common with. Not to say that the ‘choice’ phenomena is removed here, but it is greatly lessened.

    Also, I must add that I slightly disagree with the theme that we choose our partners. At least, that we choose them in a logical manner. Sure, lists are a fine way to get out the door and start meeting people. But, in the end, a sincere connection is mostly discovered, not manufactured, or – dare I say it – even chosen.

    Simply, we must all put ourselves in the best position for something to happen (social circle/community) that we cannot control (falling in love). Dare I say it, but if we find ourselves logically choosing our partner, we’ve found the wrong one…

    Stephen Nash

  71. The inability to decide between two or more things stems from lack of knowledge of each option. If you know that one product contains better ingredients you will purchase that over the inferior product. If you know that two products contain the same ingredients but one costs less you will chose the lower price.

    The “knowlege” concept seems to basic but it’s the truth behind all of this discussion and everyones post. If you have the required knowledge to make the right choice it no longer becomes a choice because the other options rule themselves out.

    This applies to choosing people/partners as well. If you knew everything about people upfront you could easily choose between them. The problem is that when you choose a partner is it potentially a permanent choice and you FEAR that you might gain knowledge about another person at a later date that would equate in you thinking you made the wrong choice. You didn’t make the wrong choice you simply made the best choice at that time. Everything in the world is evolving along with choices. And knowledge is power.


  72. I think Tim is sub-conciously trying to tell him and us something. By the way, you just spoke for a lot of us so thanks for the article 🙂

  73. Thank you for encouraging people to cultivate their decision making abilities.

    You make a sound, logical argument.

    However, creating a logical case for choosing a partner isn’t very warm or romantic, now is it? 🙂

    I believe that we leaders should start a movement. A romantic movement. A return to a romanticism and loyalty where people allowed themselves to fall deeply, suddenly in love and then marry that person with complete and life-long loyalty.

    Now that is the candy that feeds the soul.

  74. I understand Tim’s point of view when it comes to stream lining life and jobs…I disagree when it comes to choosing a partner. I live and work in New York City and you could say from a female’s perspective that we’re choosing from 7 jam’s in stead of 24. Females are outnumbered here. I forget the statistic but I think it’s about 10-20% more males than females.

    I’m practical when it comes to real estate or my job but when it comes to love…i’m all about finding the right thing. You can’t outsource love. Yes, someone can peruse a dating site for you but only you REALLY know you and what you’re looking for. Maybe by only offering 7 jam’s they really narrowed down the choices by choosing the top favorites thus making the decisions easier for those choosing.

    I’m not under pressure to meet someone. If my flavors aren’t found in the top 7 flavors offered then I’m inclined to wait it out. I’d rather be alone (with my dog) than be with one of the top 7 i’m just settling for.

  75. The decision is the hardest thing for our generation and the next generation to make. The right decision gives you more knowledge and so does the wrong decision. As parents our main goal is to help our chilldren learn to make good decisions.

    My son made a comment today about a business decision we are working on. He said I know what my emotional response to this event is but I am not going to act just on my emotional response. I got a huge plus out of that.


  76. Hi Tim,

    This is off topic. I remember you mentioning that you wanted to work on the US education system.

    Have you written about this anywhere I can find it on the web?

  77. Tim: you twittered for suggestions on your next blog topic.

    I’m not on twitter and am answering here, hope that’s all right.

    I would like to know: What are your one or two default maxims for the present moment?

    What I mean is, when you have a moment of uncertainty, or when you wish simply to stay centered, what one or two principles do you instinctively fall back to?

    Here are mine: “In male fide” and “Nimbus.” And a distant third in terms of frequency, is a sort of geometric symbol I drew that embodies stoic virtues.

  78. > Choosing doesn’t limit choices—it just changes them

    Well put.

    I use The Rule of 3 to limit my options or bubble up the value.

    I measure my choices against a two simple drivers:

    1. what do I want to spend more time doing?

    2. who do I want to be and what experiences do I want to create?

  79. Tim, are you finding yourself continuously single because there is no woman who can entertain you long enough? Do you feel like you are enjoying doing many things all over the world and a woman would have to be able to run at your speed, which is difficult?

  80. Why do people constantly punish themselves by purposely doing random things? I just do not see what is so hard about finding a partner. People need to realize that things get easier once you make a choice and stay with that choice no matter what else happens. If that gift becomes a curse, stick with it.

    Life is not that hard when you stop bulls****ing yourself.

  81. Okay, first a few parameters. I’m probably not the average demographic reading this blog, I’m 52. But I’ve made some rather different choices in life – like not having children because I knew I would always want to pursue other interests like writing and a career. Children are adorable but incredibly time-consuming.

    At age 34 I was going through my second divorce. At about 38 I was finally ready for real love – not just dating. This was before “friends with benefits” and “starter marriages” came into the picture. And with two divorces under my belt, I wanted a forever kind of love.

    I sat down and wrote a very detailed essay of what I wanted. It was so much more than just his appearance and educational level and that he made me laugh.

    I wrote about how he:

    made me feel when he touched me or held my hand.

    would offer to do the dishes and make the bed.

    had strong values and good money skills – even if he didn’t have a ton of money.

    told others about the cool things I was doing when I wasn’t even around.

    was totally turned on by my body whether I was up ten pounds or down.

    I read it a few times and then totally forgot about it.

    A little over a year after that I met Ernie. It was one of those instant kismet things. Lightning struck. After a two hour stroll down the beach and back, I knew. We lived two hours apart – he in LA and me in San Diego. But we emailed each other furiously and talked on the phone endlessly and when he drove down for our weekend date six days later it was a done deal as I saw him walking up to my porch with flowers in hand.

    About three years later we were packing up to move from San Diego to Las Vegas. In pulling stuff out of drawers, closets and everywhere else – I found that essay I wrote. I read it again. It was exactly Ernie to a T.

    That was almost 13 years ago.

  82. Personally, I love having a lot of options available and choosing one of them.

    But, in relationship, I let it happen. A lot of times, the guy I choose (for whatever reason) is not the best guy. Not because he is not a good enough person, but because the best person seems to be the guy who comes forward and puts efforts to have good relationship with me.

    And I STILL believe most of people (if not all) are worth loving. 🙂

    What I choose is not as important as how I choose (times and efforts spent on choosing).

    So, I enjoy choosing! (because it is so random and it is like a play- And I know I can make myself happy no matter what I choose) I guess that makes me choiseter?

  83. The other dimension to this is, once chosen, once you become a family, know for sure that any breakdown in that is going to severely limit your options. We are trying for the 4HWW in a blended family of teen and preteen kids who want/need access to their other parent. It makes the mini retirements and life style options challenging in whole new ways. We are doing it, but chosing better the first time would have made this a whole lot easier.

  84. Hey there, not strictly related to this post but kind of…, here’s a suggestion or possibly even a request for a favour –

    it’d be so nice to connect with people (both sexes 🙂 ) face to face that live life first hand, and make their own rules for life – and I figure a fair amount of these people have read Four Hour Work Week. Any chance you could set up a platform where we get to connect with others who are on the Four Hour Work Week journey who are in our geographic location, or who we can connect with when we travel? Anyone else interested in something like this? Thanks, Lisa PS… I’d consider doing the work to make it happen if you’re happy to provide the interface…

  85. My favorite quote: “Choosing doesn’t limit choices—it just changes them. So feel free to pick that city, that career, that partner, knowing that even commitment brings a whole new set of options – children/pets/red and blue houses – to be excited (and angsty) about.”

    Relationships just change the nature of the choices you make, you still get to enjoy variety… though as a single man in LA, I can argue that being a “choice-ster” is tough to pass up.

  86. “The greatest enemy of a good plan is the dream of a perfect one” Carl von Clausewitz

    A reasonable plan executed in time is better than a perfect plan hatched in a prison camp” Patton

  87. Sue writes,

    “I also found a definite tone of “single is bad” pervading the article. I have been married (for eleven years) and can tell you that marriage isn’t for everyone, and certainly not for me. At age 55, I’m much happier with friends with benefits. We are programmed to think that we must marry, and that’s just not true.”

    I just wanted to bump up this comment because I think it’s true. If I became married right now (age 23) it would be out of fear-of-being-alone, whereas what I really want is the freedom to say “This week, I’m going to fly to Tokyo” without worrying about what the wife will say / who will watch the kids / etc.

    You can have a boyfriend / girlfriend and still be satisfied, and without making vows you can still take your trip to Tokyo without feeling guilty. Another big factor behind staying un-married is I can flirt with people. I don’t want to feel guilty if that cute waitress is batting lashes at me. Not ashamed of this, this is part of human communication and I think we get depressed if we choke this from our lives.

    I’m really weird and think an ideal relationship should be open enough that there isn’t constant jealousy / looking over each others backs. Sexual attraction seems to be fueled by a desire of someones individuality. The flame dies when somebody is no longer leading their own life, but their life revolves entirely around you.

    Now, if I wanted kids, this would be a different story. But, I don’t care about kids so I’m with Bill Maher on the marriage thing–