By now, many of you may have heard the phrase “First World Problems,” or seen the commercial that utilizes it. This ad for clean water had a lot of impact on me and prompted me to complain a lot less about things in my life that others don’t have.
I got to thinking about this idea of the “First World Problems” and how that could apply to our relationships. Of course, the search to find love is absolutely universal. Seeking out love in any area—familial, romantic, religious or from friends—is essential to help us face the hardships of life. While those hardships differ greatly—from lack of wifi to a lack of clean, running water—the hardship that results from lack of love is probably the hardest to bear.
So the search for love is most definitely not a “First World Problem,” but I think our First World approach to our search most definitely is. We seem to find a plethora of perceived faults in our potential matches that keep us in constant search mode. The idea of not settling “for less” is arbitrary, and sometimes we get caught up in one idea or another of what “less” is.
We feel that we are not able to find the one person that fits all of our criteria, but we don’t always think about the problems within that criteria. Certainly it is important to have standards and stick to them. Having the same value system and faith foundation is a great place to start. But there is a difference between having moral convictions and bending on preferences. I think here is where our possible “first world problem” lies.
I’ve spoken before about living in acknowledgement of the abundance of gifts we receive from God. Many of us are already aware of His abundant gifts and blessings we have. Maybe we write our gratitude list. Maybe we say Grace. We give thanks in every prayer we recite. But if we feel there aren’t enough people we would choose to date, doesn’t that separate one part of our life from the rest?
Certainly, this abundance idea is not exclusive to our “first world,” but what is contradictory is the mind set of scarcity within our abundant lives. We have so much more than so many other people who are less fortunate. Why do we believe we don’t have enough?
What I’m wondering is if the scarcity mentality comes from the abundance itself. In other words, once a person has too many choices, the weeding out of those choices becomes too particular, too specific, and sometimes, too choosy. If the options are endless, we won’t settle for one because we believe there’s always something better to choose from. It is that endless search for something better that leads us to believe there’s not enough.
When we have countless items—types of cereal, TV channels, apps on our phones—we start getting more and more exclusive in our choices. Some of these developments are good, but other choices are completely arbitrary and meaningless.
I think we suffer from the same situation while looking for a mate. We have too many choices and yet, not enough. We start concentrating on things that ultimately don’t matter. Who cares if he doesn’t have a six figure job? Why should it matter if she didn’t go to college? A credit score is a deal breaker? A smoker is out of the question?
Back when our choices were simpler, we went by a few criteria: maybe faith, family, physical health, age, location, and finances. That was it. People ate cereal. People got married. People stayed married. They didn’t seem to worry about the things we make our choices based on. They didn’t have “deal breakers.”
I think there are many indicators that we are a First World country with First World Problems, but I think dating is a very big one. If we are marriage minded—and it seems we are if we joined CatholicMatch—we need to get out of our First World mentality. It certainly doesn’t reflect the life of Christ, or the life we should lead as Catholics.