We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Do people really think about these issues when asking someone out for a date?

I came across this “Trigger Warning” blog and the whole article is a jaw-dropper in terms of how it describes a world utterly alien to me:

“When someone asks you out on a date, they are basically saying that they think your standards are low enough to voluntarily go out with them. If the asker clearly has high dating market value himself, his advances don’t indicate that he thinks you have a low dating market value. But if you get asked out on a date by someone with a low social status, and other people find out, then others might reasonably downgrade their estimate of your dating market value, especially if the person doing the asking is a shy, cautious nerd.”

FFS. When I asked out my now-wife 12 years ago after our initial encounter in the heart of London, I don’t recall thinking about this sort of stuff or worrying about “low dating market value” or somesuch.

But perhaps I am the one at fault here. After all, Jane Austen wrote about “dating market value” in her own way through her early 19th Century novels, if you think about it.

(Yes, dear readers – I haven’t posted a lot lately due to pressures of work, etc. But I intend to fix that soon with an item on the offshore world and how it is changing. Watch this space. It stems from a talk I recently gave at one of Brian Micklethwait’s end-of-month events.)

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22 comments to Do people really think about these issues when asking someone out for a date?

  • Jason

    This is interesting. In my wooing days, more times than not I had the furtive suspicion that I was punching far above my weight – however, the article seems to suggest that in so doing one or twice, your stock actually rises – a self-fulfilling prophecy I suppose – and if you can get away with that, your dating share value rises to the point where you are targeting your wares at an entirely accurate section of the market, regardless of any crippling insecurities you might secretly be harbouring.

    I wish someone had mentioned this at the time. I went to a very traditional boys grammar school, they didn’t teach this sort of thing. Instead I know all sorts of useless stuff about artesian wells and the like.

  • CaptDMO

    “But if you get asked out on a date by someone with a low social status, and other people find out, then others might reasonably downgrade their estimate of your dating market value,….”
    Well, one can ALWAYS cry rape, forced intoxication, and reclaim their Social virginity victim “hyphen”(sic) by judicial intervention… the next day after the walk of shame, or the next week, or the next year, HOWEVER long it takes to discover “You really ain’t all that!”
    Are “Cat Lady”, “activist”, or “perpetual victim”, poor titles of social station “attention”, no matter the inheritance/divorce settlement/lawsuit award cash, in the UK as well?

  • CaptDMO

    *sigh* I neglected prostitute in the titles category above.

  • Greytop

    No, we did think about it. It’s just that we thought about it all in different terms. Some girls were so desperate that they were ‘anybody’s’ and some males were so eager they were described as ‘having anyone with a pulse,’ while uglies who aimed for the strictly limited glam in the school had ‘no f*cking chance.’ Literally.

  • A pulse, Greytop?! You have standards. Or have a medical degree 😉

    Let’s call the truth WRT NickM. I don’t think I have exactly ever bee on a date as such. Basically everyone I have ever slept with was someone I gotto know as essentially a friend and then one thing lead to another…

    It saves on restaurant bills and it means you go out with someone you like.

    There have been interstitial adventures mind. But let’s not go there. Christ, I wish I hadn’t.

    But back to JP’s quote. I am thinking that is recent and quite probs couldn’t have been written before Fifty Shades? I have not read the book or seen the movie but I get the impression it is product placement for being very rich (though I also buy cable ties but then I’m an IT tech which probably isn’t of hich “social status” – but if they want their computer fixed…) Anyway everything I have heard about that movie is that it is wowing with Grey being minted (and buying cable ties) and then BDSM as written by a maiden aunt.

  • Bod

    Think about these issues? No.

    Are these issues ‘in the mix’ – absolutely – but I’d posit that much of the calculus of mate selection (‘cos that’s what it is) is going on somewhere between the subconscious and the conscious. It’s simply a practical application of Game Theory.

    I hope to avoid angering the distaff consumers of this blog, but from a female point of view, that all makes perfect sense (why can I say this, as a man? Because I’ve seen it applied [to people other than me]).

    Her mate selection is made based on his ‘market value’ – some elements of which are quite subjective – but if his market value is high enough, then he can select (and be accepted by) other women as acceptable too – but that’s a high-quality problem – many women are usually prepared to ‘compete’ for the attention of a man they are attracted to (to some degree) *provided* his ‘market value’ is ‘high enough’. There are a number of strategies that can be employed when competing – one of these is the woman increasing her perceived ‘market value’ by trying (sometimes unsuccessfully) to make the man jealous. If his market value is high enough, some women will even accept him ‘playing the field’ as a price she pays as long as he always comes home for dinner at *her* table.

    The counterweight is – as the article notes – that if the would-be suitor is not perceived as ‘high value’, then the assumption is that the guy (who magically ‘knows’ he is of low social value) believes that the female he is approaching must be correspondingly of low market value. This is disrespectful, and why would a woman settle for a ‘low value’ man (and, more importantly – signal to other women that she would accept a ‘lower value’ man) when she can do better than that.

    It should be noted that you *could* swap all the genders in the above two paragraphs, and it would be arguably true for a smaller sample of men too, although male mating strategies are somewhat different. Many men will still accept a ‘low value’ woman, but keep the whole thing on the QT, because they can get immediate gratification, and may not have been seeking anything more.

    I’m somewhat supportive of the whole Evolutionary Psychology idea (as embraced by a lot of ‘PUA’ people), although I’m not at all comfortable with many of the logical conclusions it leads to.

    This is why the typical advice from PUA guys is ‘up your game, act more like an arrogant asshole’ (or variations on that theme) – it’s easier to act different, than to change yourself, and the right *level* of arrogance is apparently one way that a man is meant to be able to signal higher social value. Lots of women *like* jerks because it’s a (rather unsubtle) way of signalling by the guy that he believes his social value to be higher than it is.

    I know – dumbass primate posturing.

    I’ll be AFK for a while, putting on my asbestos suit and putting my armored pants on.

  • Snorri Godhi

    When I asked out my now-wife 12 years ago after our initial encounter in the heart of London, I don’t recall thinking about this sort of stuff or worrying about “low dating market value” or somesuch.

    You are mistakenly assuming that the Machiavellian thinking elucidated in the blog post at the link, takes place at the conscious level. Usually, it doesn’t; and this is implicit in the last sentence at the link.
    I believe that, roughly speaking, there are 3 kinds of people: in the vast majority, that sort of thinking goes on at the subconscious level.
    In the most Machiavellian minds, it is conscious. (These are the people who not only understand the post at the link, but can also apply the principle in real life to personal advantage.)
    In the truly desperate (who can’t get laid outside a brothel) it does not take place even at the subconscious level.

  • Bod

    Let’s not lionize 50 Shades. It’s not difficult to identify the appeal.

    Thought experiment – if Mr. Gray had been an assistant network admin at a direct marketing company, would he have got the girl?

    We know what Anastasia was interested in – and it wasn’t the ball gag.

  • Do people really think about these issues when asking someone out for a date?

    No.

  • Perry, I know people who do.

  • […] Do people really think about these issues when asking someone out for a date? […]

  • The last time I went on an actual date was sometime in the late 80s (feels like the 1880s, so much has changed). So my opinions on the matter are probably hopelessly out of step with today’s world, something which can probably be applied to 95% of my opinions, come to think of it.

    Like NickM, most of my dates were with friends, where friendship developed into something more. There were a few others — people setting me up with their friends, and so on — and those tended to end up in predictable fashion: some worked, some didn’t. The last kind of “date” was of a baser [sic] type, when I was still playing bass guitar in a rock band… ’nuff said.

    I never gave myself a “dating market value” or anything like that. I simply presented myself as a decent, intelligent human being who could converse on a wide variety of topics with someone I found, initially at least, to be interesting. Those who enjoyed my company could stay with me; those who didn’t could leave. (That also worked for me, of course; if I didn’t want to spend any more time with a woman, I had no problem with telling her so.) The upshot was that I had a wonderful social life as a single man, simply because I did it all according to my own precepts and principles.

    But, as I said, this was back when society was radically different from what it is today. Quite frankly, if I were suddenly single tomorrow, I would no more date modern women than climb into a snake pit.

  • Lee Moore

    As Bod and Snorri say, there’s no reason to believe that mate evaluation has to go on at the conscious level in humans, any more than it does in other animals. Humans, being quite bright, are now beginning to try to work out how their brains work and so a light is shined on what has been going on instinctively anyway. And so some humans will now be consciously adapting their mate (or at least nookie) pursuing strategies in the light of new discoveries and theories.

    Animals – except humans – have absolutely no conception of the laws of motion. But they still seem to use them quite effectively. Humans also used to make good use of the laws of motion without having sussed them out properly. Now they’ve more or less grasped them, they make even better use of them.

  • Nicholas (Self-Sovereignty) Gray

    Actually, most people do select on compatibility. Good-looking Hollywood stars usually date and mate with other good-looking hollywood stars. Those are their equals, AND the people they are most likely to meet in the course of their careers. Why shouldn’t you?
    And I have heard of ‘Fake it until you make it!’, but I was thinking of careers and status. No reason you shouldn’t be able to do the same with dating.

  • Rich Rostrom

    This concept applies to a particular sort of community, which few of the people here would join in. That sort of community is usually created by involuntary association – such as the residents of a geographically isolated town or village, or the student body of a school.

    Especially schools. Status competition among teenagers can be ferocious. Students don’t choose their own schools, and they can’t change schools at will. One is assigned to a school for a year, and may be there for several years. Lots of people know you and will remember what happens with you.

    That’s a big part of it. A man might feel safer approaching a “high-value” woman in the anonymous context of a big-city club, because if he gets shot down, he walks away and no one else knows. A woman might feel safer accepting a low-status male’s approach for a similar reason.

    But a context where both parties have a lot of acquaintances in common, and they are going to be observed, is very different.

    And most people care more what those around them think than Samizdat readers. “Libertarian” correlates with
    “individualist”.

  • Paul Marks

    Trying to apply this pretend-economics approach (“market speak”) to romantic matters, is silly.

    A lot of this applying of pretend-economics to non economic subjects is silly.

  • Snorri Godhi

    Rich has got it right. The post at the link explicitly starts with the example of high school students. The concept does apply to adults, but obviously girls in high school are more worried about their social status. By the time they are finished with their studies, they and their friends have a more settled opinion about their status.
    (I’d also like to point out that the theory is an explanation of women’s behavior: if you believe that the theory is incorrect, then you should either say that women do not *behave* like that, or else accept that they do, and suggest another explanation as to why.)

    This is also correct:

    A man might feel safer approaching a “high-value” woman in the anonymous context of a big-city club, because if he gets shot down, he walks away and no one else knows. A woman might feel safer accepting a low-status male’s approach for a similar reason.

    But one should add: in a nightclub, bookshop, or post office, a man might or might not feel more confident, but what really matters is that he **looks** more confident: the woman doesn’t know his social status, and can infer it only from body language and clothing. If the man’s body language suggests that he thinks she’s too good for him, a bespoke suit ain’t gonna do much good.
    In high school, by contrast, a boy known to be shy is likely to be particularly offensive for a girl if he approaches her with self-confidence; at least if the theory advocated at the link is correct. (NB: this makes the theory falsifiable.)

    This is also true:

    And most people care more what those around them think than Samizdat readers. “Libertarian” correlates with “individualist”.

    There is a more important factor here, though: no man likes to admit to himself that he did not approach pretty girls because, deep down, he felt they were too good for him. We all prefer to think that we can choose the woman who is simply best for us, without worrying about what she thinks we’re worth.

  • “I am thinking that is recent and quite probs couldn’t have been written before Fifty Shades?”

    It sounds to me like the sort of thing that might have been written on a “game” or “PUA” site. These try to apply a vague sort of evolutionary biological theory to attracting women. Some of the advice from such sites does seem useful, as long as you pick and choose carefully.

  • Bod

    Mr. F.,

    Much, much more likely on one of the more ‘Evo Psych’ PUA sites, which tend to de-focus from the ‘techniques’ themselves and consider the behavioral calculus responsible for observed behaviors of people in relationships.

    I find it far more plausible than phrenology, more entertaining than TV, but sadly, it falls far short of what any reasonable observer might consider ‘scientific’.

    If only I could crack the code I’m sure I could “get more women”.

  • Mooloo

    What’s a girl to do if asked on a date by a smart, thoughtful, shy, low social status boy?

    Hook him at once! Smart and thoughtful are hard to get.

    The “low status” will disappear the moment he becomes a doctor, lawyer etc. Whereas sports jocks generally sink pretty fast down the adult social ladder. And generally shyness isn’t an issue inside a relationship.

    A girl who prefers unthinking, extrovert, high status boyfriends will have a great time going to parties with him. Then will find that comes with serious downsides if you have to live with him.

  • Winger

    Hmm? My prime criteria were always, 1. “Does she have a good sense of humour?” and 2. “Can she get out of an XKE in a mini-skirt without causing a row or blushing?”. All that other is thinking too hard.

  • Laird

    Winger, how about: (3) Is she smart enough not to wear a mini-skirt when riding in a XKE?