What is your 'mate budget'?

I was going through this post: "Banking on Love", and it actually set off a train of thoughts that seemed so intuitively correct that I am writing about it. Go through the article: it will take 10 minutes of your time, but perhaps you will be able to see my point better.

When choosing a mate, (or if you prefer the euphemisms then your 'love for life'), what actually do you look for? Yes I know that most of us will agree that if we were looking for the 'fling' thing, physical characteristics will be a far more important criteria than whats inside the head. In fact, when Dr. Li's research says that women tend to choose very similarly as men when they are looking for a short-term 'thing', I think I couldn't agree more. At the end of the day, if suddenly you feel like 'just doing it', how much will the other characteristics matter, anyway? Face it --- whether you are a man or a woman, these feelings just happen, they just grab you at times, and a little self-analysis will tell you what you want.

But what about the long-term relationships? Is it just hormones at play to create a genetically better offspring? Or is it more about the chocolates, flowers, mushy-gushy talk and something which we can only define as 'love'? I believe, that at the lowest subconscious level, it is indeed nothing but the hormones at work, the raw animal instinct to procreate and produce better or 'more fit' progeny. But it is an ugly face that we carefully want to avoid at most times: and our mating ritual involves all that happens right from the mush-talk to the elaborate marriage ceremonies. Besides, to be more honest, why do we need to bother about how exactly the pastry we eat gets converted into the gooey stuff in the morning? All that matters is that it tastes good, and perhaps completes a perfect dinner.

Another important point raised is the 'mate budget': how attractive do you think you are? We all want the best in life: we want to get someone who looks as hot as a smoking pot, is as intelligent as a grandmaster, is as fun to be with as your best buddy... and the list goes on. Now, really, do we all possess the perfect figure? Are we so intelligent to be able to handle the other person? On a scale of 1 to 10, what do you rate yourself to be on those lines? That is exactly as much as you deserve! To quote, again, "we each have a budget, determined by the qualities we bring into the mating game, be they good looks, generosity, kindness or an impressive job. That budget determines who’s available to us as a potential partner". So anything more is a bonus... and that is why when we are choosing a partner for life, it is prudent to choose someone who is or can be more a great friend than someone who has all these truckloads of qualities and yet is not a friend. I believe be it an arranged marriage or a love marriage, we must be placing this quality somewhere as one of the final judging tools, and I guess it must be one of the best. You cannot be with someone forever because at one time you fell in love with him/her (Trust me they were your short-term hormones at work then). But we can spend a lifetime with someone who we perceive as a great friend. Sometimes love is not enough, but friendship is.

There is surely some interesting research going on at my university!
Peace! :)


  1. What u wrote here is very true....'love' what we feel is more about hormones at play but true friendship spells compromise,sacrifice and commitment which are the key ingredients to a successful relationship.Another significant about friends is they manage to gather at least some 'attempt' to listen and understand us which lacks in most relationships becoz of the 'ego' thing and eventually leads to all sorts of misunderstandings and then a break up.

  2. Interesting topic.. :-) Can’t wait to read all the comments on this one:-)

    If you go by hormones then people would jump on to the first person they see;-) So I think its not that (my opinion). You just kind of know when you meet the right person.
    Its not love or even friendship.. it’s the first impression & first feel you get of that person.. If the person is 30% OK looking & 20% interesting then even if the rest is empty brain it works:-) I hope I made sense:-)

  3. Anonymous, thanks! I agree with what you say as to why friendships are a better way of maintaining a relation --- but I also don't think that a deep freindship is a prerequisite for getting married (especially in arranged marriages). The point is to see that the other person is friend quality material.

    P.S. - Why did you go anonymous while posting this?

    Mommyof2, yeah well the comments will come some slowly :)

    Just to clarify, I am not telling that the hormones are the only thing at work. But I do think that they are active at a very basic level. Don't teenagers fall for every other person they see --- what else but hormones then? Meeting the right person is a different matter altogether... something called a 'frequency match', which is a prerequisite to a great friendship.

    30% looks and 20% interesting and the rest is empty brain? :D Wow! Imagine a matrimonial ad with that punchline! :D

  4. Eh? This is too difficult a topic to comment on. On second thoughts why are people researching this in the first place? Understanding yourself is half the fun of life.

    Such research umm... seems rather pointless to me. I dunno... just my thougts!

  5. Wow! This topic would have been more interesting, if you have written about the "actual" budget of maintaing a partner. :-)

  6. Hi...well unfortunately i dont blog but enjoy reading ur posts,the reason being why i wrote the earlier comment as anonymous...well friendship is not a prerequisite for marriage,definitely...it just acts as an add on..dats got to do with ur destiny....but in the end there's nothing like 'love' or 'friend'....but a pragmatic attitude whether it be in career,education or a relationship...coz u realise there's more to life than just loving n caring as u age.

  7. Interesting thoughts!!! From Mr.Li's explanations, I interpret that 'requirments' could be classified into

    1. Those comforts that you get only from your spouse like $%&/ etc etc... these requirements are influenced greatly by hormones.

    2. The general category of traits that makes a person very comfortable with another like trust, kindness, generosity n blah blah blah...

    On reading your thought that one should check whether your to-be spouse is a friend material or not, I was thinking on how one makes friends. Its prolonged exposure to a person, I feel. In the meantime, you tend to discover in them some of the qualities that comprise your 'mate budget' (the second general category). Don't you ? Why do you have only a few friends in your school or college when there are a whole bunch of people in there ? Not all could be friends. They may be, well, good acquintances. Not friends. Only a few acquintances turn out to be your friends(Thanks to the second category of traits you have found in them).

    So, with prolonged exposure alone, in my opinion, one could know whether someone is a 'friend material' or not.

    So based on our way of getting married (ie., arranged), in my opinion, we have no choice but to look for the first category of traits ie., the ones our hormones tell us to look for.

  8. Supremus, well, research into the human psychology isn't of any material benefit directly, I suppose. But then look at the other side of it: tomorrow when someone decides to marry or even isn't sure if he/she has found the right person for life, this piece of research will surely help in introspection.

    Alka, yeah well maybe you could start a tag and try to pass that around: total budget of 100 points, how do you distribute the stuff among your preferences for the Mr or Ms right? Want to take this up?

    Anonymous, oh its ok then if you are anonymous: I was just wondering about this since you didn't appear to be a MAC :)

    Also, I agree with what you say: sometimes it makes more sense to step out of the lovey-dowey thoughts and take a pragmatic look at your life: it sure helps to know where you are headed.

    Anonymous, prolonged exposure is definitely necessary to cement the friendship. That is why even in arranged marriages these days the two people are usually allowed (or they prefer) to be with one another for some months to understand the each others' psyche. You see, the little actions of everyday life tell us a lot more about the person than the grand orchestrated meetings. We find good friends among acquaintances chiefly because we observe them in closer circumstances. Doesn't it so happen that your first room-mate who you never knew turns out to be your best buddy for the whole of college life or even later, provided there is an initial 'frequency match' and the two of you remain in your rooms for a greater part of the day?

    Hence, when you go to choose a life partner through an arranged marriage, it is about finding whether the 'frequency match' happens or not, and to observe how the other person behaves in the smaller ways of life. Once there is a perception of having met a good person, you know that this can be cemented over time into a great friendship. And of course, you need to assure yourself that the other 'spousely' duties can be performed ;) Thus, I re-iterate what I wrote earlier: long term goals are not just hormones, there is the other factor of 'friend' quality that must be present.

    Whew, this discussion is surely turning interesting! :)

  9. We reap what we sow which in this xontext depends upon our characteristics and profile. Sometimesm, a good friend can be a good life companion.

  10. Interesting post :)
    About the part of self-evaluating one's worth in the mating game; this is also determined by many other factors. But more or less its one's relative worth in the sense that if you are deserted on an island with a bevy of beauties then whatever mental picture you may have of your mating quotient, everything goes for a toss. But normally how a person evaluates oneself is generally correct and correspondingly one's expectations. But does that mean if I evaluate myself at say 80 and then have trouble getting dates with people I perceive at that level I have to change my level ? And this will keep on dynamically changing until I find a stable mate (whatever that means). Perhaps adultery is affected by this factor also when one sudeenly realises (or may be deluded) that his/her level is higher that the present rating.

  11. Hiren, true, very true!

    Deepbluenpurple, thanks, and welcome onboard!
    Ok, you provide interesting insights into the whole game! I agree with your argument for relative worth: people in places with skewed sex ratios (such as engineering colleges or arts classes) have a much higher relative rating. But if, as you say, you percieve yourself to be at 80 and are constantly refused a date by another who you too think is at 80, the bigger factor here is the 'frequency match' and the willingness to go out of a date (or to find a date, for that matter). Therefore, for example, if you were at 80 and were to ask out a gal who rates herself at 50 (on some scale in the total budget of 100), your chances would be much better. Adultery, hmm... I'll have to think on that one

  12. Yupps. Bang on doctor. but you also have to factor in stuff like what a person's mental make up is at a point of point."Marry in haste, Repent at leisure" is true enough

  13. Prometheus, well, thanks! And welcome onboard...

    Yes the mental state does come into the picture as well. I guess here we were talking about people who carry a stable head on their shoulders and then take the plunge! :)


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