I'm sitting cross-legged on my therapist's couch 4 months after my husband's announcement that he wants a divorce when my therapist informs me that he thinks I should start dating again.
I had told myself and others that I was going to take time off to concentrate on myself for once. Between a husband and three boys, I didn't know who I was anymore. I just wanted to hang out with my girlfriends, drink martinis like a fish, and let the hair grow long on my legs if I wanted. I had even gone so far as to announce to my friends that I was going to take a full year off from any kind of relationship.
Read more here.
Last week, in Rom Com and the Blog, I briefly hinted at what seems to be a tendency for friends to only want to set me up with their friends if they think it will result in an exclusive relationship, and I stated that I see no reason to limit myself to one man if I’m not dating a man who wants to be exclusive with me.
Seems fair, right?
So, this got me thinking about game theory and dating and inspired me to do a little internet research on the subject. (Because, of course, EVERYTHING on the internet is so accurate.)
First of all, for anyone not familiar with game theory, let me just say that game theory is certainly not limited to games like poker, chess, or Risk. Game theory uses mathematical models to consider the strategic decisions in situations of conflict or cooperation, and it’s used primarily in economics, political science, and psychology. It is the stuff of John Nash’s genius/insanity. (Remember “A Beautiful Mind” with Russell Crowe?) For example, if Company A decides to expand operations into Asia, the already existing Company B in Asia has to decide whether to fight or accommodate Company A’s expansion. Managers on both sides would consider the effects of the possible outcomes to both companies and strategize accordingly, and this can be done mathematically.
Whoa! That sounds heavy. And you thought this was just a simple dating blog.
Well, while I’d like to say I’m not someone who plays games in my relationships, it turns out that we are all playing games all the time.
So, in my internet searching, I found that various authors have covered the topic of game theory and dating from different angles. For example, there’s the “What should you do if your date leaves you hanging at the last minute” question, which is covered in this HuffPost article aimed primarily at women. Now, you might think these HuffPost scenarios would play out equally regardless of sex, but then along comes this discussion of the “Eligible Bachelor Paradox” where it all appears to come down to ”strong” and “weak” bidders and the element of female choosiness. As it turns out, as a woman, being more choosy might actually work against you when dealing with a limited pool of eligible men. Basically, less choosy women will come along and snag the best guys before you can get back to them, (which also explains why dating after 40 is so difficult.)
I’ll be honest. Given how picky I’ve been lately, that last one scared me a little.
Then I happened upon another article, which broke out the numbers for me. (This, I like.) According to the author, if I want to date only 100 total men, I should reject the first 37 and then accept the next man who comes along who is better than the previous men. This ups my chances of success to 50% instead of 33.333…%.
However, if I TRULY do as my therapist says and date 100 men without getting serious with ANYONE, thereby rejecting the first 100, I will need to date 270 men too keep my chances of success at 50%.
Excuse me while I go hyperventilate in a paper bag.
These numbers just make my therapist look batshit crazy!
I had my suspicions…
…but I’m deep in it now, so I might as well muddle through.
Why do I bring all of this up? Well, I feel I’m coming to a point where I’ve started to get a good sense of the attributes I want in a partner. Essentially, I’ve had a chance to ”look at the first pitch” (or at least the first 24 pitches so far in this case) and get a good sense of my “must-haves” and my “deal-breakers.” It might be time to start assessing these guys a little more seriously.
I haven’t decided yet if I will “reject” the first 37. Mathematically, it offers me the best chance for success, but, ultimately, my decision will come down to factors that have less to do with calculus and more to do with my dating endurance.
Plus, I really enjoyed my date with Man #24, which I still need to recap…soon.
I don’t suppose anyone remembers the Financial Planner? He was Man #7, has a sailboat but doesn’t swim, told me he likes curvy women, kissed me on the first date. Remember? Well, he asked me out again. He invited me to come to his sailboat to have lunch yesterday.
Yesterday was a beautiful day in Seattle, and it would have been a great time to be on a sailboat. However, I didn’t want to put myself in a situation I might not be able to get out of. Next to the Italian Non-Stallion, the Financial Planner had been the most aggressive about kissing me after the first date, and I was afraid his intentions might be to make me his lunch.
Not only that, but he has yet to take me on a proper date, which makes me suspect that he thinks he can score an easy piece of ass. I told him I had a lot of work to do in the afternoon and would need to get back quickly after lunch, so I asked him if we could meet somewhere near Greenlake instead of on his sailboat. I was hoping he would suggest a restaurant, but instead he suggested that we meet and walk around the lake. This just reinforced my suspicions that he wanted to get me on his sailboat so he could stick his tongue down my throat and then some.
That’s fine. I need my exercise.
Little did the Financial Planner know that I rarely go to Greenlake without Thor. Yep, I took my cock block. I figure a man would have to be truly insane to try to mount me with my pit bull by my side. Thor is a friendly dog, but he’s powerful and he’s not going to stand for anything bad happening to me. Basically, he’s the perfect accessory for a date where you’re afraid a man might not have the noblest of intentions in mind.
The Financial Planner was a gentleman. We had a good conversation, and he gave me a kiss to say goodbye after I put Thor in the car, and that was that. If he calls again, I think I need to tell him I’m not interested in a relationship, and by that I mean, I’m not interested in getting horizontal with him.
On another recent development, I will just say that the universe works in perverse ways. I was finally notified by the Seattle Public Library that ”The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists“ by Neil Strauss was ready for pick up. At almost the exact time that I picked up the book, The Scorekeeper called me and wondered if I would want to go get ice cream today. (Cue Twilight Zone music.) I don’t believe in coincidence.
Anyway, I owe The Scorekeeper an ice cream. He logged it into his accounts receivable when I had the audacity to call him on April 18th of this year to ask him a tax question.
As far as The Game goes…I haven’t read a single word yet, but all I can say is that I don’t think this book is meant to fall into the hands of a woman. If it’s “packaging” is any indication, men must take this very seriously. It looks, smells, and feels like a Bible. It has a black leather cover, red ribbon bookmark, and the pages are edged in gold. Creepy.
I had it in my purse last night when I went to the Michael Jackson vs. Prince Sing-Along Showdown at Central Cinema. I couldn’t resist showing the book to my girlfriends. I wanted to get their reactions, and they all said it seemed a little creepy. I told them I was a little embarrassed checking it out at the library. Instead of using the self-serve checkout, I had to go to this little old lady to pay some of my fines, and I wondered what she might think of me checking out such a book. If ask, my answer is simple.