Gladwell's "Pull The Goalie" Principle And How We Can Apply It To Modern Dating
This morning on my way to work I fired up an episode of “Revisionist History”, Malcolm Gladwell’s psychology-centric podcast that has a different theme each week. On this particular episode Gladwell discusses how being disagreeable when you need to be is incredibly difficult. It’s all about how people can maximise their chances of success by adopting unpopular or controversial strategies.
For most of us, it’s in our best interest to be cordial - to be agreeable is to be normal. It behooves us to appease others because nobody likes to be known as the difficult person in the group. Gladwell throws out the idea that you don’t have to do any of this, instead offering up the suggestion that you “pull the goalie.”
When a hockey team is down by one goal with time running out in the game, the coach usually waits until the last minute or so to pull his goalie and get another skater on the ice. It’s high risk, but as with anything in life, you have to risk it to get the fucking biscuit. Gladwell says that really what they should be doing is pulling the goalie with 5,6,7, hell, ten minutes left in the third period. Why?
Because if you wait until the last minute your odds of getting a goal in time aren’t great. Now there’s of course this risk involved that I mentioned above in pulling the goalie with ample time left in the last period.
You could end up getting embarrassed. Hockey fans don’t want to see their team lose 12 to 1 because their coach decided to pull their goalie with 11 minutes left in the third. But your chances of getting a goal with an extra guy on the ice is also there, even if its a very small chance. Gladwell masterfully brings it all back to this belief that people don’t want to be seen as disagreeable and I agree with him.
The rest of the podcast discusses how this translates to the stock market and what to do with Idris Elba when he decides that he wants to perform a home invasion and hold you hostage and it’s all quite interesting, but it got me thinking that this idea of pulling the goalie can and should be getting used in the world of dating.
We’ve all been in relationships where we could have and more than likely should have pulled the goalie sooner than we did. Sometimes we stay in unhealthy relationships with people because we don’t want to look like an asshole. Or, in other words, be disagreeable.
It hurts too much to rip the bandaid off and so we stay, letting something that is draining on us mentally fester there just under the surface until it gets so bad that you finally end things. When you stop caring what other people think, when you begin to look at dating as a part of your life where you need to be selfish, you’re more likely to make the smart but somewhat controversial choice. And if you don’t start making those tough choices someday it might just get you killed. Pull. The. Goalie.
I know we frown upon ghosting because it’s rude or whatever, but this absolutely genius episode has just given all of you daters a get out of jail free card.
You want to ghost? You want to get up in the middle of a Bumble date and say something like “I’m just not feeling this”? You can!
The hard choice is frequently the right one. And do you really care? Or do you care more about being seen as disagreeable? Because Gladwell says that you’re being morally responsible when you make the choice that no one else has the balls to do. Chew on that and tell me how it tastes. Lifes too short, man. Pull the goalie.