When my friends and I moved to New York City after college, theater and high culture were out of our price range. But at the movies, we found affordable, air-conditioned entertainment. Popcorn was always extra (in terms of both coins and calories), but a secret bonus was included in the price of admission: Before the film started, we were treated to numerous movie trailers, designed to entice us into future movie ticket purchases and to create buzz for upcoming film releases. We’d predict how many trailers we’d get, and be delighted when we got more than expected. Based on how good each preview was, we’d make our decisions right there — “no way!” “totally!” and “maybe on DVD.”
In the dating world, several mechanisms operate as trailers, setting us up with overly vast expectations or none at all, and causing us to make instant judgments about the people we meet as romantic potentials. If we’re looking, we’re often “treated” to previews of the main attraction before we even determine whether the featured presentation holds any attraction at all. The movie judgment mechanism is activated. Bearing little information, we discard potential dates before we ever meet them, or elevate our expectations to such a level that no man or woman alive can ever hope to reach them.
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