(Note from David): This is written by Andrew Kato, who was one of the first students I met when I came to the University of Hawaii at Manoa.  His page has long been deleted off the UH servers, but here is one part I liked when I read it in 1998.

Relationships... No matter how thin you slice it, it's still Bologna.

Something i've pondered often about: girls. What are they lookng for? What makes them different from each other? I've only ever had one girlfriend in my life (which one of my friends says didn't count anyways and I tend to agree with her), so it kind of makes me wonder - I see lots of guys with girlfriends... what the hell is wrong with me?

 Sometimes you can explain things logically. Sometimes you can't. Although the individual tastes and preferences regarding personality and character and even physical beauty are subjective, here's my observations on the topic, a request from Big Keith. 


Whether we like it or not, Looks come first.

I like to think of people as having three basic attributes. They are:

 

  1. Personality
  2. Mind
  3. Looks
Each of these factors judges whether or not someone is a "prospect" or not. I tend to agree with what one of my friends who said "I'll come for the Looks, but i'll stay for the Personality." I think that's how most people are after discussing this topic. When people say they look for "personality" as the most important aspect, they're probably telling the truth, but they end up basing their choices of prospects on looks because it's the most accessible - it's obviously the first thing you will notice about anyone. So, even though people aren't really superficial, they'll always act that way - because they have to.

 

Personal Preferences and Differing Opinions

Now then, how can we compare one person against another? Who's to say one person is "prettier" than another? The simple answer is you can't - it all depends on what means the most to you. Fifty people could give a particular individual different ratings for the Looks category and they'd all be right according to their own personal scales. That's one of the major problems with trying to quantify intangible things like beauty or amiability - they're totally subjective judgement calls. Think back to the last time someone told you they thought so-and-so was gorgeous... and you were repulsed by the idea. To them, the Looks rating was high. To you, well... not so high. That goes to show how individual preferences come into play when assigning cardinal or even ordinal ranks and scores. When considering any ratings, keep in mind other peoples' ratings may not be "correct" for you.

 

Fixed Resources and Impossible PerfectionKeeping all this in mind, we now need some way to measure these three categories. Using an imaginary unit, I assume each person has 100 points worth of resources to allocate. Every person has the identical amount of points; no more, no less than 100. However, it is the different allocations of these points that makes people unique. A straight average score in any category is 33.3 (100/3). The greater the variance from this value, the worse or better than average the person is in that area, higher scores always being better.

 One important consequence of this is something of a zero sum game. When one score is high, by necessity another score must be low to compensate so the total remains 100. To take a numerical example, say a girl was very cute (Looks = 42). If she were average in both of the other categories, the total would exceed 100 and violate the rule (42 + 33.3 + 33.3 = 108.6). Therefore, one or both of the other areas must be below average to bring this person's resource stock back into balance. She could be a very argumentative or crabby person (Below Average Personality) or simply brainless (Below Average Mind) - or something else. The point is that you take the good with the bad.

There is Always Something Wrong

This leads to the observation that nobody is perfect. For someone to be absolutely perfect, they'd have to have high scores in every area, an impossibility due to the fixed total points available. It would be impossible for someone to have say Looks, Mind, and Personality all 45. Although sometimes it may appear that way when you first meet someone, do not be fooled. There is a flaw somewhere, it's just a matter of figuring out what it is.

 One thing I always find myself complaining about is that "there's nobody worth asking out." Out of all the girls out there, i'd only want to ask out a few who I feel "are worth going after." But, if they're worth going after, why wouldn't they already be taken? That's precisely what I find - all the ones worth asking out already have boyfriends. But what about the scarce few who don't have boyfriends but seem too good to be true? See above - If someone hasn't taken them, there must be something wrong with them and you better figure out what it is. Otherwise, why didn't anyone else ask her out?

Natural Selection and Desirable Traits

So what are people looking for? I believe the majority of people between the ages of 15 to 25 are very immature and superficial with high rates of time preference; they want gratification now. Or, as one of my friends calls this age group, "a bunch of hedonists." It comes as no surprise that the guys who get all the girls and the girls who are never without dates are handsome or beautiful. The immature market of demanders do not see far enough into the future to consider the long run value of such a person. For one thing, most guys in this age group are looking for two things in a woman: physical beauty and a willingness to have sex. Although I have no firsthand knowledge on the subject, I wouldn't be surprised if girls are more or less looking for the same thing: muscled up bods and good sex. As you can tell, I have very little faith in the priorities of my own generation.

 This is why we see the distressing scenario of good girls/guys going after losers. Since the most desired feature is Looks, that score must be high. But, since Looks is high, something else must be suffering. Perhaps this person has no ambition or intellectual complexity (Mind). Perhaps he/she is very inconsiderate, selfish, or downright possessive (Personality). It turns out that by virtue of overvaluing Looks, people in this age group are deliberately seeking out losers in things more important (Well now there I go making normative statements *grin*).

 This is very much akin to an argument put forth in an article I read about politicians. The writer analyzed "Why Great Men No Longer Run For President." One key assertion was that the most important qualification for being elected President was being able to campaign and appeal to voters. This has absolutely nothing to do with what kind of job you'll do with president but has everything to do with getting votes. Whether or not the person was the "most qualified" is unquestionable; whether or not we are evaluating the right qualifications is. This observation can be directly applied to young people and dating behavior in this generation.

You Get What You Deserve

The same guy who said people our age are for the most part hedonists also said that there are two kinds of people: Those looking for success and those looking for sex. Apparently you cant be doing both and thus far I haven't met anyone who has disproven this assertion (All the hedonist sex seekers I know are total failures, all the success seekers either don't even have girlfriends or have only platonic relationships). It all boils down to how much do you think about the future as compared to now. Girls who are more concerned about the future will find guys who show potential for emotional and financial stability and success. The ones who aren't will look for guys that like to party and have fun above all else, valuing things like car, sounds, physique, and sex. The same goes for guys - Those who aren't very forward looking will be chasing girls who will simply give them what they want: sex.

 One interesting thing to note though, is how many guys I know who have absolutely no future (no ambition, no effort, and no academic ability of note) and have questionable ethics and character (sleep around with as many girls as they can get, drink, smoke, and take drugs, cut class, lie to their parents, go to strip bars) expect to hook up with nice, decent girls. I figure the nice, decent, wholesome girls are more forward looking than to go out with these kinds of guys, and so far my guess seems accurate. This comes down to equality of partners.

You Seek Who You Are

When looking for a prospective mate, people will look for a mate who has similar characteristics, privileges, social station, and qualities to themself. For example, someone who doesn't consider themself very attractive would probably not seek out models, but someone of average appearance. This makes the above observation about nice girls not going for scum guys seem reasonable: the nice girls are looking for someone who is similar to them in the ethical/moral field... a "nice" guy, not punks.

 

The Mysterious Shrinking Market

Okay, so the nice girls aren't going after the punks, they're going after the nice guys - so why don't all the nice guys have nice girlfriends? Two problems:

 

  1. Disinterest - Many of the nice girls have a very low rate of time preference. They value the present so little as compared to the future that they see having a boyfriend as being a hinderance to the path of success. Therefore, they remove themselves from the market. Same goes for both nice guys' and girls' demand.
  2. Adverse Selection - The ones who are actively seeking with the most effort are precisely the worst ones. This means the garbage guys - the ones only looking for sex - are the ones most likely to be asking girls out. To make an economic analogy, say there are two people - Gordon and Bert. Gordon is a good credit risk because he only invests in safe, stable things that always earn consistent returns. Bert, on the other hand, is a bad credit risk because he always invests in get rich quick schemes that are very risky. If you loaned to him, he invests in something risky, hoping to hit a home run, pay you back and reap the extra returns. However, he has a lower probability of succeeding than Gordon, so he will most likely take a loss and not pay you back at all. So who do you lend to? Good Gordon or Bad Bert? Chances are, you'll only ever see Bad Bert because Good Gordon would never ask you for the loan in the first place unless he had an awesome safe investment. Because of that, all you usually get are Bad Berts asking you for loans. Same like how girls will always get asked out by hordes of losers, but very infrequently by good guys. Remember, safe investments (Guarantee the girl will agree to go out with the guy) are very, very rare.
These effects combine to effectively shrink the real pool of "nice" girls and guys out there, making it harder for them to find each other. That's why not all good guys are going out with good girls and vice versa. Chances are, even if you do find some of the good ones out there, it'll be the same ones someone else found... and beat you to. You were probably beaten by enough Bad Berts that eventually the good girl decided to settle for it. As one of my friends said, "If all you catch is tilapia, sometimes you have to eat tilapia." Hence the fact that "all the girls worth asking out are already taken" - perhaps not by choice, but by default.

Chaff and Screens

I read somewhere that the majority of people find their spouses after they enter the work force. Does this mean high school and college relationships are doomed to fail for the vast majority who will not find their eventual spouse until they start working? Does this mean it isn't worth the while to bother looking for a relationship as a student? Not necessarily. Is there any way to fast forward the dating game? Unfortunately, also a resounding no.

 Sadly, about all you can do is wait for society's filters to do their work. I would say school is the place you meet the most members of the opposite sex and provides the best model of analyzing the filtering effect. What I assert is that the longer you wait, the more chaff is filtered out of the dating pool. This smaller, better, more focused pool makes it easier for equals to locate each other and avoid chaff.

A Quick Rundown

At the high school level, everyone is the same because school is required for everyone. This pool is made up of not only success oriented people, but also sex oriented people. Some people will drop out of high school. Some fail to graduate. This chaff is removed from the pool.

 At the college level, only people with some possibility of success remain in the "education pool," because those who have no hope of succeeding deem it a waste of their time (laziness) and money (tuition) or were simply not suited to academics. However, there are some losers still left in the pool because either their parents are forcing them to attend college or they were admitted by very low admissions standards like that of UH and think they can get by with the cheating they used to do in high school.

 After one or two years, most of the losers who thought they were going to party up and cheat through classes, getting by with Cs and Ds, drop out. Beyond the remedial general core requirement classes, the specific major upper division courses become too difficult for them to handle and such classes rely on formats impossible to cheat on (essays and problems requiring the showing of work). This further filters out more chaff.

 Graduation from college presents another filter separating the losers from the achievers: a degree. Not everyone graduates from a Community College or a University just because they survive a year or two. Then comes the issue of getting a decent job. Those who passed the last filter but only barely will not receive the best jobs - they will be beaten by their superiors. This is the terminal point of the analysis.

The (non)Efficiency of Filters

After considering college graduation, most of the chaff has been filtered away already, leaving a fairly small pool of people who have already completed some degree of success and show potential to succeed. All that is left are all achievers, leaving it as no surprise that achievers seeking achievers will tend to find their match in the work force after virtually all the chaff is out of the way.

 Filtering away all the chaff successfully eliminates most of the problems facing achievers seeking their equals. it removes most of the adverse selection involved because by the time you reach the later stages, the losers are no longer around to bother you. Filtering allows good people to face a pool of nearly all good people when dating.

 However, look how long it takes. You have to wait until about age 23 before you hit the last stage. Is there any way to speed it up? No, not really, unless you could prognosticate who will succeed and who will fail in their childhood or teenage years. Although effective, filtering the chaff takes a painfully long time to run its course.

 

What to Do, What to Do

Would it just be better to forget this whole rat race and wait until later? Perhaps - but who knows, you might be one of those rare few that hits a match before you enter the work force. I think my current slant on it is a pretty decent one:

 I wouldn't mind a nice girlfriend if she came to me, but i'm not going to lose sleep worrying or hunting for one.

 Then again, if I don't proactively seek, i'll be losing out to all the losers due to adverse selection, won't I?

 I can't win. *sigh* Ah, the heck with all of it. I've got to go study now to ensure my future success. 


Last Updated: 5/17/97
Author's Note: I have a girlfriend since September 1997... go figure.
For comments or suggestions, set flamers on stun and target akato@hawaii.edu.


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