The Daily Tar Heel

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Sunday January 29th

Professor explains economics of true love

DTH/Amanda Purser
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Dating is like looking for a job, economics professor Ralph Byrns says.

The money you think you should earn is like the girl you want to date. If you’re expecting too much, then you already limit the possibilities.

“The higher the standard you set, the less likely you are going to find somebody to have a relationship with,” Byrns said.

Ralph Byrns’ tips on finding love:

  • Learn to know and be comfortable with yourself.
  • Make a list of what attributes are important to you in a partner.
  • Find someone with common values and a similar life philosophy.
  • Understand that you and your partner won’t be exactly the same. Debate with one another, but don’t fight.
  • Don’t cling to your partner. If they choose to be with you, that’s a great relationship.
  • Find someone who takes responsibility for making their world work. These are the people you want to fall in love with.

About 300 listened to Byrns give his annual lecture about the relationship between economics and finding love Thursday in Carroll Hall.

He used economic concepts and terms to explain how to get into the right relationship.

For example, if the demand and supply for love are perfectly inelastic — meaning no matter how you treat them, they’ll love you the same — Byrns advises you to run away as fast as you can.

If you don’t get out of the relationship, he said, you might end up with a partner who will have a hard time letting go.

“I married my wife because I couldn’t do any better, that is the truth,” said Byrns.

Byrns said people can make themselves more lovable by identifying personal attributes and values.

He also encouraged students to make a list of characteristics they find important in a partner. Intelligence, he said, should be near the top.

“Some people think, ‘If I am smart and she is stupid, I will be able to manage her,’” Byrns said. “That is just incredibly naïve.”

He also told students that if finding somebody who is really good looking is on top of your list, you better be good looking yourself.

Finally, he advised students to use time in college to figure things out.

 “You need to become an adult,” he said. “You need to find out who you are, you need to find out what you are interested in. And if you know you are a worthy person in your life then the odds of finding someone to spend your life with have gone up monstrously.”

Although many students attended the talk because they are taking economics with Byrns and were promised extra credit for being there, most found him extremely funny and others appreciated his advice.

“I went because he is funny,” freshman Will Wright said. “But he had some good ideas and some of the stuff he said related to me.”

Contact the University Editor at udesk@unc.edu. 

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