Revenge of the Nerds

I’ll admit it. I’m a card-carrying member of Mensa. I remember reading about the organization a long time ago, probably when I was in my twenties. I always wondered what Mensans were like. And I also wondered whether I would qualify, and if I did, whether I would fit in.

I had an image in my head of people walking around at a party, all wearing black horn-rimmed glasses. They all seemed very friendly, and I expected that they might welcome me. But only if I qualified, which was the big question.

I never really expected that I would qualify. I did very well in school, but I worked hard at it. I didn’t think of myself as exceptionally smart.

On Friday August 3, 2007, I experienced the second in a series of major traumatic events that would deeply affect my life. I know the exact date, because I have something that reminds me on my Google Calendar for that day. It’s a reminder that simply says, “Call Mom”.

I hadn’t talked with her for a few days, and I was just starting to rely on my BlackBerry to remind me of things like calling my mom. The BlackBerry is long gone, but the important events remain synced to Google Calendar.

I remember dialing the number on that Friday night (no, my BlackBerry didn’t have a dial, but that’s another blog post), and my father answered the phone. That was unusual. My mother ALWAYS answered the phone, and it was always on the first ring. And he had bad news to tell me. My mother was in the hospital. She had pancreatic cancer and had probably about six months to live.

I remember sitting on the couch while I was on the phone, and not being able to move. I think I stayed there for at least an hour. One of the givens in my life was that I could always call my mother, and she’d answer the phone on the first ring (or sometimes I wouldn’t even hear any rings), and the sound of her voice would always be a comfort to me. At this moment I knew that this was going to come to an end very soon.

Also my my Google Calendar, I can see an event for the next day, Saturday August 4, 2007. Game Night. Yes, I remember now. I had previously scheduled a game night for Saturday night. My first thought was that I would have to cancel it. How could I enjoy myself after receiving such crushing news? I should be packing and otherwise preparing for my trip to Philadelphia to see my mother. But, it was scheduled to be at my house. If I canceled it, I would have to call all the people and explain. I didn’t know if I was up to that. Plus, I thought it might help to have some close friends visit me, and hopefully they would be supportive. It would be better than going through it alone. And I wasn’t quite ready to leave for Philadelphia; it would take me a few days to make the preparations. So I went ahead with the Saturday game night.

I don’t remember much about that Saturday night, other than that it felt very surreal, and that people were supportive. I don’t even remember who was there. But I do remember that it helped me build up the strength to complete the plans for my trip to Philadelphia, and I was on a plane, with my eleven year old daughter, by the following Wednesday.

On February 9, 2008, almost six months later to the day, we lost my mother. In the weeks that followed, I was feeling sad and distraught. Something made me decide to finally take the Mensa test. I think I was looking for something to boost my mood. I thought if I passed the test, it might make me feel happier.

So I looked online, and I found a day and time and test center. And I went and took the test. It was on Saturday February 23. I know this, because on my Google Calendar for that day, there is a reminder that says, “Mensa Admission Test, take pencil”.

A few weeks later I got my result and found out that I had passed. And yes, it did make me feel happier. It brought back the feeling I used to have in school when I did well on a test or in a class. Nerds thrive on these feelings, and it had been a long time.

Soon after that, I received the Oracle, which is the monthly newsletter for Orange County Mensa. It had a calendar of events. I thought it would be interesting to see if the picture I had in my head matched reality, so I went to my first Mensa event, an open house. Saturday July 5, 2008. This one wasn’t on my Google Calendar, but I found my email RSVP for it. The event was at the home of one of the members.

What I remember from that night was that I felt welcome, but I also felt like I didn’t fit in. I remember one person in particular who was talking with me on the patio. I remember that he told me Mensa members have a high level of Asperger’s. I couldn’t tell if he was serious or joking. Eight years and many Mensa events later, I’ve come to the conclusion that a sure sign of a person with Asperger’s is that you can’t tell if they are serious or joking. Example: “Of course when they bring the maple syrup after the pancakes, it’ll definitely be too late.” [Reference: IMDB Rain Main Quotes]

After that, I wasn’t interested in going to more Mensa events. I had achieved my objectives. I found out that I qualified to get in, and I went to an event and saw what it was like. And it wasn’t for me.

Fast forward one year to Saturday June 27, 2009. Father’s Day weekend. I wasn’t going to spend Father’s Day with my daughter, because she was in Singapore with her mother on a month-and-a-half trip. I had a girlfriend, but we were starting to have trouble with the relationship and didn’t have plans for Saturday night. I looked at the Oracle and found that there was a Mensa event, Games “R” Us. I liked games, having had numerous game nights with friends. So, I decided to give Mensa another chance.

I remember arriving at the house of the host, and trying to mingle with the other people. Again, I didn’t feel like I fit in. They were certainly nerdy. But, I didn’t feel like I had anything in common with them. They were playing strategy games, like Risk, which I had no interest in. Then I met Sally.

Sally was an older woman, from New York, with Jewish ancestry. She was about the age of my mother, and she reminded me of her. She was the first Mensan I felt comfortable with. And she seemed to fill a void that had been there since I lost my mother a little over a year earlier. She asked me if I wanted to play Scrabble. I remember that we played in the kitchen.

I was never much of a Scrabble player. I had played it with friends in high school who were more verbally advanced than I was, and I never did well. Plus, I was already feeling kind of inferior about being in a room full of Mensans. I felt like I wasn’t as smart as they were, and perhaps someone made an error grading my admission test. I said yes, and we started a game.

I went first. After much thinking, the best word I could come up with was RAN. Six points. Sally quickly put down all seven of her tiles. SOUNDED. Two double letter squares, plus a 50-point bonus for using all seven tiles. A bingo, as it’s called in Scrabble. 65 points. After one round, the score was 65-6.

I started feeling that my fears were founded. These people were MUCH smarter than I was. I didn’t belong here. We played through the rest of the game. Final score: 506-178. Sally asked me if I wanted to play again. I politely declined.

I was thanking the host and on my way out, when people in the dining room asked me if I wanted to join their game. I told them that these strategy games weren’t for me, and they said they were playing a word game and I would like it. OH NO! NOT ANOTHER WORD GAME! They didn’t know about the shellacking I had just received at Scrabble. Again, I politely declined, and I went home. And this time, I thought I was really done with Mensa.

April 24, 2010. My mother’s birthday. Something made me look in the Oracle again, and I saw that Mensa Games Night was scheduled (it had been renamed from Games “R” Us). Although I had made up my mind that more Mensa events weren’t in my future, this one was in a house in Lake Forest. Three miles from home. It was either going to be “Three strikes you’re out” or “The third time’s the charm.” So I went.

The people were so nice! They were welcoming, and the games were fun. I didn’t play Scrabble, but we played other games, and I held my own. Yay! I fit in. That night was fun, and I felt like I wanted to come back.

The host invited me to another event two weeks later, “Philosophy of Mind”, where we watched a video of a college professor talking about arguments for and against the existence of God. That was fun too. These two events started a sea change in my life. I had a new circle of friends who I remain close with to this day.

Over the next six years, Mensa Games Night would be something that I look forward to and attend every month. We play Taboo, which had always been my favorite game, and one that we played at my past game nights before Mensa. It’s a regular party game, not one that requires super intelligence, just fun.

One of the other games we play is called “Encore”, another fun party game. In Encore, a player chooses a card with a word on it, and the two teams take turns singing songs with lyrics that include that word. I have a love/hate relationship with Encore. It’s fun to hear the different songs people come up with. But, the game goes on for hours, and it’s hard to stop, and I often go home very tired in the wee hours of the morning.

One of the most fun things about Encore is that in this group of so-called four-eyed eggheads wearing horn-rimmed glasses, every time we play, someone plays a turn using the theme song from Gilligan’s Island, which is apparently rich with Encore words. This has become a high point of the game night experience. Yes, I had found “my people”.

Last night was Mensa Games Night. And as luck would have it, we ended up playing Encore. In one round, the word was “So”. This proved to be a tough word. Although many songs have lyrics with the word “So”, it’s not a word that stands out. We had long periods of thinking between turns in this round, and people came up with songs such as Carole King’s “So Far Away”, Linda Ronstadt’s “It’s So Easy”, and Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here”. Then I suddenly had a burst of inspiration. I gasped with excitement! “I have one!” I exclaimed. And with great enthusiasm, I played the next turn.

So join us here each week my friends
You’re sure to get a smile
From seven stranded castaways
Here on Gilligan’s Isle!

[Reference http://www.metrolyrics.com/gilligans-theme-song-lyrics-gilligans-island.html]

The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Car

Photo.jpg

[Reposting my first blog post, from January 23, 2016.]

I was divorced in August 2005. Since then I’ve been (almost) relentlessly trying to find my life partner. I say almost, because there have been multiple times when I said “I’m done!” but usually that only lasts a few days, and in the worst case, a few months.

People have told me that I’m too particular. Lately I’ve been using OKCupid, which gives a percentage match with each profile, based on questions we’ve both answered. I’ve found that even if someone is a 99% match, and we’ve answered 4000 questions in common, there is always something that is a dealbreaker. I look at the “unacceptable answers,” and usually it only takes a few seconds until I find a disqualifying answer. Maybe she doesn’t date Jews. Maybe she sleeps with her pet on the bed. Maybe she won’t date someone who needs alone time. Maybe she’s a racist. Maybe spelling mistakes and bad grammar *don’t* annoy her (the horror!). This search is time consuming, often depressing, and frustrating.

I thought about my friend, Paula, who recently bought a new car. She decided what car she wanted, what features she needed, called a car broker, and voila, a few days later, a shiny new car that was exactly what she wanted appeared in her driveway! And this made me think: Why can’t searching for a partner be as easy as shopping for a car? Wouldn’t that be awesome?

Then I realized, if buying a car were like selecting a partner, I would be carless. Now, I have a car, and I really like it. It’s a 2006 Toyota RAV4 V-6. It has almost all the features I want. It has lots of space inside, it’s reliable, it has good acceleration, it’s compact and easy to drive and park, it looks nice, and it gets decent gas mileage. It’s a good car.

Now, here’s why I would be carless. There could be a better car. I haven’t found it yet, but here’s what it would be like.

First, it would have all the features I like in the RAV4. But, the RAV4 isn’t perfect; it lets in a lot of road noise on the freeway, and makes it hard to hear the radio. The Lexus RX is awesomely quiet. But, it’s too expensive. I can’t afford it. Unacceptable. Block that profile.

The RAV4 also only gets decent gas mileage. What would be awesome would be an electric car. Doesn’t use gas at all. The Nissan Leaf is electric. Nice car, but it only has a range of about 100 miles. Unacceptable. Hide that profile.

The Tesla is an electric car, and it has a range of 300 miles. Awesome! But, it’s even more expensive than the Lexus. Unacceptable. This is frustrating. I’m done! Shut down my dating profile.

The only way I could have a car is if I wait until “they” come out with a car that has all the features of the RAV4, is as quiet as the Lexus, runs on electricity, has a range of over 300 miles, and is in my price range. I’ll just wait until I find “the one.”

But, I have to drive, so I have my car. And it’s served me well. I fill it up, try to drive in a style that conserves gas, and turn up the radio a little louder when I’m on the freeway. As it’s aged, it’s developed some rattles and squeaks. I don’t mind. They add a bit of charm. Maybe they make me like it more. I’ve grown attached to it. I might even say I love my car.

Thursday Night People Watching

This is another one that I wrote before I had a blog. It happened last summer, August of 2015. Posting it now.

Thursday Night People Watching

Tonight I went to Cafe Rio to have dinner by myself. When I arrived, the first thing I noticed was that there was a line that I would have to wait in to order my food. I was tempted to take out my phone and read some news or play some Words With Friends, but I kept it in my pocket. I thought it would be nice to take a break from the electronics and be present in the moment, even if the moment was waiting on line to order food.

The first people I noticed were a young couple two places ahead of me in line. They had two kids: A boy, about five, and an infant. The infant didn’t look too happy, and the husband held her in his arms, walked around to soothe her, and then took her to a table. The wife waited in line to place the order for the family. The older child was quite hyperactive, and ran and bounced around the restaurant the whole time his mother was in line. Every time he ran back into line, he had to go under a wooden bar (that separated the rows of people in line), and every time, I was afraid he would hit his head, and I flinched. But, the boy had things under control. Each time, he would slow down, just a wee bit, right before he got to the wooden bar, and then he would duck his head and clear the bar by about an inch or two.

The next thing that I noticed was a row of arms, pointing forward and slightly upward, all holding smartphones. The woman in front of me had a ginormous phone, what you would call a phablet. She seemed very busy with it, but didn’t look too happy.

The next two arms holding phones belonged to the same person! The man, three places ahead of me in line, was holding two phones! And he was looking at both of them. On one, he was reading and typing, possibly an email or a text. All with his left hand. On the other phone, which he was holding in his right hand, he was apparently reading an article, or at least looking at it occasionally. My first thought was that he was so addicted to his electronics, that it took two phones to satisfy him. I expected one was an iPhone and one was an Android. I took a good look at the phones. Both were iPhones. Hmm. Then I looked at his face and his body language, and I noticed the hot blonde in front of him, with no phone in her hands, no handbag, and no pockets, and I knew exactly what was going on! This was a henpecked husband, holding both his phone and his wife’s phone while they were in line, so she could have both hands free, and he was making the best of the situation.

I kept an eye on this couple three places ahead of me, as I went through the line and placed my order. When it was time for them to pay, I realized that my suspicions were most likely true. The wife took her phone back, and the husband seemed to breathe a sigh of relief, no longer having to carry two phones. Then he put his phone in his pocket and paid for their dinner and carried the tray to the table.
I sat down at a table next to the young couple with two kids. When the wife and son got to the table, the husband and wife traded roles. The wife fed the infant, and the husband entertained the hyperactive son. I liked this couple. They seemed to all take care of each other.

The unhappy woman with the ginormous phone was sitting at a table by herself. She continued to look at her phablet, while she ate her meal. I briefly considered asking her if she wanted some company, but I was very content sitting by myself and watching the people.

Meanwhile, while I was enjoying my meal, I couldn’t wait to get home and write my story.
Sometimes going out to eat by oneself can be very entertaining. And sometimes, having to wait in line to order can be a blessing.

Epilog

For those of you who have to know what I ate, I had the Thursday tamale special. I was hungry, so I had the double. One chicken tamale and one pork tamale. With whole grain rice and black beans, melted shredded Mexican cheese, shredded lettuce, and pico de gallo. With a limeade. I asked for the chicken tamale with medium sauce (because I thought it would go better with the chicken, which is a bit spicy), and the pork tamale with mild sauce (because I thought it would go better with the pork, which is slightly sweet). But the server put the sauces on, and then said, “Oops, I think I got it backwards. The mild sauce is on the chicken and the medium sauce is on the pork.”. I said, “That’s fine.”

Evolution of a Relationship (In the words of Lennon and McCartney)

I wrote this a while ago, before I had a blog. Sharing with you all now. All words copyright of Lennon/McCartney.

Evolution of a Relationship
In the words of Lennon and McCartney

Meeting
And please, say to me 
You’ll let me hold your hand

Contact
And when I touch you I feel happy inside

Infatuation
Close your eyes and I’ll kiss you
Tomorrow I’ll miss you

Love, Phase I
I can’t explain, the feeling’s plain to me, say can’t you see?
I love you

Love Phase II
She says *she* loves *you*!
And you know you should be glad!

Love Phase III
Love is all you need

Love Phase IV
Woman I will try to express
My inner feelings and thankfulness
I love you
Now and forever

Resentment
I don’t wanna sound complaining
But you know there’s always rain in my heart
I do all the pleasing with you
It’s so hard to reason with you
Why do you make me blue?

Sadness
Though tonight she’s made me sad
I still love her
If I find her I’ll be glad
I still love her

Codependence
My life has changed in oh so many ways
My independence seems to vanish in the haze
But every now and then I feel so insecure
I know that I just need you like I’ve never done before

Quarreling
You say yes, I say no
You say stop, I say go
You say high, I say low
You say why, I say I don’t know

Communication breakdown
When I call you up
Your line’s engaged
I can’t get through
My hands are tied
We have lost the time
That was so hard to find
And I will lose my mind
If you won’t see me

The end is near
Here I stand head in hand
Turn my face to the wall
If she’s gone I can’t go on
Feeling two-foot small

The end
And in her eyes you see nothing
No sign of love behind the tears
Cried for no one
A love that should have lasted years

Carrying on
And when the night is cloudy
There is still a light that shines on me
Shine on till tomorrow
Let it be

Ghosted!

A friend of mine told me that she was recently ghosted by someone she met on a dating site. This was someone who lives across the country, and they had become pen pals. Ghosted by a pen pal! I can feel for her, because it happened to me once, and when I think about it, it still hurts.

It was 1974, and I was 12 years old. It was the summer between 7th grade and 8th grade. I was a happy time for me. I was just starting to notice girls. “Seasons In The Sun” and “Billy Don’t Be A Hero” were at the top of the charts. The Flyers had just won the Stanley Cup, and the whole city of Philadelphia was celebrating.

I had just completed my first year of learning French. There was a pen pal program that I signed up for, where you can correspond with someone living in the country of your new language. So, there was a girl in France who became my pen pal. I remember that she was 13–an older woman! I don’t remember her name. Let’s call her Julie.

I think Julie wrote to me first. She wrote in English. I was very excited to receive the letter. I wrote back in French. I remember having to buy an air mail stamp, and writing on the envelope, “par avion”. We exchanged a few letters. It was really fun! I thought one day, when I visit France, we might meet. It was nice to know someone in another country.

Then I took what I thought was a small step. In my next letter, I sent her a photo. I waited a couple of weeks, and then started eagerly looking in the mailbox for her next letter. Maybe she would send a photo too! I would be nice to see a face to go along with the words.

After about two months of checking the mail and being disappointed, I realized that there would be no more letters. I was ghosted. And it hurt.

Julie must still be out there in France, 55 years old now. She might even be reading my blog. Julie, if you happen to be reading this, I just want to let you know that it was fun being your pen pal, even for a short time.

Book Review: Everything I Ever Needed to Know about Economics I Learned from Online Dating

One of the side benefits of online dating is that it is a good source for finding interesting reading material. Some of the sites ask the question, “What was the last book you read?” Of course, I have to weed through a lot of answers that are “Fifty Shades of Grey” and “Eat Pray Love”, until I occasionally find something that interests me. Most of the time, these books will go onto my Amazon private wish list, because I have a long list of books that I’ve started and would like to finish, before I start a new one.

About a month ago, I came across a profile on eHarmony that mentioned a book called, “Everything I Ever Needed To Know About Economics I Learned From Online Dating”. This book went straight to my “Download Free Sample” list on Amazon. After I finished reading the free sample the same day, in one sitting, I knew I would be purchasing this book.

I purchased the book on February 26, and I finished it today (March 12), just over two weeks later. That is very good for me, even for a 256 page book.

I enjoyed reading most of the book. Technically, it’s a book about economics for the layman, using online dating as a teaching aid. But, a good portion of the book discusses online dating, and that is the part that interests me the most. I’ve just reached my ten year anniversary with the dating sites, having created my JDate, Match, eHarmony, OKCupid, and POF profiles back in 2006. So this is a topic that I can really relate to!

The author is Paul Oyer, an economics professor at Stanford, who suddenly found himself fortysomething and single in 2010. When he started dating after many years of marriage, he realized that Internet dating seemed to follow the laws of economics, so he started taking notes, which eventually became this book.

Since my primary goal for this book review is to entertain, as is my goal for my entire blog, I will pick out parts of the book that I found most entertaining, and share those with you. I will also write about how parts of the book relate to me, because I like to blog about myself.

The author mentions that he had a regular place where he met potential dates. It was a coffee shop called “Cafe Borrone”. I liked this. I also have a regular place: Starbucks.

The author discusses how the process of finding a partner is a specific example of search theory. For those of you who think the process of finding your soulmate on a dating site is not unromantic enough, consider this. Let’s assume there is a soulmate for you, out there in the sample of people of the appropriate sex who are age appropriate and not already married. He estimates that there are 200 million such potential partners on the planet. With some simple math, he concludes that the probability of finding your soulmate is 50%, assuming you have two meetings with potential partners a day, every day for the next 250,000 years!

OK, now that we’ve established that for all practical purposes it’s impossible to find your soulmate, you’ll have to settle for the best you can do, which is to find the best one available, given the limited amount of time and effort you can reasonably expend in the search. The key is knowing when to stop, when you’ve found “the one who is good enough”. See what I mean by unromantic?

Every minute spent looking for a potential partner is time that might otherwise be spent doing something enjoyable or useful, such as reading a good book, socializing with friends, or, in the author’s case, writing this book. But, there is a potential future payoff for looking at one more profile, because that profile might just be the one who is good enough. He says you’ll know you’ve found the one who is good enough when you can say, “My partner is truly wonderful. If I kept looking, I could probably do better. But I have to earn a living, make dinner, practice the piano, and do a bunch of other stuff. So I’m going to settle for this person and move on with life. It could certainly be a lot worse.”

Another point that I identify with in this stage of my life–I am 54–is that as we get older, we have less time to potentially spend with the one who is good enough after we find her. The longer the search process takes, the less time we will have. Therefore, we should be getting less picky as we get older. I will have to remind myself of this. I feel like I’m getting more picky.

There is a chapter that discusses an economic concept called cheap talk, which is technically a branch of game theory. The idea is that, as people say, words are cheap. You can describe all of your best qualities in your profile, but how does the reader know that you are telling the truth? This is made worse by the fact that many people lie about qualities such as age, height, and income, and the reader might assume you are lying too, even if you are telling the truth.

I can identify with this. I tell the truth about everything in my profile. When I say I am 5’8” I mean that is my honest height, with my shoes and socks off. Actually, I’m 5’8½”, but I don’t want to create a false impression by rounding up. Most women, based on Match profiles, want someone who is at least 5’10”. So my height of 5’8” is a dealbreaker for most of the women in cyberland. I suspect that their expectations are distorted by men who lie about their height. Marco Rubio says is is 5’10”. I’ve seen him standing next to the other candidates. He’s not 5’10”, even with his platform shoes on. It’s his fault!

There is discussion about whether it is better to be a big fish in a small pond, or a small fish in a big pond. An example of a big pond would be Match, the phone book of dating sites, A small pond might be VeggieDate. In the small pond, you will find a smaller set of potential matches, but you know they will satisfy what you think are your important criteria, for example, being vegetarian.

It is estimated that five percent of the population is vegetarian. Limiting oneself to a vegetarian partner rules out 95% of possible matches. In an average-sized city, this would result in a very small number of potential matches within driving distance. In a small town, the nearest match might be hours away. One might have success on a discriminating dating site like this in a densely populated area such as New York City. But, how many New York Cities are there?

His conclusion was that it’s better to choose the big pond. And let go of what you think are important criteria, like being a fellow vegetarian. You can only know that two people have a spark after meeting in person, and it’s much less likely to find such a person if you limit yourself to a small set of matches on VeggieDate. And how important is it really, that you both eat the same food?

The economic theory that is relevant for the big fish or big pond scenarios is called thick versus thin markets. It has applications outside of dating sites, and that’s all discussed in the book.

There is an interesting economic concept called signalling. Signalling can be used to circumvent the problems of cheap talk. For example, if you contact someone and say, “Your profile really stands out for me. It’s the best profile I’ve seen this year,”, even if it’s true, your contactee will assume you are lying. As women say, “I bet you say that to all the girls.”

Signalling provides a way to show you really mean it. The idea of signalling is that you show you really mean it by doing something for that person that costs something, and that you can’t do for everyone. A Korean dating site has a feature that allows you to sent a virtual rose. But, it only allows you to send two roses. if someone receives a rose, she knows that you liked her enough to use your valuable resource on her. Match used to have a similar feature that allowed users to send a VIP email. You would only be allowed to send a small limited number of VIP emails, something like one per week.

Sending someone a birthday card used to be an example of signalling. First, you would need to remember the person’s birthday. You would drive to the Hallmark store, browse through cards until you found one that was appropriate, write something nice on it, put a stamp on the envelope, walk to the mailbox, and send it out. This was something that had a real cost, and made the receiver feel good. It was an effective signal.

With Internet technology, there is now a shining example of the anti-signal: Birthday wishes on Facebook. In today’s Facebook-centric world, you’re likely to have your friend’s birthday automatically added to your calendar. If that’s not enough, when the day arrives, you will get a notification on your phone. You are then prompted, PROMPTED, to quickly send a birthday greeting and write “Happy Birthday” on her wall. This takes a maximum of about ten seconds. And if you do as many people are doing these days, and write merely “hb”, it will probably only cost you about four seconds out of your day. Anti-signal!

Another discussion that I enjoyed was about the economic concept called positive assortative mating. That sounds like a mouthful, but what it means is that likes tend to pair with likes, and they do well together in a variety of circumstances. What is counter-intuitive about this is that people who seem to be less desirable, perhaps because of their plain looks, low income, or low level of education are usually more desirable by other people with similar levels of these qualities. People want or feel comfortable with someone like them.

I can identify with the concept of positive assortative mating, because I search for profiles of women with at least a four year college degree, and preferably a graduate degree. I’ve often felt guilty about this, and wondered if I was a bit snobby about it. But, now I understand that I’m just looking for someone like myself, and based on the theory, that I would be more likely to get along with such a person. On the other side of the double-edged sword, I know that I have to get the idea right out of my head that I’ll ever find a suitable partner who looks like Christie Brinkley. It didn’t work for Billy Joel, who apparently didn’t study economic theory.

There is so much more that I enjoyed in this book, but in the interest of keeping this review short enough so that people will read it, I’ll close with a short discussion of one more economic theory that is applicable to online dating, adverse selection.

Adverse selection has to do with hidden information. A good example is used cars. People are often afraid of buying a used car because they assume that there is hidden information: A defect in the car that is not apparent on inspection or a test drive, but will show up after the car is purchased and driven for a while. In other words, the car might be a lemon.

In the early days of dating sites, there was a stigma associated with them. People assumed that only undesirable people had to join a dating site. An online profile might look good, but there must be hidden information, because otherwise, why would this person be on a dating site?

This stigma has largely disappeared, as online dating has become more mainstream. In fact, a recent study by psychologists confirmed that this stigma is effectively gone. And if a psychological study confirmed it, it must be true. (I read this on the Internet.)

However, adverse selection does still come into play, in more specialized ways. For example, if a man indicates on his profile that he is separated, even if there is no chance of reconciliation, even if he has moved on emotionally, and perhaps he’s just waiting for the papers to be filed with the courts, women might assume there is hidden information. He might jump back into bed with his wife at any time. He’s an emotional wreck looking for a temporary “rebound woman” to help him these tough times. Or if a woman indicates that she’s 50 years old and has never been married, a man might assume that there is hidden information that would show she is commitment phobic, or perhaps has a psychological flaw, even though (unbeknownst to him) she might have been in a long term relationship that wasn’t marriage. But, because of adverse selection, these people wouldn’t be given a chance.

Finally, a particularly worrisome example of adverse selection is the online profile that’s been there for a long time. If someone has had a profile for many years, and is still not in a relationship, there must be something wrong with him. At least that’s what readers of his profile will assume, based on the theory. The author reveals that he partook in online dating for four years, from 2010 to 2014, before he finally met the one who is good enough on JDate. His dating advice, at the end of the chapter on adverse selection is this: “If someone has been active on a dating site for a long time, STAY AWAY.”

In what year did I say I created my dating site profiles? Uh oh.

 

Fifty New Ways To Leave Your Lover

I finally got around to watching a movie from 2009 that I’ve been wanting to see, called “He’s Just Not That Into You”. It stars Drew Barrymore, and there are lots of discussions about dating and rejection.

The book on which this movie was based was recommended to me back in 2006, soon after my divorce, when I was just getting started with online dating. I was talking with a friend about someone who had contacted me on one of the dating sites. I wasn’t interested, and I was looking for a polite way to reject her, and feeling guilty about it. And my friend said, “Don’t feel guilty. You’re just not that into her. She’ll understand.”

Fast forward ten years to 2016. Since then, I’ve looked at thousands of online profiles, and thousands of women have looked at mine. (And I guarantee, there’s no problem.) There has been communication and contact, 100% of which has ultimately resulted in rejection (although some have become good friends). And the movie was next on my Netflix queue, so I finally watched it.

One of my favorite quotes from the movie was from Drew Barrymore:

“I had this guy leave me a voicemail at work so I called him at home and then he emailed me to my BlackBerry and so I texted to his cell and then he emailed me to my home account and the whole thing just got out of control. And I miss the days when you had one phone number and one answering machine and that one answering machine has one cassette tape and that one cassette tape either had a message from a guy or it didn’t. And now you just have to go around checking all these different portals just to get rejected by seven different technologies. It’s exhausting.” [Source: IMDB]

BlackBerry! So 2009. I suppose after she read the email on her BlackBerry, she got on her dinosaur and rode away.

This got me thinking about all the new ways to reject someone. Here are some of the popular ones, for those who are not techno-dating savvy.

Ghosting

I like the definition given in Urban DictionaryThe act of suddenly ceasing all communication with someone the subject is dating, but no longer wishes to date. This is done in hopes that the ghostee will just “get the hint” and leave the subject alone, as opposed to the subject simply telling them he/she is no longer interested.

This one is not strictly related to technology. However, technology certainly has served as a catalyst for it. It’s easier to ghost someone you’ve met online. In the old days, when you met someone in traditional ways, such as through common activities or friends of friends, it was not so practical to ghost people you might come across later in your social circles.

Emergency Phone Call

This is used most often on a first date. The subject gets a phone call on his cell phone. He takes the call, and then explains that there is an emergency and he has to leave. Usually, he will recruit a friend to make the phone call. For people without friends, there is an app for that. In fact, there are many apps, including one provided by eHarmony called “Bad Date Rescue”. I’m not making this up.

Changing Facebook Relationship Status

This one is particularly cowardly and passive-aggressive, especially If the couple’s relationship statuses mention each other (e.g., “In a relationship with Mary”). When the victim logs in next, she will see that her own relationship status has changed!

Standing Him Up

The subject just doesn’t show up for a date. This is another technique, similar to ghosting, that isn’t strictly connected to technology, but is more likely when the standee isn’t in the subject’s social circles. This is usually followed by ghosting.

Blocking Her Dating Site Profile/Phone Number/Facebook Account

More tools for the passive-aggressive.

Thinking about this brought to mind the song by Paul Simon, “Fifty Ways To Leave Your Lover”. The song needs to be revised for 2016. Fifty New Ways To Leave Your Lover. Here are some new lines for the song, co-written with Paula Light.

50 New Ways To Leave Your Lover

Send her a text, Rex
Delete your page, Sage
Block her name, Wayne
Just ghost away, Ray
Email an excuse, Bruce
Pretend you’re dead, Fred
Plan an emergency phone call, Paul
Change your relationship status, Gladys
Leave her a voicemail, Abigail
Just stand her up, Chuck
We’re not a match, Ash
There was no spark, Clark

And last but not least:

I’m just not that into you, Sue