How many times have you heard a story about a girl dating a guy, and she dumps him because he won’t propose after they’ve been together for some time? Then, low and behold, you receive the phone call: “We're engaged!" Surprise!
When a girl gives her boyfriend the ultimatum, “propose or we’re done,” my friends and I refer to these girls as “going to the dark side.” I’ve always thought about the dark side as a ridiculous frame of mind. I mean, seriously, you’re basically tricking your boyfriend into proposing to you. Dark side = Loserville.
Apparently, however, I'm the loser and these girls who go to the dark side are geniuses.
These girls have figured out, unlike most people, that it’s good to encourage something up to a certain point, but if they’re not seeing action, something must be done.
These girls know how to set a deadline and then extricate themselves from the relationship if there’s no action to follow (i.e. a proposal).
These girls know that setting a deadline for action, then making themselves unavailable if no action occurs, suddenly makes them more valuable.
These girls are serious ballers: they know what they want and they know how to get it.
When the time is right, they just make themselves scarce. Genius.
How These Women Make It Happen
When something becomes unavailable to us, we lose our freedom to choose that "something." And, we hate it when we can't chose something we think we might want, especially if it’s something we already had. So, when something is taken away from us after having it, we react against it by wanting it even more; it’s called The Reactance Theory.
Child psychologists say that we learn to react when something is taken away from us around two or three years old because this is when we start to see ourselves as individuals. As individuals, we like to be able to make our own choices. So, when we’re two and we can’t make our own decisions, we go ape sh*t.
Two psychologists did a study with two-year-old little boys to see if a plastic barrier shielding them from playing with certain toys would make them want to play with the toys even more. They gave the little boys the toys to play with a little while, then put some behind the barrier and left some sitting next to them. The little boys had no interest in the toys next to them, even though they were the exact same toys that were behind the barrier. All they cared about were the toys on the other side of the barrier. Shocker.
There's also a famous cookie study that was done on adults, which shows adults are equally insane when it comes to having something taken away from us that we already had. The study shows that cookies taste better when we're offered two of them instead of ten, and they taste even better when we're offered ten cookies, but then some are taken away and we now only have two cookies to eat.
“The drop from abundance to scarcity produced a decidedly more positive reaction to the cookies than did constant scarcity.” - Robert Cialdini, The Psychology of Persuasion
So the geniuses that these women are, at the eleventh hour of the relationship, they're not sitting around with their commitment phobe boyfriend saying, “Oh, we’re gonna have the best life together with a bazillion kids and I’m gonna make you dinner every night! Yay, won’t life be great if we’re married?”
Nope. Instead, they pull the ripcord; we’re talking cold-turkey style because pulling the ripcord takes away the boyfriend's freedom to choose. Based on the reactant theory, we know what happens then: the same thing that happened to those little kids who had toys right next to them but also the same toys behind the barrier. They must have them.
This is why most people have little interest in their personal finances or managing their money unless it's given to you in a very digestible way like this. Generally speaking, there’s too much info, no sense of urgency, no deadline for action, the info is too boring, too confusing, so the result is “I’ll deal with it next year,” since it’ll always be here.
Remind you of anything? Hell yeah! The girl who hangs around her guy forever and never goes to the dark side.
No scarcity, no deadlines, too many available choices = no action. Personal finance pushers, get a clue.
Just remember, people see things as more desirable when it becomes less available than when it was scarce all along. - The Psychology of Persuasion
So don’t play hard get; that’s being scarce all along. We know that doesn’t work, and it's lame unless you're like 16 and clueless. But, removing someone’s freedom to choose something, after they’ve had it all along, is a way to make stuff happen.
To read more from Kathryn, visit her site MakinSenseBabe.com. The Money Site For Non-Finance People. Finance People Are Annoying.