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Bubble Sort for Dating

Marriage

 

HBO is now producing TV shows about sleazy VC dating habits, and the New York Times, clearly responding to the internet’s desire for quality journalism, just ran a piece on Silicon Valley’s most eligible bachelors (although 3 are already paired up, according to Betabeat).

Given how the tech ecosystem is becoming the new Hollywood, I thought it would be timely to post the notes from a talk I delivered a few years ago with my wife at a Jewish singles conference: “Investment Banking in the Marriage Market: a systematic and efficient method to optimize yourself and find, evaluate, and sign the deal with your spouse.”

I met my wife 7 months after moving to the Upper West Side, which is a fairly short time span compared to most other singles in New York.  I spent a lot of time researching search strategies for sales of all kinds when I was writing The Virtual Handshake and worked on my research study on how private equity and VC funds find great companies. As a result, I was able to adopt an effective process-driven approach to finding my spouse. I confess, it’s not so romantic, but I’m not the only New Yorker who takes the spouse search seriously. See “Finance Guy Keeps Incredibly Detailed, Incredibly Creepy Spreadsheet of His Match.com Prospects“.

A New York Times article discusses a similar approach to dating and marriage used by Edward Conrad, former partner at Bain Capital:

“[Conrad] advocates… using demographic data to calculate the number of potential mates in your geographic area. Then, he says, you should set aside a bit of time for “calibration” — dating as many people as you can so that you have a sense of what the marriage marketplace is like. Then you enter the selection phase, this time with the goal of picking a permanent mate. The first woman you date who is a better match than the best woman you met during the calibration phase is, therefore, the person you should marry. By statistical probability, she is as good a match as you’re going to get.”

While the experience of falling in love may be irrational, finding a person to fall in love with should be a thoughtful and organized process; it just traditionally hasn’t been this way.  For example, most of you adopt an organized approach to finding a job: you create a resume, aggregate a list of potential employers, and systematically reach out to potential leads. But, how many of those looking to get married have an organized approach to finding a spouse?

Although it may not seem obvious, finding a spouse is similar to finding a job.  In fact, being a good spouse is a job.  It may not pay well, but has great benefits. No one is embarrassed to invest a lot of effort into obtaining appropriate job leads before we customize our resumes and apply for interviews; therefore, there is no reason not to invest at least as much effort in finding the person to marry.

In fact, the process of choosing your spouse should be given greater attention and thought than that to the job search process – it’s a richer, and longer-term, investment. When starting a job many people are aware that they are likely to quit before the end of their lives.  When entering matrimony, very few want to think that it is not going to last until the end.

Though it may be unconventional, it will likely pay off if you are proactive about your personal life – by taking the initiative to meet potential spouses, you only increase your chances of landing in a happy, life-long partnership. For more information on the topic, you might also be interested in my TEDx talk on “Online Dating is the Future of Your Business” (video).

Investment Banking in the Marriage Market

Photo: D Sharon Pruitt

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