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How to find love using psychology

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How To Find Love Using Psychology: this isn’t about manipulating or tricking anyone. It’s about using ethical principles to be the very best you can be, and share that message with the right people.
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If there is one thing I have learned in my decades on this earth, it is this: Beware of a woman trying to set you up with her friend.

“She’s really nice and she has a great job and–” ZzzZzzz


Would I set up a female friend by saying, “You should meet him! He really loves Star Trek, and in particular he strongly supports the view of the Prime Directive when applied to–” (suddenly I notice she has suffocated herself with a plastic bag).

Today, we’re going to talk about using IWT principles to find LOVE. That’s right, people. You came to the man with no heart to discover how to make yours even bigger.

romancesmaller A friend sent this picture to me from an unnamed city. Love is already happening:
People are now matching on Tinder because their shared interest is “Ramit Sethi’s IWT.”
My life is officially complete. I give my blessing for my socially awkward readers to
flood the internet and find each other. You’re welcome. More on

We’ve talked a lot about how systems and psychology can improve finances, your career, even your inner psychology.

But love? That’s all from the heart!! Puppies and cuddles, Ramit!! How DARE you suggest being strategic about love? That’s so…UNROMANTIC!!

You’re delusional. Love marriages are a relatively recent phenomenon — something most people in America don’t realize.

I recently found two unusual and outstanding articles on strategically finding love, and I wanted to share them with you:

  • How to hack OKCupid: A PhD student used data to hack OKCupid and found the woman of his dreams. He created 12 fake OkCupid accounts and harvested 6 million questions and answers from 20,000 women all over the country.
  • Hacking the hyperlinked heart: A journalist reverse engineered her dating profile by creating male profiles and analyzing how popular females interacted. Her “super-profile” ended up landing her a ton of responses — including her now husband.

Now, I want to open it up to you.

How would you use IWT principles to find a great relationship partner? (Or, if you’re already in a relationship, how can you use them to have an even better relationship?)

Think creatively about testing, psychology, disqualification, language…all the things we cover in exhaustive detail on IWT.

By the way, this isn’t about manipulating or tricking anyone. It’s about using the ethical principles we’ve learned to be the very best you can be, and share that message with the right people.

Let’s see what everyone says in the comments below.

P.S. I’m hiring a talented, detail-oriented copywriter to help with very specific public-facing and internal copy. This is a highly challenging role and we’re looking for one very special person. Here are the details:

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  1. Not sure if this is specifically an IWT principal, but hey.

    I’ve been working to use what I’ve learned about rationality to improve my relationship (which was definitely NOT found in a strategic manner), and it’s paid off in spades.

    Through trying to be deliberate about understanding human psychology – why people act the way they do, what factors play into how they react to negative events – I’ve been able to avoid almost all potential arguments and fights.

    Essentially, being analytical has taught me to be empathetic, even if empathy isn’t a natural quality.

  2. My husband and I met on OKCupid. He has Aspergers, so dating rules and dances have never made sense to him. How did he get my attention? He saw that I liked Stargate and Star Trek (take that Ramit, not all girls are bored by Sci Fi) and he commented on it. No one else made that move before. It showed that he looked at my profile, not just my picture. We got talking and we discussed interests and philosophies. On the second date, he gave me his user manual. Yup, a literal user manual. This had descriptions on how he worked, why he worked that way, his schedule, what he expected from a relationship and many self reflections. We were married three months later. We didn’t get married for love, we married because we were compatible, had the same goals and we communicated well. Part of the communication was and is letting each other know what our expectations and needs are.

    • I think your story is cool!

      There are some boys I teach at my school who are Asperger’s – the user manual thing makes a lot of sense. It makes me wonder if that’s something they could use as they get older?

      And yeah – communication and compatibility.

    • James- they could totally use it as they get older. I would recommend them going through and updating it constantly. My husband is working on creating a template that people could use as a starting point to creating their user manual.

    • Love it.

    • wow.. this is amazing. And the fact that your husband has his own user manual makes everything extra awesome. It makes relationships easier when why they do certain things are laid out in writing as u know how to set the right kind of expectations and u know what to do or not to do to piss them off 🙂


    • Hey – We *all* could have our own user manual – wouldn’t that be great!

    • This reply is to James.
      Dear James, the boys who have the privilege of being your students are not Aspergers. They are human beings who have Aspergers. Please, please take the time to learn the difference.

    • This reply is to Rebecca.

      Thank-you for what you wrote.

      Point taken. They *are* boys who *have* Asperger’s.

      I won’t make that mistake again.

  3. 1) Go on a date
    2) Call her the next day and ask if she’ll refund the $50 I spent on her, using the script from the book
    3) She is now madly in love with me because of my negotiating skills

  4. […] Excerpt from: How to find love using psychology […]

  5. For online dating:

    1) In your “Looking For” section, be specific, come up with dealbreakers, and cut through the unwashed masses.

    This requires 80% of the work to be done upfront. List your ideal match – height, body type, hobbies, pets, smoking preference, religion/ atheism, languages, etc. No guarantees this will work, but it is better than not defining what you want. (Distance is a big one, since unless you don’t mind commuting and are already in the commuting habit, dating someone in another city – even an hour away – is not always realistic.)

    2) Consider positioning by worldview and specifically lifestyle/ money worldview.

    If you want the white picket fence suburban life, say so. If you want to live in the city and hate the countryside, say so. If you want to save all your money for trips together and never buy property, consider saying so. If you don’t want pets in your life, position yourself in advance. If you never want kids, definitely say so upfront or soon, rather than waste time. These attitudes could weed out people who would make you unhappy in the long run, even if they meet all your other ideal qualities.

    3) Consider long copy. There’s a famous copywriter who wrote a super-long dating profile who used disqualification like crazy and got a lot of responses. (Either they really were qualified candidates, or his qualification method just made unqualified people want him much more, I don’t know.)

    4) Test photos. One academic study I saw on the news last week tested two pictures of a guy with and without a guitar pitching for dates on Facebook. He received a much higher response rate for the one with him holding the guitar.

    5) Too many options is bad and dating sites probably know this. This is why adding too many people to your “favorites list” and continuing to look for someone “better” actually causes one to date less due to analysis paralysis and you end up staying longer on the sites. On this subject, watch Barry Schwartz’ “Paradox of Choice”. Willpower and the decision capacity are also sapped on these sites due to all the choices.

    6) Test copy written about THEM. One woman wrote “enough about me, lets talk about you” on her profile and obviously that set her apart. I doubt I’ve ever seen that before, so it’s worth testing profiles loaded with benefits for the other person. You are a human product in the virtual dating mall, obviously. 😛


    1) If you’re middle class or above, consider dating within your socio-economic level since divorce rates are much lower than average.

    2) Old quote to keep in mind: “Before marriage, keep both eyes wide open. After marriage, close one eye.”

    3) Use a Dream Job strategy – tell all your friends exactly who you’re looking for and ask them to send you leads.

    4) Create a simple dating system where you make rational decisions in advance in order to know whether to advance without relying just on emotion. Within this, decide in advance if you date in series or in parallel, and figure out in advance a system for that.

    5) Location & Relatives – If you’re a guy and your date lives in City X and her job and friends and especially her family and relatives are from City X, chances are that your entire life will revolve around City X, unless she has the wanderlust worldview that I mentioned above. But even then, nothing is guaranteed and chances are you will be pulled back at least several times per year to City X.

  6. Now that I think about it, there are a lot of similarities. First and foremost there’s the thing about hard work – nobody’s born perfect at dating, some people just have more practice. Spend the time and you can become good at it, too.

    Finding a partner can probably be compared to finding a company you want to work at. It’s a little harder to investigate potential candidates and networking with people who know them sounds a little weird, but the general idea is the same. Once you have a candidate, spend a little more time than the average applicant and get disproportionate results.

    Once you’re on a date, that’s a pretty much like an interview. You’re trying to show that you’re the right person and a lot of the same principles apply. Be clean (duh). Don’t ramble. Have confident body language. Ask interesting questions. You may want to avoid negotiating based on the number of other offers you have though.

    This may be stretching the comparison a little, but isn’t following through on relationships a lot like following through on anything else? In that you can’t rely on motivation, or in this case the initial burst of love, to carry you through all of it, so you should build habits instead? Sounds about right.

    That’s interesting to think about…

    • That’s true about dates being like an interview!

      I used to make sure I had questions – but also that I listened and responded.

  7. My friend made a comment several weeks ago about how obviously I would have dated my now husband regardless of his job, that we would have fallen in love even if he didn’t have a good income. She was shocked when I said that if he hadn’t had a decent job I probably wouldn’t have even gone on a date with him.

    Luckily my husband understood and wasn’t offended.

    Red flags like having a crappy job without trying to change or not owning a car were instant disqualifies for me. Not because I’m greedy, but because those things are indicators of bigger characteristics that are probably not compatible with my own.

    And in my relationship: I find testing to be a great way to find a solution to problems.

    Ex. My husband doesn’t like how much time I would like to spend with friends. After quite a while of having passive arguments about it I finally decided to test three solutions.

    1) ignore his negative reactions
    2) be overly encouraging of his hobbies and friendships with the hope he would return the favor
    3) have a discussion/argument about it

    I tried them in that order since it was in escalating difficult and unfortunately the first two weren’t successful so we ended up arguing about it anyway. BUT trying the first two solutions out for two months beforehand helped me to be more calm, to have better arguments as to why it was a problem for me, and made it into more of discussion than an argument and we both were able to see the other persons point of view.

  8. This is an interesting post – a different area!

    For me, I was actually quite strategic when I was looking for my now wife. Here’s what I did.

    1) clear out rubbish from the past
    I saw how much the scripts from my teenage experiences were informing my approach at that time. Once I saw that, I got in touch with my first love, and let it all go. There was no room for be to be an adult!
    2) create something I wanted
    I actually sat down and brainstormed who they’d be ‘being’ what they’d ‘do’ and what they’d ‘have’. I went into quite a bit of detail – starting with the being. IMHO the ‘do’ and the ‘have’ start with the ‘being’. I then created scenarios I could use for testing. For example, I wrote I wanted the woman I was with to be comfortable – even if I went to the bar to get a round of drinks, and she was left with a group of my friends. This is a measure for someone who’s ‘at home with themselves and confident’. Making it specific like this made it easier to qualify people on dates…
    3) give authentic compliments to women
    Once I’d created, it was then a case of meeting. Problem was I didn’t know a lot of women. I started to give genuine compliments to the women around me. Suddenly, I started meeting a whole lot more women. Thinking about it, it wasn’t ‘magical’ it was that I got over the fear of speaking to women – by having something real to say to them.
    4) use dates to test
    I used dates for testing lots of different strategies – for me, and for them. I used my list to qualify women. Brilliant indicators for me were books they’d read, music they’d listened to, or shops they went to. The hardest part was actually saying ‘no’ to women who were not 100% all I wanted. It would have been easy to settle – but I chose to wait.

    I’ve now been married for almost seven years. All the good things are even better, and all the bad things are even worse – but I’m truly alive!

    One thing I’ve started to do more in my marriage that’s making it even better? Shut The Hell Up. It’s help me *really* understand what’s going on with my wife.

    Thanks to everyone for all the cool replies too – it’s inspiring to read.

  9. You forgot to mention your Indian parents who must expect you to strategically marry…some references to horoscopes would have been fun, too.

  10. Friends and family (mostly family) sometimes give me advice about how to be more physically attractive. Recently, it was often framed at how to be more attractive to the person I was in/pursuing a relationship with (stuff’s complicated). I pretty quickly realized that I shouldn’t be taking any of that as relationship advice. The thing that would make or break that relationship wasn’t physical attraction, so I wasn’t going to worry about looking any better than usual unless I wanted to.

    I suppose you could call that “focusing on big wins”. I tend to think of it as a more general technique about knowing which things can make the difference between winning or loosing.

    • Self improvement shows a commitment to take control of your life. IWT is all about the change necessary to live a happy life…so if you show signs of self improvement, you’ll attract self-improvers and scare away people stuck in ruts.

    • I think its great when there is focus on things other than looks. Most people these days are good looking anyways, so why not ask the important questions from the start. Why not pay attention and find out now rather than one year down the road, that your partner has no self awareness and doesn’t listen to anything that you say. Me and my friends rarely ever agree about who we are most attracted to, where after attracting to a girl’s personality, she automatically becomes the most beautiful girl we have ever seen.