In terms of dating, if you run an English auction you go out with many people, if not simultaneously then relatively closely bunched in time, and you stick with the one who offers the most. If you run a Dutch auction you signal clearly your standards (lowering the standards over time if need be), and stick with the first person who bites.
It’s an interesting model. I am suspicious of the “Dutch auction” approach in that it’s more difficult to evaluate prospects that way. (This may be what Cowen has in mind when he says “hidden but not too hidden qualities encourage English auctions.”) On the other hand, it’s easier for shy people who might have difficulty with the “English auction” style. Of course, my own forays into dating have been too sporadic to be described by anything resembling a strategy.