[Here is the second of a two-part set of guest posts by Stephanie Shepard. You can find the first here, and of course at Stephanie's new blog. I recommend taking a trip over there and to her main blog, she doesn't post frequently but she writes well and provides interesting commentary. As stated earlier, guest posts are welcome, just send me what you've got in mind by email and if I think it's worth posting, I'll do so.]
ATTRACTION AND GAME THEORY
By: Stephanie Shepard
Tit- for-tat is the most effective strategy in game theory. The concept is used in a game to either advance two competing players or regress their progress based off of calibrated actions. If one player acts aggressive towards another, the other player will return the same aggression, bringing about a stale mate. The stale mate will continue until one player reverses the course with a calibrated action. If both players act in a calibrated effort together, they will advance forward. Ultimately enhancing their own chances of winning and enhance their opponents chances of winning. Both players get closer to winning faster than competing aggressively, and undergoing many set backs. If both players act aggressively and prolong a stale mate, neither opponents will win.
Much of this can be applied to attraction, relationships, and filtering of suitors. The dating world is built upon the most important and most rigorous competition in human life. You have two completely different genders, with different motivations, with the havoc of everyday life to figure out. All are openly competing and playing by their own rules. Both sexes have a goal in the dating world. Making the game more complex, each have multiple competitors of the same gender. Though their goals vary depending on the person, in the bigger picture all are driven by the same human instinct, to find the best mate and have off spring. No amount of feminism, evolution of birth control, or defining of the modern gender roles will change that instinct.
Tit-for-tat is the only strategy that I have used that I have found success within dating. Most dating books are based off of the opinions of a one sided argument. What one sex wants, blaming the other gender for denying their desires, and advocating emotional manipulation to get what they want. Books such as The Rules, The Game, Art of Seduction, and Men Love Bitches have been bringing a fair amount of pain to both genders. Each of these books encourage emotional manipulation and preying on insecurities. The goal for women is to get men to commit. The goal for men is to get sex. All of this advice has left both sides more confused, bitter, and broken hearted.
The reason none of these books are accurate is naive perceptions and limited capability of understanding of attraction. Both genders paint themselves as superior and thus allow themselves to manipulate the other sex. They see the opposite sex as the great enemy that only wants to use them for personal gain. So they teach the victim mentality and discourage actually self contemplation. Actively ignoring self improvement to find the best partner. If dating books actually told the truth they would be out of business. The truth is that we all want to find the best partner equal to our own best selves. Both genders have the same ultimate goal, but strive for it in different ways. Men love sex, but also want commitment. Women love commitment, but also want sex. Each of us want both, with the best person we can find.
This is where game theory comes to the rescue. It is non-manipulative and keeps things balanced in a non-hyper escalating way. There is no way for either gender to take advantage of the other without consequences. Attraction has to start and be evenly escalated by both sexes. If not, efforts of both parties will be reverted to the previous agreed upon point. It has helped me avoid men with low interest. It has helped me realized if potential suitors are motivated by boredom, loneliness, or just seeking sex. For men it is the ultimate protection from women desperately trying to trick them into marriage and unplanned pregnancy.
The concept is really simple. First you establish an attraction signal to someone you find attractive. The most nonthreatening signal is eye contact. My best trick is to scan a room until I meet eyes with a man who is also scanning the room. Making eye contact is the most effective way of expressing interest. It is the most vulnerable signal in the game of attraction. So much information is processed in a short time frame. Based on how long the eye contact is met depends on initial attraction. If attraction is mutual, curiosity of that signal invites more eye contact between both parties. Frequency and duration of eye contact is the quickest way to evaluate mutual attraction.
Now with tit-for-tat, once I make eye contact with a man more than once, I wait to gauge his interest. He will either initiate more eye contact or not at all. This is pretty much a pass/fail tactic. If he returns more eye contact, I will return more eye contact. If he advances the eye contact, I will reciprocate further based on his advance. If he changes body positioning and distances himself it sends a clear signal of disinterest. The technique works the same way for both sexes. A guy can also use eye contact and evaluate his prospect with the same accuracy.
There are some basic signals of attraction that both genders exhibit in the first stages:
1. Eye Contact.
2. Frequently smiling while maintaining eye contact.
3. Signs of nervousness and being speechless.
4. Breaking the touch barrier.
5. Breaking the "get to know you better" barrier.
While using game theory you can escalate or return each of the signals of attraction. They don't have to be in any specific order. The importance is paying attention to those around you, giving these signals, and deciding how you want to reciprocate. All of these signals can openly be displayed without fear of real rejection. You can not prove that the girl across the room smiling at you is not interested. Smile back and if she keeps smiling, then she has some attraction toward you. If that guy you like accidentally brushes past your arm, there is no way to prove it was on purpose. If he does it twice, it is a clear invite to be touched back.
The beauty of tit-for-tat is limited rejection. Someone could of course not be attracted, but their body language will give it away long before you make a fool of yourself. If they do reject you, tit-for-tat limits the effect of that rejection. You don't have to confess your long harbored feelings, nor come on strong for sex. If you are not interested in the person sending the signal, you just don't return it. You don't have to deem the person as creepy or crazy, just avoid eye contact and don't smile at them. Most people won't even realize they were rejected, they will just have some self doubt if they read the initial signal wrong. People have a tendency to accidentally cross signals all the time.
Tit-for-tat is just for reading signals and returning them based on frequency. It can be a slow and take time. Or it can be one of those crazy bursts of attraction that both parties escalate quickly. If you exchange a few signals and it stalls, then you can just keep exchanging the same levels of attraction previously agreed upon. If the other party stops making eye contact, you stop making eye contact. If they stop flirting, you stop flirting. Eventually that initial attraction will naturally die out or it will be picked up again at a later time. Declining interest breaks the tit-for-tat momentum until it is rekindle by either party. If it is never rekindled you can just move on without wondering what happened. There was an initial attraction that faded. If that attraction is continuously returned in escalated you both win.