Friday, May 25, 2007

Not Getting the Signal

In terms of relationships, when we start out we usually deal with asymmetric information. That is to say, I truly don’t know what the other person is thinking. It’s kind of like contract negotiations.

So, the best anyone can do is to look at the signaling to try and receive the best information. So, as far as I understand it from my economics classes in college, I have to ask:

  • How much effort (or cost) did it take for me to receive this signal?

  • What would make this signal not important? That is to say, at what point do I or the other person each get a better offer that we would then take?

  • Do I trust this signal?

I believe those are the questions for signaling.

So, when a friend of mine tried to tell me that one of his wife’s friends was someone whom I should go out with, I had to think about this like an economist.

What were the signals? Well, none. All of those questions above revolve around some kind of intent. Simply put: I’m signaling _______ because _______ is what I want. I had met her a few times before in a friendly setting, and from all the signals I was seeing, I had nothing that this girl wants.

Not only that, but we need to remember that actions speak louder than words. Just like how an economist would say, “They voted with their pocketbooks.” The market will tell you what people want. And from my friend’s short telling of this young lady’s history, I could tell I was not the catch she envisioned. It happens; people want different things.

Even my good friend Will - well versed now in psychology - told me:

It all comes down to what one finds attractive. If, in this point in her life, she finds someone attractive that you’re not or don’t plan to be it’s not going to work out.

It seems as though my friend has a different idea of what his wife’s friend needs despite from what she wants. It doesn’t take a graduate degree in psychology or economics to figure out I is not the product she’s in the market for. But it’s important that we give these small economics lessons to ourselves and our friends.

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