Choosing Partners: The Unafraid Vs. The Afraid
If you are unafraid of being single, do you have higher standards for potential dating partners? In one of the studies, heterosexual women rated online dating profiles of men. The men varied in how responsive and caring they seemed to be.
The more responsive and caring men said things like, "When I’m dating someone, I really care about putting in the effort and making it work...and getting to know who [my girlfriend] really is as a person" and "I figure the most important thing is that we’re there for each other.” The men who were not so considerate instead said things like, "I love what I do so I need someone who respects that and is willing to take the back seat when necessary" and "I like to keep conversations light and...I prefer situations that are easy and problem-free."
It should come as no surprise that people who were unafraid of being single expressed little interest in the men hoping their girlfriends would take the back seat and not bother them with problems or heavy conversations. They were only interested in the more responsive and caring men.
Not so for the fearful people, though. Those who were afraid of being single expressed nearly the same amount of interest in the uncaring men as in the caring ones.
Speed-Dating With The Fearless & The Fearful
In a final study, the authors went to six speed dating events and followed more than 100 people willing to participate. They each went on about 25 dates lasting three minutes each. At the end of the evening, they indicated which potential partners they were interested in.
When asked why they had attended the speed-dating event, the people who were afraid of being single gave answers suggesting that they were running away from being single. For example, they said that they wanted to "avoid being alone" and "prevent being single any longer." They also said they were lonely. Those who were unafraid of being single were far less likely to say any of those kinds of things.
The people who were afraid of being single expressed an interest in more of the potential partners than did the people who were unafraid of single life. Perhaps that is still another way in which they were willing to settle. The authors were able to show that the reason the fearful people expressed an interest in so many potential partners was because they were afraid of staying single.
Afraid Of Being Single? There Is An Upside
Okay, it's not all gloom and doom for those who are afraid of being single. Here's a little good news about the fearful group: They were selected by just as many of the potential partners in the speed-dating events as were the people who were unafraid of being single. Romantic prospects were just as interested in them as they were in anyone else.
Maybe these people really don't need to settle; perhaps they just think they do.
Bella DePaulo (PhD. Harvard) is the author of Singled Out: How Singles Are Stereotyped, Stigmatized, and Ignored, and Still Live Happily Ever After and Singlism: What It Is, Why It Matters, and How to Stop It. Visit her website here.