Happy Relationships – Part 1 – Buyers Remorse

A happy relationship is all about choice, but not in the way that you’re probably thinking. You’re probably thinking that having more choice will lead to a better result, which will make you happier. Thus, more choice = more happiness. Right? Not necessarily.

While in most circumstances having some choice is better than having no choice, having too much choice can leave us miserable, particularly when it comes to relationships. Here’s why:

Say you’re at the ice cream store. If you only have one option, say vanilla or chocolate, the decision is relatively simple. But, if you are given an extra option, strawberry, the choice becomes a little harder. If you are then told that you can add a topping, and there are 5 toppings to choose from, it become even harder still. If you then add in different sizes, double scoops and multiple toppings, suddenly the choice is so complex, it can easily become paralysing.

Another problem with too much choice is that with every extra option you are given, your expectations rise. And if you are presented with enough options to choose from, your expectations eventually rise beyond the best possible outcome. So, even if the one you choose ends up being the best possible outcome you find yourself wondering if one of the other options might have been better. This is called buyers remorse and is particularly common in relationships. Here’s how it looks:

If there was only one person that was interested in you, your decision would be fairly simple, to date them or to be alone. Since there is only one candidate they are automatically the winner of every variable that is important to you (such as humor, intelligence, attractiveness, desire, kindness, confidence etc). But what if you were then presented with another candidate? You would most likely compare the two directly to decide which is the best option. You’d probably find that, although there is a winner overall, the loser might still be more suitable in at least one variable. If you add even more potential candidates, the choice becomes even harder as there may no longer be a clear winner.

One might have the most compatible sense of humor while another might have the most compatible belief system and another the highest level of physical attraction. This is where buyers remorse kicks in.

When the relationship get stressful (as all do) you are likely to start thinking about what would’ve happened if you had chosen differently. You tend to start comparing your partners weakest variable to the other candidates strongest and, no surprise, they lose.

Comparing your current partner to your ex-partners is one of the quickest pathways to relationship unhappiness.

The simple solution is to catch yourself when you start to compare this comparison process. A more thorough solution is to prevent this mechanism from engaging in the first place.

In Part 2 of this mini series we look at how your decision making process effects your relationship happiness and how to prevent buyers remorse.

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