As a Senior at GWU, Friday morning was my favorite morning of the week. Specifically, 7-10am. Specifically, Political Analysis 101. Specifically, Professor Lebovic. I remember that the course was about “big picture” thinking. Identifying, and utilizing surrounding factors to arrive at a goal. I also remember Professor Lebovic’s curly hair. And his blue eyes. I had perfect attendance for that course. Perfect attendance, for a class that started at 7am on a Friday, my Senior year.
I haven’t been back to GWU since I graduated, so when Date #11 asked me to accompany him to a lecture hosted by GWU’s Elliott School of International Affairs, I said yes. The lecture was to honor Morton H. Halperin and Thomas C. Schelling upon the 50-year anniversary of their book “Strategy and Arms Control“. The panel was impressive: Charles Glaser, Jeffrey Lewis, George Quester and John Steinbruner. My date hadn’t yet arrived, so I grabbed two seats in a prime location and fumbled to find a place for my purse on the floor. When I looked up, there he was! My heart actually skipped a beat! Same curly hair. Same blue eyes. It was Professor Lebovic. Apparently, he was the MC for that evening’s discussion. I sat there, day dreaming that he would approach me and say “You are Rita! I remember you! My favorite student. So bright. So intelligent. So Sexy.” Right as Professor Lebovic ripped open his shirt and swooped me into his arms, a movement caught the corner of my eye. I looked to see Date #11 (also not bad on the eyes) attempting to catch my attention. We said a quick hello and, right as he sat, the lecture commenced.
While fascinating to me, I do understand that a discussion on arms control and disarmament is not the most titillating of topics. Maybe it’s the effect of the 35/35 project, and the fact that I am immersed in the equivalent of a singles boot camp 101, maybe it’s my lack of sleep, or maybe it was because I had Professor Lebovic’s love on my brain, but as I listened to the panel’s discussion, I was amazed at how many comparisons I was able to draw to dating and relationships. One statement stood out among all others. “Time pressure is the main cause of accidents. Stress, and lack of adequate time, leads to accidents with serious consequences.”
In his article, “Why Do We Make Bad Choices“, Tom Scheve explains that the simple fact that we must make a decision, sets us up for failure. “Humans are highly motivated to avoid making choices they regret. This hard-wired fear of doing the wrong thing can lead to stress so great it affects your decision-making — to the point where you make a choice you wish you hadn’t.”
In her book, “You Lost Him at Hello,” dating and relationship coach, Jess McCann, expands on this further, explaining how the “time pressure” factor can make this stress greater. She explains that (generally) instead of making decisions logically (as most men do), women tend to make decisions emotionally, often driven by fear. Fear of getting too old. Not finding a spouse. Not being able to have kids. This fear leads to great stress, which affects decision making, which causes many women to make a choice they wish they hadn’t. That is, they marry whoever happens to be in their path at that time. Regardless of if he is the right guy.
After the lecture, Date #11 and I walked around the corner to Elephant & Castle Pub & Restaurant for a drink. I don’t know what it is about the men I’m meeting in DC, but the conversations with them always flow easily and the laughter is constant. He was highly interested in my thoughts on dating and how they’ve changed since starting 35 Dates in 35 Days and that got us to discussing the topic of this blog, time pressure and poor decisions. We both agreed with Scheve’s assessment, “If everything is as it should be, our decision-making process goes like this: We determine what we want to achieve, and then the value of achieving it. Next, we look at our options and decide which one will suit us best.” The problem is, relationships don’t (or at least most won’t), work like that. Instead, we find someone, go out on a date or two, and then cut-out “other options” from our lives. Sometimes we cut these options out prior to having “the talk.” Other times, even if we’ve had “the talk,” we don’t yet have enough GOOD information to make a proper analysis. Instead, we stress over the fact that we have to make a decision at all, and then compound that fear with a (usually, unjustified) tight timetable. Which, more times than not, results in a bad decision.
So then, how do we make the right decision? If I knew that, I wouldn’t be here talking to you about this topic. I’ll let people like dating/relationship/life coaches Jess McCann, Dave Elliott, Jeffrey Platts and Catherine Hedden advise you best. I’ve been on 12 of 35 dates as I write this post, and I can tell you that, personally, at this moment, I am realizing that I should not limit my options before I have good, solid, information allowing me to make a rational decision to do so. I need to realize that time is on my side, and not my enemy.
Making a decision in matters of the heart should really be like political analysis. In political analysis, before choosing a “target” one needs to carefully examine all of the surrounding factors. One needs to identify strengths and weaknesses. One needs to decide what they are working towards, the big picture, and form a strategy to achieve it. Only then, after a strategy is formed, should targets or tactics be chosen and/or utilized.
Of course, if your target happens to have sexy, curly hair and piercing blue eyes…then you are on your own.
“Learning what to choose, and how to choose, may be the most important education you will ever receive.”
-Dr. Shad Helmstetter