October 26, 2011
Why Dating Predictors Are Wrong
In a follow up to yesterday’s post about relationship psychobabble, I happen to read a very relevant New York Times article yesterday. It was all about how we make confident predictions about performance and why we’re usually wrong. Daniel Kahneman focuses on how stockbrokers are on average no better at predicting stock values than randomly generated selections, yet stockbrokers think they can predict stocks because they research companies and spend a lot of time focusing on past performance. But markets are so volatile, it turns out that the future conditions are so unlike past conditions that predictions are no more valid than mere guesses.
This got me thinking about relationship conventional wisdom. People give out relationship advice they’re not qualified to give but we listen to them because we trust their opinions. I first noticed this widespread phenomena when the book and Sex and the City principle He’s Just Not That Into You first dropped. I heard girls quoting this line back to each other all the time. He didn’t text you back immediately? He’s Just Not Than Into You. He called but didn’t leave a message? HJNTIY. And so on. But this turned out not to be true all the time. Some guys just prefer texting to calling or are too busy during the week to talk on the phone or really thought it would be weird to bring you to his sister’s wedding for a second date. Men are individuals and sometimes the traditional wisdom just doesn’t apply. We’re so quick to give our friends advice on their dating lives based on our own past experiences but there’s no reason to think that there is any correlation between the guys we’ve dated and the guy our friend is now dating. We are all limited by our own experience so it’s really just ridiculous to think that we know what a guy’s behavior means because we also have dated people of the same gender. Your friend’s advice on this subject is as valuable as asking a magic eight ball whether or not he really likes you.
The best indicator of whether or not he likes you or how quickly to contact him again is your own intuition based on what has happened between the two of you. If you like him cause he’s hot and has a good job but you’re forcing a conversation, yeah when he doesn’t return your text, he’s probably not into you. But if you felt like the two of you really connected and you haven’t heard from him in two days, don’t be so quick to write him off.
In the beginning of my current relationship, I really struggled with this because after seeing Mr. DB on the weekend, I would go most of the week without hearing from him and then Friday would come around and he’d be eager to make plans for the whole weekend. My friends kept telling me that I should go ahead and make plans for the weekend without keeping Sat night open for him to show him that I was busy and to teach him how desirable I was and that maybe he wasn’t that into me. Now, I know it was not nearly this complicated. He works finance hours during the week and just got so consumed with work during the week he wasn’t able to get in touch as much as he would have liked. It wasn’t because he was lukewarm about me or was trying to communicate some apathetic interest.
We all think we’re experts. And dating is so hard we like it when there are rules to follow. But the truth is there are no short cuts to find out what he’s really thinking. You just have to find out for yourself by being willing to take risks and pursue what your heart leads you to. The next time you find yourself asking your friends if they think he really likes you, remind yourself that they are no more reliable than the tried and true test of pulling petals off of a flower. He loves me, he loves me not turns out to be way more effective than we all thought…