They say you sometimes project the qualities you lack onto a romantic partner. I began to fetishize those with economic prowess, as though they represented everything I was not.
My sister, who is not an economist but, as an orthodontist who pushes wayward teeth into systematic order, may be the next best thing, would remind me I had the kind of artsy, whimsical brain better suited for language and literature than math and science. She’d sway her arms in an imitation of the flower child she must have thought I was. ...
These inabilities haunted me in college, where I forced myself through economics, microeconomics and game theory, but in each I floundered, making rookie mistakes like inverting supply and demand curves and not pushing my production-possibility frontier to its maximum level of production. I could never grasp why things had to be so black-and-white.
I wish I could say that was the end of my run with economists, but sometimes you keep chasing an elusive ideal. Fresh off that failure, I met a professor of economics and self-proclaimed feminist. I envied his mathematical alacrity, which reminded me of my father, and which I associated with all economists.
On our first date I was so in awe I hardly made a peep. Or maybe it was that I didn’t have an opportunity to squeeze in a word edgewise.
He was a decade older, and I told him I had misgivings about our age gap. As if spurred by the challenge, he continued to pursue me. But once I reciprocated, he pulled away.
His abrupt change of heart reminded me of a guy I dated in college. He was also an economics major, and after eagerly lining up a flurry of dates, he equated his scant interest for me to a graph.
“I thought my like for you would be like this,” he explained, lifting his arm so it made a sharp slope of about +2, “but instead it’s more like this,” he added, lowering his arm to a gently rolling slope of +0.5. ...
It’s too reductive to say that those who deal with numbers are more likely to be tone-deaf to matters of the heart. But in dating these economists, I always felt like our thought processes were not aligned. Yet I also believed they would make me a better version of myself.
Until I finally realized there was no “better” version of myself. I needed to stop shorting my own stock by evaluating myself through an economist’s eyes. So I took myself off the market. ...
In so doing, I hardly expected to meet a man who creates maps for the newspaper most widely read by economists: The Wall Street Journal.
--Patricia Park, NYT, on her strange fetish