“After all, there must be some reason that all those books and magazines (not to mention my mother) champion the make-him-wait rule,” she said. “But does it really work?”
Ariely’s response raised my eyebrow.
…making the guy sweat a little (no, not like that) is in your best interest if you want to maximize the chances f a long term relationship. The reason lies in cognitive dissonance, which refers to what we do when our beliefs and actions misalign: Can’t change the cold, hard facts? Then change your beliefs!
The classic experiment here comes from psychologists Leon Festinger and James Carlsmith, who had participants perform a boring task and then paid them either $20 or $1 to convince someone else that the task had been great fun. Everyone then rated the task, with the result that the $1 participants rated the task more positively than did the $20 crew. While the $20 group could explain away the dissonance between their action (“I told someone the task was riveting”) and their belief (“It actually bored me to tears”) via money (“I was paid to promote the task”), the $1 individuals could not because they could not justify misleading others for such a small amount of money– so they changed their initial belief (“I must really like the task, to have promoted it”) and they ended up rating the task more positively.
To give you an example that is closer to our social life, look at fraternities: loyalty to frats increases with the amount of hazing, since pledges tell themselves, “I did a lot of embarrassing stuff for my frat – it must really matter to me.”
So, going back to your dilemma, Unsure, cognitive dissonance suggests that if you really want a guy, you have to create a dissonance for him, so that he will say, “Wow, if I put in all this effort for the woman – I must love her.”
This means that instead of putting out early, you have George pursue you. Instead of splitting the check, you let him pick up the entire tab. Instead of calling him up and suggesting dates, you leave the calling and planning up to him. In other words, make him work, and he will rationalize it by deciding he loves you.
Yeah, no. I’m not sure this reader wants to follow dating advice from someone who seems to believe in the fundamental rightness of both The Rules and the fallacy of sunk costs. And that frat/hazing analogy is all kinds of janky; I’d wager that greater loyalty from longer pledging periods has to do with the relationships you form with your fellow pledges (who also act as a buffer against dropping out midway through pledging) and more time being exposed to the rigorous indoctrination of the intake process. None of that is true in actual flesh-and-blood dating world. (Or maybe it is and I’ve just been really lucky.)
But what if “George” hates all those quaint little dating games? What if he’s a struggling grad student who would really cotton to a cool, understanding woman who offered to go dutch (or GASP! — pay for the whole meal)? Way too many variables, because, y’know, people are complicated, with different turn-ons and dealbreakers.* There are lots of practical arguments for waiting before getting it in (conversations about expectations and sexual health, etc.) but this isn’t one of them.