Saturday, February 11, 2006

Happy Valentine's Day. Leave the check on the bureau.

It's sad, in a world where there should be equality between the sexes by now, that men are often required to initiate courtship or romance. It's especially unfortunate, because most often, when women initiate either one, it works. However, from a simple cost-analysis perspective, it makes sense for the men to have to do the work, because, as Gary Busey's character pointed out in DC Cab, women "have half the money and all the pussy." So, with the fairer sex holding all the cards, it makes sense, from their perspective, that the men should be carrying the load in this endeavor.

However, continuing in that cost-effective vein, it seems that if the man wants to win her heart, he doesn't need expensive presents or jewelry. All he needs is a restaurant reservation.

Men who want to impress a woman will do best to wine and dine her. In this instance, we aren't taking our advice from any of the usual sources - not marriage counselors, not advice columnists, and especially not women (hey, what would they gain from giving us a straight answer in this case?) Instead, in this instance, we turn to words of wisdom from mathematicians.

A team of mathematicians from Imperial College London developed a mathematical formula to determine the best way to woo a woman. They did this by modeling courtship as a sequential game, according to Reuters.

The results:Women aren't impressed by cheap gifts. Don't waste your money.
Expensive gifts can definitely show a woman that the man has serious intentions, but if the woman is uninterested (or simply mercenary), it could backfire, and the man would end up with no woman and less cash.

So what's the best answer? A dinner at a fancy restaurant or an evening at the theater are considered expensive, but worthless gifts ("worthless" because they don't have intrinsic value, the way jewelry or a car do). Why is a worthless gift so effective? If the woman is not interested and doesn't accept the invitation, there is no cost to the man. And if she's already accepted the date, he knows she's interested in him, and is halfway home already.

Unfortunately, the date can't be inexpensive. A cheap meal and a video won't impress anybody. "Our analysis shows there is evolutionary logic in men 'burning money' to impress the girl," study co-author Robert Seymour told Reuters.

So, what do we learn here? Dinner works better than diamonds, but there had better be wine, candlelight, and incredible food. (The study findings were published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society of London.)

Of course, love and romance are murky subjects at best, and no one study is likely to get it right. Somewhere out there, there might just be a winning formula for romance. In the meantime, send her a card, you cheap bastard. And reflect on the fact that while Valentine's Day is a cash cow for florists, candy makers and Hallmark, it's also a big day for private detectives.

1 comment:

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