The hard-to-get fallacy

We value what is difficult to obtain

We measure the “worth” of something in proportion to how difficult it is to get.

For example, do you obsess about being able to get the current news, or get facts? Do you find it – really deeply, emotionally – very valuable to be able to do this?

Think of Wikipedia, Google, Reddit and the many free news outlets. Do you value the access to this information? Most likely you would only feel it when access to Google, etc. stopped. Of course, then there is Bing …

In fact what you value about the information is not how difficult the access to it is, but the information itself – e.g. for the entertainment value, for it’s novelty, etc.

Why is gold much more expensive than corn flakes?

Because gold is rarer than cornflakes. Because it is more difficult to manufacture. Therefore, it’s price rises.

Trying to eat gold

But is a bar of gold useful in of itself, let’s say for consumption?

No. You can’t eat gold. Well, generally speaking gold is also allowed as a a food additive, but it has no nutritional value.

This simple example shows that something which is hard to obtain does not necessarily meet your needs. At least not directly.

Yes, I know you could sell the gold bar and buy cornflakes for that. But then, you don’t need to buy that gold bar in the first place – why create this additional detour? Just buy the cornflakes directly.

Hard-to-get women

I’m currently reading a great book with dating advice for men, called “Hack your mating”. The author postulates that in the past we were living in small social groups, where we had limited choice in female mates (but also of course male mates). A strategy of continuing to woo a particular woman who you liked, was probably a better approach back then – which would marginally increase your chance to secure a mate you were really into.

Today, the situation has changed. There are millions of women you could potentially meet.

Chasing an unavailable, or hard-to-get woman has a very high actual cost attached to it: you are wasting your time. (and maybe also hers)

If the woman is trying to use a strategy of being hard to get, to bump up the preceived value she has, let her pay the price of her own behavior.

Remember, the “hard-to-get” part might mean many other things as well:

  • the woman is genuinely not interested. For example, I am not interested in certain types of women (e.g. I very much prefer brunettes to blondes) – it might be the same for her
  • the woman has some man in her circle who she resonates more with than you
  • the woman has attachment issues, and is unable to form a romantic bond

Most likely it’s not something related to you. Even if it is, it might not be something which you would change or be interested in changing. For example, a woman I was talking to got to know that I’m not working as a doctor, even after I had studied medicine. My explanation that that would curtail my freedom went without response from her. Possibly I would have a better chance with her, if I would stop my career as an entrepreneur, and give up, to work in a hospital.

But would I really want to do that? Chances are, some other issues could pop up – therefore it’s better to stay on our course. Keep improving, in the things you see and agree should be improved. But don’t twist yourself for other people. Stop chasing hard-to get women.

Walking away

After returning from Australia, I was in an online conversation with a woman called Annie. She was not engaging a lot with me, for example my suggestion to have a video date on Valentine’s day was ignored. I then started to withdraw, at which point she started to engage again a bit and reach out. I reiterated my suggestion for a video date, we then discussed the weekend.

She herself suggested to try on the Friday before. I communicated what time I would be available, and wrote to her a couple of minutes before that I’m ready.

I’ve picked up a great idea from Dale Carnegie’s book “How to stop worrying and start living”. When someone doesn’t turn up, I’ll set a timer to 15 min, and will then consider that the meeting is not happening. Annie didn’t show up. She then later wrote me “I forgot what day it was, haha”.

I wrote that that’s OK, and if she wants to, we can talk on the weekend, then – she should just let me know what time.

She didn’t reply to that.

On Monday, after the weekend, I sent her my goodbye, and explained that bitter experience has taught me not to continue if the woman is not investing.

Does this story sound familiar? Being strung along, whether by a man or a woman? Someone who is not sure, but who keeps showing up when you withdraw and give up hope?

It’s a trap, my friend. Gold can’t be eaten. Look for cornflakes instead – the people who willingly engage with you. Don’t measure the “worth” of people by how hard it is to get ahold of them, how hard it is to convince them to get into a relationship with you. Measure how satisfying the relationship with the person you are attracted to actually feels. And if they reciprocate, and are “hell, yes” about you as well.

Photo by Danie Franco on Unsplash

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