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How to Pick Your Life Partner (2014) (waitbutwhy.com)
362 points by Tomte 6 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 209 comments



You should also read part 2 of the article.

After some relationships from 18-28 that all ended unhappy, I decided to screen my next partner in a very rational way. Of course I wanted romance and some attractiveness out of my next girlfriend, but I primarily wanted a friend that I could talk to when we were 95 and sitting in wheelchairs next to each other, unable to do much else. Destiny called and the girl I then met and found worthwhile to date further became my wife and mother of two children.

Why I reference the second part of the article: we just talked about it and totally agreed that our marriage was more or less how it should be (as described in part 2) and felt not at all touched by part 1.

While we are for sure people that are different, we usually find new stuff we absolutely want to do together. Last year we did boat- and radio licenses (5 so far...), this year we began pistol shooting in a sports club, we travel to many places, have tons of family meetings (I think being in a supportive family helps a lot, too)... yes we also have the occasional fight, but there has been exactly no occurence where it had not been completely resolved before sleeping.

So being rational about your partner does not mean to stop the fun, stop the romance, but means you know exactly what you get into and care for the happiness for you own life.

Remember: a divorce is often the complete destruction of your life dreams. You can destroy yourself and/or your partner. Your partner REALLY gives the single life he/she has in your hands and hopes, like you do, that everything will go right. Don't be a fool when given such a treasure.


I think most people I know in my friend circle also think this way. It's when people change later in life that the old reasons you had for wanting to be together need to change as well. The more well rounded the friendship, the longer it can last, and its why a relationship based mostly on sexual chemistry end the fastest.

I also don't think romantic relationships NEED to be lifelong. I definitely know some people who are hardwired to only last a certain amount of time in a relationship no matter what. shrug


What where the rational ways that worked for you. What did you screen?


Can I talk with her for long periods of time? And if we don't talk, is it awkward? Do we have the similar goals? Do we have the same family values? Do we have an understanding for each others hobbies? Do I like the family I marry into (which was a bit complicated by the fact that her family lives in Iran, I first had to go there visit them)? Do we both want to develop or does she want to stand still? Do we share a similar interest for the world? Can I stand our differences (our main difference is that I definitively like to socialize more with people I don't know while she is rather introvert)? Can I be honest? Don't I want to have an affair? Can we resolve conflicts fast (in a former relationship it took a week, which killed me)? Do we like to eat similar stuff (imagine a vegan and a fast food junkie glued together...)? Can I stand her voice? (I actually first fell in love with her voice which surprising as I am very much guided by hearing sense)

Many of those thoughts I had. Quite simple stuff at times. I had two years two think it all through, see how she behaves in everday life. So at the day of the wedding, I knew I got the best I can get.

There is always a partner to find that can be more attractive, more intelligent, better at XYZ. But when you've done your due dilligence, all the boxes are ticked in a way you are ok with it, you have found the partner you really need.


Much of that can be summed up in the classic adage, "marry your best friend," someone that you really enjoy hanging out with in any setting.


I feel like what's missing from this though is sexual attraction - you are not necessarily attracted to your best friend. If there's no spark, it's just a close friendship. At least to me there is a distinct difference.


I understand it like it's all on top of sexual attraction.


I totally agree with that. The parent comment contains the detailed description of, "marry your best friend."

And you can make checklist from that, to measure how "best friend" is your partner.


But wait, doesn't that mean you're already in their "friend zone"? :)


If they have a friend zone it's because they are using other criteria to select a partner.


> Do I like the family I marry into (which was a bit complicated by the fact that her family lives in Iran, I first had to go there visit them)?

Curious about this one, esp given the distance. My family lives in multiple states, and I estimate at best 5-6 days with a 50% chance of seeing some of them in a year. And if I was married and had kids, I'd drop that guess to about 25%.

There has been a related post realizing the relatively small amount of time we have with our parents.

It seems, that particularly with parents living in a different region of the world, that your need to like the family is limited.


It can be extremely hard on someone if their parents don't approve of their spouse or vice versa, regardless of the amount of time everyone is in the same room. They can be emotionally torn apart, especially if either the spouse or a parent is manipulative or unyielding.


If the family is accessible I've found this to be a wonderful proxy for compatibility. Is their family structure how you'd like yours? Do you get along with and easily make friends with other family members?

It's a good sign if your personality is compatible with the family and their way of life is what you're looking for.

It's of my top indicators, I've rarely found people that strayed very far from their family in personality, hobbies, and life outlook.


> I've rarely found people that strayed very far from their family in personality, hobbies, and life outlook.

In my experience, that's generally true except for people who moved to a different country at a relatively young age (or just after high school) and stayed in that country. So in the case of OP, if her family lives in Iran and she's in the US, it's likely she has a very different life outlook and cultural view than her family.


I suspect that people who move far from their family of origin are, on average, less compatible with their family. If you are generally compatible with your family and like being around them you're more likely to prioritize living near them when making life decisions.


>Curious about this one, esp given the distance. My family lives in multiple states, and I estimate at best 5-6 days with a 50% chance of seeing some of them in a year. And if I was married and had kids, I'd drop that guess to about 25%.

Interestingly, every single one of not unsuccessful marriages/long term relationships that I know of has "extended family" compatibility in common.


We met at 10 years old and are getting married at 24. When we really started dating three years ago, about a month in we did a spreadsheet of ~270 questions about how we wanted to live. We blindly answered so as to not concede or compromise in our answers. VLOOKUP and merge answers. 90% of them are basically identical. The remaining 10% are completely predictive of current and perhaps future points of disagreement and contention. All around it worked infinitely better than prior relationships. We assumed since we had been friends for so long that we could just build the love part. The byproduct of that has been growth mindset around resolving issues and making decisions that makes us extremely effective at helping each other achieve our goals and get our needs met by the relationship. I think a good litmus test for a relationship is how safe you feel talking about long term issues and resolving points of contention. If it just seems normal, invest there. If it is extremely hard to raise those issues, don't.


Would you care to share what kind of questions if you still have them?


> about a month in we did a spreadsheet of ~270 questions about how we wanted to live.

Would you be willing to share this spreadsheet?



Thanks for posting it. Some interesting questions. Needs to be updated a bit, looks like it was created 15 years ago.


For me, after two weeks, we sat down together and discussed the "big questions" in our life to make sure we were compatible. We were at the tail end of our undergraduate degrees at the time. e.g., How many children we wanted, our general career paths, where we wanted to live, stance on religion (particularly with how that relates to children) and probably more stuff that I can't remember. Neither of us wanted to waste much time, so we wanted to know if there were any deal-breakers before going much further.

Almost 8 years later, and we're happily married. :-)


His other articles are also amazing. Elon Musk asked him personally to write about SpaceX, Tesla, and Neuralink.


Would you share some urls?


1. I have always hated the notion that having a happy marriage is about filtering through many candidates to find the one perfect partner. Although I do think it's reasonable to try to learn early on what you're looking for, this idea that we should all be dramatically expanding our dating pool to find the perfect person is abominable.

Look at a city with a massive population of eligible young people, like say NYC.. and then listen to what people in NYC say about the dating scene there. It's not pretty. Having such a huge pool of potential mates discourages people from committing. In other words, it makes it harder to find a long term mate, and it makes you less satisfied with whoever you're seeing.

2. Biology isn't the only reason a person might want to get married before 40. There's something to be said for sharing your early adulthood with a person. Meeting your life partner at 37 will be a very different experience from meeting your life partner at 22. Not necessarily a bad experience, but not what everyone is looking for.


To put it in terms that might be more familiar around here, obsessing over finding the right partner is like believing that a successful startup is mostly about finding the right idea. (And from there, it will just work out on its own...) Sure, some ideas are more likely to work out a priori, but your success is going to be dramatically influenced by the amount of work you're willing to put into it, your willingness to learn, change, and grow along the way. I'm inclined to believe that there are tons of people with whom most of us could be compatible, and each would open onto a different future and a different version of you. If you want a long-term partner, choose someone who feels promising, bring all you've got--intellect, emotions, empathy, humility--to the relationship, and stick with it.


Yes! It is all about the amount of effort and commitment that the parties (plural) are willing to put into it.

Bear in mind that each part of the married couple will have decades of their own personal evolution occurring underneath the current of regular life. Opinions, beliefs, or attitudes that are strongly held at the time of marriage will change. Even if you meet the Perfect Mate (TM), no one stays static for long.

Marriage, like all family living, requires a great deal of mutual toleration and patience, and a considerable amount of individual flexibility and adaptation.

The Perfect Couple will fall apart in short order if they are not willing to dedicate serious effort to their relationship on a perpetual basis. Marital success has little to do with the starting material.

---

For these reasons among others, I like the cultural ideal of arranged marriages. They make it clear that marriage is about the commitment itself more than it's about the personality on either side of the equation.

I also believe that most of the parents or grandparents in a position to make the arrangements would have better character judgment than the much-younger people trying to select a good spousal candidate on their own (as above, "good spousal candidate" is someone eager and happy to work for a strong marriage).

In some sense, it is irresponsible of the older and wiser generations to offload this duty into the hands of those who have great difficulty wielding it. And while I don't believe these arrangements should be compulsory, I think we'd all be better off if this was the common practice.


In spite of what religious leaders (career term bureaucrats who actually don't know any better at all) may tell us, that's hardly the way to find maximum fulfillment in relationships. "Cultural harmony" aside. Lot of quite desperation and Prozac eating. And that's no way to go through life. Maybe being a homeless junkie is slightly worse. Maybe. Ya, man and women are together for sake of kids. Miserable and crazy. Which.. produces bad effects on kids. Probably more than at peace separated parents in fulfilled relationships. Like I say, God isn't talking at all to those old men. Nor are they wise. They are mostly full of bias and baloney.

The idea of arranged marriages is abhorrent, very close to slavery in denying individual worth and choice.

But ideally there should be some flexibility and commitment, particularly if children are involved, yes.

How to find your ideal mate for lots of men? She'll have me!


>In spite of what religious leaders (career term bureaucrats who actually don't know any better at all) may tell us, that's hardly the way to find maximum fulfillment in relationships. [...] Like I say, God isn't talking at all to those old men. Nor are they wise. They are mostly full of bias and baloney.

I don't know what you're talking about. I said nothing about religion, and this whole paragraph is all over the map. I doubt that very many couplings, including obviously bad ones, result in desperation nearing that of "a homeless junkie" as a virtue of themselves.

>The idea of arranged marriages is abhorrent, very close to slavery in denying individual worth and choice.

I disagree. Please note I said the arrangement should not be compulsory. We have many social obligations that are enforced culturally (at this point, marriage itself could almost be considered among these); such customs can be flaunted at will, but there is social pressure not to do so.

Progenitors are strongly motivated to make good choices on behalf of their offspring because their offspring's interest is simultaneously their own self-interest. Parents and grandparents are much more experienced than your average 20-something and generally much better equipped to make reasonable choices in mate selection, themselves typically having had some experience in the matter.

>How to find your ideal mate for lots of men? She'll have me!

I agree, and how does this not support what I'm saying?


Totally agreed. I find the notion of the so-called "soul-mates" a bit absurd. People behave differently when around other people, which means they can adapt to others. Being compatible with each other is a quality which resolves many issues.

I remember a few years ago, I read somewhere that the best girl you should marry is the one who if she were a guy, she'd be your "best friend".


This is a great point. I would recommend this video by the school of life: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jltM5qYn25w. It basically delves a little into why our ideas or romance and love are perhaps not the best way to look at these things.


and Alain de Botton's other videos under his own name are generally very good too


It's a variation of the travellers curse, where the more places you visit the less satisfied you will be with settling in any one place.

That happens because you find new, positive qualities in each place, and no place will ever have them all. In fact, over time any place will have proportionally fewer of the positive qualities you've found, and everywhere becomes less appealing the further you travel.


On the other hand there are measurable differences in places and people. You _could_ just stay where you were raised or you could move somewhere with better career prospects, less crime, etc.

Similarly, I've now been in a relationship with ~6 people, by my late 20s. I don't want to wait until I'm 37 to settle on a life-partner, but I'm sure glad I didn't try to settle in my early 20s.

Each relationship has taught me more about my self and my needs and also given me perspective on what kinds of people are out there and how they work with me. There are some flaws that I might have thought were just part of life and I'd just have to put up with, until I dated other women who didn't have those flaws. Sure no one is perfect, but some flaws are more compatible or more destructive to a relationship than others.

Just my 2cents.


Nice analogy. I'm thinking exactly same. More partners you have, more difficult it will be to stick with one.


Re: #2 - you are also far more malleabele in your 20s.

Perfect matches are perfect because people change, yield and adjust to each other's quirks. The older you are the less flex there is. It's really quite simple.

This also related to #1 - a prerequisite for making a good match is the willigness to change. However a large pool of choices entices one to search a bit more for a match that requires less change, making it hard/er to try and commit to what might be already in place.


> listen to what people in NYC say about the dating scene there

I live in NYC and think the dating scene here is fantastic, at least for someone in their 20s. There's lots of opportunity to meet interesting people and have fun together. This is going to sound silly, but one of my strongest reasons for preferring NYC to SF is the better dating scene.


There's lots of opportunity to meet people, but I think the point is do those people want to settle down? Or do they want to keep meeting more interesting people? When people want a good dating scene they don't want to keep dating - they want successful dating, meaning a relationship.


Sure, I agree that if your goal is to get married and settle down quickly then NYC might not be ideal.

That certainly doesn't mean everyone finds the NYC dating scene bad. Plenty of people are at a stage in life where their preference is for shorter term relationships and I don't see anything wrong with that.


So "Sex in the city" is actually good portrait of life and relationships in NYC?


That... really depends who you ask.


Well the context of this discussion is marriage, so I was meaning people looking for that. Is the dating scene ideal for that.


1. Is also because people want to have ego stroked and sex all the time. If you have tons of potential mates but you just only want to email with them for 2-3 months, and not sappy emails, but just emailing to get to know eachother, then you weed out most of that. All the 'fast ones' are completely gone by that time and you are left with something that could be 'real'. You never know, but this advice got a lot of people permanently together when we owned a dating site where we didn't want focus on one night stands. Which ofcourse happened a lot (and worse), but this seems to work effectively if both sides can withstand the usual 'ah, ok, well here's my number, see ya in 10' after a few texts. As that usually ends in not all that much; fine if that was what you were going for.


> Look at a city with a massive population of eligible young people, like say NYC.. and then listen to what people in NYC say about the dating scene there. It's not pretty. Having such a huge pool of potential mates discourages people from committing. In other words, it makes it harder to find a long term mate, and it makes you less satisfied with whoever you're seeing.

I disagree, this just means you are not optimizing properly. You should optimize based on desired characteristics. It is a binary search. Based on my, abet fairly limited set of anecdotal evidence ( including my own ), it works very well.


Are you married, or in a long-term partnership?


14 years. We would have been married but it would create certain extra costs and difficulties that we can avoid by not being married.


>> I have always hated the notion that having a happy marriage is about filtering through many candidates to find the one perfect partner.

Dating is no machine learning where you need a large sample to get it right. It is rather taking the looking glass focussing on what fits for you.


Satisficing, not optimizing. gotcha! ;)


Sounds a bit like "The Paradox of Choice".


That's what it is, and people are greedier still thanks to the notion of perfect partners.


People should just follow math and the optimal marriage problem, if they want to get married. This probably operates in phases as well in the event you do get divorced. Early adulthood, middle age, later. This may skew in NYC due to older NYC men when they want to marry and have kids can find a younger women.


To qualify this, only if you have break ups.


What does getting married, have to do with sharing your early adulthood with a person?


Does this really have to be explained?

Persumably you want to get married because you want to share your life with somebody else. If you don't start sharing until you're 40, you've already missed the opportunity to share what are almost certainly the most transformative and significant years of your life. Of course this doesn't mean a later marriage can't be happy and successful too... but it does involve missing out on things that some people care a lot about.


I can’t share my life with someone, and not be married?


The hell are you talking about


We've banned this account for repeatedly violating the HN guidelines. If you don't want to be banned on HN, you're welcome to email hn@ycombinator.com and give us reason to believe that you'll follow the rules in the future.


I'm trying to understand what the act of being married, has to do with sharing your life with someone at any age. You can't be with someone, share you life together, and not be married?


You don't seem to understand the difference between a proposition and its converse.

"If a person wants to get married, s/he wants to share his/her life with someone" is (more or less) true, and is the premise everyone is working under.

The converse of that proposition is "If a person wants to share his/her life with someone, s/he wants to get married." That is what you for some reason appear to believe is the premise we are working under. But it's not.


I don't think he is trying to state the converse of your original quote. Seems clear all he is saying is that you can share your life with someone regardless of being married. You can live with a boyfriend/girlfriend and experience sharing life all the same without the religious or legal institution of marriage. Unless the assertion is that things like filing taxes together somehow prevent this


This is an intentionally obtuse perspective. Marriage is a significant social institution in a way that a mere interpersonal commitment can never be, because marriage is a commitment with a third entity: the community at large.

The social structure accepts and enforces the marital union, providing significant legal protection to itself, the children, and the married partners.

This grants a solid staying power, borne of the subconscious knowledge that no party can really "just leave" and be done with it. This staying power should not be underestimated; it is effective and real regardless of how little one believes they will need to rely on it.


I certainly get that marriage has a social and legal structure which makes it more difficult to split. I just don't think it is paramount to sharing your life with someone. I am married but lived with my wife for 8 years prior and can say, personally, it made no difference in my feeling or commitment for her. During that time I certainly felt I was sharing my life with someone.


In many cultures, as soon as you're living like boyfriend/girlfriend together in the same building for more than 3 months, you're considered married unless you go out of your way to actively deny it.

In the US/UK, you don't have to preemptively deny it, but if people begin to assume you're married and you don't correct them... then you're married under common-law.

I have a dear friend who has been 'dating' his girlfriend for almost twenty years. Their eldest child is 14, and they own a home together. As far as sharing their lives together, they've done it without being married legally---but in the eyes of all their friends and their kids? Oh those two are so married.


In many places you cannot. You would be considered married by common law. [0]

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Common-law_marriage


The article attempts to presents a framework for making this decision rationally, but ultimately, it's the heart that chooses between FreeBSD and OpenBSD.


Nah, the heart chooses OpenBSD, but you stick with FreeBSD out of convenience.

The real tragedy is NetBSD being forever alone.


Or you can be unfaithful like me: run FreeBSD bare-metal and OpenBSD under bhyve! And in a few years I'll switch it around and try runing OpenBSD bare-metal and FreeBSD under vmm. :-)


What I always tell people who are dating, and only half joking, is you need to find someone you can be bored with.

When you're young and just done with education, starting work, things are changing quickly. You're getting a lot of new experiences and meeting new people. It can be very exciting.

Unfortunately, it's unlikely to continue like that. You can't always be travelling, changing jobs, or even go out on the town. This is primarily if you're going to have kids. They need a routine, which means you need a routine.

So the challenge is to do the exciting dating thing while looking for someone who will be happy with something much more monotonous. I met at least a couple of women who seemed likeable but just didn't act like they were going to be happy on the long straight.


True b/c you don't want a significant other who creates drama.


I like the way this article flips the commonplace 'What are the criteria for selecting my perfect mate?' to 'What are my motivations for getting married?'.

However, it needs to be said that if and when children arrive on the scene, everything changes. So really, in my opinion, the predominant issue is 'Do I want to have children and how do I want them to be raised?'


I don't really fault people for taking decisions this way, but isn't this the opposite of how the decision should be made? I have a feeling that people would feel feel like they didn't really choose their partner if the main reason they decided to get married was to raise children.


It's not that your partner's attributes are unimportant, it's that if you are clear that you do want to start a family then this fact is rightly at the front of your mind when looking for a partner and the decision will flow from it. If you don't wish to start a family then other factors will come into play. However in the latter case you still need to include questions like whether you or your partner might have a change of mind later on, what options will remain, what retirement without children might look like, etc.


   And when you choose a life partner, you’re choosing a lot of things, including your parenting partner and someone who will deeply influence your children...
It actually really bugged me how having children was a forgone conclusion in this article.


Most marriages result in children. Most people want to have children. It's not an unreasonable assumption to make that most people who read the article will fall into that camp.


> Most people want to have children.

How do you know? My friends who did have kids had intricate dynamics around that where 'want to have' was not really a big part of the equation. Pressure, religion, 'that is what you do', 'my spouse wants to', 'maybe now life gets better' etc are often part of the equation. For the 'want to have' you will need to look inside people's heads.


True, I don't know what's inside people's heads. All I know is what they answer on surveys.

"More than nine in 10 adults say they already have children, are planning to have children, or wish that they had had children." [1]

Is it possible that most respondents were lying? Yes. Probable? No, especially given that humans are biologically wired to want children.

1. http://www.gallup.com/poll/164618/desire-children-norm.aspx


85% of women have children at some point in their lives. This is just a fact. You may know that you're not having kids, but the vast, vast majority of people don't make that choice.


Ofcourse, but he said 'want'. Want to me implies something that is not automatic. Or maybe i'm reading that wrong. And where is that 85% from? Must be per country because in some countries it must be far lower.


Sure it's not automatic, but as you can imagine there's an extreme selective pressure towards wanting children.

After all, all the people who didn't want kids, and had a choice about the matter died childless and never passed on their anti-replication genes.


Cool citation


He's not obligated to prove anything to you. If you don't believe him you can easily look up the stat yourself.


They literally just made up a random number


I'll source -- http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2015/05/07/childlessness/

15% of women ages 40-44 in the USA have never given birth, from which we can pull 85% of women ages 40-44 have given birth, as of 2014.


Wow, I got it right to a percentage point? I didn't realize it was 40-44, so maybe it moves teensy bit with IVF past 44. Thanks a lot for the cite.


Source = Human Civilization?


'my spouse wants to' is exactly fitting into "most people want to have children". Your spouse is part of the marriage, hence their views within the marriage are pretty paramount.


Depending on how survey questions are asked most people (>75%) express at least some interest in parenthood.


Even if it's not a foregone conclusion, it's an important topic to discuss before entering a long-term relationship.

If one partner wants children, and is counting on that happening, and the other partner wants to not have children, and is counting on that happening, that's a huge point of relationship friction.

So, yeah, it's really important to make sure your potential partner is on the same parenting page as you are, even if (especially if) that page is "let's not be parents".


Unfortunately most people are still stuck in the mindset that everyone who isn't broken inside wants children. I've never wanted children at any point in my life, but I'm wrong apparently.


I don't get this impression at all. My wife are in our early 30s and in a minority among our friends (educated coastal folks to be fair) in having kids. I'd say in my circle it's not socially acceptable to express that people should have kids. If anything, the opposite bias exists. I know a lot of people who want kids but try not to express that opinion because it's not "cool."

Parents still push for grandkids, but that's different. Being a parent literally changes your brain chemically. My dad never said anything about grandkids, but after my daughter was born it was literally two years before he could have a conversation about something other than her. And he's one of those "interesting people" (traveled the world working on healthcare programs in the developing world) that has interesting things to talk about.


I'm not saying that you'll end up the same, but I didn't want kids until I met my wife. Before I didn't, and suddenly I did.

Everyone's different, but the right person can cause quite a bit of change in your life.


There's a bit of the tragedy of the commons at work here. Raising kids is expensive, difficult, often thankless work. And yet if no one did it, you wouldn't have any of the nice things that are more-available to people who don't have kids. Furthermore, given that political attitudes appear to be strongly heritable, it seems like the political attitudes that correlate with the class of people who deliberately don't have kids will also wane.


Maybe where you live and who you hang with? Most my friends decided long ago not to have kids as did we. It's not a given anymore.


You're not necessarily wrong. It's a matter of whether one has a well-developed dream or talent that isn't child-related. The reason this matters is because we need long-term sources of meaning and responsibility in our lives. Starting a family is ipso facto the traditional thing to do and our traditions know more about us than we do. Changing course is possible but one ought to have good reasons in mind first.


But from a biological/evolutionary/whatever perspective, isn't not wanting children definitely "wrong"?


Well so is eating meat everyday or looking at a screen 30cm away most of the day or not dying from an infection or having hot showers...

Who cares at this point, just live your life, you owe nothing to "evolution".


Evolution is just a methodology, not living entity with desires and goals. If your genes allow you at the age of 20, to look so stunning that you have 10 children before you sadly die from the effort expended to look so swimmingly handsome, then your genes will soon proliferate to every corner of the globe. We'll call that successful 'evolution', even though most people today would be horrified that you only lived 20 years.


I like this view on it. I can't disagree. I was just saying that there is some merit to being called "evolutionarily broken" for not wanting children. Whether you think that's good or bad or meaningless is another issue


If we were completely asocial, independent creatures, then perhaps. But humans - and therefore their genes - have always lived and died in groups, and even a primitive tribe may stand to benefit from having a small amount of individuals unburdened by child-rearing. From the point of view of the gene, what's important is only that some part of the family tree propagates; the number of dead-end branches doesn't matter. Therefore an increase in reproductive drive could easily be deleterious to a particular gene's long-term survival.

Disclaimer: I have no knowledge of the role of child-free individuals in our era of evolutionary adaptedness. I'm just pointing out that evolutionary dynamics are a lot more nuanced than "more children = good", especially in social animals.


Well, natural phenomena (like having mates and children) don't always go according to the plan.[1] That's why nature populates the earth with enough people to ensure most of them will follow the rules of evolution/biology/whatever.

But I'm guessing that even those people who don't want children are following the rules of natural selection. "Only the fittest will survive" is then translated to something like "only the genes of those who want to pass on their genomic data will survive".

[1] People have free will after all.


Debatable in a world that is (also debatable) overcrowded and lacking resources.

But in general sure; maybe OP has been to a lot of birthdays (as have I) where people stare at you like you just told you are a serial killer. While in reality you just don't want kids. That goes away when you go over 40 though. Then some people even start to envy you for your freedom. Generally better not care what other people think. It's a tiring and pointless thing.


From that perspective it's also wrong not to want to impregnate other men's wives on the sly and have them raise the kid for you.


What does biology/evolution/whatever have to do with the goals that you choose to set for your own life?


hence why I said "from ... perspective;" I certainly am guilty of engaging in behaviors that are "wrong" from such a perspective


Marriage, monogamy, and (romantic) love are conservative notions that are close to being (or should be) marginalized in my opinion.

Romantic love, especially, is an extremely superficial and hollow idea exalted to high heavens by the group-think of the masses. I gave up religion, and over the years realized that love is the second, way more sneaky and no less damaging, delusion that humanity indulges in. It has to go the way of the religion.

I hope most of you would agree that at least 70%-90% of being in love has something to do with the appearance of your person-of-interest (most of it visual). No matter how you cut it, no matter how much of an intellectual you are and how much you prefer to connect deeply with a person, in the end, given two individuals, you fall in love with the one that is more visually attractive. What a coincidence!

And what is visual attraction? In other words why do we find some people more beautiful than others? Because we have a biologically ingrained form of discrimination based on looks. It's lookism plain and simple.

Note that I do not buy the silly notion that 'beauty is in the eye of the beholder' and that 'I don't find that person attractive but I'm sure someone else will'. This is somewhat backed by data (e.g., the OKCupid survey), but I have developed this belief on my own. Humans of all races have a built-in instinct to find some visuals more appealing and attractive than others. It is sad but true. To take it to an extreme, if we find some visuals disgusting (e.g., spilled guts, slimy things) we don't all of a sudden go "I'm disgusted by slimy spilled guts of animals, but that's just me, I'm sure there are plenty of people out there who have the exact opposite reaction, that they love to look at slimy spilled guts".

What I'm trying to say is that standards of visual attraction, while not physically objective, are largely biology objective, and yet, it's a bad thing, because it's a symptom of biological imperfection. It's a genetic defect in our biology and 99.99% of humans are afflicted by it.

I personally think social individualism is a concept that needs to gain traction in modern society. It is the 'atheism of love'.


> I hope most of you would agree that at least 70%-90% of being in love has something to do with the appearance of your person-of-interest (most of it visual). No matter how you cut it, no matter how much of an intellectual you are and how much you prefer to connect deeply with a person, in the end, given two individuals, you fall in love with the one that is more visually attractive

No, I don't agree with that even a little bit based on my own experience and that of many of my friends.

This comment reads like someone trying to explain to themselves why they are single.


Thought experiment:

Imagine you are not dependent on your current partner in any way. You are financially stable (let's say you a multi-millionaire). Either you don't have kids or if you do, somehow they're not dependent on you (or something).

Now think of your favorite media personalities that you have a crush on, and imagine one of them meets you in person and takes an elevated level of interest in you.

If you don't have any celebrity crushes and that there is no one in the world you find more attractive than your current partner, I give up.

If there is, would you be tempted to cheat? If not, I give up.

If yes, I rest my case.


Would I have consensual sex with an attractive celebrity if they took an interest in me? Sure.

Would I fall in love with an attractive celebrity if they took an interest in me? Well, no, not automatically anyway, I would have to get to know this person first and see how I feel about spending time and do things together. I'd definitely not dump a person I've known and loved for years over a fling with an attractive celebrity that I don't really know on a personal level.

You keep saying that sexual attraction and love are the same thing, but they are not.


> Would I have consensual sex with an attractive celebrity if they took an interest in me? Sure.

Would you proclaim that at the time of marriage vows? No. (so the whole idea of marriage is either a hypocrisy or a joke).

Would you proclaim that when your recent date asks if it's time to go steady? No. (so the whole idea of monogamous relationship is either a hypocrisy or a joke).

And the very idea that you have celebrity crushes while you claim you're in love with someone flies in the face of the idea of love.

I'm not saying what you think is immoral. All I'm saying is this whole thing is a big make-believe, an arcane circus that we like to play our whole lives, when the alternative is quite simple: just admit the reality that it's way more superficial and increasingly more and more useless than what the society would like you to believe.

> Would I fall in love with an attractive celebrity if they took an interest in me? Well, no...

You completely missed my point.


>Would you proclaim that at the time of marriage vows? No.

"Freebie lists" (shared lists between couples of people they'd be allowed to cheat with, if the extremely unlikely opportunity arose) are a thing - at least in pop culture.

http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=freebie%20lis...


> And the very idea that you have celebrity crushes while you claim you're in love with someone flies in the face of the idea of love.

How so? This is where you lose me.


I think they're trying to define "being in love" as "never having a romantic or sexual thought about anyone else, ever," and proclaiming the concept of love invalid if it can't meet that threshold.


My perspective is that falling in love with someone doesn't mean having to replace your current lover.

That's only true in a society that enforces monogamy.

My birth culture is plainly polygamous. My grandfather had five wives. My uncle has 4 and a half. My brother has 2.


4 and a half wives? would you mind to explain?


4 wives and a lover?


IMHO that should be counted as 6 wives. I was thinking of different scenario: if his wives has the same rights as he has - one of his wives can have 2 husbands. So if we look at it this way - he has 4.5 wives indeed


Wish a country had both polygamy and polyandry to allow for those situations. Although the tax code might become a tad complicated.


The premise of your experiment of your flawed: having a physical attraction towards someone does not mean you fall in love with them or suddenly want to replace the person you are in love with.


Hmm. I'm sympathetic to your overall perspective (that love may not be the universal blessing as it is often perceived) but this is rather unconvincing.

You should not confuse how most people are, or how you perceive most people to be, and how you perceive yourself to currently be, with how you or other people could be.

I tend to think that if you're still interested in media personalities, people who you don't, at the end of the day, know much about, then you can't really hold high ground on romantic ideas. There are, of course, potentially appropriate and awesome people among media personalities, but there are also plenty of awesome people who are not media personalities, but the reality is, you don't know any of those people, and it's always easy to imagine that a person you know very little about is much better than what you currently have. This is not something you want to trust.

Which is too bad, because I think the discussion on what relationships mean should be opened up more, and I think people can develop much more complex preferences than "attractive, popular, wealthy", they just often think that their instincts cannot be overpowered despite that being the human experience in a nutshell.


Most people would be tempted to cheat, but would not actually cheat. So love must be pretty strong to counter such a large difference in physical appearance.

There's no doubt that physical attraction plays a strong - perhaps dominant - role in determining who we pair up with. But after initial pairing most people develop a deep emotional bond that counteracts the desire to switch partners when someone more attractive comes along.


> is no one in the world you find more attractive than your current partner... would you be tempted to cheat? If not, I give up.

There are plenty of people whom I find less attractive than my current partner that I'd happily sleep with.

Of course, I would first ask permission to do so... and if not given I wouldn't be tempted to cheat. That's like asking "would you be tempted to steal if someone doesn't want to sell something to you?" I'd hope the answer is always 'no', not "yes, but I wont' steal because I'm afraid of being caught".


Respectfully, your argument doesn't hold water because it doesn't look like you understand what being/falling in love is. Sexual attraction is 70%-90% visual appearances and mostly biological, but falling in love is not about sexual urges, it's about happiness. We fall in love with the person that brings happiness and joy to our life by merely spending time together, not necessarily the one we want to ram our genitals into.

Most people pursue partners based on sexual urges, sure. But falling in love is a whole other game, and they don't go hand in hand.


Exactly. I love my sister, mother, a few of my best male friends, and my wife. Love doesn't equate wanting to have sex with someone. Most humans happen to enjoy sex so given the proposition of commiting to a single person sexual attraction (hence visual attraction) becomes an important factor.


> We fall in love with the person that brings happiness and joy to our life by merely spending time together.

If you need to spend time with someone in order to have happiness and joy in your life, you have a problem to solve before you even think about love and dating.


Many people do have a need to be loved, you can't argue it away.


Most people have plenty of issues growing up, like low self-esteem, need for validation, etc. A combination of training, therapy, meditation, sense-of-purpose, etc can work wonders.


One such issue is nihilism, the kind you're showing here. Growing out of it often makes people happier, unlike growing out of love.


How about you worry about yourself and stop diagnosing people that choose to be with another person?


No one said anything about "needing." A person can have happiness and joy in their life while single, yet find another person who adds even more happiness and joy.


I appreciate you sharing, but you need to realize that your own, internal experience is guaranteed to be unique to you. This is why studies have to be done; otherwise, we all go off our non-generalizable* personal experiences.

* I mean, some part of it is generalizable, but which parts and how?

> beauty is in the eye of the beholder

I have (and am actually currently) feeling my brain changing its opinions on human aesthetics and forms. This is far from the first time. It is actually a distinct feeling that I quite enjoy, and it's very different from the "acquired taste" feeling from, say, whiskeys.

In other words, although I have no idea how many people share this experience, I have a direct, personal experience of beauty being in the eye of the beholder.


I have also noticed this. When I was younger, I had 0-1 crushes at any time. But today I find beauty in a lot of different people.

Maybe it's maturity, maybe it's the 'clock' in my male brain urging me to find someone, anyone, but like you I do enjoy this change.

Maybe one day when I've fully progressed from the binary rating of beauty to the continuous rating I will continue on to the unary rating: everyone is equally beautiful in their own way.


> 0-1 crushes at any time

It's only this year or so that I've got 1+ (1-3, I think) proper crushes at the same time. Part of it is the "unbundling of intimacy" - if I like you one way, I don't need to like you ALL of the other ways, or be bothered that I might like someone else in more ways / more strongly.


Not true. What you describe is the mindset of a 17 year old who never was in a relationship that lasted more than 2 weeks.

Yeah, when I was that age I was only going for the looks too. Now, 15 years and 3 long term relationships later I am looking for something else: someone who I can trust, someone who is mature enough to consider marriage+children in a few years, someone who I can laugh with, someone who is mentally stable. Looks are now pretty low on my priority list, I've had enough sex that I know it's not everything.


I'd say you appear to be already over the idea of love and are more concerned with practical aspects of your current and future life.

That leaves us with the institution of marriage.

You invoke the practical concerns of trust, raising children, being able to laugh with someone, most of which are not tied to marriage and/or monogamy. Let me ask you,

- If your government and/or your lawyer and your friends provide you enough "trust net" that you don't need to rely on trust of a marriage partner.

- If you can have children through surrogate pregnancy, or if you are a woman, you wish to raise your child as a single mother (not to mention, the incoming future of genetically modified babies, so much so that after you've optimized your baby's features, there's hardly anything left in the DNA that relates to the parent).

- If you can laugh with a good number of friends. Maybe one or two of those friends live next door so there's no chance of loneliness. Not to mention social media, entertainment industry, the list goes on.

Do you really think the concept of marriage and monogamy remains as valid as it has been through history?

The validity of a lot of what I'm saying is tied to, not in any arbitrary time in history, but the current state of technology and human progress we're witnessing right in front of our eyes. I mentioned genetically-modified-babies. Forget about that. I'm a big believer of medical progress and the need for healthful longevity. If, in the next few decades, a person is able to live the life of a healthy 25 year old for 200 or 300 years, would that person be even interested in having children? If artificial intelligence can take care of 90% of your trust, and entertainment needs, would you even feel unsafe? lonely?

I believe we're headed towards drastic sociocultural change and the thinking of current populace, no matter how educated, is lagging behind substantially.

The idea of marriage/monogamy/love is getting more and more optional. Not to say people will reject it outright. You have the right to choose love and marriage and monogamy. But it's becoming more of a choice than a practical necessity.


Fortunately for those who are generally considered unattractive you are correct for most people most of the time but 'the race is not always won by the swift'. As I try to impress on particularly lonely young people - the best way to win over a stranger is to make them feel your fire, and that fire - that one of the things you are deeply passionate about - might be music it might be dancing it might be poetry it might be mountain climbing it mostly doesn't matter. Because in romance and sex enthusiasm trumps appearances and with time a person you like more and more starts to appear more and more attractive. If you are introverted it will take more time and more luck but it you can eventually share your excitement with someone there is a good chance they will find you exciting. And if you have imagination and persistence it can last a lifetime.


Actually, men used to like it when women were fat about two centuries ago. Nowadays, it's completely reverse: super-models are all slim.

This wouldn't happen if attraction to beauty was mostly subject to biology. (You know that biological structure doesn't change so fast in less than 200 years, right?)

Also, you seem to underestimate how much humans are driven by their emotions and sense of loyalty to someone else. How would you explain the affection between people who fall in love with the disabled?


I don't have any data on weight or body fat, but there's plenty of research into attractiveness of women with various waist-hip ratios and yes, it has dropped steadily from around 0.77 in 1500 to 0.68 in the last half-century. However, does even a WHR of 0.77 correspond to being fat?

Source: http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal....


Surely you have some irrational beliefs that make you happy and make your life worth living. For example, since you got up this morning, it's evident that you feel living is worthwhile when in fact all evidence points to the fact that death is final and life is meaningless. It seems pretty silly for you to listen to your lizard brain telling you to try to stay alive each day. You get hungry and your brain tells you to eat, and lo and behold you eat food and survive. What a coincidence!

Anything other than pure nihilism is a conservative notion should be marginalized.

See what I did there? Those who live glass houses should not throw stones.


>Note that I do not buy the silly notion that 'beauty is in the eye of the beholder' and that 'I don't find that person attractive but I'm sure someone else will'. This is somewhat backed by data (e.g., the OKCupid survey), but I have developed this belief on my own. Humans of all races have a built-in instinct to find some visuals more appealing and attractive than others. It is sad but true. To take it to an extreme, if we find some visuals disgusting (e.g., spilled guts, slimy things) we don't all of a sudden go "I'm disgusted by slimy spilled guts of animals, but that's just me, I'm sure there are plenty of people out there who have the exact opposite reaction, that they love to look at slimy spilled guts".

Physical attractiveness standards are nowhere near as specifically biologically determined as the reaction to "slimy spilled guts." Even just looking at western Europe-derived cultures, the "beautiful female nudes" of art from just a couple of hundred years ago are much heavier and less muscular than those of today. And "I don't find that person attractive but I'm sure someone else will" clearly can apply for cases like hair color preference.

I believe there has been research showing more universal preferences for, for example, bilateral symmetry - but the specifics vary by culture and individual.


Biological imperfection? Genetic defect? Bit harsh, no?

You've painted love in this way, and it may be true for the majority of us. OK. But there will always be exceptions in a million other forms.

I know ugly people who are utterly charming, either sweet or swaggery and others fall for them all the time.

I also know beautiful people who are foul-mannered, and their relationships never last.

And then all the others in between these two extremes. The good-looking one who had stinky pits like the rest of us after an all-nighter. The average-looking one with a wicked sense of humour, only after 3 conversations though. The dummy-looking one who actually has a strength so niche it's effing admirable. The chatterbox, the joker, the quietly brilliant ... on and on it goes. Oh and let's not forget the time factor; personalities change, experience builds up et cetra.

See, that's how you get over this "biological defect." First impressions may be Tinder-like, but we (life?) are so much more sophisticated than that.

No idea what social individualism is but the way I see is this: Nurture yourself to be the person you think you are, and open yourself to interactions. Invest in the relationships once you get them. Be empathical, even if you 'lose'. If everyone does this, we're on track to a happier, more loving society.


Bear in mind that everybody loves something, even if it's just beer, or ice cream, or criticizing other people.

'Love' means giving something full attention (metaphorically speaking, to "open your heart fully" to that something).

Btw, this Roald Dahl extract from 'The Twits' is relevant to visual attraction:

https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/e8/54/ef/e854...


> I hope most of you would agree that at least 70%-90% of being in love has something to do with the appearance of your person-of-interest (most of it visual).

Absolutely not. It's her heart and mind that I fell in love with.


The most hacker-news comment ever


Define love


This is almost nihilistic.


Almost?


I very much enjoyed Part 2 of this article. It puts forward a much more complete framework for success than part one, which mostly just talks about the flaws in many standard approaches.

The notion that you are going to find the perfect person for the rest of your life at any given moment in time is ridiculous - you are going to change, they are going to change, your relationship is going to change both of you. The sense of friendship, being at home with one another, and the mindset that a marriage takes work have all been instrumental in my own marriage so far.

My wife and I met in our early 20s. The things we wanted out of life - both individually and as a couple - have changed significantly over the past decade. It is likely that if either of us had known where we would end up we might not have chosen our past selves to be together with our future selves. However, we've been a part of every individual and collective change and have worked to build a strong relationship through the changes. There is something amazing about walking through adulthood together and staying committed through all of the ups and downs.


Sounds great if you have lots of options. Some of us are getting older and haven't made it past anyone else's filter. At some point your will to just try and make it work regardless of the match.


The only place I think that really applies is if you're in a small town. If you can't get past the first few dates after trying with 10-20 candidates in a big city (requiring 100-200 solicitations), you're probably facing one of a few very solvable problems, off the top of my head:

- fails at basic hygiene (solved by showers, haircuts, clothes, cleaning your room, home improvement projects, eating vegetables, etc)

- fails at basic rapport (solved by practicing with non-romantic partners)

- underlying mental health issues (solved by your therapist/psychiatrist)

- fails at having an appealing life to join (solved by identifying personal goals and practicing working towards them)

There are exceptions, of people who are extremely physically unattractive, or who have truly insoluble mental health issues. But it's a really tiny percentage of people. I'm talking you literally make babies cry with your appearance, or you have a history of torturing animals, or something like that.

Most people have just a couple of actual dealbreaking items on their filter, so out of 20 candidates there should be one or two whose filters are on things you accidentally do right.

And I'm not saying those four things I listed above are quick to solve. They take time. It might take 2 years of daily effort. I'm just saying they're easy to solve: there's no trick. Anyone who can bake a cake can do the steps necessary to solve them.


I've been in Cleveland 2 years and I have only went on dates with 2 people.

At my most recent workplace there was only ever one woman around my age. We went to lunch together and talked a ton so I think she liked me but I didn't want to date a coworker at the time. Other than her though, dating through work is apparently not an option.

But as for dating apps/sites and stuff I never get any matches.

So based on all that I don't understand how it's so commonplace for people to go on 10-20 dates. My whole life I've always just dated the first person that liked me, usually with years between girlfriends. Luckily they have all turned out to be great people but that's not something I can count on.

>I'm talking you literally make babies cry with your appearance, or you have a history of torturing animals, or something like that.

I'm apparently attractive enough that even straight men will tell me so unsolicited. As for mental health, the only thing there is ADD, most people who talk to me seem to think I'm really interesting and easygoing. I have a hard time reconciling all my feedback with the notion that I'm part of some exceedingly rare group that is undatable.

I don't know why I made this comment. There's not really anything for you to say in return. I'm just confused and it's got me down.


I don't recommend dating coworkers, I recommend befriending coworkers and cautiously dating their friends.

Dating apps work OK if you're average to above average in attractiveness, writing skills, and flirting, and you can keep your anxiety in check.

If you're below average in some of those areas, you need to be in non-romantic group settings so that people can observe you move confidently in space and become attracted to you. That means hobbies.

> I don't understand how it's so commonplace for people to go on 10-20 dates

Yeah, I guess I was thinking about online dating. The in person stuff is slightly different. If you volunteer for environmental restoration every weekend, you will go on 10-20 "dates" over the course of 50 weekends, while pulling up invasive species next to someone who is a little bored. That will be your first date. If you like each other, you just have to say yes to more opportunities to be with them, and they'll be doing the same, and you'll eventually get to a "real" date.

Do your best to look cute before you show up to these events, and get your mental health in order beforehand. Events with physical activity help with both of those things.

> I have a hard time reconciling all my feedback with the notion that I'm part of some exceedingly rare group that is undatable.

Yeah, no, doesn't sound like you're in that category. From what you're saying it sounds like you're just missing the 10-20 first dates thing.


I don't really think this situation is all that unusual, but it's something people don't bring up because it causes the reactions like the parent.


There's maybe a 5th category:

- fails to recognize good candidates (solved by more dating)

It's easy to wind up barking up the wrong tree because you haven't figured out what is really important to you, as well as how to find it.


One problem I have is that I'll never get the chance to date enough people to discover what qualities I like in women.


You can find out what qualities you like in women by being friends with them. No need to date. And you can find out what qualities you like in a partner by collaborating with anyone, man or woman. You can find out what qualities you like in a housemate by living with people. You'll need a date to figure out what you like sexually, and in a few other area, but you can (and should) get a pretty good base understanding of what you're looking for without dating.


Why on earth not? Various networks offer anybody the opportunity to go on many first dates with many people. It takes some effort, and you have to learn how to come across well & take good photos & stuff, but few people have all doors shut to them.

I see you commented elsewhere you get few matches- why is that? Figure that out, fix that. Dating isn't take-it-or-leave-it, it's a life journey that most certainly includes working on yourself.


>Various networks offer anybody the opportunity to go on many first dates with many people.

Not if those people refuse to go on dates with the person.

>why is that?

No idea. I'm supposedly really attractive. If there's an answer I don't have a way of finding it out.

>it's a life journey that most certainly includes working on yourself.

Well I can't get in much better shape than I already am, I could make more money but I'm already making enough that that shouldn't be holding me back any. On paper there's basically nothing wrong with me.


It sounds like the first step might be opening your mind to the possibility there are things you could do better that you haven't already thought of. Do you know how to take good pictures of yourself? (That other people like?) Are you a good writer? Both of these, for example, are great skills to brush up on for dating networks.


I find it interesting that you consider all these problems "solvable", almost in a sense of being trivially solvable, while I feel that most people wrestle with at least one of these for their entire lives.

And people with these problems nonetheless have or had SOs. :P And people with... much deeper problems also have SOs. And then some people just can't find SOs, even if everything looks good on paper. I don't think it's so simple.


> you consider all these problems "solvable", almost in a sense of being trivially solvable, while I feel that most people wrestle with at least one of these for their entire lives.

Yep. Two reasons:

1) Like I said, they're easy solutions but slow. The human mind is not built for 2 year slogs without reward.

2) All of these things are moralized, which makes it really hard to "just try". We think if we fail it reflects poorly on us, which makes it slower to start, slower to recover from missteps, and we just run out of time.

> And people with these problems nonetheless have or had SOs.

True! I was responding to someone who couldn't get past a first date for a decade, with the major things that could be getting in their way. In reality, solving just one or two might be enough to get them over the hump.


You missed strong religious beliefs that don't fit in with the local culture. Totally something that could be changed but not really willing to.


How important that is, may depend on how important it is to you that your partner is of the same faith.

If you will only consider those of your faith, or demand suitors convert to your faith, it might be worth considering a move.


Everyone selects someone who isn't perfect, but good enough. 7 billion people in the world, a better match is out there for everyone, but is it worth the effort if you can't find them? Probably not.

Wait But Why covers this pretty well also: Happiness is reality minus expectations. Its up to you to be content with what you have and what you can realistically achieve.


> Everyone selects someone who isn't perfect

My wife didn't. :-)


You aren't wrong, but (at the risk of stating an obvious strategy) perhaps you'd be happier in the long run investing that effort into making yourself an attractive match, instead of making a bad match bearable?

Double-bonus in that investing in yourself leaves you better off & happy, with or without a match.

Personal experience, after devoting my soul to my degree, I graduated a likable, intelligent, boring person. It took many years of purposefully expanding my horizons, to get beyond that.


This was a very insightful read for me, where I introspected and identified a lot of things I had done wrong myself in relationships. That said, it was also kind of depressing. It seems that one of the greatest unsolved challenges of life is efficient matchmaking, and despite all the technology poured into it we are nowhere close to having a good solution.

Swipe-apps (latest generation of matchmaking) are completely shallow and almost entirely based on appearance and no other factors which leads them to be used for either hookups or entertainment.

Profile-based apps lead to box-checking behaviors, incentivizing people to look for "scan-tron partners" as the article calls its.

Personalized matchmaking services are expensive, time-consuming, and are limited to the pool of people willing to invest that amount of time and spend that amount of money, which is not that many folks.

This is one problem area I'd love to see some new startups address in a serious manner.


I won't argue it can't be improved, but the process of growing & coming to know yourself involves a certain amount of failure. There's nothing wrong with meeting a lot of people you are a bad match for.

Of course I do understand the tedium of endless strings of dud matchups, and we can't ignore the out-of-pocket expense! But IMO that's an issue with the pool, not the algorithm.


I haven't done it, but speed dating seems like the best approach. It puts you right in front of a person and, imo, you're less likely to dismiss him/her outright than you would be on the mentioned apps.


Back in my day, people met their partners in the course of normal social interaction. Weird, right? Like, you'd meet a friend of a friend, or be someplace fun and meet other people having fun. Super weird. Sure, online dating casts a much wider net, and there's something to be said for moving your thumb to make attractive strangers appear at your door, but the old way was efficient. More information up front meant fewer false starts and less time wasted. It was essentially speed-dating without the handholding. It wasn't that hard; you just had to get out and go somewhere, and you know, socialize.

Now with a whole new generation too averse to even talking on their phone over texting, it's probably becoming another lost art. We have managed to hack a process evolved over human civilization, only to replace it with a mildly less inconvenient but overall poorer and addictive substitute.


I completely agree with you. I'm in my early 20s and I'd much rather meet someone during my daily interactions than through an app (on which men are typically at a disadvantage). That concept felt a lot more feasible while in school, though, and much more challenging now.


Finding the right life partner requires a series of filters. For me, those filters were: 1) quality of conversation; 2) ability to share work; 3) trust and reliability; 4) physical attraction. Not necessarily in that order, but long-term, the conversation and ability to collaborate with someone on the joint project of a household or family are way up there in what to look for. You definitely talk and work with each other a lot more than you moon and snuggle, so you should find someone you like to talk and work with if you want to like your life. It's really hard, though, because when you're attracted to someone physically or just desperate for sex it's a lot easier to fool yourself into thinking that their conversation is really interesting, when in fact you're just high on pheromones.


What I saw in my own romantic relationships and those of others was a simple, blunt point: Do both of the people actually want to follow the first part of the standard marriage ceremony?

"We gather together to join this man and this woman with the bonds of holy matrimony."

Instead, one or the other didn't really want to "join" or "bond" and, instead, was just using, exploiting the marriage and spouse for some selfish aims.

For women, the main use was money -- she wanted to be supported. That was as far as she thought. Later one had one child, retired to a back bedroom, lived on chocolates, gained 150 pounds, and vegetated. Another had one daughter and later one by accident, retired to a back bedroom and lived on cigarettes and beer. One decided to become really good BFFs with Jim Beam and Jack Daniels. One really wanted just to do social climbing at the most expensive country club in town. Another wife wanted the spouse's wealthy family to fund a retail startup. When the startup failed, she went to college, then art school, then became a leading horse woman, all with no interest in her husband, and finally just moved out. She was very pretty, moved to NYC, apparently to try to make a big splash in media. Never heard from her again!

One husband liked sex with men as much or more than with his wife (at least two cases of that, with both of the wives very desirable); the wives didn't like that situation.

Another wife just wanted her husband to put her through law school at which time she planned to leave the marriage. Another wife just wanted her husband to put her through graduate school, at which time she planned to leave. Another wife wanted to use the marriage as a home base for various projects, around the world, to save the world.

I saw a lot of such problems: It was simple: One or both of the spouses failed right at the first sentence of the marriage ceremony -- they just didn't want to join or bond. Just didn't. To them the marriage ceremony was just a costume party with nothing serious and no connection with reality, and they wanted the marriage not to join or bond with their spouse but just to exploit them.

So, from this theme and these examples, what is in the OP is too complicated and misses the point: The point is, both spouses have to be serious all the way through the marriage vows, and failing right at the first sentence is really simple, much simpler than the OP, way too common, and a guaranteed disaster.


>everyone looking for a life partner should be doing a lot of online dating, speed dating, and other systems created to broaden the candidate pool in an intelligent way.

Anyone ever heard of the paradox of choice?

All of the research I've read hints at relationships that start with a dating website being being much more fragile than relationships that have met more traditional ways and much more likely to end with a bad outcome.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/2016/03/15/the-science-of...

https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2012/feb/06/is-onli...

One may argue this is good that we are ending "bad" or "not perfect" relationships... the other side of the coin is online dating may not be leading us astray from actually meeting someone we are compatible with and is just a distraction or worse, it may be making us bad at relationships once we met someone.


It was surprisingly hard to figure out the problem with these two articles.I mean it all makes sense, I couldn't stop nodding. And dont get me started with the picture from the stairs where the fighting couple stands below the lamentable single person. I mean: yes! And if that is not enough, our reading efforts are rewarded with a handy checklist for choosing the right partner.

I know the author might not happy about this, but I have an odd feeling (ha, shoot me). And the intensions they where, as they always are , the intentions where good. Nobody was hurt, no potential was spoiled, no time was lost. Everyone is happy. Sure there are conflicts and stumbling blocks, but with solid work and communication you disolve them into harmless bumps while sailing away on your Loveboat. Ready for the next chapture. Buying a house. Having kids. Growing older together. Die with a smile on your face surrounded by caring people.

If anything is overly romantic, than this. Completely ignoring the context you live in and reduce everything to a handfull of personal traits and skills is overly simplicistic (stupid) and naive, because:

- you cannot create love by communication, or transform friendship or nice feeling into love

- It is reasonable if you seek for true love and believe in fate (But only until you're 30)

- If you have been hurt, betrayed, used and left, take it as a sign to loath yourself less (and not others more)

- Life can be bitter. Love can vanish. Dreams can be shattered.

There is this song "Hello" from Adele, which is fairly popular. It describes somehow a state of love and connection after it is long gone. Something I'm not sure this author would even understand.


In order to pick someone you've got to have choices...


The 37% rule has been the most beneficial heuristic that I've applied to dating.

https://plus.maths.org/content/mathematical-dating


.37*0 = 0


My 101% rule works better.


I've learned to only get marriage or relationship advice from people who are in generally happy, healthy marriages and relationships.

Getting business advice from a bad business person wouldn't make sense.


Exploration versus Exploitation: Deciding When to Get Married - http://www.inference.vc/my_big_fat_data_driven_wedding_how_t...


im in the honeymoon phase right now. sometimes i get sad thinking about the transience of this phase of the relationship. obviously i shouldn't fixate on that, but it's like this creeping twilight that i wish i could just stave off forever. anyone have tips on doing this?


> anyone have tips on doing this?

It really depends a lot on the relationship. For my wife and I it's really been effortless, though I'm not sure how long the "honeymoon phase" is meant to last. We're only coming on our second anniversary.

The best advice I've ever heard is that your partner should be your best friend. They should be the easiest person to talk to. When something good happens and you want to share it or something bad happens and you need to talk about it, they should be the first one you think of. You shouldn't feel drained by spending time with them (despite normally being an introvert, I don't find myself needing "alone time" where my wife is concerned). You should be able to be happy for no other reason than that they're happy. You should be able to put their happiness before your own when it's important (though you shouldn't tolerate an abusive relationship). You should always put them before anyone else. You should never lie to them, or feel the need to.


My father said the same thing to me about my mother on two different occasions: "I could never have made it without her." But the thing is it took him years to get to that point.

Enjoy what you have now. Realize that it's only the beginning of a journey which could be long and wonderful. Think of it as... I don't know, the tutorial level of a video game or something. It's quick, exciting, and over soon, but there's a whole game left that you still have yet to play.


First off, don't fall into a pattern. The whole courtship, engagement, marriage, honeymoon route is full of constantly changing things. The rest of your relationship will likely be the hum-drum boringness of daily life. As a practical tip, maybe challenge yourself as a couple to do at least one new thing a quarter: say for example rock climbing where you can split of belaying duties with climbing.


My tip is to embrace the fact there's going to be an end of the honeymoon phase. You want things to change. Being in the honeymoon phase forever means your relationship isn't developing. Maybe your honeymoon phase will just be followed by a party phase or something, but my guess is it will go into another phase.

Good relationships won't necessarily always be easy or pleasant. They're sort of an increasing random walk, like the stock market or something.

I've been with the same person for 16 years now. It's honestly been extremely rewarding, but in a way I couldn't have anticipated when it started, or even a few years into it.

My sense is that success in relationships basically come down to two people being a good match (physically and psychologically), both being committed, both communicating, and randomness.


When it fades, what do you do? Do you say, "That was nice while it lasted, too bad it's gone"? Or do you say, "I want that back, and I'll work to get it"?

In my own marriage, every year to year-and-a-half, I've looked around and realized that we weren't as close as we used to be. We've had to rebuild the relationship, which takes work. It's been worth it, though - still being in the honeymoon phase at our 20th anniversary was pretty cool.

I mean, yes, the relationship also deepens and grows. The head-over-heels-in-love can last for a long time even while the relationship deepens, though...


Also, read "Passages of a Marriage" by Minnerth, Meyer, and Hemfelt.


Tips on this?

The next phases are better. It is the essence of faith that your future will be better than your past. You cant see how,now, but it will. The word confidence will overcome you because of it. Like "The Force"

Buy a ten year journal and jot down stuff. Read it every decade or so.

I read stuff i wrote in 1976 and wonder who wrote it. What was important then isn't now.

Every year gets better- even with things not always going perfectly.

You have a partner for your short time on Earth. As it spins the Earth as roulette wheel keeps randomly picking "a number" to which yours will be chosen.


The "honeymoon phase" need not end. Many of the maturing adults I know find love getting deeper and life getting better every year.

Continue to make your partnership the highest priority in life and never assume that things have to be worse.


> But good old society frowns upon that, and people are often still timid to say they met their spouse on a dating site. The respectable way to meet a life partner is by dumb luck, by bumping into them randomly or being introduced to them from within your little pool.

Well, yeah. This is how social networks work: similar people group together, people socialize within that group, and they match with people who they are similar to or find ideal. They don't need to search for a partner because their ideal partner is already somewhere within their social network.

People with poor social networking skills will not "bump into" potential partners because their network is poor. It's like expecting to find an investor for your startup if all you do is post to "Show HN". You might have to actually leave your forum, or computer.

And so, after eliminating all choices from one's existing in-person social network, people with bad social networking skills look for dates on the internet. This is an uncomfortable yet common-sense truth: much like marrying your cousin, there is a stigma for a reason.

There is currently no online service that can correctly predict if someone will enjoy your physical presence. You can check however many boxes you like and you will still end up being weird. This is perhaps one of the biggest reasons that there is a stigma against online dating: usually it does not work out. If online dating really worked you would only have to go on three dates before you met a perfect partner [that was also geographically and socially convenient to date]. But it turns out that online services are just another poor social network.

--

Aside from that probably-going-to-get-me-downvoted-to-hell-unpopular opinion: the author presents one view of how to pick your life partner, from one way of life. Depending on where you live, your personal values, your preferences, your goals, etc your ideal partner may look quite a bit different than the author describes.

Humans change over time. Your ideal partner right now may end up being a completely different person in 10 years. You can either accept this, or accept that your life partner is simply a "current partner" and that, similar to all other kinds of partnerships, it may not last forever.

The author is also conflating life partnership with marriage. Traditional marriage is a generally horrible custom that developed around the idea that one partner didn't have as much agency as another, and that the partnership is necessary so that the oppressed individual can retain some form of protection, usually in exchange for sexual or other reciprocation, and the relationship is almost always exclusive (for the oppressed partner).

You may want a life partner, but don't want to get married. This is increasingly the norm in modern western society (whereas before it might have landed you in jail or dead). You may want more than one partner, or your partner does. Non-monogamous relationships are becoming more common and better understood by the general public.

I'm not an expert, so I can't tell anyone how to pick a life partner. All I know is that to understand what you want in someone else, first you have to know what you like and don't like, for yourself as well as in others. Then you need to be able to express that coherently and immediately, without shame, regret, or miscommunication. Knowing how to do that will help you to search for and identify a potential life partner. But remember that it may not fall within the normal accepted standards of society, and you have to accept that, or you may indeed fall into the same trap that so many others have when they rely on a universal measuring stick to find the right fit. And above all, I think that if you can't find what you're looking for in your social network, you need to expand your social network - and not just via dating sites.


Most peoples "social circle" is very, very small. Think about the number of eligible women (or men) within your circle - it can probably be counted on 2 hands. Are you sure you want to limit your selection of something as important as a forever partner?


Network, not circle. The term 'social circle' isn't really well defined, so I'll define it as "people with whom you have social interaction with on a regular or semi-regular basis". A social network is anyone they are connected to, and them to them, etc. Your social network is much larger than a social circle. Think six degrees of kevin bacon.

In order to dramatically grow a social network you might only need to make friends with 1 person who is outside your normal social network. For example, if you joined a gym and made friends with one person whom you then played squash with every week, and that person is otherwise unconnected to anyone else you know, now there is at least a plausible chance to meet any of the people in their social network. I'm no expert here, but surely someone at Facebook can give an example of how adding a new friend who isn't in your normal group of friends can drastically increase your connections.

If you can use this social network effectively, you have (I think) a much better chance of finding a lifetime partner than using a dating site, both because of how difficult it is to identify an appealing personality online, and because social network connections are (I think) much better paths to a potential match.


My first response here was to explain in this circumstance a person with "strong social skills" would have a number large groups they interacted with. For example religious groups, exercise groups, charity groups, etc.. All of which could provide a handful of potential mates through casual encounters. So easily a few dozen opportunities given a reasonable sized city.

But... that really implies there is something wrong with people who don't have the time, or inclination to involve themselves in such activities, or simply aren't the kind of people who can successfully get a date from a casual encounter (heck I've known people who get get dates from 30 second interactions in the grocery store) like this.

So, while I'm far from an expert on this, I suspect this is just more of our modern sickness. The idea that not only does a person have to fit a long list of criteria to be eligible, but they also have to have honed their social skills to the point of being able to woo someone into a date with just a casual encounter. And frankly, the people I know who could accomplish this were also some of the "worst" people I knew (lets start with the idea that they were completely unreliable lairs).

So, I return to the idea that traditional human society weren't these huge cities, but rather smaller villages where it was possible to have such a limited pool as to generally grow up with your spouse, and be aware that a large part of bringing up children/etc was spending time on those lower rungs of the ladder working out issues. To keep going with the idea that someday in the future it would be possible to climb back up those stairs to happiness. But this also means that such modern conveniences as birth control are actually harmful to society because its possible for a couple to fall into/out of love without the traditional responsibility of raising the children that were the result of a few weeks of biological romance (and lets face it the lusty rutting of 20 somethings is little more than biology having its way).


>: the author presents one view of how to pick your life partner, from one way of life

Yeah that's often a very genuine way of writting, from your own perspective. I don't think there is anything wrong with that. Sure it might not fit your life but it might be interesting to or help a few.


There's a implicit, insipid value judgement in your first thesis. That someone's social network is small does not make it "poor", nor does it mean that they're bad at socializing. That a stigma exists for some reason you can identify does not make it a good reason.

> There is currently no online service that can correctly predict if someone will enjoy your physical presence.

I mean, no shit? That's why you go on dates and try people out just like meeting them any other way.

> If online dating really worked you would only have to go on three dates before you met a perfect partner.

Perhaps I'm missing something but I'm not really sure why that should be true at all.


You are right - a small network does not make it poor. But a person with poor social networking skills will tend to end up with a poor social network, in terms of having a number of available potential partners from which to choose. I shouldn't have said the network itself was poor. Merely its use in finding a life partner would be poor.

You're right again, that online dating shouldn't necessarily work out in just three dates. But given a social network similar to your own, along with tools to filter and sort for the most ideal match, and a bigger pool of potential matches, it should result in immediately presenting you with the person that you would normally have found in a version of your social network that was bigger than normal and then meeting them in person. With a bigger social network, in theory, you should have to go on fewer dates in order to find a good partner, because there is a larger pool from which to find the best candidate. Of course, it doesn't work out this way.


> And so, after eliminating all choices from one's existing in-person social network, people with bad social networking skills look for dates on the internet.

What, no. That's not the kind of people using online dating.

There's people who intentionally want to meet people outside their friends' group (for obvious reasons).

Then there's people who use Uber despite the fact they have a friend who has a car. It's easier.


My bad. I meant to say "look for a lifetime partner", not just "look for dates".


baby don't hurt me.


We detached this comment from https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=14951181.


no more.


Baow baow baowbaow babaow baow baowbaow babaow baow baowbaow babaow baow baowbaow...


im married and i read this

what a bunch of nonsense.


i didnt "choose"

i fell in love, fate happened.

that's why it's nonsense. sorry there's not a more logical answer.


In the UK, an estimated 42% of marriages end in divorce, as of 2015. https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/birthsde...


What is love?


This isn't Jeopardy.


Please elaborate.


Care to elaborate?




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