Dating: All or Nothing


So in business there’s the “cost of doing business.” It’s not your standard operating costs, overhead investments that we consider a loss. It’s investing in ideas that don’t pan out, employees that bail after being trained or clients that quit you. There’s the cost to throwing your hat in the ring when the standard award rate is one-in-three. You lose all the money, sweat and tears spent on two-thirds of your bids and that’s just your cost of doing business. We shrug and accept it. It’s so obvious that no one will argue it.

So what’s the cost of dating? For men there’s the cost of dinner, washing your car (I love when I can tell a man has washed his car before taking me out), maybe you upgrade your wardrobe a bit. For women, it’s the cost of nice clothes, maybe a babysitter, and the time it took to shave your legs, armpits, wax your eyebrows, crotch grooming, applying make-up. This is the investment over and above the overhead for both of  you, staying in shape, keeping your job, cleaning your house and maintaining your sanity.

Is getting burned or betrayed—or bored—a cost of dating? In business, if a client hires you but then takes your ideas and fires you and works with someone else, you can sue for breach of contract. If they do it to a few people their reputation will go to shit and they will have a hard time getting more business (sometimes… of course we know there are exceptions to this).

In dating, if someone lies to you by misrepresenting their intentions, by betraying your confidence or trust, it makes you screech to a halt emotionally. I know I’m not alone in this. It’s a totally different reaction from losing a business deal. In business, I can lose a client and I might be glum while I eat my lunch then I’m back to work. I don’t waste a lot of time analyzing what went wrong or being critical of myself. It’s part of the routine and life rolls on. But in dating, when I realize I made a bad decision, trusted the wrong person, invested too much in start-up and they pulled out of the deal and went to a new vendor before we got to production phase—lol—I stall out emotionally. And I’m shocked. I never see it coming.

Is it because we don’t accept that in dating there are investments made and investments lost every time until the business gets rocking? And even then, (even in a happy marriage or long term relationship), there will still be costs of doing business, although not as significant as the start-up phase.

Once I started seeing it this way, comparing dating to running a start-up company, I made other comparisons: start-ups spread themselves thin, run on empty exhausting multiple opportunities, struggle to get investors. So if your win rate is one in three for business, what is it with dating? And to be successful, do you need to play the field, dating many people at once, because love is a numbers game and you want to hit pay dirt?

Should I be running my love life like a business? Assessing the dating climate to minimize risk and maximize gain? And what do I lose by being so calculating? The businesses that take chances and go all in tend to go big or burn out. But even those entrepreneurs who have achieved greatness, they have failed many times, even spectacularly.

So is the point of love to have a sustainable, modest business with a few solid customers? Or to go big and make waves and build an empire that changes the world—knowing I will crash and burn repeatedly through trying?

I don’t want a safe, calculated love. I don’t want to spend all my energy building safety nets before I climb to cross the high wire.  I don’t want to lose time obsessing over escape routes and contingency plans. I don’t want to play musical chairs with lovers to make sure there’s someone there if the music stops. When I hear the music, I want to dance! I want to risk everything, take leaps of faith, trust a feeling, go out on a limb, ignore the odds. I want to go all in and make it big or die trying!

I am stubborn and stupid and hopeful enough to fail wildly, spectacularly and repeatedly in that search. So after each crash, I will lick my wounds, file for emotional bankruptcy, close up shop and hole up in a dark room until I my next inspiration winks at me.