Have you been looking for love in all the wrong places?
You attract the wrong people, bail on relationships before giving them a real shot, or refuse to leave your comfort zone.
Maybe it’s a case of bad luck. Or, perhaps your brain is playing tricks on you.
The mind is a marvelous supercomputer, but we sometimes get so caught up in our thought patterns that we fail to see the bigger picture.
According to Wikipedia, cognitive bias is “a systematic pattern of deviation from norm or rationality in judgment.”
In simpler terms, it’s when our brain simplifies the information around us based on subjective filters.
We tend to make (bad) decisions based on our perception rather than cold, hard facts.
It’s time to get out of your own way.
Stop letting these 9 cognitive biases stop you from finding love.
1) Confirmation bias
One of the most common cognitive biases that can affect your dating life, confirmation bias is the tendency to favor information that confirms what you already believe.
For instance, if you have a crush on someone, you tend to see the good in them and ignore red flags.
If your ex cheated on you, you might believe your current partner will too, and constantly look for signs that you’re right.
Breaking this thought pattern is difficult because we’re told to trust our gut.
However, there are a couple of things you can do to gain objectivity.
The first: whenever you find yourself clinging to a belief, try to find proof of the opposite.
Let’s say you’ve had a string of bad partners and are convinced your current one will let you down.
Instead of focusing on what they do wrong, think about everything they do right.
Did you give them a chance to prove that they’re reliable, loyal, loving? Did they rise to the occasion?
Secondly, talk about your relationship with a loved one or a therapist. They can help you gain much-needed perspective.
2) Negativity bias
This cognitive bias is one that I struggle with almost on a daily basis. You might too.
Whenever I receive professional feedback, I always focus on the areas that could be improved instead of all the appreciative things my manager says about my work.
Whenever I post on social media, one rude comment outweighs all the kind ones.
It’s a drag.
In dating, negativity bias can make you disregard the good in favor of the bad.
You might obsess over that one annoying flaw your partner has instead of appreciating all their positive traits, or focus on all the ways in which the relationship isn’t perfect rather than on how well-suited you are together.
There’s no such thing as a perfect partner or perfect relationship.
The sooner you understand that, the better your chances of finding love.
3) Halo effect
The halo effect refers to how we let one trait of a person affect our overall judgment of them.
When you form an impression of someone, you tend to construct an image that meshes with what you already know instead of considering objective information.
Needless to say, this can wreak havoc on your dating life and cause you to swipe right on the wrong people repeatedly.
You may assume that a person who is attractive must possess other positive attributes.
Or, if they’re a doctor, they must be compassionate in their personal lives.
The halo effect can apply to what you perceive as negative traits too.
Just because someone is overweight, for example, doesn’t mean that they’re lazy or lack willpower.
The solution? Stop making assumptions about people.
If you’re serious about finding love, start dating outside your type.
Don’t let preconceptions about people hold you down.
4) Loss aversion
Loss aversion refers to our tendency to prefer avoiding losses over the possibility of acquiring gains.
While it’s mostly associated with finance and investing, this cognitive bias can also affect your dating life:
- If you like to be single, you might prefer to maintain the status quo rather than plunge into a relationship and lose your independence
- If you’re in a toxic relationship, the pain of losing your partner can overweight the benefits of calling it quits (like well-being and autonomy)
I’m guilty of the first one, and let me tell you: breaking this thought pattern is no picnic.
I’m content being single, so it’s difficult for me to imagine all the benefits that would come from being in a healthy relationship.
At the same time, I know deep down that the right partner could enhance my life without making me give up my alone time altogether.
You can deal with loss aversion by shifting the focus to potential gains.
In my case, finding love will bring more happiness into my life, and being with someone who supports and encourages me will benefit me more in the long run.
For someone averse to leaving a bad relationship, the current stability you’re experiencing should pale compared to the empowerment you’ll feel when you finally walk out.
You get the idea.
5) Sunk cost fallacy
The fancy name might fool you, but rest assured: sunk cost fallacy is a term that’s easy to grasp.
It means that you’re less likely to abandon an endeavor you’ve already invested time or effort in, even when abandonment would be more beneficial.
It’s why we sometimes stay in doomed relationships way past their expiration date.
Similarly, if you’ve already pursued someone for a while, you’re less likely to give up on them if you encounter a red flag.
The solution? Be more honest with yourself, and stop putting so much emphasis on duration.
Just because you’ve already invested emotional energy into something doesn’t automatically mean it’s worth it.
You can’t find love if you keep pursuing someone who doesn’t measure up to your standards or meets your needs.
6) Projection bias
Projection bias occurs when we overestimate the degree to which our future preferences or needs will change.
What exactly do you look for in a potential partner? Do you want someone to share your passions and hobbies?
If so, you might be going about it wrong.
After all, just because you’re obsessed with movies or books now doesn’t mean the same will apply in 5 years.
When looking for love, the best strategy is to invest in people who share your values and have similar long-term goals.
The fact that you both listen to The Smiths isn’t a solid enough foundation for a fruitful long-term partnership.
7) False consensus effect
Since we’re talking values, let’s tackle another cognitive bias that might paint how you view your dating prospects.
False consensus makes us believe that others have the same priorities and beliefs as us, even when it isn’t the case.
Let’s say you value honesty and trust in relationships. You may assume that others share those values as well.
As a result, you might choose the wrong partners simply because you project your values onto them without taking the time to investigate if you’re on the same page.
It may be time to start asking your partners more profound questions.
8) In-group bias
This cognitive bias makes us more susceptible to favor members of our group rather than out-group members.
In other words, you’re more likely to fall for the friend of a friend or for someone you’ve already known for a while.
If that works out for you, great!
However, limiting yourself to dating people you already know can prevent you from connecting with someone who might be a better match.
Dating apps are tough to navigate, but they’re also the key to expanding your horizons.
9) Anchoring bias
Finally, you might experience anchoring bias if you tend to rely on the first piece of information offered when making a decision.
So, if someone sets you up with a person who they praise as “good” or “safe,” you’re more likely to perceive them as such despite proof of the contrary.
On the same note, if you find out that someone has a high-paying job, you might assume that they’re intelligent and desirable.
Unfortunately, that’s not always true.
To escape this thought pattern, try to look at the person with fresh eyes.
You might be surprised by what you discover.
Cognitive biases can affect the way in which we choose our partners, not always in the right way.
The first step to making better dating decisions is to recognize the thought patterns that might be holding you back.
That will enable you to gain objectivity, greatly improving your chances of finding true love.