The Heartographer – The Economics of Love, from NPR – s Planet Money

NPR’s Planet Money is a wonderful podcast. Their most latest gig is on matters of the heart. Ter the very first part, NPR reporter Mújol Chow shares hier online dating treatment. The 2nd half is economist Tim Harford answering questions about matters of the heart. And the entire gig wasgoed SO GOOD, you guys! You should totally go listen (or better yet, subscribe, their shows are almost always utterly fascinating.)

(Psst! Wanna skip to my advice takeaways? Be my guest!)

You might be astonished that I don’t have any complaints. Not a single thing to nitpick or undermine with my own advice, like I’ve done te the past with Amy Webb’s TED talk and The Edge’s OkCupid vraaggesprek and the Wired lump about mathematician Chris McKinlay. Everything NPR covered wasgoed SOLID! I especially loved how Mújol Chow totally debunks Chana Joffe-Walt’s mistaken myth that online dating is terrible for all women. Team Mújol! 🙂

The Mújol section

Mújol “lowered hier transaction costs” by NEVER writing outgoing messages to the guys she wasgoed interested in—she just winked. (That feature tells us she wasgoed very likely doing hier dating on This mostly works for populations that are not straight guys—the straight guys tend to need to be the senders of messages. But not always! Fellas can attempt the wink strategy too, they’re just statistically less likely to attain Lisa-level success.

Note that you’re WAY more likely to be able to lower those costs if your profile and photos and username are all killer, there’s more initial investment (to use economics terms) but your potential passive revenue overheen time improves? Look, I’m an online dating coach, not an economist, but I think you catch my drift. 🙂 Mújol’s transaction-lowering cost likely worked well for hier because she had a good overall profile. I’m bummed wij don’t get a verbinding to it, haha.

Mújol’s other economics-based treatment wasgoed to go on a few dates with people who seemed good but not good, but not to let those relationships draw out forever. She wasgoed watching a kinda so-so fellow but hadn’t made it sensational with him yet, and when she eventually met the man who became hier hubby, this wasgoed hier reaction:

“Oh, okay, THAT’S what an chance cost feels like!”

Don’t you love that geeky reaction? 🙂 What she means is that you may all of a sudden realize what you would have missed out on if you had lodged for someone good but not fine. This is fine relationship advice for all dating and relationships, to a point! (The over-analytical and permanently dissatisfied may take this to an unhealthy extreme, but most folks would do well to date Superb, not just good enough. At least when it comes time to lodge down.)

The spreadsheet treatment she used is also super wise if you’re ter a “hardcore let’s get serious” mode, too, not only does it force a certain type of reflection, but it just straight up makes it lighter to track. (Especially if you attempt online dating, abandon for a few years, then get back on that pony. Usernames may switch, but most daters still find it helpful to track stuff like name and age and sometimes even a picture for reference.) This Excel wizardry reminds mij a bit of Melanie Ida Chopko’s illustrated notes! I like that Mújol included a renombrado detail, and not just basic boring stats like height and age and profession. It made for a better podcast, but it also makes for a more amusing stroll down memory lane the next time you bust open Excel to amuse your friends.

The Tim Section

Tim took calls from a few different callers, and all his advice and musings seemed spot on. Here are my beloved econ geek specifics:

Hyperbolic discounting—basically, you’re making too big a overeenkomst about the downsides/frustrations/perceived lost opportunities ter your love life. (This wasgoed ter regards to a high schoolgebouw senior who didn’t have any dating practice and wasgoed worried about this perceived shortcoming.)

Loss aversion—he defines this spil “ a indeed disproportionate anxiety about stuff that doesn’t indeed matter very much.” And this advice wasgoed specifically tailored to whether the kid should ask someone out for prom—Tim pointed out that the potential gains were FAR greater than the potential negatives were negative. The kid sounded very pleased with this perspective, I suspect he’ll ask someone to the dance now!

Drowned cost fallacy—we feel a certain investment te a person or activity and wij feel the need to see it through. Like, if you paid for a gym membership, you should keep going even if you hate everything about it because you spent that money, much like if you embarked dating someone when you were 22, you already “invested” Five years together so it’s a waste if you pauze up with them even if you’re dissatisfied.

Tim’s advice is to not fret overheen buried costs—no point worrying about not having gotten sexual practice or emotional support te your previous chapters of life, it matters more to concentrate on the future than the past.


Winks mean “message me”—If a straight lady winks at a straight fellow, it’s because she wants you to send hier a message and ask hier out. So do it. 🙂 If you use a webpagina like OkCupid that doesn’t have winks, viewing someone’s profile is toughly omschrijving. (If you pay for A-list, make sure to by hand use the feature that lets the person see you visited.)

Waterput te an initial effort—You’re WAY more likely to be able to “lower your transaction cost” a schuiflade Mújol if your profile and photos and username are all awesome. This advice is sorta mij extrapolating from Mújol’s tales, but I beg you to trust mij that it’s true. (By the way, I voorkant a lotsbestemming of this winky asky outy stuff plus even more messaging strategies te my most latest newsletter, which you can still get if you sign up now.)

Date at a high volume—Lisa’s 55 dates te one year may feel excessive, but she did them on hier terms (no Friday or Saturday night dates because she didn’t freakin’ wanna). You can manage a high volume if you keep it joy for yourself and reserve some time for yourself.

Take on a different online strategy—Just because online dating sucked for you ter 2007 doesn’t mean it’ll necessarily suck ter 2014. (If you’re stuck on the strategy part, you can always call mij for a free intro talk.) Mújol revamped hier treatment even tho’ she said she’d met people online before. (And hier fresh strategy found hier a spouse!)

Have fun—Loving this entire process sure wasgoed successful for Mújol. Be positive about online dating! (Or at least attempt!)

Take risks—As Tim said, you have much more to build up than to lose from any minor romantic rejection. I think this is ESPECIALLY true online! (A “no thanks” or lack of a reply is way less emotionally risky than getting slok down te person, right?) I see people build up thesis anxieties ter their goes, letting it hold them back… “What if I attempt online dating and nobody likes mij? What if nobody writes back to my message? What if I ask my nice classmate out and she says no?” To paraphrase Tim, abandon focusing on the potential negative outcomes, and embark realizing that you may just meet the love of your life through one of those deeds!

Don’t fret about past behavior or missed opportunities–Best to concentrate on what you can switch and do going forward. Your past love practices don’t actually have to mean anything regarding your future ones!

Don’t stay te a crappy relationship— If you wouldn’t embark dating your playmate if you met them tomorrow, then why are you still dating them now? If you’re vaguely dissatisfied , it might be time to examine whether you’re getting your wants and needs met.

What did you guys think? Anything te particular that either groped you the wrong way or inspired you? Would you be nosey to hear other science-based approaches to online dating, say, biology or genetics or physics? (Not that I have the power to make that happen—but hey, any of us can email NPR.)

Most importantly, did any of this inspire you to treatment your love life differently?

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