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Power balance

Published by Priyanka on

I recently watched Vicky Christina Barcelona. The plot is so compelling. It leaves you longing for more. Much like the “before” trilogy. There is something about stories that glorify a perpetual state of longing that makes you believe in love much more than a stable partnership. The media makes you believe that uncertainty, unfulfilment and being in a position of lower power are virtues of love. 

I remember, in late 2011, I was walking around the alleys of Grand Bazaar in Istanbul determined to buy a set of whirling dervish dolls at a certain price. I spent hours bargaining with several shopkeepers, tried all my threatening tactics, etc. only to not be given much attention by any of them. In retrospect, I realise that I wanted to make the sale happen more than them because I knew that I had limited time in the market unlike the sellers.

So, whenever you see greater benefit/ have limited time in making a partnership decision compared to the other party, you tend to fall into a position of lower negotiating power. This is independent of how good your negotiating skills are or how high your Relationship Quotient (RQ) is.

In matrimonial markets, traditionally, men have had more power since it’s usually the bride’s family that takes an active interest in reaching out to the guy’s. I don’t know about other religions, but in the Hindu tradition, getting your daughter married is viewed as one of the biggest charities a bride’s parents make in their lifetime and they’re usually quite proactive about it. Hence, you have dowry in some communities.

On the contrary, in the dating markets, women have greater power than men. The simple reason is the demand supply curve. I firmly believe that, at least at the start of a dating/ matrimonial relationship, there must be a balance of power in order to make a rational decision and hence, when I mediate matches, I try my best to introduce people on an equal footing so as to allow the couple a chance to tip the balance the way they like, if at all.

Let me illustrate what imbalance of power does to matching-markets. Tinder (and a lot of other dating apps today) has this feature of mutual like. If you are a guy, you right swipe a few 100 profiles everyday. The guy gets a match when one of the girls swipes right back. Now, how often does this woman text the guy on her own? Is it just social protocol that stops her from initiating the texts or is it also because the match occurred because the guy was the one to swipe first? 

I have learnt from numerous surveys that getting a match on these apps is hardly an indication of a conversation. I think it’s simply because of the imbalance of power built into the “match” feature. If a “match” was identified at a random amount of time after both parties right swiped in a way not to know who right swiped whom first, then you’ve a reasonable balance of power in the matching markets.