The other day I told a friend who is struggling with a relationship problem about a poker game logic puzzle I used to invoke back when I was treating psychotherapy patients. He found it quite helpful so I am passing it along for whatever it might be worth to others in similar situations.
The logic problem involves a table at which four people are playing poker. You walk around the table and espy everyone’s hand. The first player has a royal flush, the second player has a full house, the third player has a pair of 7s and the fourth player has a king high.
Question: “Which player has the worst hand?” (Answer after the jump)
Answer: The second player, who has the full house. The third and fourth players are better off because they can easily perceive that their hands are losers. They will fold immediately without losing much money. But the second player has an ultimately losing hand that looks like a big winner and will therefore go all in and be wiped out.
Some of the hardest relationship dilemmas have are like the second hand. She loves her fiance in every way and he loves her, but she absolutely wants to have children and he had a vasectomy because he absolutely does not. Or your girlfriend/boyfriend is wonderful and fabulous and loving with you 5 or 6 days a week, but on the other days is horribly abusive. In these sorts of relationships, it hurts like hell to “fold” because so much is good about it and because you wish against reason that it can become a clear winner. But in hanging on you are just setting yourself up for an even more horrible loss down the road.