ou’ve probably heard of FOMO, or Fear of Missing Out. But the singles among us are likelier to encounter something else while stuck inside and swiping on dating apps: FOBO—Fear of Better Options.
Coined by Patrick McGinnis, FOBO is the free fall of overthinking every possible option and inevitably remaining in free fall. That’s one drawback of looking for love online during the pandemic. Apps are not just an entertaining way to pass the time—they’re one of the few means of meeting new people safely. But they’re also designed to provide a sense of instant gratification. And some people confuse Tinder with Grubhub, approaching people like a buffet of viable partner options.
The problem with this mindset is it’s impossible to fix the perfect plate. Or maybe you took what you could get to distract yourself, or dipped into the compost bin to reignite an old flame, only to find yourself unsatisfied.
These scenarios operate on the anxiety that COVID-19 is looming overhead. Opportunities to find companionship feel scarce, and some might feel tempted to tolerate flakiness, incompatibility or even disrespect to feel less alone. But the fact is, it’s hard to have a fear of better options when you realize the better option is probably yourself. While articles about single life during the pandemic paint a purely pessimistic picture, this narrative is tired. I’d argue that the pandemic has only accelerated changes in courtship, dating and marriage that were already underway.