Nash is attracted to Alicia because of her “aristocratic lineage,” “social ease,” and her own good looks; he also finds her “interesting” and intelligent, perhaps more so than other women he had met. Nash and Alicia are also similar in many ways: they grew up in households in which intellectual achievement was prized, and they both feel themselves to be outsiders in some way. By July 1955, Alicia and Nash are dating on and off.
A Beautiful Mind is not only a biography: it is also a love story about the relationship between John and Alicia Nash. Nasar suggests that in many ways, Nash and Alicia were destined for each other; unlike many of Nash’s other lovers, including Eleanor, Alicia and Nash had much in common.
Alicia does not manage to graduate from MIT with the rest of her class in summer 1955, and she and Nash continue to see each other in the fall: Nash also begins to invite her to his friends and colleagues’ houses, where she meets MIT’s famous mathematicians. Nash is not always kind to Alicia, and he seems to regard her as “part of the background,” a “decoration.” He seems to want to have a girlfriend in order to fit in with the other mathematicians.
Though Nash and Alicia’s relationship initially starts off positively, Nash’s cruelty and self-centered attitude are soon revealed. Just as Nash seemed to use Eleanor as a way to “prove” his masculinity, Alicia seems to be a “decoration” for Nash to use to augment his own status at MIT.
In February 1956, Alicia and Nash are in bed together at his apartment when Eleanor walks in unannounced: seeing Alicia there, she begins crying and screaming. Angry and despondent, Eleanor makes numerous phone calls to Alicia over the next few days, and Alicia responds by inviting her to her apartment to discuss the situation. Alicia realizes that because Eleanor is almost 30, and Nash has still not married her, despite having known her for three years, the two are unlikely to ever be married. Alicia doesn’t feel betrayed but relieved: she believes that she has begun to “matter” to Nash, and that she might be his first choice. Yet that summer, Nash leaves Cambridge without suggesting that the two marry, or that Alicia should follow him to New York, where he will be on sabbatical for the year.
Nash endangers his relationship with Alicia by hiding his relationship with Eleanor from her, but Alicia is too in love with Nash to break things off between them. This is the first of many sacrifices Alicia makes for Nash, despite his harmful actions and refusal to take responsibility for his own errors.