Your Future Spouse Is In Your Social Network

In their book Connected: The Surprising Power of Our Social Networks and How they Shape Our LivesChristakis and Fowler share this impressive statistic:

“Our social networks function quite efficiently as matchmaker, even when we insist we are acting out our own private destiny.”

If you know 20 people, and each of them knows 20 people, then three degrees of separation connect you to 8,000 people. And one of them is likely to be your future spouse.

One of the strongest influences on assortative mating is our propensity to surround ourselves – to several degrees of separation – with people very much like us. We hang out with people we study with, work with, and live near. Social media accounts magnify that influence, as we become loosely but officially connected to many friends of friends.

Social Networks Promote Assortative Mating

Marrying assortatively, or homogamously, is strongly preferred by individuals. According to the Chicago Sex Survey (The Social Organization of Sexuality: Sexual Practices in the United States, University of Chicago Press, 1994): [Read more...]


Why Egalitarian Marriages Are More Sexual

houseworkYou may recall the 2012 study Egalitarianism, Housework and Sexual Frequency. It found that the married couples with the best sex lives were those who followed traditional gender roles around the house:

Female Chores:

  1. Cooking
  2. Washing dishes
  3. Cleaning the house
  4. Shopping
  5. Washing and ironing

Male Chores:

  1. Outdoor work
  2. Paying bills
  3. Auto maintenance
  4. Driving

(Driving? Since when is driving a male chore? I’m the one who put 15K miles a year on a minivan for years. I also maintained it.)

As you can see, these responsibilities portray a one-income household where the husband works around the house on weekends, and the wife is a full-blown housewife throughout.

Lori Gottlieb, a never-married marriage therapist, wrote about the study in Does a More Equal Marriage Mean Less Sex? for the NYXs magazine. [Read more...]


When Should You Quit a Relationship?

winners quitIn their new book Think Like a Freak: The Authors of Freakonomics Offer to Retrain Your BrainLevitt and Dubner bring their unconventional economic analysis to bear on some interesting problems. One of them is the question of when to throw in the towel on your relationship.

In the chapter The Upside of Quitting, they argue that quitting is underrated. We have a strong bias against giving up.

Three primary forces bias us against quitting:

[Read more...]


Should You Begin a Relationship That Has an Expiration Date?

expiration dateYoung Americans are more mobile than ever before – many go far away from home to attend school, pursue career advancement, or even just to try living in a new place. With the average age of marriage over 27 for women and increasing, dating as a 20-something has become a complex minefield of challenges around timing and location. It’s no longer enough to meet someone you click with – you have to meet someone whose life trajectory is compatible as well. Often promising relationships come with an expiration date.

Jenny hopes to move across the country to attend film school in the fall of 2015.

Julie will be matched to a medical residency in March, which could send her to any of her top 30 choices.

Anna works in the Boston office of a large bank, but her firm’s revenues have been flagging, and she suspects she’ll be asked to relocate to NY soon.

Nicole is a third-year law student in Berkeley, CA. If all goes well, she’ll do a clerkship in Miami for a year after graduation. [Read more...]


The Insidious, Intractable Problem of Street Harassment

Street harassment of women is ubiquitous. It never stops and no one is ever immune. God help me, yesterday I got harassed at Costco by a guy half my age while looking at car mats!

“Baby, I’ma take you on a nice ride.”

Obviously, the only conceivable motive was to make me feel uncomfortable. And it worked – I was in a remote corner of the store and I felt scared. I fled without picking up the item I needed.

The defense that this is a form of compliment is totally bogus – the guy wore a smirk and clearly enjoyed my discomfort. It’s a form of bullying.

This short documentary on street harassment features a former Miss District of Columbia and is worth a watch.

[Read more...]