Sunk Cost Fallacy

So, recently I experienced one of my most intense dopamine spikes in the Delhi club scenes. It was a Saturday night, and I was out to my regular joint for ‘research purposes’. I was at that club almost every other night, including weeknights. I was there so often that one of the owners out of empathy once inquired if I had been recuperating from a devasting break after a lifelong relationship. Such is the kind of pain I go through for my writing. The price we ‘artists’ pay generally comes from our blood.

On weekends, the place usually used to get jam-packed by close to midnight. That night was even more raging as there was some event. They had set up a curtained kissing booth in the corner of the club, for people to have a ‘good time’. Over the years, in the Delhi clubbing scenes, I haven’t seen a lot of smooth closes happening in spontaneous bar/club encounters. There are a couple of reasons behind that. Firstly, as mentioned in the dating apps article, the bar culture never truly seeped into India, especially in Delhi, and approaching women isn’t that strong among Indian men. Also, from the women’s perspective, safety concerns have been heightened due to a particular image of the city, so more often than not, approaching women even for a normal conversation ends up raising alarm bells in their minds. And in the situations where the woman might be keen, some friend-zoned guy or female friend of hers will swoop in to block out any prospects. In such situations, a skilled wingman (or preferably a woman) can come in handy. But again, even in that case, the wingman game is weak due to the same reasons. In cases where a wingman might even agree, in many cases, instead of “Have you met ‘Ted’?”, he ends up saying, “Have you met me?”

I generally operate alone but have been a great wingman for even acquaintances whom I ran into at clubs. However, that night I was with a friend. She left early though so wasn’t of any use for ‘research’ purposes. Again, as highlighted in numerous other articles (Sales Circle, Sales Funnel, Experience Economy, Elevator Pitch et al), the pickup game is a skill with limited correlation to money, power, looks, et al. Both opening up to women and closing the deal are also refined around psychology and the ability to handle on-the-spot rejection. Humour and spontaneous thinking, combined with articulate communication, help a lot. The game is similar to day trading or short selling of stocks with little tangible backing for the bets placed. That being said, the skill is easy to learn and at the core involves shaking off your inner demons against rejection because this is a rejection game and no matter how impeccable the product is, the average success rate percentage would be in single digits. That means even in the best-case scenario, 9 out of 10 times you’ll fall out at one stage of the sales funnel or the other. In a lot of cases, the close happens at a later point in time, but due to higher lead time and delayed gratification, dopamine has diminishing returns. The same-night close in India is almost euphoric, especially if there is no other tangible moat backing your product. Also, in this game timing is highly critical. Too soon, she is not inebriated enough and too late means someone is already engaged with her.

That brings me to that night. It was post-midnight when I first saw her, by the bar while getting her drink. Her hair cascaded in soft waves, catching the vibrant hues of the lights, framing her face like a halo of silk. Dressed in an ensemble that effortlessly blended sophistication with allure, she exuded an air of confidence and allure. As explained in ‘Sales Circle‘, other than the smoking room and the washroom queue, the bar counter is a great place to start a conversation with a girl. Firstly, on ladies’ night, the girls need to get the complimentary drink themselves so no friend-zoned guy is around to block the conversation. Secondly, even if a girl is buying a drink for herself, that most likely means she is single as otherwise, the guy would have bought the drink or would have at least accompanied her. As highlighted in the experience economy, a good way to start is with a subtle compliment about something she is wearing (shoes, jacket, dress, etc.). If she engages (more than a monosyllabic reply) and carries the conversation forward.

I was about to compliment her about her ensemble, but I guess the timing wasn’t right, and in a few minutes, she vanished into the crowd. In the next few hours, I interacted with a few other girls and around 2 a.m., I was about to call it a night and had almost booked my Uber. The waiting time was longer than a few minutes, and I wasn’t that sleepy, so I cancelled the cab and went back to the club as it was still quite jam-packed.

That is when I saw her again. In the dim, pulsating lights of the club, she stood out like a diamond in a sea of rhinestones. With effortless grace, she moved through the crowd, her presence commanding attention without a hint of arrogance. Her eyes sparkled with a mischievous glint as she surveyed the room, taking in the energy and rhythm of the dance floor. There was a subtle confidence in her gaze, an assurance that she knew exactly who she was and what she wanted. The fabric of her dress clung to her curves in all the right places, hinting at the allure beneath without revealing too much. Each movement she made was fluid and deliberate, accentuating her natural grace and poise. As she laughed and chatted with friends, her smile lit up the room, infectious and genuine. Her laughter danced in harmony with the pulsing beats of the music, adding to the vibrant atmosphere of the club. She was the embodiment of youthful vitality and magnetic charm, drawing all eyes to her like a beacon in the night.

She was dancing on top of one of the sofas, surrounded by numerous men all waiting to make their move on her. I approached her and complimented her jacket. Her response was nothing short of surprising. Now, I am six feet tall, decently built, and wearing a formal suit that day as I was in the Barney Stinson-inspired ‘Suit Up’ phase of life. She is petite, at least in comparison to me. In a jovial tone, she thanked me and asked if I wanted to try it on!

Quite an amusing way to break the ice. We exchanged a few glances, and since the music was too loud, we moved onto the dance floor. I then whispered in her ear if she wanted to try the ‘kissing booth’. Since she couldn’t hear me, she made me type it out in her phone notepad and then agreed in the notepad itself. Post this written agreement was when the most euphoric few hours of my recent past started.

As soon as we stepped into that kissing booth, it felt as if our bodies were long-lost magnets.

At first, it was a gentle exploration, tentative and hesitant, as if we were testing the waters of desire. But as the heat between us intensified, our kisses grew more fervent, more urgent, fueled by a primal hunger that cannot be denied.

Our hands roamed freely, tracing the curves of each other’s bodies, igniting sparks of electricity with every touch. Fingers tangled in hair, nails grazed skin, and the sensation of skin on skin sent shivers down our spines.

Time seemed to stand still as we lost ourselves in each other, our senses overwhelmed by intoxicating desire. Our hearts pounded in sync with the pulsing beat of the music. Surrounded by the vibrant energy of the club, songs changed one after the other, hours passed by, the entire club emptied, and the night turned into a new bright day. Our bodies were still intertwined, and we were lost in each other, consumed by the fire of our passion.

Anyway, coming to the MBA concept of ‘Sunk Cost Fallacy’. In business, people often have a misconception that they make rational decisions based on the future value of objects, investments, and experiences. In reality, decisions are tainted by the emotional investments one accumulates, and the more one invests in something, the harder it becomes to abandon it. This is known as the sunk cost fallacy.

The sunk cost fallacy is a cognitive bias that influences people to continue investing time, money, or resources into a decision or endeavour simply because they have already invested a significant amount of resources into it, regardless of the prospects of success. In other words, they let past investments (sunk costs) influence their future decisions, even when those decisions might not be rational or beneficial.

Here’s a simple example: Imagine you’ve bought tickets to a concert, but on the day of the event, you feel unwell and would rather stay home. Despite not feeling up to it, you might still decide to go to the concert because you’ve already spent money on the tickets. However, the rational decision would be to stay home and rest, considering your current state of health, regardless of the money you’ve spent on the tickets.

The fallacy arises because people tend to focus on what they’ve already invested rather than objectively evaluating the situation and making decisions based on future outcomes. This can lead to poor decision-making and can result in further losses or negative consequences.

To avoid falling into the sunk cost fallacy, it’s important to assess decisions based on their current and future merits rather than past investments. This involves considering factors such as potential benefits, risks, and alternatives without being swayed by emotions or past investments.

The sunk cost fallacy is perfectly applicable in the dating context, especially when it comes to relationships. The longer you’ve been together, the harder it is to break up. Several people suffer through unhappy relationships/marriages because of their time together and the baggage of emotional investments. A classic justification is that every relationship has its highs and lows. But you need to ask yourself some simple questions. In the relationship, were the lows substantially more than the highs? Was it because of the circumstances or could your partner have done something about it? And more importantly, do you look forward to spending time together?

That brings me to the ‘kissing booth’ girl. So is this it? Have I finally found the euphoric connection I was seeking? Are we going to share jackets for life? Well, she was coming out of a long-term relationship and hence wasn’t in the mindset for anything serious. She was still quite heavily emotionally invested in the guy and was in the rebound phase. She didn’t even know my name or anything about me the whole night. In the morning, while we were stepping out, one of the bouncers was calling the name of a co-worker and for a moment she thought that he was probably calling me; wearing a formal suit didn’t help my case either, as she felt that I might be a bouncer/manager at that place. Although, I do feel that there was a cosmic connection, not just because of the insane chemistry, even when I was tying up her undone shoelace in the morning. But sometimes, even if everything is in place, the timing is not right.

However, in this case, the age gap of over a decade, combined with her being a law student, and my being an engineer might also have created some hiccups in the long run as highlighted in the Thought Circle. Anyway, so I am back to the regular club-going phase, and not because I am an alcoholic or love to dance or anything, but just to

‘Get crowded to feel less lonely’



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