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ADDD: Attention Deficit Dating Disorder

Kristen Chandler

Have you ever been to a candy store? I’m not talking the candy isle in Target, but a real candy store…like the M&M store in Las Vegas. Three stories of nothing but M&M’s! It’s hard to pick just one or even two or three…if you dare to walk in that store, you’ll come out with a bright yellow bag filled with a colorful variety of M&M’s.

It’s impossible to focus on just one flavor or color–even if it’s your favorite. Why? Because you’re afraid you might miss out on something better if you don’t try them all, or at least most of them. So you put a little of this and a little of that into your bag until you have a giant collection of tasteful treats, yet not one of them stands out. And after you’ve eaten a handful or two, they actually all start to taste the same.

Well, internet dating is much like being a kid in a candy store. The choices seem almost endless. So you start picking your favorites, passing out winks, and shooting out emails. Eventually you’re “talking to” a multitude of men or women at the same time. You might even dole out your number and the texts start to roll in. Soon you find yourself scheduling multiple dates in a week…maybe even more than one a day, depending on how hard you hit the dating pavement. There’s a crazy rush that comes from being in demand. And before you know it, you have a classic case of ADDD (aka serial dating)!

In case you’re wondering if this could be you…here are the top 5 symptoms:

1.  Before you meet, you have to reread your date’s profile and look at pics in hopes of recognizing him in the restaurant or to remind yourself why you are going on this date in the first place.

2.  In the parking lot, you write your date’s name on your palm just to be sure you won’t forget it. Profiles don’t always have names and you don’t want to call him “TheFunkyKing,” by mistake.

3.  You’ve coded the potentials you’re talking to on your cell phone to jar your memory when they call or text… Mike Gym Rat; Joe New Yorker; Susie Surfer Girl, Ann HS Teacher. You get the idea.  (You know things are moving forward when you can drop the code altogether!)

4.  You pin index cards on your clothes to remind you what you wore with whom, as not to repeat the same outfit should there be a second date. (Not applicable to men.)

5.  You’re on multiple dating sites and you’ve uploaded all the apps on you phone so you don’t miss a beat. After your date, you sit in parking lot replying to emails, phone calls, and texts.

I have not personally done 2, 4, and 5 ;-) Ok, well not 2 and 4. I did return someone’s call from the parking lot once after a not-so-great date, but I didn’t inhale!  I also want to say that if this is you, AND your purpose for being online is to “date, but nothing serious,” then you’re totally on task. But if you’re like me and many of the men and women in my age range who say they are “looking for a relationship,” ADDD is counter productive to finding an LTR–Long Term Relationship.

When your attention is here, there and everywhere, you might miss out on THE ONE right under your nose. While the smorgasbord of online choices is why we internet date, those endless possibilities are also why we may never stop. And that’s the real tragedy.

Is there were a way to incorporate the old with the new? Remember those days when LIFE existed outside of a phone or computer? When we didn’t measure our worth in likes, favorites, winks and emails? When people actually had conversations… You’d meet someone, connect, give them your digits, and they’d call you and ask you out. If the date went well, you’d go out again, and again until you eventually formed a relationship. Or you didn’t. Either way, you gave it your attention because you weren’t addicted to online shopping or talking to a multitude of people at once. Internet dating has the potential to be consumerism at its worst!

But like any tool, when used responsibly, it can be a good thing. Imagine a world without ADDD: When you get home from a GREAT date, and (in the words of my favorite songwriter, Taylor Swift) you think, “I just want to know you better.” You stay the course, and give things a chance to play out. If sparks fly, risk lowering the noise a little and enjoy them.  After all, the goal isn’t to meet more people but to develop a relationship with one person. And certainly, if after a handful of dates you decide there’s definite LTR potential, dial in. Focus. Be present. I’m not saying form an instant relationship, but at least lay the groundwork for the possibility of one. You’re not going to miss out on anything by ignoring emails from strangers or hiding your profile for a few weeks while you get to know someone. The worst that can happen is you decide he or she isn’t for you, and you go back to the candy store. Trust me, all the same colors and flavors will still be there!

Original posting on #flirting@fifty, May 2014: