Whether it’s with your online dating habits or spending habits, friction can prevent you from wasting time and money on “things” you don’t need.
Have you ever suffered a bout of insomnia? After tossing and turning all night, you decide to do a bit of “harmless” online shopping. Only to find yourself two hundred dollars poorer and four pairs of shoes richer? Yeah, me neither.
I mean, it’s not our fault that online shopping makes it so effortless to go hog wild, and let our prudent spending habits fall by the wayside, right?
There’s even a term for it: friction.
Friction refers to those hurdles that make it more difficult to get from point A to point B. For instance, with shopping, not having a product available when you want to buy it is a point of friction. To avoid this, retailers will want to make sure their inventory is well stocked.
A frictionless market, as described by The Atlantic, is “one that puts together buyer and seller without transaction costs. In the real world there is no such thing as a frictionless market, but some markets have more than others. Online markets reduce friction drastically in that they make the shopping part laughably easy.”
And just like how online shopping can make it so easy that you experience a “what just happened?” moment after you click “checkout,” in my experience, the same can go for online dating. Removing this friction in dating can cheapen the relationship and deem it less valuable.
Here are some of the parallels between online dating and shopping, what you can do to add “friction,” and make your “purchases” in both realms valuable and meaningful.
Let it sit
Or stew, rather. As a former user of online dating apps, I’ve experienced firsthand how easy it is to get caught up in a swiping frenzy and subsequent flurry of texts. Dating apps such as Bumble, Grindr, and Tinder turn dating into a race. There’s so many people you just need to meet, and you can hook up for a quick drink—and then some—within an hour of saying “hello.”
As easy it is to strike up a convo through the online platform, it’s also far too easy to load up your shopping cart while perusing your favorite shop. And similar to the urgency that comes with those “one-day mega sales,” you might feel a tug—or an outright shove—to bite off more than you can chew with dating.
Instead, wait a day. Or three. For non-essentials, add items to your waitlist. I’ve also gone the old-fashioned method of writing down the item in question, the cost, and waiting 30 days before I buy it. More times than not, the initial urgency to make a purchase has dwindled, and I realize I didn’t really need it. If you’re shopping online, you can go as far as to clear your shopping cart until you’re ready to buy.
Avoid the funnel
Not to get too “Matrix-y,” but sales funnels are a large part of what gets us to buy stuff we don’t need. For instance, seeing a sponsored ad on Instagram might get you to click on an online store, which leads you to buying stuff. Instead of spending copious amounts of time browsing through countless dating profiles, give it a rest. The same goes for the endless toggling between Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest. All that stimulation will get you click-happy.
Instead, be picky as to which Instagram influencers, Etsy shops, and other online retailers you follow. Otherwise, you may buy a bunch of stuff you don’t need out of pure hype or impulse.
Create a scorecard
Not too long ago I ran into an old high school acquaintance who had gone on about 30 dates within the span of several months. Feeling a bit worn down and turned off by it all, she resorted to creating a scorecard for potential partners. If the would-be suitor didn’t hit at least a 700 on her scorecard, she wouldn’t even bother to go on a first date.
Just as it’s easy to “ghost” or “hook up and forget” with online dating apps, the same can go with buying a bunch of stuff that you only end up using once. Creating a list of criteria can help you slow down and be more selective.
While you don’t necessarily need to create a scorecard with things you buy, it would be helpful to run down a list of questions for purchases over a certain dollar amount. For example: How many uses would I need to get out of said item for it to be worth the cost? Do I already own something similar to this? Is this a really special and cool thing that would add joy to my life?
By adding in points of friction you can hit “pause” before making a “purchase.” Whether it’s with your online dating habits or spending habits, friction can prevent you from wasting time and money on “things” you don’t need. In turn, you’ll save your resources and efforts to spend on the good stuff that adds meaning and value to your life.
Jackie Lam is the creator of Cheapsters, where she helps freelancers get by in the gig economy. She lives in L.A., where she is on the perpetual hunt for the perfect breakfast burrito.
Photo cred: Mayur Gala on Unsplash
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