Minimal Investment of “Wooing”

Over the years the process of “wooing” the better half by men has changed significantly. Even the simplest reading of the literature classics contained balls, letters, furtive meetings, worries about parental views, etc… Certainly this has changed over the years in the US, as formal dating became less and less formal.

To some extent it can be viewed as an “investment”. The man is investing in a relationship with an attractive woman so that he can date her, and presumably do even more. The variable that is interesting to me is the COST of those dates, or the amount of investment that he has to put INTO the relationship before he is able to extract what he desires OUT of the relationship.

In the NY Times today they had a brief advice columnist discussion in the “Social Q’s” section. Here is the question that was asked:

I’ve been on two dates with this girl. We get along great and have a blast together. Problem is, I end up buying all the drinks. She doesn’t even pretend to offer, even after I hint. This doesn’t seem right, especially in the age of $14 Belgian beers. My friends tell me she’s a mooch and I should ditch her. Or should I just keep paying?

I find this to be amazing. The guy ISN’T EVEN BUYING HER DINNER. He isn’t picking her up at her place and taking her to a movie. He isn’t even springing for cab fare. He is merely buying her drinks at a bar (probably a bar located conveniently for him, no less, but I am just speculating here).

And he, and his friends (whom he cites in the letter) think that BUYING HER DRINKS to presumably loosen her up a bit is TOO HIGH A PRICE to be paid for what appears to comprise “dating” as it is defined, at least by this guy.

In one of the classical economic concepts – people put a VALUE on items that they acquire based on their COST, whether or not that is truly relevant to the current value. One great example of this is “anchoring”, where people stick to certain stocks or other investments based upon what they paid for it regardless of its current actual value in the marketplace; I for one fell into this trap with Nokia stock as I watched it fall down the drain in value but continually referenced what I paid for the damn stock in the first place.

While taking economic costs and applying them to social relations isn’t always clean, neat or even applicable, in this case we might want to think of the value that this guy is putting into the relationship IF HE WON’T EVEN PAY FOR HER DRINKS, especially when drinking is so clearly in his benefit (dinner or a movie, not so much).

I guess you are part of the older generation when you just can’t understand what the younger generation is thinking. This is where we’d part company. At a minimum I’d at least pay for drinks, in this case.

Cross posted at LITGM

27 thoughts on “Minimal Investment of “Wooing””

  1. His next complaint will be that she hasn’t put out yet.

    I don’t understand it. I have three daughters and have watched the changes over the years. They seem content with it but it sure seems odd to me. My youngest brought three friends up to my house to go sledding the week after New Years when we had had a big snowfall. There were two guys and her girlfriend/ roommate. The roommate and her boyfriend spent the nights sleeping together and I was quietly pleased that the other boyfriend slept downstairs on the couch. There is a bed down there but I didn’t say a word about the sleeping arrangements. They had a good time, sledding at 1:30 AM, then jumping into the spa, which I warmed up for them.

    Aside from big dances, I can’t say I’ve seen my youngest daughter go out on a date with one guy. That just doesn’t seem the pattern. I think this contributes to the non-matrimonial culture.

  2. It’s the logical consequences of equality between the sexes. If women are considered the absolute economic, social and relationship equals, then why should a man have any expectation that he has a moral responsibility to subsidize a woman’s good time?

    The classic evolutionary explanation for the-man-pays is that men have to demonstrate their reproductive fitness by demonstrating that they have the economic resources needed to support a woman and her children as well as the willingness to do so. The cultural explanation is that traditionally men earned more than women. Indeed, well up to the 1960s many young women had no income of their own at all. Women simply couldn’t pay even if they wanted to.

    I think the real issues today however is that the purpose of dating has change. Prior to the 60s, the assumption was that people went on dates as a necessary step in finding a spouse. Of course, people dated just for fun but culturally, getting married was always the end game. Today, sex and good time are the end game. Having different goals requires different strategies and justifies different behavior.

    In todays dating, men and women are economic equals and they are both equally desirous of sex and good time. Men have less of expectation that a date will lead to children and perhaps much less desire that it is so.

  3. Given that intelligence is transmitted only on the X chromosone and given the nature of today’s job market, today’s women realize that men have nothing worthwhile to contribute to a child. The ideal lifemate is a beta. Betas cooperate. Under today’s rules, guys who buy drinks without complaining are betas. Alphas are challenging playthings but otherwise a pain in the ass.

  4. I remember reading an article somewhere – maybe a woman’s magazine or fashion magazine? – about how no one young really dates anymore, but that can’t be correct, can it?

    – Madhu

    (I suppose all people entering middle age feel this way whatever era we are talking about, but I’m glad I’m not a twenty-something today. It seems vaguely horrible. I don’t have children and the only young people I encounter are in medical school or are medical residents. A certain percentage seem awfully disgruntled despite having so much. I always say, “I’d have loved to have the internet in medical school! Imagine sitting in a coffee-shop and being able to surf medical journals!” But, of course, I was the same at their age. Still, it seems horrible. And I always dislike how badly men and women talk about each other on the internet. It makes me embarrassed and want to turn away, for some reason. It’s one thing to complain to a friend but the flaming online! Jeez, it really must be awful to be young these days and have any little thing magnified online.)

  5. Madhu said…”And I always dislike how badly men and women talk about each other on the internet”…and often with complete lack of empathy. I saw a comment from some guy who expressed surprise (in connection with a woman’s story) that a woman could actually get her heart broken…in his experience, he said, that was something that happened only to men! (From the context and the sequence of comments, I’m pretty sure he wasn’t kidding)

  6. Shannon is right but does not go far enough. Women are now 60% of undergraduates. There are now more women with jobs than men with jobs. The public ideology degrades men and elevates women, mocking male virtues and telling women that they are at once superior and are also historic victims entitled to special treatment. We are moving more and more deeply into an economy where the skills and strengths of men are worth less and less relative to women, and we are incapable as a society of seeing that as a problem. Men, across the board, have had their status reduced, with few exceptions. Women cannot be attracted to low status males. They need men who have higher status in terms of income, power, strength or some other factor. Women cannot even see a low status man let alone be attracted to him, and they are repulsed if a low status man forces his attention on them. This is a hardwired reproductive imperative and it is not going to change. There are exceptions but the generalization is accurate and generally true. The total number of date-worthy men is shrinking and will continue to shrink. Women are going from being the wooed to the wooers for all these reasons. The way they generally have undertaken to be wooers this is a race to the bottom in terms of sexual access in exchange for less and less. Women have obtained the economic and political and legal upper hand in a zero sum conflict with men. This is a world-historic victory in a struggle men barely realized they were engaged in. This “victory” is not making women happy, and they are blaming their unhappiness on the horrible defects of men (“he won’t commit”). This shift occurred very rapidly in historical terms, and people who grew up in the earlier model, which has existed since time out of mind, feel that the whole world has become topsy turvy. Most men will not be competitive in the mating marketplace and will stay home with porn. Most women, not finding men who merit their attention, and unable even to “settle” (an incredibly degrading term that is universally accepted) will eat chocolate, put up Facebook pictures of their cats, and read romance novels about dark and taciturn pirate chiefs, who firmly strip off their bodices, despite their flushed and breathless protestations.

  7. I’ll tell you what’s strange – when you as a male propose a date for dinner or such and the female tells you that you’re strange because of wanting a “real” date!

    Poor kids, the social rules and assumptions are shifting beneath their feet faster than we can all accommodate.

    But can we blame the guy in the example? Women get special treatment in school and in the workplace yet the burdens of manliness remain on the men.

    At least women put out quicker and with less hassle than in days of yore – or so I’m told.

  8. $14 Belgian beer COULD be a wise economic choice :)

    Let’s look at Delerium Tremens, one of my favorites – it is 8.5% alcohol by volume. Or Duvel – that is also 8.5% ABV.

    If you are buying her drinks to get her intoxicated (hey come on why else) – if Miller Lite is about 4.2% ABV then maybe paying 2x the price is a push either way. PLUS – if someone is small and they are likely to get drunk faster then you run into an absolute limit of how much beer they can drink anyways.

    But then again just get a non-watered down hard alcohol drink and make it happen even faster.

  9. Okay, I’m not going to let this go.

    It needn’t be this way, you know?

    It’s not necessarily about status. It’s about respect and the idea of a family. I know many, many female physicians who are married to men who stay home, or make less, or technically, are in lower-status positions.

    They are happy well-adjusted families with happy children.

    It’s about the attitude.

    What makes a man high status is how he treats you. Is he there for you? Is he dependable? Is he polite and kind and decent?

    We are seeing a confluence of many factors and one factor among any is the derision with which marriage, any marriage – traditional or not -, is seen by society.

    A society that views marriage as valuable will have less problem with supposedly high status women and low status men.

    Yes, it’s ridiculous the way men are talked about in modern society.

    I don’t see women talked about well, either.

    Instead, we have a culture where respect for someone else, decent every day kindness to one another, is somehow IMPOSSIBLE because we celebrate bring-daughters-to-work day.

    Everyone is responsible for his or her own behavior.

    – Madhu

  10. “Delerium Tremens”

    I missed the name of that beer the first time I read over the thread (procrastinating as usual), Carl. LOL. And ouch.

    – Madhu

  11. I don’t see it the same way.

    I think women are selling themselves out too cheaply.

    My post said basically that people VALUE things based upon the COST AND EFFORT that they put into them, rightly or wrongly.

    If she is going to pay for her own damn drinks and everything else you are going to put a LOW value on her.

    The guys are the ones here that are lame – you essentially get what you pay for. Really – you should just date women that 100% pay for themselves? Doesn’t that feel like you are limiting yourself a bit there?

    But once again that is why I am from another generation and don’t know what I am talking about compared to the guy who wrote into the advice column in the first place.

  12. But once again that is why I am from another generation and don’t know what I am talking about compared to the guy who wrote into the advice column in the first place.

    Yeah, I’m right there with you. That is why I shouldn’t have responded to this post. I just don’t get it. It’s outside my experience. Different generation.

    – Madhu

  13. Carl, I left a comment some time ago which I’m sure will amuse you – but it was eaten up by the spam filter-monster. Can you dig it up?

    Oh, and I call BS on the tired theories of man persecution in this country and infantile cries of “you women are emancipated, get what you fought for!”. Grow up, stop sulking. Carl is right: you get what you deserve. You don’t want to treat women with respect, you act petty and calculating – then you get a woman who is petty and calculating. So don’t complain afterwards that she married you for your money and took you to cleaners.

    Remember – men and women need each other. Both do. And frankly, it is quite funny to read an advice to men to go home and amuse themselves with porn [Remainder of comment deleted by Jonathan. Let’s not personalize arguments.]

  14. The X chromosome does include genes that affect intelligence; the Y chromosome does not.

    But the X chromosome does not contain all the genes that affect intelligence, not by a long way.

  15. The Assistant Village Idiot has a relevant post on “social and mating behavior.” I’d include a link, but the spam filter would probably grab the comment…just follow the link to the top of the blog at right.

  16. Carl from Chicago – You’re presuming a bit too much. One of the ignored data points is that the writer is from San Francisco so presuming anything is based on local Chicago mores is probably not a very good idea. Another is that local social norms might just be that there are shared expenses to whatever sort of outings are happening. What if he’s gay and she’s a lesbian and they’re dating because it’s a fun time for both and both are considering the other for a beard?

  17. “At a minimum I’d at least pay for drinks, in this case”

    He has the correctly evaluated the situation: she has money, power, authority. He’s a toy for her amusement.

  18. Tehag – and in your opinion, the correct way for a date is reverse? I.e. HE has power, authority and money, and SHE is a toy for his amusement?
    interesting premise for a date.
    I always thought when a man asks me on a date, he is interested in my company, conversation and wants to know me better. Luckily, I never met Tehag.

  19. Carl, I think the concept you are searching for is the trailing stop. That way you don’t ride your Nokia stock or abusive relationship all the way to the bottom. But I digress.

    You could interpret the complaint about $14 beers in a couple of ways. Maybe the guy really is looking at things in crude ROI terms, in which case it might make sense for the girl to hold out for a higher bid (or dump him). But maybe the whole kabuki dance around bar tabs is really a marker for something else and is consistent with old-fashioned mores. It’s like the dating rule-of-thumb for guys that says the girl should make an effort to unlock the driver’s door after you let her into the passenger’s seat. Failure to at least make an effort to unlock the door might be a red flag suggesting that she might not be a kind or considerate person. This is a big deal and has nothing to do with money or transactions. Similarly, if the girl expects the guy to pay for drinks/meals and doesn’t, on the second or third date, make even a token offer to split the tab, it might be a red flag suggesting that SHE is more interested in getting her drinks or meals paid for, on a night when she has nothing better to do, than in pursuing a relationship with this particular guy. So the guy may have a valid traditional point even if he expresses it in crude terms. (Of course the lore is full of parallel warnings for girls about guys.)

  20. “To unlock the [car] door”? Gosh, the first time I hear about that rule…and a “big deal”? really. Why would a girl, seated in somebody’s car, touch anything in it, let alone behave like she owned that car – opening doors or touching handles, etc? That would be like coming to somebody’s home and starting rearranging the furniture.
    Jon, your second example is exactly what ML written in that post that i translated (link above) majority of women will sympathize with her.

    PS. I really dislike my comments mutilated. Especially when my argument been cut in two and became incomprehensible.

  21. $14 beers at a bar does not a date make. When I was broke, I found out that if I wanted to play outside my league just a little planning and creativity made all the difference and more. Its a lot more fun than sitting in a bar while she starts eyeing the competition.

    The best thing I learned to do was cook. When she’s standing in your kitchen with a glass of wine while you whip out some trout almondine like its just the most natural thing in the world making small talk while Puccini or Al Green is setting the mood, bonus points if the window is open and its spring, a little peaches flambe’ for dessert..

    Sheeeit….whatchu want for breakfast baby!! No matter if you have a blue collar job, which i do.

    I think the womens equality bit is overblown. Women are too hardwired for a pocket full of cash to undo.

    My last date was with a corporate attorney. i took her to a go-kart track that served beer. Our fifth wedding anniversary was in September.

  22. The best thing I learned to do was cook.

    Amen, me too, etc. If I could send a telegram to myself 25 years ago, it would say something like:

    “Don’t ask her out, that’s playing to all of your weaknesses. You already cook well, take a class in the gourmet stuff, clean that apartment until it sparkles, then invite her to dinner in company. (the first time)”

    Which is crazy since I’m not the one to give advice about dating to anyone, but… I’ve been married for 16 years, so something worked.

    Come to think of it I still make dinner most nights…

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