Monday, July 07, 2008

Asked for Advice on Dating/Signalling

A question comes to me:


If you have asked a girl out, and she doesn't respond to it, but still talks to you, what is the proper signal to take away?

Amazing this question came to me because I have experienced such singals recently, and before, but I have some more perspective now. Let us look back on how I
discussed signaling over a year ago. I wrote:

Simply put: I’m signaling _______ because _______ is what I want


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.”

Sad to say to my questioner, but this means that chances are, you are not whom she is looking for. And that of course assumes that she is looking in the first place.

However, let us try to gain sime more perspective.  As 
Bella DePaulo has been writing of late on the Psychology Today Blog, the young woman you are asking out may actually be in touch with her own single-ness. Psychologically speaking, DePaulo surmises that our society gets caught up and trained into the thinking that we need to be married, or that our own selves are defined by a relationship, or by who we are with someone else.

So, one would hope that the person you seek to form a relationship with has a well defined sense of self.

Unfortunately, as an economist, this does not change the fact that you need to spend time with this woman in order to form the bond that two independent people could form if they find their common interests, personalities, and goals. While the psychological underpinnings might be up in the air in terms of the possibilities of a great relationship, the economics so far says that the person you wrote of does not have the time, or is not willing to concede the time to do so with you.

But, take heart; maybe this will allow you the time to reexamine your own personal utility function. What are the items that matter most in your life? How would you prioritize those items, and do you see any of them as something that could ever be sacrificed? Or, how about your own personal thoughts on what a relationship is. Do you even think that it’s necessary to have to sacrifice something?

As DePaula points out, when we are comfortable with ourselves and accepting of who we are without being identified in a relationship, we can actually make better decisions about ourselves and relationships. Otherwise, if you are not honest with yourself, or her, any contract and form of signaling you do would only lead you to not filling your part, or never being satisfied with what you were expecting.

Long story short, a few notes:

- Life is not going to stop, and I would hate to think you would stop yours while someone else continues with theirs.  So, don't give up on your own goals and ambitions, and don't be afraid to be inspried and get new ones.
- Try to keep a good sense of yourself, and who you are as you go through these signaling and contracting phases.
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