Psychologist Linda Young has written an article at Psychology Today that caught the attention of the largely dormant MBA part of my brain. She takes a Project Management construct and applies it to dating. It’s called Fast, Good or Cheap, and I think it works.
The concept refers to the fact there is no way to create a product that is optimally all three of these things.
Fast refers to the time required to deliver a product to the marketplace from start to finish.
Good refers to the quality or excellence of the product.
Cheap refers to the cost of designing and building the product.
There’s no way to maximize all three, you need to focus on two. As Dr. Young says, “What is good and cheap won’t be fast, what is good and fast won’t be cheap, and what is fast and cheap won’t be good.”
The concept has been applied to social customs before:
College: Work, Sleep or Play
Men: Handsome, Faithful or High Earner
Women: Sane, Sexy or Smart
For the record, I take great exception to the last one (although my weakest of the three is Sane). I also think it’s possible to get all three in a guy, though personally I would focus on Faithful and High Earner before insisting on top notch looks.
You’ve identified a terrific prospect, but you don’t want to get too invested. You try to keep that person from becoming too important in your life by keeping an emotional distance, and not spending too much time together. You’re cheap with your resources. A high quality prospect will move on to someone who recognized their worth and is willing to invest greater resources in the relationship.
Cheap + Fast=Low Quality
You’re all about the hookup. You are seeking short-term gratification. You are not interested in really getting to know the other person.
Good + Fast=Expensive
You’ve met the perfect person, and things get serious fast. You reveal every part of your inner self, which makes the frequent sex physically and emotionally intense. You’ve effectively dived off a cliff into a very symbiotic relationship. The risk here is that a couple of months down the road, when you realize the person is not perfect, you will begin to feel repelled by their idiosyncracies or faults. You will begin to wonder whether this is such a great deal after all. After about nine months, the sex may seem lackluster compared to those early days.
This relationship is very costly in terms of life balance, as you focus exclusively on each other. Friends and family will resent your sudden unavailability. In addition, if the good you have focused on primarily is sex appeal, the relationship is also likely to be costly financially.
Dr. Young did include an interesting piece of research, which perhaps testifies to the importance of chemistry:
“In some interesting, perhaps counter-intuitive research on love-at-first-sight relationships, Earl Naumann found that over half the nearly 1500 people he interviewed who fell in love at first sight married the partner and three quarters of those stayed married, beating the national average.”
None of these relationship combinations may sound appealing, but remember these are extreme examples. It’s a question of where you prioritize your attention and resources.
Cheap and fast is easy. Most of us know that drill all too well. That’s not what you’re going for if you want a relationship, and that’s not what your partner should be looking for either.
Good and cheap is a trap that many guys fall into. They are attracted and interested, but they’re either unwilling to risk rejection in the long-term, or are averse to the idea of commitment and the sacrifice of sexual variety it requires.
Good and fast is nearly impossible to resist in the short-term. If you don’t want the interest and the passion to burn itself out, though, you would be wise to pace yourself accordingly and take things more slowly. A slow win is more gratifying in the long run than a quick conquest.
Which two do you prioritize? How’s that working for you?