Economics of Relationships

Posted by in Musings




I have always been a member of the school of thought that believes mathematics can be applied to almost everything.  So the other day, for some reason, I started thinking about relationship decision making and how could math an economics be applied.  And if I do say so myself, I believe I have found a workable model.

I am going to begin with some basic assumptions.  First is the inherent inequality that exists between two people making a given decision.  In the average heterosexual couple, I believe the girl will care more about the outcome of any given decision.  (This obviously isn’t limited to a heterosexual couple, in fact, this discrepancy exist between every two indiivduals, and it changes depending on the dynamic between those two people.  And I think we all know  which of our friends and family cares more or less that the other).  Anyways, I digress and need to return to my point.

Since said girl cares more about the result, her contribution to the decision making is 60% while her fictional boyfriend inputs 40%.  Obviously a decision can not be reached when a simple majority (51%) is reached, since the girl would have complete control over every decision.  So I arbitrarily chose 70% collective agreement as the threshold that must be reached in order to make a decision.

I chose 70% simple because the math works in some real world scenarios.  Say our arbitrary couple is discussing going skydiving together.  The guy is 100% committed to the idea, and is absolutely thrilled.  His girlfriend, is a little less so, but not entirely against the idea—she’s 50/50 on the idea.  So if the guy contributes 100% of his 40%, 40% total goes towards the collective.  Now the girl is contributing 50% of 60%, resulting in 30% for the collective.  Add 40% + 30% = 70%.  Therefore, they should indeed go skydiving.

Now for the other extreme, I’ll use a situation I could foresee happening between me and my future wife.  We plan to get a new dog, and we are arguing about what kind of dog we should get–big or little dog?  Now personally, I HATE little dogs.  SOME are tolerable, such as any type of terrier and french bulldogs, but most I abhor.  So naturally I want a big dog.  But my wife wants nothing to do with it, and only wants to get a small dog.  She’s 100% small dog.  Now me personally, I’d rather have a dog than no dog at all, but I’m definitely less than 50/50….let’s just say I’m 25% keen on the idea.  Doing the math again, we have 1(.60) + .25(.40) = .70 = 70%.  So it only makes sense to get the dog….even if it is a little runt of a canine.  (And obviously I would never allow it to be a chihuahua).

Obviously there are faults to my theory.  Some noticeable problems include:

1) being aware of the other’s choice/preference may skew your choice (this is the basic premise behind Game Theory).

2) It does give too much power to one person, especially if they are aware they are the 60% contributor.

3) The numbers are completely arbitrary….I chose them just because it’s easy to do the math

So I’m not claiming I’ve figured out the formula to decision-making, but it is something to think about.  And for someone who likes to be decisive, it helps me a lot.  So give it a try, it may help you too.