Economics can be great, don’t get me wrong, but this is article is about why it can suck.
1. We think of the initial phase of dating in terms of supply and demand.
“If I just restrict my supply, make myself a scarce resource, it makes me more valuable because the price has to go up and she will inenvitably have to see me as a valuable asset.”
Obviously the optimal strategy here is to play hard to get.
2. We analyze everything and make plenty of assumptions
Everything you do can be analyzed into something. If it is a date gone poorly, you begin analyzing why you’re not the “best bundle they can afford.” We think that because they chose good ‘Y’ that means they realize they are giving up good ‘X’ and so that means they prefer Y > X. Later, they turn around and choose ‘Z’. Oh so now that must mean they prefer Z > Y > X. Makes sense. Until you get that ‘miss you’ text and they are choosing ‘X’ again, now you’re trying to think this through like X > Z > Y > X ??? What?? Preferences are supposed to be transitive in Economics. So when you stumble on a person that doesn’t show transitive preferences, you realize they just won’t fit into an economic model. In Economics, an assumption for most models is that one is rational and has transitive preferences. So if she can’t fit in that model, then that must mean she is not rational…which means clearly she is crazy. Abort mission.
The conversation goes from “its not you, its me” to “it is you crazy, irrational woman, and you’re a binding constraint keeping me from reaching optimality and maximizing my utility. See ya.”
3. We speak in our own language
As you can see with the previous point if you have little to no background in economics you might not get what transitivity is or the joke about assumptions and models. You probably don’t know what a binding constraint or utility maximization is or what it means to reach optimality. It is because we throw around terms like these, that only we study, so when we tell you that you would get higher utility from dating us than an accounting major, you have no idea what the hell we are talking about. We come off domineering and arrogant and just further hurt our case.
4. We ruin everything
We are firm believers that correlation does not always mean causation so we have no problem telling you that your thinking is sloppy or that you suffer from bounded rationality. So when you talk about your mission trip to help Haiti become richer by giving them shoes and build a house, it takes everything inside of us to not shake you like a jug of orange juice and tell you are actually damaging the local economy, failing to recognize the local knowledge problem, and institutions are actually one of the main reasons some countries are rich while others are poor.
Or that face palm moment when she shares an article from some outlet like the Odyssey or Cosmopolitian on Facebook that says something that reads, “Blue Eyed People Are Smarter Than Ones with Brown Eyes ” or “People Who Have More Sex Make More Money.”… you’re tempted to actually update your relationship status to “its complicated” because that would be less embarrassing than being associated with someone with such a low IQ. Or even contemplate clicking that unfriend button because they are clearly starting to show signs of not meeting that rationality assumption…
“Sweetheart, I mean if blue eyed people were actually that smart they would realize that maybe blue eyed people could just be in more high paying jobs or there are less of them in the population compared to other eye colors so the data could be skewed and has not been adjused. Clearly, the eye color has nothing to do with it. Correlation just does not imply causation.”
Few weeks later…
“Bro, what happened?”
“She dumped me cause she said I said her eyes were dumb.”
“No, man. I just said blue eyes don’t make you smart.”