What to Expect When You’re Selecting: The Science of Relationships

I’ve never been a big fan of the “soul mate theory.” I’m of the opinion that there are billions of likable people in the world, and the more of them that we may chance to come across, the more potential mates we will find. Something about this “many fishes theory,” in contention, it seems, with popular opinion, led me to a year’s worth of  research and a master’s thesis on marriage and its incessant failure in the face of modern-day expectations. It’s no surprise then that I was enticed by NPR’s Sean Braswell reporting on this topic in his article The Science of Settling: Calculate Your Mate with Moneyball

 There’s another type of virtual eyewear that many of us spend even more time donning — one that has the opposite effect of beer goggles. Call them “expectancy spectacles” if you’d like, because wearing them causes us to raise our standards and expectations, often unrealistically, of everything from potential mates to job prospects.The primary culprit behind this altered vision is not booze, but a potent concoction of Hollywood movies, social conditioning and wishful thinking.

Braswell cites psychologist and relationship scientist, Ty Tashiro, author of The Science of Happily Ever After.

 Almost 9 in 10 Americans believe they have a soul mate, says Tashiro, but only 3 in 10 find enduring partnerships that do not end in divorce, separation or chronic unhappiness. Clearly something is going wrong — and it starts with our expectations. Which is why Tashiro advocates a new approach to dating, one that is not so much about lowering standards as giving yourself better ones. Call it “Moneyballing” relationships (Tashiro does); it’s all about finding undervalued traits and assets in the dating market. And, just like with baseball, it starts with trying to ignore the superficial indices of value — attractiveness, wealth — in favor of hidden attributes with a stronger correlation to long-term relationship success.

— Caterina Gironda, Zeteo Southern Editor

 

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