Economics of a Heartbreak

It is expensive to fall in love with the wrong person.

People face tradeoffs. There is not just a scarcity of men as in the ratio of men to women. There is really a scarcity of love. There is no equity in love either – there is no means to distribute it fairly. However, technology allows efficiency for it – such as the use of social media, online dating sites and/or tinder.

The person waves at you in Facebook or swipes you right in tinder. Those are nudges! The other person wants you to respond. And you did. You eventually meet.

Economics assumes that people are rational, you think of costs and benefits. You see negative aspects of the person; you think that there can be marginal changes – small incremental adjustments that can be changed over time. Rational? maybe not!

He takes you to movies, gets you coffee and brings you home. You respond to those incentives just like probably all other people will do.

Eventually, you said, “Yes!” However, there are no marginal changes in his attitude that happened after a long while. He becomes worst. You said Yes to the wrong person.

The inevitable happened. It ended in a heartbreak.

You made a promise to yourself to not fall in love with the wrong person again. You work hard. Sport a new hair. Enroll in the gym. Get the body you think you deserve. Or maybe you eat more. Eat chocolates. Drink beer. All these costs because inflation does not matter to a broken heart.

If you are the friend of someone who is in this situation, you also suffer negative externality, right? You are supposedly just a bystander in their relationship. Yet, when it failed, you also invested the same hatred to the one who broke your friend’s heart. While government can sometimes improve market outcome by internalizing this externality, but government is yet to make a subsidy of the cost you incur also of joining your heartbroken friend to where ever he/she wants to go or where to eat. There is no ‘heartbreak leaves’ available either.

So, fall in love to the right person. But that is not my advice because it is easier said than done. It is not easy to find the one.

What is my advice then?

Make being single a worthwhile season.

The best thing about being single is your availability to do a lot of things. You have the freedom to say ‘Yes’ to many things. Yes to late night movies. Yes to random meet-ups. Yes to long hours of conversation in a coffee shop. Yes to starting a new passion in calligraphy or painting. Yes to possible career options. Yes to random vacations.

That is a lot of yes’! Say yes to things that add value to who you are.

Make your ‘yes’ a gift to the world and to the people around you.

Serve your family. Visit friends who are sick or hurting. Share your life to young people who need a good model and a good influence. Serving other people is one of the noblest things that you can do in this season.

All this Yes’s are expensive too. I agree! But think of the opportunity cost.

That is the opportunity cost of falling in love with the wrong person. While in that relationship, you have actually given up more on the right people in your life – your family, your friends.

Remember this, “Money can’t buy you love.” Do not easily respond to nudges and incentives.

Ultimately, love is a good thing. But being single is a good thing, too. Love and being single are not mutually exclusive terms.

But surely, in economics, it is more expensive to fall in love with the wrong person.

This is a requirement in my class' Ted Talk (MSIB 2020). 
I am not an economic expert.
Misuse economic principles are my own responsibility.
Admittedly, I have not use Tinder.

Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash

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