The complete saying goes something like this, “There are plenty of fish in the ocean.” It is a wise proverb meant to illuminate the notion of abundance when it comes to potential relationships. While it can be a healthy way to rebound from relationship failure, it is not a saying that one should use often while you are looking for your match. Why not? This saying can create a false sense of self, believing that you have more options that you actually do, and can even lead to dysfunctional dating behaviors, especially online.
While the ocean is clearly full of lots of fish, there are some fish that you don’t want to catch. My main issue with this saying is that there is no indication of quality, only quantity. We know that there are many men and women in the world. However, you do not want any ol’ fish. You want a fish that is as special as you are. In addition, you want someone compatible to who you are and someone who also wants you as much as you want him or her. There are other special qualifications for partnerships, as well.
What’s wrong with thinking that there are thousands of men or women whom you could be with? The reality is: it is simply not true. Nothing demonstrates this reality more than online dating sites. Specifically, one million profiles on a dating site does not necessarily increase your chances of finding a match–it can simply increase your confusion. While it might be interesting to look at all of those profiles, the likelihood of finding a better relationship than the one you currently have is extremely low.
Online dating sites thrive on your insecurities, unwillingness to work on your relationship, and need to feel like you have a back-up plan in case your current relationship does not work. As I do in most of my blog posts about online dating, I warn readers that the vast majority of these profiles are false and those who post them are lying imposters. Many of them are already in relationships and are looking for sex, a dating diversion, or, at best, an “upgrade” from their present relationship. They are fishing, too!
When you believe that you can always choose someone else (whether it is in the back of your mind or in the front of it), you do not work as hard to make a new relationship work. All relationships require concerted efforts by both parties to be successful. If you engage a potential match wondering about all of the other “fish in the ocean,” you are not giving one hundred percent. When things get tough (and they will!), you will already have one foot out of the relationship, visiting online dating sites to look at all of the other “fish.” And then, just like that, you are disengaged, putting distance between you and your significant other. In the end, both of you lose. And the cycle continues.
My advice: grow up! Stop thinking that the grass is greener. Appreciate who you are and what your partner offers in your relationship. Do not take him or her for granted. When things get tough, get to work. The work that you put into a healthy relationship yields big returns, is less taxing, and can be more secure than the efforts and outcomes of finding and developing a new relationship. Good relationships, like good fish, are worth keeping.