Ben Stein’s 8 Lessons on the Economics of Love


Ben Stein, Love Guru.

Don’t believe me? He published a New York Times article on the economics of love, and it made my heart swell.

Here are eight of Stein’s concepts. For more, please read the full article:

1. The returns in love situations are roughly proportional to the amount of time and devotion invested. The amount of love you get from an investment in love is correlated, if only roughly, to the amount of yourself you invest in the relationship.

2. High-quality bonds consistently yield more return than junk, and so it is with high-quality love. Stay with high-quality human beings. And once you find you that are in a junk relationship, sell immediately. Junk situations can look appealing and seductive, but junk is junk.

3. Research pays off. The most appealing and seductive exterior can hide the most danger and chance of loss. For most of us, diversification in love, at least beyond a very small number, is impossible, so it’s necessary to do a lot of research on the choice you make.

4. In every long-term romantic situation, returns are greater when there is a monopoly. If you have to share your love with others, if you have to compete even after a brief while with others, forget the whole thing.

5. The returns on your investment should at least equal the cost of the investment. If you are getting less back than you put in over a considerable period of time, back off.

6. Long-term investment pays off. The impatient day player will fare poorly without inside information or market-controlling power. To coin a phrase: Fall in love in haste, repent at leisure.

7. Realistic expectations are everything. If you have unrealistic expectations, they will rarely be met. If you think that you can go from nowhere to having someone wonderful in love with you, you are probably wrong.

8. When you have a winner, stick with your winner. Whether in love or in the stock market, winners are to be prized.

One could extrapolate quite a bit from Stein’s ideas. For example, would an oligopoly be a love triangle? Would the government bailout of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac be akin to a radical new kind of couples therapy, one that involves a live-in therapist?

Semantics aside, economics is rarely warm and fuzzy. Stein’s combination of the two in such a simple, succinct article is nothing short of genius.

  • Ryan

    Presumably, no love relationship should be sold at it’s peak;-)