The Indecisive Sampler

Few things mesmerize 3-year-old boys as much as cookies! I recently attended a potluck and noticed an entourage of young boys sampling cookies. I saw them stand on their tip toes and stretch their chubby arms, to reach for a cookie. Each one took a large bite, returned the cookie to the platter, and moved on to another cookie. It wasn’t long before most of the cookie platters had at least one cookie with a bite taken.

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It struck me as funny. Some of the cookies, they didn’t like, others they put back in hopes that an even better one awaited, and some were put back out of habit. I couldn’t help but draw similarities between dating and the comedic scene I was observing. We sample in an attempt to discover what we like, but sometimes that sampling leads nowhere. Sometimes that sampling becomes a habit.

The problem with the sampling obsession, is that like with cookies, your appetite might be ruined by the time you find the one you really like. Or maybe you tried so many, that you really can’t tell the difference between them anymore. It becomes all the same, and the joy is gone. You become discouraged, after dating person after person.

We have all stared at the divorce statistics in horror. They have instilled the fear of commitment into many singles and caused them to put on the breaks when a relationship appears to head towards marriage. How can you know if that person is “the right one”? Time and time again, an individual might believe they found “the one”, but they have a gnawing fear they are missing out on something better. It’s a lot like the young boys at the potluck. “Yes this chocolate chip cookie is delicious and the best so far, but what if there is a double chocolate chunk out there?”

Don’t get me wrong, I think that we need to use wisdom when it comes to picking a spouse. Going for the first cookie, without any knowledge of what other cookies are like, can be foolish. But do we have to try every cookie? Aren’t there other ways to really know what you want?

But do we have to try every cookie?

Think about how a mature adult selects their own dessert. If you know that you hate raisins, then is it necessary to try a raisin oatmeal cookie? Adults have experience with individual ingredients and can make fairly accurate hypotheses about what kind of dessert they would or wouldn’t like.

It’s important to know yourself. Know what kind of ingredients makes a good spouse and know what kind of ingredients ruin the whole batch. Don’t go to the potluck without preparation, but rather know what you are getting into.

The cookie analogy isn’t a perfect one, but it does bring to our attention the habits of many. The desire for perfection, along with the fear of missing out, leads to aimless sampling. Everyone you dated wasn’t quite good enough, smart enough, attractive enough, spiritual enough, humble enough, confident enough…etc. Pretty soon you’ve tried so many “not enoughs” that you’ve had more than ENOUGH! You are left a cynical single, and pretty soon the only ones left to try are cynical singles just like you.

This isn’t to discourage you, or tell you to quickly marry your significant other. This is encouragement to let go of the fear of marrying an imperfect person. Before we sample every possibility, and before we become obsessed with worry that we are missing out on something better, let’s look in the mirror. You are imperfect. The person you date or marry will be imperfect. This is not a temporary state either…you both will always be imperfect.

If you are in love with someone, you share the same beliefs, and your goals are similar, then what are you afraid of? What could you be missing out on, other than aimless sampling for something better?

Know yourself.

Know the ingredients you want before you being sampling.

You don’t have to sample them all.

You don’t have to be afraid of imperfection.

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