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In the last few months, I cannot count the number of times I have tried to help people prioritise their partner preferences through M.B.A. So, I created this 5-3 rule which helps people in sorting out their preferences. I know it works when people genuinely follow it. In fact, this might work for just about any major life decision. I think. Try it and tell me, may be? But let me explain this in the context of choosing a partner in the arranged marriage market. Rest, you go figure.

So, who should you marry? What should you optimise for?

Dating apps and matrimonial sites have made us believe that what constitutes a happy marriage is our partner’s caste, mother tongue, education, profession, salaries, height, weight, body type, etc. Now, I am not saying all of this is B.S., but I have an alternate view – Relationships are essentially a series of actions and reactions, day in and day out. It’s what you do to your partner and what your partner does to you. You could scream at your partner, they might take it lying down, or they could scream at you and it might shake the daylights out of you. After a point, this happens on auto-pilot, so essentially, it’s the initial set of actions and reactions, that occur repetitively without us thinking twice.

Now, there’s no way to accurately predict how you or your partner would initially react to a situation when you enter a relationship relationship. But you can always lay out your . This way, you hedge yourself against unpleasant situations that could occur over and over again in a relationship.

How do you even optimise for what you want, you ask?

Here’s where you use my 5-3 rule. It’s simple. You just have to list the things you want from a relationship. Start with as long as list as you want, then, sort it based on what matters most. Then pick only the top 5 from this list. Remember that nothing from the rest of the list can ever beat the top 5. So keep going at it till you have your absolute top 5 things that matter.

Here are a few examples of things people have typically wanted from relationships:

  • Mutual respect
  • Great conversation with intellectual stimulation
  • Space
  • Being able to share responsibilities in life
  • Being able to talk things out and resolve issues

These things are usually deeply personal, and stem from past relationships, observing marriages around us or even movies.

Once you have your list of top 5 priorities in a relationship, ask yourself what are the “not so pleasant things” you can put up with given that all or some of the above 5 things are being met. After all, love’s not blind, it’s about all the faults you don’t mind. And no, I am not talking about faults like your partner being ugly, or not having a masters degree. I am talking about things that really have an impact on the relationship, and will take you coming out of your skin to make peace with it.

Here are a few examples of real faults (real, because they belong to real people):

  • Inability to make independent decisions, relying overly on his/ her family
  • Anger management issues
  • Lack of desire to build a life together

Now, you could be someone who is okay putting up with any or all of the above. Your reasons to do so may vary, but you need to build a list of 3 things in a relationship you are willing to put up with because that’s where you are drawing your boundaries. Those are the actions you know how to react to. Now, unknowns are going to be unknowns, you don’t know what you don’t know. You could learn that your tolerance to over socializing might be very very low, and that might become a deterrent in the future, but you’ll always find something much more positive to counterbalance it, in a healthy relationship.

Once you have the 5-3 list, what next?

Essentially, each time you meet someone in the market, take a look at your 5-3 list and ask yourself how this person fares on your list. I’d say if they are a 4-1 atleast, you should consider giving them a real run for their money.

If not, I mean dash. I’m sure you know better.

Honestly, you could rationalise the shit out of anything in life. As cliched as it may sound, when you are ready to take the plunge, when you ready to settle down with someone, you’ll know. We all have pretty strong instincts, so sometimes, we’ve just got to listen. It ain’t love, it’s just instinct, so don’t get all excited thinking that you are getting a love marriage. Just saying.


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