Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Romanconomics: Self Valuation

The "Foley's Mannequin
Goes to Prom" dress
As much as I talk about the importance of market principles in dating, sometimes it's only as helpful as seeing ANOTHER picture of Anne Hathaway in that awful pink Prada dress. Why?

Well, because if you're a 20-something, educated, middle- or upper-middle-class woman, statistics show that the dating market kind of stinks for us. Thanks to a variety of factors ranging from the rise of pornography to the decline of men in higher education, we're dating less.

Besides more lonely Friday nights and Saturdays spent with girlfriends brunching (admittedly, it's not like the single life is always synonymous with the pit of hell), what does this reduction in dating frequency mean? It means it can be sorely tempting to undervalue yourself.

Nothing's scarier than late 80s
special effects
What do I mean? Well, normally in a market economy, the price is what a willing buyer pays a willing seller for a product. But if there are no willing buyers (i.e. no one seems to want to date lil ol' fabulous YOU), there is a dangerous temptation to lower the asking price. This is a temptation from which you should run like you're being chased by a herd of R.O.U.S.s.

Like a house in a down market, sometimes you start to wonder if the custom fixtures and sharp built-ins are actually adding that much value, right? Maybe dropping the price $10k or so would mean you could actually sell? Or maybe you need to pour more money into re-landscaping and really sprucing up if you want to get the asking price. Or maybe repainting the neon green bathroom is what it's going to take to increase the "universal appeal" factor.

Behold: the flawless
logic of dieting women.
Similarly, when you're dealing with a dating market that's taken a downturn, it can be worrisome that perhaps you're not all that great. Maybe if you put up with a little less care and commitment, you'd actually get someone to buy you dinner. Maybe if you poured more money into hair and clothes and makeup and weight loss, you'd start attracting Mr. Right.  Maybe if you were a little more bland and giggled insipidly a little more, you'd find more takers.

In fact, it's really important to not drop your asking price*—your value is not correlated to the number of dates you're getting. This means not only do you keep the asking price the same, but you don't entertain bids that aren't at least in the ballpark.

Valuing oneself without the benefit of a market can be difficult. But high net worth individuals and owners of rare antiques do this all the time. High net worth individuals pool the worth of all their assets and measure it against the sum of all their liabilities. Owners of rare antiques take into account all of the characteristics of the piece, and count its rarity as a value-adder, rather than an inconvenience because of lack of a market. Often, the desire to make sure the right person gets the piece will prevent an owner from selling to just anyone.

I mean, don't go overboard here. 
In other words, you have a lot going for you. You're a human being, so you're entitled to some basic rights and liberties and stuff. Keep going, though. You're pretty, smart, nice, funny, athletic, musical, competitive, tough, sensitive, loyal, honest, modest, sarcastic, tidy, friendly, etc. Obviously you're not all of those things - but that's sort of the point. You're you, and not everyone is looking for you, and that doesn't mean that you is bad or wrong or overrated. It just means you shouldn't necessarily take the first bid. (Also, this is not carte blanche to be a snob to everyone.)

What does this look like practically? Well, take yourself seriously. This means DON'T GET DESPERATE. You're worth something, even though you and your girlfriends have brunched your way through the entire city at this point.

Example: It's not worth it to let some guy text you "hey, what's up?" as a precurser to a date.
"hey, what's up?" is death.
It's hyper casual, it screams "I'm bored and looking for the best option for my evening," and it is BEGGING you to friendzone the sender. Do yourself a favor. Put him in the friendzone. Forever.

Hmm. You're older.
But still immature.
Because guess what? If he's not trying to get your attention now, he's not going to be trying to get your attention in 10 years when there are bills to pay and the pizza is cold and life is kind of a drag. If his most impressive feats of derring do are texts he'd send to his friends, move on. You're not going to die in a convent. You're an impressive bundle of assets that far outweigh your liabilities. Dating you should NOT be first-come, first-serve basis. Some guys are actually disqualified from even getting in line. Because ultimately, you owe it to yourself to find a good guy (more on this next week).

I retained my value in:
Black and cream patterned skirt, black tank, cream sweater, cream vintage-inspired necklace, black tights, black figure-eight earrings, black and silver ring, and black over-the-knee boots.

*Obviously I don't mean you should actually have a numerical value in mind that a guy has to/can spend to win your affection. This is an analogy. Please, please, please don't actually put yourself on some sort of market. That's a really terrible idea.