Tracker Pixel for Entry

​Calculated Love

by Dr. Richard Kolotkin | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | Love and Marriage | December 17th, 2014

I read a fascinating article in The New York Times called “Rethinking Eating” by news analyst Kate Murphy. It equated cooking to sex. What Ms. Murphy wrote was that “like cooking, sex is messy and a lot of trouble … food, like sex, (being) fraught with emotional, psychological, social, cultural, gender and religious associations …(and) sharing a meal (also being) how we establish and maintain relationships.” How true this is.

What’s also true is that I can adore food. When well-crafted from fine ingredients and full of taste and flavor, food is right up there. I also know that my passionate feelings about food can be dangerous in the absence of intention. Why? It’s because, given my metabolism, all I have to do to gain weight is look at food – eating isn’t required.

Food is often used as a tool to aid understanding. Some people, for example, say that you are what you eat. Though perhaps not as interesting as equating food and sex, this idea also provokes thought since, if true, you’d probably be pretty selective about your eating choices.

For some, selecting from among many menu choices is relatively easy. But for those who think of food as more than just fuel, these decisions become more complicated. This is because, when you order, getting fed isn’t the only variable you consider. You also want to be happy with your meal when it’s over. And it’s this – trying to pick among many items to find a single, happy choice – that can make ordering decisions tough.

You, of course, make many decisions in “the menu of life,” most being far more important than what to eat at any given meal. And while food may or may not define you, your other decisions do. Psychologists know this and typically assume that different kinds of people make different kinds of decisions – your decisions reflecting your needs, values, desires and preferences.

Even as food is like sex, choosing from a dining menu is actually a lot like love and marriage: both ask you to pick that one, happy choice. If you’ve ever searched the Internet for your “soul mate,” you know this. Enroll in eHarmony or Match and your “menu options” are presented directly to you. And as with food, you’ll have preferences that guide you as you scrutinize those in the personal menu alternatives offered. But unlike a page-limited food menu, the love and marriage menu you scan is not finite. You can always click further. You can always look for yet another among those listed, never knowing if the one before you is “the best.”

In “The Paradox of Choice” psychologist Barry Schwartz notes that having more possibilities makes things worse, not better -- so many possibilities often making it almost impossible to choose. And while this is true for most who Internet date, it’s not true for all. For those who are “food is fuel” kind of lovers, choosing is actually easy. Just sign up for Tinder, type your 500 characters and voila! Your lover appears. I’m talking fast food here!

As a psychologist, I’m often asked to help with decisions. Should I change jobs, get married, divorced, have children or find new love are often questions I find before me. And though it may surprise you, I don’t typically answer these questions for anyone – they are questions that only you can answer.

Absent my specific answers, what I do provide is an intelligent approach that can define the best answer for you. And while this approach is often useful in all life choices, it can be particularly useful when it comes to making good decisions about love and marriage. The approach I advocate is to “calculate love.”

Unfortunately the idea of calculating love is typically maligned -- it evokes a picture of manipulation and deceit. And while I’d never refute the idea that this kind of predatory calculated love exists, this isn’t at all what I’m advocating. What I’m recommending is that you approach your relationship choices a lot more like how you might scan a food menu. Why? It’s because down the road you want to be satisfied with whom you picked for your “relationship meal.” Here’s what I mean.

Picking a satisfying entrée is a multifaceted decision involving many variables. Scanning a menu, you have to ask yourself many questions as you try to predict your satisfaction at meal’s end. Will I like this preparation? Am I a fan of the ingredients? What does it cost? Is it vegan or gluten-free?

But as you consider these variables, trying to predict your future happiness, they’re not all the same. Some will be more important to you than others. So what happens is that you, without knowing it, end up developing a mental “prediction equation” that weighs the options as you decide. And, though sounding strange, this is exactly the same thing that you do in your relationship choices.

Getting relationship-specific and asking you not to freak, here’s a snapshot of what your personal relationship prediction equation looks like:

Ix1 + Ix2 + Ix3 + Ixn = y where “x” is a lover characteristic you want, “I” is the importance of each of these characteristics to you and “y” is the relationship happiness you’re trying to predict.

So again using food as an example, if gluten is important to you then your “I” value for it may be 95 out of 100. If price is important, but gluten isn’t, then gluten gets an “I” of 5 while price gets an “I” of 90.

And this has relationship importance how? It’s because figuring out all of the x’s and I’s in your personal equations will allow you to predict anything – whether happiness with a meal or with a lover – with high accuracy. This is what I mean by calculating love. You sit down and figure out what’s important and how important it’s going to be to you so that down the road you’re still happy with the relationship choice you made.

Today’s tip: Be calculating about love and determine your personal relationship prediction equation. Use relationship satisfaction as the “y” you want to predict. Then think about the x’s you’re looking for in a lover that will sustain your love and happiness. Brains? Beauty? Brawn? Wealth? Emotional intelligence? Communication skill? Religious similarity? Develop your own list of x’s or brainstorm possibilities with friends.

Next complete your personal relationship happiness equation by defining the importance of each of your x’s from 1 – 100. And if this all sounds too unfeeling make sure that you add love or passion as an “x” and give it high importance value.

In doing this, be honest with yourself and project yourself into the future -- though you might really want a party animal now, maybe not so much later in life. Work carefully since unlike a meal that can be easily eliminated -- another only hours away -- partnered love cannot. With calculations complete you’re now ready to look at those “menu options” and search for someone whom you’re truly hungry for.

[Editor's note: Richard A. Kolotkin, Ph.D., is a professor in psychology at MSUM, licensed psychologist with a practice in Moorhead, and author of "The Insightful Marriage: What You Really Need to Know and Do to be Happily Married" which is available for Kindle and Nook.]

RECENTLY IN

Love and Marriage

Tracker Pixel for Entry MSUM Oline Tracker Pixel for Entry HighPlainsFairHousing#3of3 Tracker Pixel for Entry HighPlainsHousing2of3 Tracker Pixel for Entry HPRONLINE Tracker Pixel for Entry HighPlainsHousing#1of3

Recently in:

By the time this article is published, all the major new outlets in the area will have reported on the May 30th protest in Fargo demanding change and justice after the needless killing of George Floyd, as well as its aftermath. …

by Sonja ThompsonDebra Ruh is the CEO and Founder of Ruh Global IMPACT, a consulting firm that strives to help clients amplify their impact and become disability inclusion leaders. She also serves as the Chair of the United…

Best Bets

Ladies Ag Night

by HPR Staff

Thursday, March 19, 4:30- 8 pm1609 19th Ave N, FargoCass County Soil Conservation District is hosting their annual Ladies’ Ag Night supper event. This event has a goal of bringing together multiple generations of women involved…

by Sofia Makarova and Massimo Sassi The global pandemic is an incredibly challenging time for many. Nearlyone in every three Americans’ jobs have been affected, whether a temporary layoff, a permanent job loss, or a reduction in…

The Death of Empire by A Thousand CutsSome empires last longer than others. Rome was one. The Chinese empire died the death of a thousand cuts they made famous a thousand years ago. But the Chinese heart that was sliced centuries…

To say that this year’s Bartenders Battle was the best display of talent in the six years since its creation would be an understatement and a disservice to not only the bartenders who made it into the competition, but also the…

It goes without saying that Valentine’s Day is the most profitable of all the holidays and the one with the most tortured history, literally. It is confusing how an ancient Roman festival that involved sacrificing animals and…

Fargo obviously loves their classical music. Audiences have still turned out during the 2019-2020 season of the Sanford Masterworks Series performed by the Fargo-Moorhead Symphony Orchestra despite an unrelenting winter. That…

Well-deserved praise for writer-director Amy Seimetz’s efficient and provocative “She Dies Tomorrow” almost inevitably points to the film’s eerie timeliness as a metaphor for pandemic-inspired malaise and disequilibrium.…

This weekend, the 10th Annual Unglued Craft Fest will be held at the Plains Art Museum, featuring over 70 local and regional artists selling handmade items. Though most are Fargo-Moorhead residents, artists from Minneapolis, Sioux…

Theatre

Fargo Film Festival 2020

by HPR Contributor

by Dominic EricksonThis March, the Fargo Film Festival will celebrate its 20th year of entertaining die-hard cinephiles and casual moviegoers alike. The festival begins on March 17 and concludes March 21. The event is once again…

by Kris Gruberperriex1@gmail.comAdam Quesnell's last show at The Cellar beneath the Front Street Taproom in Fargo was in early September of 2018. He was embarking on a seminal move from Minneapolis to LA. As always, his comedy was…

by Jill Finkelsonjsfinkelson99@gmail.comFar North Spirits, located up in Hallock, MN, is the northernmost distillery in the lower 48. They may be young in the distillery world but the farm and the spirit reach far into the past.…

Wellness

Discover Yoga Differently

by HPR Contributor

by Laurie J Bakeremsdatter@gmail.com Part of modern yoga is participating in the world around us. We live in a time of upheaval in society and nature, and of great suffering in humans of all ages. Most of us perceive this suffering…

by Devin Joubertdevinlillianjoubert@gmail.comIt’s that beautiful time of the year that’s filled with seasonal decorations, sparkly lights, warm family gatherings, and delicious feasts. I love everything about this time of the…

“(Kafka’s) world knows no physical or moral order…We, the readers, are reliving our bad dreams…punishment is over all the characters, but the crime remains mysteriously hidden…” - William Hubben“The specter of color is…