English vs. Dutch auction dating strategies

Tylers asks "Would any of you like to ponder the difference between a Dutch and an English auction, and how it applies to dating strategy?", and Glen Whitman responds, including a summary of the isomorphism:

In the dating context, someone running an English auction would trade-up whenever a better mate came along, and he would finally settle down when no better offers were forthcoming. Someone running a Dutch auction would start with really high standards, keep lowering those standards until someone agreed to date him, and settle down with that person.

Glen seems to favor the English system, pointing out that given incomplete information, the English system lets you learn about what you want and what is out there. While this is true, he seems to have missed out on the flip side of that observation, which is that it also results in more heartbreak and less stability/security.

How is an English dater ever to know, for example, that their current mate is the highest bidder? And given that, how are they supposed to forge a meaningful long-term relationship with their eye still on the market? Is it possible for an English dater to settle down when they have gotten used to ditching their date when something better comes along?

Glen cites search theory as the relevant branch of economics, but I would cite the commitment strategy aspects of game theory. There are situations (like the game of chicken) where restricting one's later options is a winning strategy, and being open to changing your mind is actually a loss. And I think that many happily married people would agree that marriage is one of them - if you view it as a temporary expedient, you are unlikely to get very much out of it.

On the other hand, I still agree with Glen's basic observation about the importance of learning the market and yourself. Hence I advise a hybrid strategy. When you are young, be English, play the field, and learn. Unless you're at BYU, aka "Marry 'em Young University", college relationships are not about settling down together forever. At some point, when you have learned/matured enough, switch to something like the Dutch strategy or the Secretary strategy (after you're partway through the field), looking for the best you can get at that point and sticking with it. Go Dutch too soon, and you risk committing with insufficient information, go Dutch too late, and the field may have already started pairing up.

Nor is this a mere theoretical strategy - I think this is what many people end up doing. Our institutions are set up, after all, so that from 18-22 or so, people have access to a large field of members of their preferred sex, are not supposed to be having kids, and have shared and/or subsidized housing. With no pressure for commitment, English strategy is the norm. Once you graduate, get a job, and enter the "real world", most people settle down.

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