Delayed Gratification Increases Anticipation

How to maximize your joy when you have to wait

Planning and anticipation

Studies show that people who plan out vacations and events in advance spend far more time reaping joy from the occasion as they pick and choose, linger and daydream about how much they will enjoy each aspect when they eventually get there, than people who do not plan and are more spontaneous with their travel. The planners also tend to be the ones who anticipate nostalgia and respond by taking photos and bringing home souvenirs to remember how much fun they had.

By doing this they spread and multiply their pleasure across the months both before and after their trip. Overall, this tends to make them happier than people who enjoy their vacations only during the time they are there.

This new world of virtual dating can sometimes include a significant delay before potential matches meet in person. Especially if they live some distance apart. This usually occurs after both parties have gotten to know each other well enough to decide that it is worth investing the time and emotional capital in a face to face meeting.

For some, this delay seems frustrating and unnecessary, but for others, the delayed gratification of meeting someone they truly connect with first on an emotional level only heightens the pleasure with days or weeks of giddy anticipation.

Anticipating something pleasurable boosts your mood and can help you feel joy for days or even weeks prior to the pleasurable activity.

So, if you find yourself in a situation where you aren’t able to experience the gratification you seek immediately, try to think about how you can stretch the pleasure out as long as possible with positive anticipation. Make plans. Think about contingencies. Pick out clothes. Look up restaurants and scan menues. Reread the best chat messages. Rewatch that video message or Marco Polo feed when your potential match said that perfect thing. Use the time to center yourself in all the good feelings. Imagine what it will be like when you finally meet. Write poems or manifestoes. Express your feelings howsoever the mood moves you and try to squeeze the joy out of every delayed moment.

Happy dating!

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Dr. Kimberly Stearns, certified matchmaker, a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology author of forthcoming book “Never Be Lonely Again”

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