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 framework which is meant to help people in prioritising their preferences for a partner. I am calling it the “5 by 3 principle” of arranged marriages. I’ve seen it work well for people who genuinely apply it to their partner search. In fact, this might work for just about any major life decision in your life. I think. Try it and tell me, may be?
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, salary, 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 interactions (action and reaction), day in and day out. It’s what you do to your partner, how they react and vice-versa.
You could scream at your partner, they may take it lying down, or they could scream at you and it might shake the living daylights out of you. After a point, this interaction goes on auto-pilot. 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 into a relationship. But you can always lay out your non-negotiable conditions to hedge yourself against unpleasant situations that could occur over and over again in a relationship.
How do you do it?
Here’s where you use 5 by 3 principle. It’s simple. You just have to list the things you want from a relationship. Start with as long as list as you want, and then, sort the list 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. Now, whether this is top 3 or top 5 is upto you to decide but let that list not be endless else the exercise is pointless.
Here are a few examples of things people typical say they want from relationships:
- Mutual respect and equality
- Great conversation with intellectual stimulation
- 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 top 5, ask yourself what are the “not so pleasant things” you can put up with in a relationship. 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 a relationship, and will require you to come 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 you are willing to put up with because that’s where you are drawing your boundaries. Those are the actions for which you are already equipped with a reaction. Now, unknowns are going to be unknowns, you don’t know what you don’t know. You could learn that your tolerance to over socialising 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 by 3 list, what next?
Essentially, each time you meet someone in the market, take a look at your 5 by 3 list and ask yourself how this person fares on your list. Where you ser the cut-off is your call, but it’s important to have a cut-off before you even begin to evaluate. I’d say if they are a 4-1 at least, you should consider giving them a real run for their money.
If not, run. I’m sure you know what to do.
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.