Friday, August 12, 2005

The 'Mathematics' of Dating

Applied mathematicians studying dating is about as likely to deliver credible results as gorillas solving quadratic equations.

That's what I conclude at least after reading about this mathematical model created by researchers at University College London to explore the role of gift-giving in courtship.

A team of applied mathematicians created a sequential calculation as a model of dating... The researchers assigned points to an array of courtship behaviors, including gift-giving. The computer considered the hypothetical facts, mulled over a few variables and calculated which behaviors would result in the highest score for the imaginary male or female dater.

The researchers varied the type of gift the man could give. (Political correctness aside, it was a given that the man was the pursuer and gift-giver.)

So you had a choice of worthless, valuable or extravagant gifts.

Valuable gifts = diamonds for example. Items with usefulness or resale value

Extravagant gifts = dinner at a fancy restaurant, tickets to a Broadway show or a moonlit serenade. The value of these gifts was just in the experience.

The model showed that extravagant gifts had the highest score for both men and women. This was interpreted to mean: women feel confident that they have found a strong and committed mate when they receive an extravagant gift. And men avoid gold-diggers by giving only gifts that have no intrinsic value.

Hmm. I can see a whole lot of guys go bingo! We knew it. Women want rich guys who can spoil them, no wonder we never make any progress..

But let me just point out a few problems with this mathematical model. Especially if you're in one of those common (for Indian men especially!) situations where you've been secretly infatuated with this girl who barely knows you exist on the planet. Or perhaps knows you, but only as an acquaintance or friend.

Extravagant will not only NOT work in this situation it will have the poor girl running off in the opposite direction. Getting 100 red roses from someone you barely know on Valentine's Day is flattering to a girl only if SHE also has some feelings for you. Just the roses or the dinner won't trigger those feelings.

So an extravagant gift will work fine if you're IN a relationship. Otherwise, if you ask me, the 'worthless' gift variety which the researchers simply overlook could be more potent.

The best kind of worthless gifts are those which involve effort, not money. They indicate you care about the other person, that "I'm there for you".

Sometimes just being emotionally available is a gift. Helping someone with a difficult decision or problem can be a gift (though you should offer advice only if you're asked to). Offering to drop her home if it's late is a gift (she may not accept but your offering to do so will be noted).

But again NONE of this matters if she does not have a basic attraction for you.

Should I tell/ should I not?
Now take this common situation almost every girl (and a few guys) have encountered in their school days.

* Someone who you don't know at all comes up to you, turns red, thrusts a mushy card/ flowers/ other lame gift in your hands. And waits for a response.

If you're a kind hearted soul you just smile and say "So sweet" and somehow squirm out of the situation gracefully.

If you're a mean one you may laugh on his/ her face and walk away. Next thing you know the whole school knows about the incident and the red-faced one is standing in a corner, purple-faced and alone.

Of course he/she eventually gets over it but what I mean is the success rate of this 'cold call I love you' is so negligible that it makes no sense to even try it.

Then there's the second situation which takes place more around college time.
* There is a girl/ guy who is a friend - maybe even a pretty good friend - and you have developed feelings for her/ him. Now you wonder, should I tell/ not tell.

Now this is definitely tricky and while girls do take the initiative these days let's just say more often than not the 'who will bell the cat' question still has to be answered by the guys.

I guess here you have to trust your instinct. Although you may think the girl does not know you like her - she does. And if she likes you back, there will be some subtle signs of it - though she may not actually say it.

If you are getting those vibes - go ahead and take a chance. But if you're not, just keep mum because telling her "I have feelings for you" when there's a 99.9% chance she will reply "I like you as a friend" is a recipe for disaster.

Here's what is likely to happen. And this not my 'feminist' opinion. These are insights from a very interesting guy called David deAngelo who's written an ebook called 'Double your Dating'.

DeAngelo is an amazing writer and I think what he says has cross-cultural relevance. (No I haven't bought the book but the guy has written a bunch of articles to promote his book - this is an longish excerpt from one of them)

A Secret Women Know but Men Don't

Here's the deal: If you do something to "let a woman know how you feel"... but she isn't ATTRACTED to you, then it's going to backfire.

It's going to trigger a feeling that like to call the "Instant Ewww".

The Instant Ewww is just as powerful as the physical and emotional response of ATTRACTION.

Once a woman feels it, YOU'RE DONE.

It's over.

It's like hammering a RAILROAD SPIKE into the coffin.

Once a woman feels the Instant Ewww, she will start behaving differently.

In short, she'll disappear.

So where did I get the concept of the "Instant Ewww"?

I got it from WOMEN.

I have actually heard SEVERAL women use the word "Ewww" when describing how they felt about a guy that was "confessing his love"... of course, these were guys that weren't loved in return.

So what causes the Instant Ewww?

And why would a woman feel it towards a man who was trying to be nice... a guy who was giving her a gift or telling her how he feels?

Because if you think about it from HER perspective, you'll realize that the moment a you do something to "confess", you have created a TURNING POINT in the relationship.

Up until that point, you were harmless.

I mean, women always know how men feel.

She already knew you wanted her.

She knew it from the beginning.

But now that you've started pursuing her and talking about how you feel, you've created a NEGATIVE TENSION that is VERY uncomfortable.

You've triggered an emotion that is repulsive to women. And it does repel them.

In summary...

You can't "make a woman like you" or "change how she feels about you" by doing nice things for her...

Guys think that they need to communicate when they like a woman... as if that's part of the necessary process of getting a girl.

In their minds, it goes like this:

Like her>Tell her you like her>She likes you

Well remember... if you follow this pattern yourself with women who aren't ATTRACTED to you, then it's going to BACKFIRE.

If she's not into you, then it goes like THIS:

She thinks of you as a friend>You tell her you like her>She gets the "Instant Ewwws" and never wants to be around you again...

Now of course this DeAngelo guy advises at this point: "Buy my book to learn the secrets of how to succeed with women". And you know what - it may be a sales pitch and the book may not actually work for you - but he certainly knows more about dating than those lame mathematicians.

Sorry, guys! Courtship is highly complex and can't be distilled into a few sterile numbers and equations. Or there wouldn't be so many mopey single engineers and IITians!


  1. Your choice of topics for blogging have been improving [:)] off late n ya, lemme add - this one had exactly what goes on in the mind of a guy/gal [I presume the latter to be having quite the same thoughts as that of the former] when he/she starts liking someone whoz just a good friend.
    Will have to follow all what you wrote in BOLD and all that in italics - thats something you got very very right.
    keep posted.

  2. Hi Ma'am,
    Have been reading your blog for sometime. This post is really good one and may help some guys :). There is another theory called Ladder theory (read somewhere on internet.) The way its written is very chauvanistic but still gives an insight of priorities women have. The theory was:

    Women have two ladders on which they put their male companions: one of the only Friends and the other ladder is for the males they will consider for relationship. But males normally have only one ladder for women and that is of relationship.
    If you are on the friendship ladder of a female then better not try to jump on to the relationship ladder. You will fall :). As you said, females look for powerful and rich men. Second thing which is not mentioned in your post is the looks are equally important for females.

  3. very very true, i had even got a page where one had explained the reason for not having a G/F, very intriguing

    guess this is analogos toa arindam chowdhary having the perfect formula for a movie, and still making flop after flop

    totally good stuff with the engineers and all, wrong choice of career these days:)

  4. I just love ur blog...u inspire me...4give me if that sounds corny

  5. How about Married people - what works?

  6. hmm....nice to read such articles.

    Anyway I would like to defend my fellow IITians. Its not that IITians are any lesser qualified than the rest when it comes to getting women. If you start counting, you will see that the success rate is quite higher for IITians(i.e. "Girls agreeing" per "Girls Approached"). The reasons of this statement can be easily derived using a little brain power. Its just that the IITians don't get as many opportunities as the rest of the population. Reserve 50% seats in IITs for lady candidates and you will find a million mathematical models to explain the girls' behaviour. After all, every statisticians needs a sample space to work on.

    Believe me, being a "modest IITian" myself, I know how it feels living in this world where having equal number of girls in the world is an axiom and not a theorem that can be proved.

  7. well said ambuj, well said

    that applies to all the so called 'top' engg colleges, the ratio that u worked out is pretty high for us at DCE or me neways:)

    if there were half gals in any engg college, then they wud need to use the chaos theory :P

    a weird conjecture my frd

  8. so the number of mopey engineers and IITians is really all about guys not having the faintest idea about courtship? and nothing to do with, for instance, the ratio of girls to guys in the average engineering college? :)

  9. Hmm honestly the last line I wrote was completely unnecessary. Just a little experiment to see how many IITians and engineers get provoked :)

    Agreed the girl: boy ratio at these instis sucks but I would submit that because of this lack of exposure/ experience so does their courtship technique.

  10. The ladder theory...yes.

    And DeAngelo seems to know a lot.

  11. A friend of mine gave another weird theory.

    He said that there is nothing wrong with the intelligence of girls in our country. Its just the fact that the government does not want us to get distracted so they intentionally select very few average looking girls in IITs(based on the photo they send for JEE) irrespective of their performances.

    I tried to get the Ebook of DeAngelo, but failed. Instead, on our LAN, I found a stage show by him in six episodes, each episode about 2 and half hour long, on his book. Some 10% of the students must have already seen the 15 hour "documentary", and by the time they pass out, nearly 30% would have. Considering the fact that such "Educational Lectures" will be unavailable to the guys in the real world (i.e. outside IIT), the IITians will have an easy time using the correct theories given by expert. But I am having a gut feeling that all theories proposed are for girls in the western world. In India, a better book would be:

    "A complete idiot's guide to impress prospective in-laws".

    Any author willing to write on this would definitely make a billion in fortune considering the population of this country. Morover it would lead to more books like:

    "A complete idiot's guide to fend off imposter bridegrooms."

    and so on.

  12. Well..I dont understand the idea behind this line : "Up until that point, you were harmless."

    Why after this point, a guy who had expressed his feelings would be suddenly harmful ??? Guys are decent..not all are perverts or sexual predators who would be harmful suddenly. (Assuming that they were considered harmless till then)

  13. Are you really good at this??
    I wud say a BIG yes!

  14. Hmm honestly the last line I wrote was completely unnecessary. Just a little experiment to see how many IITians and engineers get provoked :) matter how much they disagree, it is proved (atleast by correlation) that enggrs in general are fattus when it comes to girls. Chill guys. Just a correlation. Not a causation.

  15. Love is like cricket. Despite all the statistics and the efforts with numbers it is still a mind game. :p

    Anyway thanks for imparting these lessons (for life). Also I totally concur with the conclusion that girls are the ones who take initiative these days.

  16. What makes you think IITians are great mthematicians ?

    wake up Rashmi

  17. I hadn't heard of the 'ladder theory'... interesting. But like you said Ambuj, it's much more complex in the Indian context. I shall give u my take on that in the very near future... The modified theory. I call it the 'Snakes and Ladders' theory :)

  18. Ohh i m late in my response..but truth is dat actually i saw this blog on the same date n just went YOU made n i liked it so much dat i took one print out of this! Anyway much has been made so far about mopey n ....i think ...there is no gift in this world which will work,no gift.only emotional gift will do wonders for u.woman die for quality time n emotional partner not for brain!For them only important thing is time from her...wat ever we say! my view...anyway rashmi nice superb keep bantering like dat especially mopey engg hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

  19. I LOVE the concept of an 'Instant Ewww'. It is so real it made me laugh out loud when I read your post.
    Do you suppose it applies to men as well? :)

  20. Hi Rashmi,

    A friend of mine just wrote this blog post about girls in IIT that is well written. you should have a look at it
    Romancing In Mathland

  21. Hi rashmi.. your blog is a total magazine thing.. never works practically.

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