Wednesday, September 24, 2008

How love works

In an excellent lecture on the MIT Open course ware site I learnt about how love works. This helped remove some of the misconceptions I had and explains the process in an intuitively appealing manner.

Lesson 1: There is no psychopathalogical method to fall in love

By a psychopathalogical method I mean: we do not fall in love because we are mad as is commonly proposed in literature and by poets such as (it would appear) Ghalib. There is an infatuation which is possible along those lines but love cannot derive solely from this experience. The reason why is answered in the last lesson.

Lesson 2: People don’t fall in love because of a certain ‘chemistry’

Indiana Jones is an excellent example of what would be proposed by the proponents of the chemical theory of love. They would say: two people work together and suddenly realize they are in love; it’s the chemistry that is actually at work that brings this about. This is also not true.

Lesson 3: How it works

There is a theory called the social exchange theory. It works on the following three rules:
1)One is attracted to those individuals with whom you have a positive social balance upon interaction.
2)You choose among a wide variety of individuals having positive balance those that give you the “most” positive balance “within” the time/opportunity you have available
3)A relationship is based on reciprocacity.

To elaborate on “positive social balance, upon interaction” would be to say that when one interacts with somebody there are some positives that you get out of the interaction and some negatives. These positives/negatives can be quite complex, but at the end of the day the ‘net balance’ is what counts.

So you meet those people, across any gender and walk of life who give you a positive balance on meeting them. Further with limited time you ‘economize’ and meet those people with whom you have the best time with.

Finally all relationships that are long term have to be reciprocal. So it’s not only person A pursing person B, but for it to work out person B has to want to pursue person A as well.

And on the basis of these three simple rules you make friends, decide who you want to meet and even fall in love.

That said one is always improving and getting better. That would mean you can keep making better friends and even up your chances of meeting a better partner.

So suppose you want to find a very good potential partner, what do you have to do to get that person to love you?

The answer is that if that person really is better then he/she will fall in love with you and you with her. What you would have to do is to ‘improve yourself' in all dimensions, whether that be in terms of financial security, social skills, social influence, charisma, self-control, physical health, or a number of other factors. So you work on yourself and you get the target.

This reminds me of a few beautiful rules explained by the movie revolver that I have written about earlier:
1)The smarter the opponent;
2)The smarter the game;
3)The smarter you get.

In fact Ghalib has also talked about this when he criticizes ‘Farhad’. Farhad fell in love with a Persian princesses ‘Shireen’ and to win her love he went forth to dig a stream of water through the mountains. Ghalib says to Farhad: “Love is not won by hitting your head against a stone”! But by working on yourself.


  1. Interesting..:)

    If you get some make it a point that you read "the Zahir" By Paulo Cohelo.