Apr 27, 2012

What American Football and Dating Have in Common

I've never tried online dating. I don't think I ever will.
But if you had asked me why I don't want to give it a try, I would not have had a very reasonable answer for you. It was just a feeling, a hunch that I wouldn't really enjoy it, that it wouldn't lead to finding a long-term partner anyway. I couldn't explain it... until now.

Thanks to Dan Ariely and yet another fascinating chapter of his book The Upside of Irrationality (see earlier post for more), I now realize what made me shrink back from considering websites like match.com,  eharmony or others as an option for finding a suitable partner. Ariely makes his point, starting with a question:
"How could all the multiple-choice questions, checklists, and criteria accurately represent their human subjects? After all, we are more than the sum of our parts (with a few exceptions, of course). We are more than height, weight, religion and income. Others judge us on the basis of general subjective and aesthetic attributes, such as our manner of speaking and our sense of humor. We are also a scent, a sparkle of the eye, a sweep of the hand, the sound of a laugh, and the knit of a brow - ineffable qualities that can't easily be captured in a database." (p. 218f)
Make sense? Yeah, I thought so too. He then goes on to explain that dating sites are basically setting up a market in which people can go to look for searchable goods, as if they were looking for a camera and all they needed to know was the lens aperture, megapixels and memory size in order to make the right pick. I love how he sums up his argument at the end:
"Basically, trying to understand what happens in dating without taking into account the nuances of attraction and romance is like trying to understand American football by analyzing the x's, o's and arrows in a playbook or trying to understand how a cookie will taste by reading its nutrition label." (p. 219)
Nothing better than a great American football analogy ;-) On a more serious note though, Ariely is exactly right. So unless you're the type that just needs the right number of "correct" attributes in a girl to find her absolutely stunning, you might want to try your luck in the real world. Open your eyes and look around you - maybe it's the sparkle of her eye that will get you...

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