Monday, September 20, 2004

"How come you never call me?"

Glen Whitman thinks many guys would be happiest with a 3-days-a-week girlfriend, which leads him to think about differing utility curves for human contact. For instance:
Say Ted would like to talk on the phone every two days, whereas Sheila would like to talk every day. You might think Sheila would call Ted about two-thirds of the time – but in fact, she will call him every time. If they talk on Monday, Ted plans to call on Wednesday; but then Sheila calls him Tuesday. His clock reset, Ted plans to call on Thursday. And then Sheila calls on Wednesday. Eventually, Sheila decides Ted doesn’t care about her, because he never calls.
Yup. Ditto for cleaning the kitchen and a thousand other tasks - the person with a lower messiness tolerance does most of the cleaning, and the person with a lower being-alone tolerance does most of the calling.

In GW's terminology, my own personal MU(A) [Marginal Utility of other Activities] is sufficiently high that I tend to let relationships drop when I have them, and rarely seek them out when I don't. I'd probably do fine with a 3-days-a-month girlfriend, though. Or perhaps not. I get a 95 - "very quirkyalone" on this test. If you're up there too, I highly recommend Party of One: A Loner's Manifesto.

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