Today we’re going to talk about love.
You can’t buy love, but what if you could? I mean, what if I had a machine that could make you fall in love with someone for the rest of your life? What should I charge for the use of that machine?Well, we should, first of all, be clear about what we mean when we say “love.
“I’m not talking about the love you have for your BFFs, or your love for your family, or your love of learning.
I’m also not talking about lust, an immediate attraction we have towards other people mediated by hormones like testosterone and oestrogen.
I’m talking about what happens later, when you begin to associate an immediate reward with one other person – what we call passionate love. This is what you see in new couples, where they wanna be with each other and are almost obsessed with each other.
Well psychologists have a really great term for that kind of love.
They call it limerence.
That’s right. Whenever you’re in this state and you do things like wake up super early to get a bagel with the person and even though you’re gonna miss class just because you wanna see them that badly, you’re exhibiting limerent behaviour. Okay, that sounds great.
But if I wanna sell love, I’m gonna have to find a way to measure it and it turns out to be quite a difficult task.
We do have a tool called the passionate love survey. It was developed by psychologists and it’s been found to be quite reliable when it comes to analysing other behaviours we associate with passionate love.
For instance, we found, using the survey, that men and women both experience the same amounts of passionate love when they’re in a relationship.
We’ve also found that men tend to fall in the love faster and sooner than women, who appear to be more cautious.
But we’re here to talk about money.
Interestingly, a UK study once looked at people who heard that someone else loved them. They heard the phrase “I love you” for the first time and they took the amount of happiness those people felt and compared it to the amount of happiness gamblers feel when they win large sums of money. Their conclusion, that hearing that someone loves you for the first time is the equivalent happiness level of receiving 267,000 dollars.
But when you go beyond passionate love to committed long-term love, there’s all kinds of practical benefits marriage brings.
In fact, it’s been estimated that tax breaks and health care costs all together mean that being married is the equivalent of receiving an extra 100,000 dollars a year.
Now we have a lot of ways of visualizing the effect having money has on a person.
For instance, we know that in wealthier countries people report feeling respect more often. They also report eating tastier foods, for instance. But here’s what’s really awesome. Take a look at the graph of wealth against love. It doesn’t matter. Love is democratic, no matter who you are or how much money you have, people all over the world are feeling it. It should be noted that having more money does not necessarily equate to being more happy.
This is what’s known as the hedonistic treadmill. Getting more money helps with happiness, but only up to a certain point.
In United States that point is about 75,000 dollars a year. At that point, more money has diminishing returns on how happy it makes you.
Another thing that correlates to having more money, more wealth, is living longer, having a larger life expectancy.
But you know what else correlates to living longer? Love.
But not just passionate love, the kind of love that follows it – committed, long-term love.
In fact, people who form life-long pair bonds with another person live, on average, 15% longer.
So if you wanna be really non-hard-scienc-y about it, all other things being equal and assuming that you’re not already super super rich, finding a pair bond, finding a relationship that lasts for life is the equivalent of making about an extra 30 to 40 thousand dollars a year. Now, like I said, that’s not hard science,but you know what is? Vasopressin and oxytocin, the chemicals that are exuded in people’s brains when they look at photos of people that they formed committed, long-term relationships with. These chemicals are incredible.
We’ve also seen elevated levels of them in dogs that have been pet for really long time.
And we also know that couples who receive high levels of these chemicals resolve conflicts faster.
And, people who struggle to produce these chemicals in their brain have a similar struggle when it comes to forming long-term relationships. In fact, you can raise your levels of oxytocin or vasopressin inside your own brain by simply looking into someone else’s eyes.
So, in a way, looking into the eyes of somebody that you like is the administration of a psycho-activedrug that’s addictive and the long-term consequences are living longer.