If Flirting Gets Too Expensive
Rizki Nauli Siregar
One of the most unavoidable topics of discussion when we get together with old friends is about relationships.
This topic can range from mentions of old romances to updates on our current relationship status. It doesn’t matter if you’re single, in a relationship with a guy or girl or with five other guys or girls, the chat will not suffice with only an “it’s complicated” explanation.
The topic of relationships was on the menu the last time I had dinner with some old friends. One of my friends told us he was flirting with two girls that he knew. He told us he got to know the girls to the point that he thought a relationship might be possible.
One interesting fact that came up when we discussed my friend’s flirting is how common it is for us to take the experiences we face during flirting in determining the direction of our relationships. Of course, knowing the girl or guy that we want to date is natural. In that way, we can measure how compatible we are with them.
From an economic point of view, this flirting phase is important because it provides information so decisions can be taken rationally and with optimal results.
Unfortunately, we often get stuck in making decisions about the future of our relationships and whether we want to deepen them or just be friends. One factor that clouds our minds is that we feel bad for not deepening the relationship because we think we invested a lot in the flirtation phase in order to make the relationship work or to impress the other party.
My friend told us that he felt he was willing to have a more meaningful relationship with the girl he approached later. Let’s call her Nisa. At the same time, he also approached another girl; I’ll call her Tari.
My friend felt he didn’t really want to be Tari’s boyfriend because he felt less of a connection with her. However, he also didn’t want to let Tari go because he felt he had invested a lot in her. These investments included transportation, communication and leisure expenses. These expenditures were particularly high because Tari lived quite far from him.
Listening to him, I thought of my first-semester economics lecture when I was a freshman in college. One of the basic topics I learned was sunk costs. A sunk cost is similar to an accounting or economic cost.
What makes a sunk cost different is that it has been incurred and can no longer be returned. In the decision-making process, costs from the past should not be included as a determining factor in current decisions. Rational decisions are only based on current and future benefits and costs. Thus, sunk costs should not be incorporated in rational decisions.
Examples of sunk costs in business include time, effort, energy and money incurred in researching options for investment. For example, we have a certain amount of money we want to invest in a certain business. We have to learn everything possible about that business. All costs incurred in studying the business are sunk costs and should not be included in determining which business we finally choose to invest in.
It’s common for oil companies to spend lots of money to explore new oil sources. All costs incurred during exploration should not be included in determining whether the company builds an oil well.
Let’s go back to my friend. The costs he had during his flirtations were sunk costs. No matter how expensive they were, he should not include them in determining whether he wanted to date Tari or Nisa further. What should be considered are his feelings now and in the future, along with current and future costs.
So for those of you who are seeing someone, enjoy the moment. But don’t consider the costs you incur now in order to impress him or her in determining whether you should continue the relationship.