Why Love is Tricky

Disclaimer: I am not speaking from the perspective of my current situation, as my current situation (hi Jenna) is quite nice. I am simply outlining what I believe I have observed during my years of dating and watching other people’s relationships.

Love is tricky. It’s hard to find, hard to keep, and hard to let go. It’s a huge pain, yet it’s almost always worth the effort.

Everyone on Earth is looking for a different set of criteria in a partner. Some of the things I’ve thought of are:

  • Physical Attributes
  • Intelligence
  • Education
  • Religious Leanings
  • Political Leanings
  • Sense of Humor
  • Stability
  • Sociability
  • Age
  • Ambition
  • Race (or color)
  • Hygiene
  • Fidelity

Every person has a set of criteria, and everyone weights those criteria differently. At the same time, every person is trying to date a “level above” where they are. In other words, people always start out shooting for someone they perceive to be “better” than their criteria, or “better” than they feel they deserve. It’s a completely natural thing to try.

The problem is, it rarely ever works. The most common way we see this play out is the “hot” woman pursuing the “rich” guy. The hot woman, in many cases, hasn’t developed any of the other things on the rich guy’s “list” of criteria, but she lucked out, because “hot” was the criteria he had given the most weight to. On the other hand, he lucked out to get a hot girl, because he’s ugly… it just so happened that “rich” was her most highly weighted attribute.

Once hot girl gets the rich guy… she starts believing her own press, and decides that not only does she deserve rich guy, but that she might even be able to “upgrade.” So, she starts looking around for someone rich AND hot, which happens to be her second highest weighted attribute.

Rich guy, on the other hand, realizes that he has gotten hot girl, and then thinks… “hmmm, maybe I sold myself short… I am RICH after all.” So rich guy goes out and starts looking for someone hot AND ambitious, his second highest weighted attribute.

This cycle continues until the “upgrade” fails, because the person has tried to upgrade beyond their means. In business, it’s referred to as the “Incredipeter Principle.” (No relation to me) A person will always be promoted to their level of incomIncredipetence.

So the only way people will be happy in a relationship is if they both accept their “status” and find someone who is roughly the same status as them. Fortunately, with 6 billion people in the world, there’s almost bound to be someone of your status who also has your set of criteria in roughly the appropriate weights.

Let’s pretend, for example that “hot” is your number one criteria (a stupid number one to use, but probably the most common). Let’s assume that 1% of the population is “Ridiculously Hot,” 10% of the population is “Really Hot,” 21% is “Hot,” 40% is “Average,” 12% is “Below Average,” and 16% is “Hideous.” These percentages are my estimates and are not based on actual research.

If someone in the “Hot” category manages to snag someone in the “Ridiculously Hot” category, suddenly there aren’t enough “Ridiculously Hot” people to go around. The only way the system works without breaking down is if everyone stays in their own category. I’m not suggesting a caste system, but I am suggesting that you won’t be happy unless you stay within your means.

I’m also not suggesting that hotness alone is any kind of classification. Classifications are the sum of what makes you who you are. Let me introduce you to my “Dating Classification Matrix.”

Click to enlarge

This is a theoretical matrix created for myself. Keep in mind these inputs are self-selected, which means there is undoubtedly bias in the score. As you can see, I ended up with a weighted score in the high 4’s. So, according to my hypothesis, I will be happy in a relationship with someone else that is in the high 4’s, and shares the same answers on the open-ended questions.

Since this tool isn’t widely used (yet), you can rate yourself, and then rate the object of your affections. You will see in an instant whether you are above or below your means, and you will also be able to see where your biggest incompatibilities lie. Very helpful, indeed.

So, download the Excel spreadsheet below and go rate yourself… I know you’re going to. (Note: Place an “x” in the box corresponding to your answer)

Click Here to Download the Spreadsheet

  17 comments for “Why Love is Tricky

  1. November 16, 2006 at 11:56 am

    Alright, I don’t know how this works because I am neither religious nor political so I put an X under 1 for each … and scored in the high 4’s. Which means what? I have dated “above” in terms of wealth/fame/education and “below” in terms of income/education/attractiveness. And still I am single and cannot meet a decent guy. Explain THAT.

  2. November 16, 2006 at 12:07 pm

    Clearly my list of criteria are not all-inclusive. They include most of the criteria I would personally use.

    As for “above” in some and “below” in other areas… the point is that you have to look at the total weighted score, not at individual line items. So if someone is wealthy/famous/educated, but they aren’t rich/educated/attractive, then it sounds like they’d work out to about a 3… perhaps that’s why you haven’t been happy… you’re selling yourself short.

  3. Dave
    November 16, 2006 at 1:16 pm

    How long did you spend on that spreadsheet? I think that spending time on such a spreadsheet might actually BE one of the factors you could include on the spreadsheet, for better or worse. 🙂

  4. HRT
    November 16, 2006 at 1:38 pm

    I objectively assessed myself at 5.1, Mrs. HRT also comes in at a 5.1 her higher hotness offsets my unasailable intellect. Ahhh, a match made in heaven. Maybe you have something here.

  5. November 16, 2006 at 1:41 pm



    Yes, I think I may be on to something, although it will require much vetting, testing, validation, and refinement.

  6. HRT
    November 16, 2006 at 1:42 pm

    p.s. I meant to say unassailable, what an ass of me. Maybe I need to lose a .1 point or twelve…

  7. November 16, 2006 at 2:23 pm

    You are also not taking into account the MASSIVE amount of luck involved in meeting somebody compatible who is also like-minded about wanting to be in a relationship.

  8. Dave
    November 16, 2006 at 2:53 pm

    Yeah, cause most people loathe the idea of being with someone who loves them. “It’s not a good time for me right now.” 🙂

  9. November 16, 2006 at 4:05 pm


    You made a SPREADSHEET.

  10. Jodie
    November 16, 2006 at 6:35 pm

    I think Incredipete has a spreadsheet for everything. Do you classify and store them the way you archive your blog?
    There has to be an “intangible” factor too. Some people just press your button, regardless of anything you can actually describe.

  11. November 16, 2006 at 8:46 pm

    My weighted score is 4.2. Who’s the bigger dork: the one who make the spreadsheet or the one who fills it out? 😉

  12. Livieloo
    November 16, 2006 at 11:23 pm

    That is hilarious. I love the way you think.

  13. Any
    November 17, 2006 at 9:12 am

    You put waaaaaaaaay too much thought into that.

    What a waste of time. Honestly.

    Folks spend too much time trying to figure it all out and try to make sense of it, and the thing is Incredipete? That’s all B.S.

    Be who you are. Form authentic real relationships with who you want. Don’t play games. Don’t make graphs.

    felt like I just walked into a nerdy highschool A.V club were they are trying to figure out relationships. Let’s graph the hotness to money ratio…and we’ll see in what quadrent you fall into..

  14. Wen
    November 17, 2006 at 10:38 am

    Hey Incredipete, did you get something in the mail from me?

  15. November 17, 2006 at 11:56 am

    WEN! I picked it up last night from the post office!

    It’s beautiful! (And it smells really good… my entire car smells good now…)

  16. Rik
    November 17, 2006 at 2:27 pm

    You can’t quantify love. It takes the fun and mystery out of it. Your heart only works after it’s been broken. Doesn’t make much sense but hey, i didn’t make the rule.
    Anyway i scored 4.5

  17. November 17, 2006 at 3:54 pm

    Any, I’m afraid I don’t have much hotness or money, so my score would be much lower on that matrix.

    It WAS a waste of time… intentionally. I hope to God no one thought I was actually serious with this thing…

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