How to find love using psychology

Ramit Sethi

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.

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.

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  1. Thomas Frank

    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. Tek

    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.

    • James

      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.

    • Tek

      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.

    • Anna Marie

      Love it.

    • lin

      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 🙂


    • Pat

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

    • Rebecca

      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.

    • James

      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. Richard

    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

    • Ramit Sethi


  4. How to find love using psychology | TinderNews

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

  5. Justaperson

    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.

    • Cara

      That’s interesting…..I like your line of thinking. Mind if I borrow it? 😉

  6. Willi

    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…

    • James

      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. Ashley

    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. James

    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. Ines

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

  10. Kim

    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.

    • AJ

      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.

    • Corey

      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.

  11. CP

    Strangely enough, I think of Ramit’s advice constantly. I’m 24/single/female and I know I haven’t been ready to be in a relationship BUT, I’ve used his cues to signal when it’ll be okay.

    For now, my online dating accounts are disabled. Why?: Ramit strategy #1: Don’t do things you don’t want to do / Don’t feel guilty over things you don’t have time to do. SAY NO.

    Ramit strategy #2: Be a good person. I stopped smoking 5 months ago, and have subsequently gained about 20lbs. Do I look like my VERY BEST SELF? No. However, I don’t wake up hacking and I don’t smell. GRADUAL CHANGES bring permanent positive changes. (IWT #3)

    (Also I started using public transit instead of my car because it gets me walking and I save more than $400/month. Honorable IWT Mention.)

    IWT Strategy #4 (and one that I think about LOTZ) : 80% of the work is done before you walk into the room. So, if I’m to date someone who I won’t absolutely effing loathe in 3 months, I need to walk into a situation being the best person you can be, in hopes that the remaining 20% will only get BETTER. Many women’s mags promote self-love. That’s def a part of it. But when you look at the 80/20 ratio, you can digest it better.

    One thing I have trouble with though, is finding what guys actually want to talk to me about. My tinder bi-line used to be “I read as much Forbes as I do xoJane” but that didn’t exactly mean I talked to anyone particularly great. And like, talking about IWT will give away my ~*womanly secrets*~.

    • whuz

      Good for you! Keep working!

  12. Laura Brown

    I used strategy actually to find my husband, and we’ve been married for 10 years, and have 2 (#3 will be here in a month) children. I broke the first barriers when I ignored the convention and sat next to him in class (he was by himself). We also both erased the scripts and excuses that normally held us back from new relationships. It hasn’t always been perfect, but actually, we’re still using principles of IWT to change our current circumstances (he’s a SAHD, while I work full-time). Through testing and working through some barriers, we’re slowly but surely adding the scripts from IWT to help him find a job with virtually no experience, so I can stay at home, all while we move to a completely different city.

  13. patrick

    Be willing to reject people who aren’t a good fit for you. And set up a way to systematically meet lots of people so you will be willing to walk away if it’s not a fit.

    Oh, and bushy eyebrows. You have to have bushy eyerows. Ramit, if this info product thing doesn’t work out for you, maybe you should sell bushy eyebrows. You can even use the same list you already have.

    • Mike

      Agreed. Lush bushy eyebrows are crucial.

      Having a dating system, and automating it, are important, but without lush bushy eyebrows, every system will fail, every time.

  14. Corey

    Ok let’s see if I cant go heartless for a moment here.

    Potential girlfriend/client-

    Attract her with your charming free content. Perhaps make a small initial investment, on her, and therefore on you.

    Now she wants to sign up for your email list (get phone number, so you can have an ongoing “customer/client” relationship.)

    Wait a while to contact her, so as to not seem desperate for the sale, and never spam her! Clients don’t like that.

    When your ready to give her a call (send out a email), don’t try to sell just yet. Depending on how you know her, maybe you’ll talk on the phone or go have coffee, but before any big move you want to talk to her, and find out what she wants. If you listen closely, she just may tell you exactly what she wants without having to outright ask her. Read between the lines so that in a certain way, you get to know your client, erm I mean potential date, better than they know themselves.

    Think of how Ramit makes the sale. Before he has ever asks us to buy anything were like “Come on, when is he gonna ask us? I want to buy now!” If possible, know that the sale will happen before you try.

    If she doesn’t click right over to your product page and buy herself (she is sure, she just wants YOU to ask), then it’s time for sell mode. Tell her what you want (Like Ramit said “don’t just kind of sell”) She needs to know your sure about selling. She wants to know that your confident in your product, and that you truly believe she is the right customer for it. Lol I made “product,” sound dirty.

    Sold! Why? Because you knew already, that what you have is what she wants.

    You should to add fresh content (self improvement) and an occasional investment (no explanation needed) to keep this ongoing relationship interesting, and profitable.

    • Kim

      Continuing the sales metaphor, I’d hope that a good salesperson also knows to move on when a potential client really doesn’t want what they’re selling.

    • Corey

      Absolutely, good point!

    • Shawn

      You are very intuitive and brilliant at the same time!

    • Corey

      That’s very nice! What a supportive community this is

  15. Brian

    Both of the articles you link to, Ramit, are about people that were deceitful. (The math guy lied about the importance of the topics; the woman had the fake profiles.) They got what they wanted, but that’s a pretty shitty way to treat total strangers.

  16. Maggie

    I got out of my last relationship largely because I wasn’t willing to settle for an unhappy life anymore. I finally stopped and said “Do I want to spend the rest of my life with this person?” and then “If I don’t want to spend my life with him, why am I spending my life with him now?”

    Since then I’ve learned to look for very real deal breakers – if they don’t have a job it’s a flag, a flag that’s only really countered by them being very actively engaged in putting their career on track. What are you doing trying to date when you are jobless/mopey/hating your career? YOU HAVE SHIT TO HANDLE. You’re gorgeous and funny and nice, so call me when you’ve got your life plan going.

    It took a lot of work for me to reject the invisible script that said I’d be missing out on ‘great guys’ if I required them to be able to take care of themselves. That’s like the ‘Follow your passion! It’ll work out!’ crap you hear after graduation. I may have a passionate crush on that dude with the sexy hair who has never held down a gig for more than 3 months. This doesn’t make him a good option.

    I’ve also taken the “take people you admire for coffee” idea out for a spin – sort of relationship-shadowing people who seem happy in their dating/relationships. Seeing what they do that keeps them going and happy in their chosen relationship helps me set goals, and start to picture if that’s what I want for myself. I’m the girl who brought a clipboard to the bar and did a term paper on the research – I don’t people watch, I people study.

    (btw – if you actually have a guy with strong feelings about the Prime Directive who’s also got his career/act together, help a girl out?)

    • Anna Marie

      I agree about the no-job being a red flag. I got out of a relationship years years ago because of that. He became complacent and it was holding me back. So I relocated for a new job and didn’t bring him with me. However, don’t be too hard when looking for a guy because he’s shaping his career. Sometimes we aren’t exactly in our chosen career fields but we are working towards them. If a man is willing to work no matter what and he can pay his roof over his head, food on the table and still enjoy everything around him and you while he’s building his way up, you have a keeper.

  17. Robert

    During college my friends and I created an “Engineered Dating Scale” That contained 12 different attributes to classify what was important. Attributes went from Earning Potential and Indepentency to less PC correct ones such as Estimated weight game.

    The goal in any date was to ask questions to as quickly as possible to define their rank and decide if you should move forward or end it. We decided that the observation period had to be made in less than 2 dates or emotions and feelings would skew the objective view. Also, once you were in a relationship or had already been in one it was left for your friends to do the observation of your GF to be “somewhat” more independent.

    It surely helped get through the no’s faster with less pain.

  18. Luis

    Your right buddy, for my point of view, a relasionship, rather a marriage o r being a couple, it’s like runing a bussines, both must have a clear goal, a clear ‘life project’, period.

    Here in my country it’s a sayint which tells ” El amor con hambre no dura” or starving love is not long lasting, so we were exposed, to those mental jerking offs, about, Disney princes stories, soap operas ( specially here in Latin America), Romatic comedies, and so on.

    so we get blind, ont an exuberanto woman, or in the case of gals, the prototipe od Disney Prince, or the hunch of a hollywood movie, so we use to think if we dont fit at that model, we’ll no have a chance.

    But here comes the point i want to ‘talk’ ( actually i’m writing), and its that, let’s take as a example, the couple of sweethearts, that met each other since highscoll, whom won the king and queen porm, so the gay goes under college, and make it big, so he start going up in corporate ladder, but a few years after he lost his job, so his wife left him, instead to support him.

    i’m saying that, under my personal expiriences, first of all i’d never fit onto socciety limitant beliefs, and since i was a young man, i ever quiestioned, some ways of thinking abut succeding in several fields.

    so, it’s ok to hae a good look, but not lefting out, your convictions just for follow the herd, in fact we are human beings, we have ego and the´re few people, who doesn´t matter hw they looks, but, just letting go about a pretty face, not thinking in the future and seen marriage as an investment, it will cost pretty much thing including money, and i dare to say so much greenback, that you can lose starting up a bussines or investing in the stock market.

    so let´s look this way, when you are an entrepreneur, so many persons tell you, that you dnt have ‘ common sense” or yi¿ou are freak, or just you are crazy, including your “family”, but when you make it big, every one wants to be your friend, and your relatives tell you that always them believed in you, and at that moment ypu realize how many ‘ you knw what’ had to ate.

    so a little bit similar happens, in ‘love’, when you are in some way, but you where obligated to change in some way , just becase, you have to fit, leeting off being faithful to your self, all people lokk at yu differently, and for ‘whatever reason’ girls start to talk you.

  19. Jonathan

    Dear Ramit:

    In your dream job module, you always talk about front-loading the work. The idea, to paraphrase yourself, is to have done 80% of the “work” before reaching out to a gatekeeper HR, before the interview and before negotiating the final offer. Speaking from a guy’s perspective, “front-loading” the work is improving yourself first, and then creating relationships, and love, based on that .

    A few comments on the blog mention front-loading but they’re skewed towards the “hack the OKcupid,” technological-solution-for-everything types. “Justaguy” wrote “Create a simple dating system where you make rational decisions in advance in order to know whether to advance without relying just on emotion.”

    WHAT? For anyone who’s had actual experience with women knows that they’re more emotional creatures than rational ones (when it comes to relationships). To use a DreamJob analogy, making the perfect OkCupid profile is like PERFECTING your resume down to the millimeter and forgetting that there’s an entire TROVE OF COMPETENCE/SUCCESS TRIGGERS outside of the one page document that REALLY lands you the job, and the girl for that matter.

    My main question for all these INTERNET WARRIORS is what they’d do once they actually go on the date. Most would be fucking clueless! Maybe they could fake it for one or two dinners but after that they’d be right in front of the computer again because they sucked the LIFE out of their date. What front-loading the work, in a relationship context, is improving yourself to the extent that you have SO MUCH (SOCIAL) VALUE TO GIVE that the girls/guys have no choice but to fall in love with you, or at least, entertain the idea of dating you.

    So what does this mean in practicality? At the very least, it means the usual: gym, good diet, positive mindset, purposeful life with ambitions and dreams. In addition, front-loading means building up such a HUGE ECOSYSTEM OF POSITIVE EMOTIONS that you give more than you take. To draw it back to the IWT concepts, Selena Soo once wrote a great primer on “How to get the attention of people above you.” The main takeaway was that in order to attract someone with much higher social value, you must give give give. Since so many people are stuck in scarce mindsets, they always try to take take take, which is needy and bland. I’m sure YOU RAMIT, feel that all the time. “GIVE ME TACTICS NOW!!!!!”

    How each individual builds an ecosystem of positive emotions is up to them, but for me, it took a lot of work AWAY FROM THE GIRL, in order to be able to GIVE IT once the opportunity arose. Once I started adopting this ABUNDANT MENTALITY, the entire game shifted for me. Instead of constantly trying to “score the next target” on OkCupid//Tinder, I’m habitually giving value away. Because I’m giving so much, relationships COME TO ME. Ramit, I know that’s how you get thousands of people to pay top dollar for your programs. Instead of doing individualized sales pitches, you give away so much value that the business literally comes to you in droves.

    That’s not to say you never promote IWT or that you never “close deals.” Analogously, that’s not to say I stand on the street corner and girls just jump on my cock. I put myself out there; I go to bars and I approach girls in cafes. But they can immediately sense I’m not trying to rip away any value from them, so it’s naturally attractive. And they’re more than willing to go on dates with me. And since I’m never trying to leech any value/happiness from them, these dates turn into relationships. I haven’t fallen in love yet, but I’m sure it’s going to happen.

    Thanks Ramit. You’ve taught me a lot and I’m super pumped you exist (if that makes sense).

    – Jonathan

    • Ramit Sethi

      Superb comment. Love the last line: “I haven’t fallen in love yet, but I’m sure it’s going to happen.” What could you do in your own life to ensure that kind of confidence?

  20. Paul

    There are plenty of valid IWT concepts to use in romance:

    1. Get advice from those qualified to give it
    – Just like you wouldn’t ask someone who is broke for money advice, don’t ask someone who doesn’t go on lots of good dates for dating advice.

    2. Big wins
    – For those in a relationship, often it’s not the small things that are truly upsetting your partner, but something big. Are they at home too much (or too little)? Unsatisfying job? Low self image? Focus your efforts on the big things and the little things will solve themselves.

    3. Invest in yourself
    – Whether single or in a relationship, investing in your physical fitness and education can reap huge benefits (classes are a great way to meet people)

  21. Colin

    I’ve been on OKCupid for a while now. I guess you could say I’m sort of “hacking” the system. One of the most enlightened things I’ve done has been to set up multiple accounts.

    I have one that’s basically “just me” — granted, I come off as kind of a cocky, arrogant ass, but hey, I kind of am.

    I have two that are hyper-exaggerated versions of me: one toward the passive “feel-good” nice-guy realm; the other toward the overly aggressive, dominant, alpha-male type. I don’t actually use these accounts for much other than testing messages and responses.

    But the most enlightening, BY FAR, was creating a female account showcasing a gorgeous young woman: studying for med school, semi-provocative pictures, very little filled out on the profile, maybe a dozen questions answered. The first day this account was active, it received almost 200 messages.

    This taught me a few things:

    1) Most guys are absolute shit at sending messages. I understand that it’s a numbers game, but the amount of “hey” and “sup sexy” and “u r hott” messages was appalling. On the one hand, it’s fairly easy to out-do your “competition” … on the other, it gives you an idea of how disgusted women must be with the majority of men who message them. The takeaway here: BE UNIQUE

    2) Related to #1, if you’re getting 150+ messages every 24 hours, it becomes tiring to wade through them all. You need a good hook. You need to come off as confident and non-needy (abundance mentality, anyone?). You need to be charming and funny. She’s got enough horrible messages in her inbox already. Basically: BE INTERESTING

    3) As a guy, online dating is very much a numbers game. Internalize this: “guys do the heavy lifting, women do the heavy sifting” — even a specific, funny, clever message that’s very relevant to her profile isn’t going to get you anywhere if she’s not really looking for anyone. A large number of women are on OKCupid solely for the digital validation it gives them. Seriously. If you had a hundred people a day telling you that you’re beautiful, it’s going to do some warped things to your internal perspective. That aside, the takeaway is: DON’T OVERTHINK THINGS — most of the time, things don’t work out. Get over it.

    Oh, and the unexpected bonus to frontloading all this work? I can take the 0.5-1% of legitimately good messages that this profile receives and use them for my own purposes. Basically, I’m letting other high-quality men do the hard work of continually being clever for me.

    I’ve met a lot of really great women through that site. You just have to understand how it all works. The best way to do that is to TEST your ideas.

    • Alexis

      Brilliant, and so true. Thanks for sharing your work with the class.

    • JAW

      Every time I read forum posts about OKCupid there are a bunch of people talking about the fake opposite-sex or own-sex-but-better-looking profiles they’ve created. I wonder how many profiles up there are “oh so clever experiments”. I love the idea of ostensibly straightforward conversations on the OKC messaging system actually being between two “rational researcher” types tapping pencils on their lips and saying hmmmm as they take notes rather than meaning any of it.

      All the cynical bullshitting and embellishing and crowd sourcing of content (and messages – although women are wise to googling the wackier ones to figure out which PUA site they come from these days) on OKCupid/POF profiles is what’s driven most of my social circle toward Tinder instead. The maths guy in the post is just that whole scene writ large. The guys and gals who were finger wagged at a couple years ago for sending messages based basically on what they thought of the photos instead of reading anything had it right all along.

    • Colin

      In a perfect world, nobody would ever be driven to do things like this. However, that is not the world in which we live. Online dating has created an entire ecosystem that follows its own set of rules. For better or for worse, that’s what we have to work with.

      There are actions that get results, and there are actions that do not.

      Is it “oh so clever” to understand these rules in order to better facilitate an in-person meeting, where you can really discover if the two people in question are compatible in the real world? I guess I don’t see anything wrong with that. All this online back-and-forth is simply the first step in getting a real-world connection — that’s where the relationship actually begins.

  22. Dusan

    Ramit, what are the top 10 books (beside yours) you would suggest to young people (like me, 21) on topics you wrote on your blog (business, self psychology and finance)?

    • Carolynn

      Check out Ramit’s reading list here: It includes books and online articles.

  23. Steven


  24. ergest

    I keep thinking of IWT names for the dating program Ramit is going to launch:
    – Zero to (Girl/Boy)friend
    – Dream (Girl/Boy)friend
    -I Will Teach You to Find Love

    • AJ

      The Finisher’s Formula

  25. Olivia

    It seems to me that the main issues are:

    1. People not knowing themselves well enough and investing in themselves to truly be valuable to another person (aka they don’t have their sh*t together)
    2. People say that they want certain traits and qualities in a person, but actually going for a completely different type of person (very typical)
    3. Having preconceived judgements about that person they have a crush on, before even trying to start a conversation or getting to know them. As Ramit would say, they’ve rejected themselves before they’ve even given it a fair chance to GET rejected.

    As it is with your life and finance, dating is the same game. I’ve really learned that you have to choose your priorities in a person and what you absolutely NEED (NOT necessarily what you WANT) in a person to be happy. This usually takes years of bad relationships, awful dates, horrible hookups, to really understand yourself so deeply that you can be HONEST with yourself (Ramit’s key principle) in what you need, and what things you want in an ideal person.

    It’s easy to blame circumstances, past baggage, location (the list can go on) for why your dating life hasn’t taken off. But as Jonathan so eloquently said below, it really is about building up your value and investing in yourself first. Then, the men/ women will follow.

    • Anna Marie

      I absolutely agree with all of this. And it’s very accurate and true for me.

  26. David Cunningham

    Great article on finding love using psychology. I don’t think a lot of us have ever thought of it like that. Your article is very thought provoking and on the mark I must say. I actually, unknowingly did these things to find my wife over 7 years ago.

    These principles of using psychology for finding love, to a certain extent, can also be used when learning about computers or as anything else as well. Sometimes I talk about this on my blog as well, I just don’t ever mention the word psychology.

    Great article.

  27. Charles Murphy`

    Using a 50,000ft view… I would first figure out what it is I’m looking for. Easiest way to do that is to just date all different kinds of people. For example if you unsure about women who own dogs you find one, date one casually, and you would eventually know if you do like women who own dos or not.

    While your doing this, also pursue the life and self you want. Personal growth plays a huge factor in the types of people you date. Your taste will change or become more defined as you grow.

    The longer you do this the quicker you are at deciding who you want to date and what types of relationships you want.


    1) figure out what you want and test that.
    2) Improve yourself in other areas of your life as you date

  28. Mark

    Being single after 12 years of relationship, now father of 3, I realized that the dating game has changed a lot. There are way too many sites, so I started to use your “test” technique and open a different profile on some sites, one where I state clearly my situation, another where I am hyperconfident, another low profile… to see which one gets the more responses. Same for pictures, use differrent one on different sites.
    I thought about that “reverse engineering” to look at successful male profiles, but never actually did it.
    The result? I’m still single 🙂

  29. Anna Marie

    For me it was just a “I’m not here for a long time, don’t waste my time” approach. I actually was not looking when I first met my husband. I just saw he was handsome, loved wine (just like me) and loved to dance (just like me) and that’s how we met but the date happened because one day I saw him downtown and I was running errands so I asked him to join me for lunch. He said “no, I already ate and I need to finish some things I’m doing.” So I suggested “well you can join me for coffee after you finish those things because I’ll be (here. Name of restaurant) for a while checking my email.” He did join me and he arrived very quickly which surprised me. I wouldn’t have cared if he didn’t show up, I knew I’d see him again and somehow I’d ask again, but I am glad he did. We have been inseparable since that day. We clicked and were very compatable. I did fall in love with him but that took some time for me because I always had my guard up. He understood and didn’t force anything. I just knew not keeping him in my life would be a stupid dating choice when we first started dating. Sometimes you just go with the flow of the moment, don’t overthink things and trust your instinct about where it’s going. I knew he was a keeper the moment I walked into his bedroom. I did not want to leave. The energy in that room was clean, inviting and it was a very calm place to be. I also knew the moment when I told him on our first date ( that date lasted the rest of the day/night. It kept evolving) that he was not the only guy I’m seeing. That there are many guys to see and he does not own me. His response was “I’m not going to tell you who you can see or not see. But I will convince you that you won’t want to see anyone else.” We both took each other up on this challenge and he won. We are still together after 4 years. I’ve never been with anyone that long. I never had the patience or desire after 2 years with anyone. With him it feels like a new day all the time. We both do our own thing but we also choose to do many things together.

  30. Fayola

    Interesting topic. Here are a few:
    1. Define target market. (What kind of man am I looking for?)
    2. Get into target’s head (What kind of woman is he looking for?)
    3. Create offering (Am I that kind of woman? Can I do anything to improve the “product”? Is it clear what I bring to the table or how I improve his life?)
    4. Skip jumping into the pool of millions (dating sites, singles bar etc.) and use my network instead
    5. What invisible scripts popped into my head even writing this? (Finding love should be “organic”. He should like me as-is. Thinking about finding love this way is sleazy, manipulative, desperate).

    • Poppy

      Love this, Fayola!

  31. Patrick

    A mental framework from the Dream Job free material has carried over into my dating life. Thinking “is this a good fit for both of us” rather than “please hire me” was a major shift in my job search. It helped me feel in control and negotiate better offers. After putting that into practice, it seeped into how I date. Being aware of the value you bring and what you’re looking for, finding out the same from the other person, and gauging whether there’s compatibility is a good way to go about things.

    I’m also on OkCupid, and there are a few strategies from IWT that I use for online dating.

    There are an endless number of options on a dating site. Doing a lot of browsing and deciding whom to message can be mentally tiring. You can browse for hours and end up too exhausted from all the choices to actually write anyone. Knowing that I’m a cognitive miser, I limit myself to logging in at the same two times every week and sending messages to two new women each time. I adjust the number of messages up or down as needed. Knowing when I’ll log in and how many people I’ll write beforehand takes less a lot less mental energy, and lets me focus on the important part: writing good messages.

    OkCupid has a paid “boost” function that shoots your profile to the top of people’s search results for 15 minutes. You get a lot of people visiting your profile, and it shows you how many people visited and how many of those rated you highly. This is a rough, but useful way to test how effective your profile is. Are 10% of visitors rating you highly… 25%? 50%? Every week I make a single change to my profile, do two boosts, and see what percentage of visitors rate me highly. Importantly, I only change one thing at a time so I’m seeing the isolated effect of that change. If the change has a positive effect, I keep it; if not, I discard it. Over time this has resulted in more messages from women and a higher response rate to the messages I send.

  32. Missy

    I’m currently in a relationship, coming up on 3 years. We met on OKCupid. Some related principles:

    1) Someone has already mentioned “front loading the work.” For me, that means a few things.
    a) First, getting to know yourself and what you’re actually looking for in a partner (not just what you think you’re looking for or what your friends tell you you should be looking for.) This comes from trial and error as much as from clear soul searching. Throughout my life, I dated different types of guys, every time getting a clearer picture of what were deal breakers, need-to-haves, and nice-to-haves.
    b) I like OKCupid because of their matching algorithm. I was not really interested in sifting through and talking to hundreds of guys; I wanted OKCupid to hand-select the best ones (for me) and only show me those. However, for it to be effective, you have to answer a lot of those multiple choice questions. The more questions you answer, the more accurate the algorithm. And you have to answer them honestly not the way you think you should answer (that being said, I answered a few with “joke” answers because I couldn’t resist, knowing that I’d answered enough questions that this shouldn’t throw off my numbers too much.)

    2) Be upfront about who you are and are not for.
    a) Again, I did not want to deal with bullshit. My profile was written in a way to truly showcase my personality–the good, the bad, and the ugly. Even my profile pictures were not all glamour shots, but chosen to show aspects of my personality (though, to be honest, most were at least 50% flattering.) Like the questions, I filled out every question with a decently long answer. They were not always serious answers (that’s not necessarily in my personality) but they were long enough to give a sense of who I was (I rambled about the thought experiment of which is the best Disney princess for at least a paragraph under the heading “what do you spend a lot of time thinking about?”) If people were not looking for quirky (and somewhat flippant), they would not be interested in my profile.
    b) I literally said in the “who should message you?” section that I would only respond to people who were 90% matches or higher, who had actually read my profile answers (and could prove it), and who could string together a better sentence than “hi, ur cute.” And I meant that.

    3) Using psychology to understand other perspectives

    4)) Similar to #1, working on yourself is often the best way to strengthen a relationship.
    Being a better person, more successful, etc. increases your own confidence but also leads to more compassion. Plus, having your own shit going on makes you more interesting to talk to and you wont suffocate your partner.

  33. Missy

    I’m currently in a relationship, coming up on 3 years. We met on OKCupid. Some related principles:

    1) Someone has already mentioned “front loading the work.” For me, that means a few things.
    a) First, getting to know yourself and what you’re actually looking for in a partner (not just what you think you’re looking for or what your friends tell you you should be looking for.) This comes from trial and error as much as from clear soul searching. Throughout my life, I dated different types of guys, every time getting a clearer picture of what were deal breakers, need-to-haves, and nice-to-haves.
    b) I like OKCupid because of their matching algorithm. I was not really interested in sifting through and talking to hundreds of guys; I wanted OKCupid to hand-select the best ones (for me) and only show me those. However, for it to be effective, you have to answer a lot of those multiple choice questions. The more questions you answer, the more accurate the algorithm. And you have to answer them honestly not the way you think you should answer (that being said, I answered a few with “joke” answers because I couldn’t resist, knowing that I’d answered enough questions that this shouldn’t throw off my numbers too much.)

    2) Be upfront about who you are and are not for.
    a) Again, I did not want to deal with bullshit. My profile was written in a way to truly showcase my personality–the good, the bad, and the ugly. Even my profile pictures were not all glamour shots, but chosen to show aspects of my personality (though, to be honest, most were at least 50% flattering.) Like the questions, I filled out every question with a decently long answer. They were not always serious answers (that’s not necessarily in my personality) but they were long enough to give a sense of who I was (I rambled about the thought experiment of which is the best Disney princess for at least a paragraph under the heading “what do you spend a lot of time thinking about?”) If people were not looking for quirky (and somewhat flippant), they would not be interested in my profile.
    b) I literally said in the “who should message you?” section that I would only respond to people who were 90% matches or higher, who had actually read my profile answers (and could prove it), and who could string together a better sentence than “hi, ur cute.” And I meant that.

    3) Using psychology to understand other perspectives
    Most fights happen because people do not understand the motivations of the other person. Things that are important to you and not necessarily important to your partner (or friend, or whoever.) Understanding what’s important to them and being able to articulate what’s important to you is invaluable. Also, being able to identify invisible scripts that you hold and helping the other person identify their own invisible scripts can help you have a dialogue about underlying issues instead of yelling back and forth and past one another.

    4) Similar to #1, working on yourself is often the best way to strengthen a relationship.
    Being a better person, more successful, etc. increases your own confidence but also leads to more compassion. Plus, having your own shit going on makes you more interesting to talk to, and you wont suffocate your partner.

  34. Kate

    A topic discussed at IWT I am an expert on! Yes!

    I researched – read more than 30 books on dating and relationships – followed what I thought were the best principles (be the best version of yourself), and took extra notice of the most relevant ones. John T Morrow’s Why Men Marry Some Women And Not Others was THE best one because it was most relevant to me and was based on actual research rather than someone’s harebrained, coy ideas.

    Two of the best principles I got from that book was that you need to be where the men are and it’s a numbers game. I prioritized finding a partner and making my life as awesome as possible by doing exactly what I wanted while I could. One way I did this was by doing something that looked crazy to people who didn’t know me and made sense to those who did – I left our capital city of 330k+ people and moved 1000 kilometres interstate, back to my hometown of 35k people. I was not meeting men and it was partly because nearly all my friends were settled down. I needed to do something different.

    The final thing I did was, I made a big effort with online dating and I had a system for doing this. I did online dating for 3 periods over 5 years, the second two times were for 10 months each. My system allowed me to quickly weed out dickheads, give nice guys a chance even if I didn’t think we’d click, and helped me get through the volume of people.

    About 8 months in to my 3rd bout of online dating, I got jack of it. I decided that although I wanted someone it wasn’t going to happen. My system allowed me to pull back my efforts 90% and still keep track of/communicate with anyone who initiated contact with me.

    It was lucky I had a system and these principles, because 2 months later I agreed to go out with a guy who had contacted me (thought his profile was just ok, but he had asked nicely to meet up, and that was a rule for me – say yes to anyone non-scary who asks politely) and now we have been together more than 2 years and are very happy.

    Now my friends who do online dating ask for my advice!

    Writing this all out just made me have a lightbulb moment about Earn 1K and Success Triggers, I’m so applying this!

  35. Chamika

    I grew up with computers, not the Internet so if IWT existed when I was online dating, I’d likely have found my husband sooner. I’m taking ZTL right now and would say that it’s good to have several ideas about who you could be compatible with and then map your selections to a matrix that is divided into degrees of separation and effort. If it’s somebody you’re being set up with and with whom you have many contacts in common, there is more at stake than a quick quasi-transactional date (labour of love?) and more effort goes into the endeavour making it a luxury date. Some of my friends are in arranged marriages, so those would be in the top left quadrant of the matrix.

    With that qualifying matrix in mind, different dating sites yield different results – if you want the arranged marriage, my friends who did so went through a site and had their parents write their ad. I tried several sites (not the arranged ones, they didn’t resonate with me) when I was dating and tested different ads on each. I would read through the ads in each site and develop a persona for the type of guys on each different site. To see if my personas were accurate, I would reach out and meet with them in person to see if they matched their profiles or not. If I sensed a definite friend vibe, I’d ask for feedback about the date and if my description matched who I was in person.

    After several years of dating and mixed results, I learned a lot about myself and others. Before I met my husband, I wrote down exactly what I was looking for in an ultra-specific way and wrote my ad in a way that would resonate with the type of guy I knew I would be compatible with on a site that I trusted. Something from the RBT interview with John Romaniello that I’ve experienced when dating is that people really like dichotomy, as in his example being the body building nerd, which is really attractive.

    Also, if you’re really stuck, there are dating coaches who can help – it’s worth the investment for you to find love!

    I’m still working on Module 1 in ZTL, can definitely see how that course and Dream Job would be directly applicable to finding love. Back to work on my module, really loved the post and the comments- reading them was part of my immersion homework 🙂

  36. Silvino

    Ok, let’s see: first of all, people go out (usually at night) looking to meet somebody interesting, and maybe begin a relationship (sometimes people fool themselves saying they just go out and have fun, but you don’t spend tons of time with clothes, apparel, etc, to just, have fun). That means find a problem to solve for your customers and know them better than themselves.

    Second, you should build an attractive personality, which is quite different for each people but if you don’t feel like you have something to give and share, you are doomed. That is create the best possible product.

    Third, the thing I found more difficult at the beginning, men and women have completely different paths and ways of communication when they are flirting, if they don’t speak the same language, nothing is going to happen. This is clearly speak the same language of your customers

    Fourth: Mindsets! Usually are incorrect, women don’t put you in their ‘friend zone’ because their are mean creatures, you didn’t qualify as a good possible partner (I should write something about men, but it’s not my area of expertise, sorry). Usually you are the responsible if you wanted something and you didn’t get it, try to improve yourself. Sometimes you just don’t know what game is being played (not your fault, probably nobody taught you)

    Fifth , create systems!! your body language, where you look (hint: eyes, not cleavage) what she said and how she said (the same for you)… many things you can implement to work for you

    And finally, child mind, it’s just a game!! sometimes you can be a little bit crazy, there’s a lot of people out there in any case…

    • Daniel

      It’s not about you. It’s about the wants of the person you want to go on a date with. You have to show them that going on a date with you will bring them value.

      That value in the immediate, a fun night out where they’ll want more value with a second date. Then in the long term, the value you’re going to add is being a fantastic partner in a committed relationship (if that’s what you’re both looking for).

    • Silvino

      I slightly disagree, in this case we are talking about people’s emotions and feelings, although I agree about focus a lot more on the other person, specially when you are actually in a date, I wouldn’t say that it’s not about you because for example, in the case of men, we usually have to ‘make a move’ first, there are several irrational fears to conquer here. Learn that if someone rejects you, it is not related of your person, it’s just about the person you have projected in the interaction it’s counter-intuitive.

    • Renee Lindsay

      I would agree with Silvino. It may be nice to say that it’s not about you, but pretending that it’s about the other person and denying what IS about you makes it all about you while trying to make it “not about you”.

      In other words, saying that “it’s not about you” is a universal statement that exacerbates the issue of self-identification within a relationship. How to address this issue if it becomes problematic? Recognize that it IS about you. Once you get the recognition you need (from yourself, not from the other, though that’s how many of us do it), THEN it becomes about the other person. Until then, romantic partners are merely objects that reflect what we most want to see in ourselves.

      It’s about you. Until and unless that we can admit that, our partners are merely mirrors to ourselves, performative monkeys who act out a spectacle that demonstrates to US how awesome WE are. Why not spare them the indignity? Admit to yourself that it’s about you.

      As soon as that is acknowledged, THEN becomes about them.

  37. Claudine

    Do your homework. Research dream relationships (whatever that means to you) and talk to people who are living them. Find out what they did, and do, to make that relationship so golden (see eg. link below). Research how to reach out to people and create an authentic script to boost your confidence & makes others feel important/ special/ desired to get you on dates. Practice become a natural at connecting with people. CARE (hint: Ramit, you can fake it all you like, but come on, you CARE).

    Get up, get away from your computer. TALK to people. Don’t expect it all to come in 5 minutes. Be patient. Add value to others, its not all about you. The more value you give, the more people will happily want to invest back in you.

    Don’t be afraid to work the hardest, and don’t be afraid to be the one who loves the most.

  38. Varia

    The first step is making the initial connection, right?

    Everyone I know that is incredibly skilled at picking up (as well as making people like them/being charming in general) has done it through good old trial and error, i.e. TESTING!

    Ramit, you’ve mentioned yourself that you tested “I’m a writer” vs “I’m an author” as conversation starters. Sure, it takes breaking out of your shell to approach person after person with different “lines”, behaviours, body language, etc (I haven’t been able to do it) but it’s by far the most successful way I’ve seen to learn how people respond to you, and thus be able to predict how best to approach someone and what their response will be.

  39. Cathy

    The same people who think sending their resume to 500 companies via then complain that no one is hiring probably think online dating profiles are gonna match them with their true love.
    Think about what you want in a big picture sense (someone who will support you without being suffocating and has the same sense of humor. Or the person who makes you better at the things you are good at and is good at the things you are bad at. Or the gardener who will tend to the needs of you the delicate flower. Or whatever). Or make a list of your previous boyfriends and put what you liked best about each and what you hated or what made it end then reverse engineer.
    All this focusing on irrelevant details (height, weight, degree, job, color hair, hobbies, kids or no, marital status) makes people miss the point.
    My true love, whom I met in the dog park, strikes out on every single thing that I would have put on a list of what I was looking for thru a dating service. I am the person who always mocked marriage then I had to eat my words when love came to town. He had all the right qualities but all the wrong details and we are thrilled everyday that we found each other. Been together 5 years, married for one, have been on a bunch of great adventures and now I am a believer that it does change your mind when you meet the right person. But don’t wear blinders. Just because you have an economics degree doesn’t mean you can only be an economist.

  40. Renee Lindsay

    Let’s see… my take:

    I purchased the DJ course thinking that I’d want to land a dream job.


    About a month into the course I realized I had a vastly different goal in mind: to identify and pursue a feeling state. I remember telling you in my Mod 3 video that I don’t care what I do for a living. Really. And, it’s true. What I’m really after is bliss.

    I’m glad that you bring up finding love and your IWT material because I DID experience a couple of weeks of anxiety when it became clear to me that I didn’t care about where my money came from and how, so long as I was living a blissful life (which I’d also describe as falling in love with life and everything in it). I mean, I knew that I was going to have to break the news to you sometime, that I as your student, was going to completely deconstruct your program and rebuild it in order to suit my own purposes. Seems I’ve been spared the worry that you might be surprised that one of your students would do that, but now that I think about it, I doubt I’m the first. Special snowflake theory and all.

    Bliss may sound rather serene to some, but for me, going after it through the structure of the DJ course has led to a lengthy stay in the Trough of Failure (nearly a year), which happens to be my favorite place of all. It’s the most emotionally turbulent, vulnerable, and fertile place I know. And, I suppose that suits me, as following my bliss has led me to go back to college and get my degree in philosophy, with an emphasis on continental philosophers such as Foucault and Nietzsche.

    I hadn’t expected material results from pursuing a feeling state, but we do exist in the third dimension after all, so I suppose it was inevitable. I just gave a final presentation for two of my classes combined (Propaganda and Persuasion and Philosophical Issues in Feminism, respectively) and five professors were in attendance. Five! Small school, big deal, totally rocked the natural networking.

    Romance isn’t on my list of blissful things as of yet, but I have been having a grand time falling in love with learning, with the enthusiasm of my professors who love what they do, and with my own abilities as an emerging intellectual. Indeed, identifying and embracing the part of myself that loves to transform on an existential level has been the most rewarding relationship of all. Only good things can come from facing the shit we fear the most. Bring it on.

    As for the guy, perhaps he’ll come around when I move through the latter half of the DJ course. Or perhaps I’ll pursue him. Either way, bliss takes the lead, along with my just-today-realized natural inclination to deconstruct every system that I come to study.

    Here’s to love!


    • Rebecca

      No content to add, just a thank you for the pleasure of reading your post(s).

  41. James Kerti

    I posted this story in the comments here before, and it’s never been more applicable to an IWT post.

    “I got REALLY specific on the kind of woman I wanted to attract, and just as specific when it came to what it would take to attract that kind of woman.

    Not the standard B.S. like “Oh, she has to be blonde, make less money than I do because I’m insecure, and have a great ass.”

    Ugh. Hell no. My friends still do that.

    I was like, “My future partner has a dry wit and is very sarcastic. She’s more well-read than I am in the areas in which I’m weaker (science and math). She’s self-employed, works from home, and the work she does has a strong spiritual component. She values loyalty and honesty above all other traits (because I do the same). She spends a lot of time thinking about how she can improve herself, and she follows through.”

    And on and on. I had several pages of that kind of stuff, and just as much getting in her head and thinking of what I would need to change in my life to attract a person like her.

    “I’ll be in better shape and have more energy. I’ll show that I can focus on my job and generate a consistent income working from home (because that was a challenge for me in my first year self-employed). I’ll be more proactive in thinking about what other people (like her) need and how I can give it to them. I’ll be funnier and more skilled at telling stories. I’ll have better habits that support me doing those things.”

    Once I had a lot of that written out, I thought about where I might meet someone. Online dating maybe? Friend of a friend?

    I talked with friends and told them about the kind of woman I wanted to attract. I started busting my ass harder than ever to be the kind of man who would attract her.

    Within a few months, a friend connected me with a woman who was a REALLY good match for what I described, and we just seemed to fit together instantly. It seemed like a good idea to start dating.

    We’ve been happily married for over two years.”

  42. Mike


    Qualifying and automation. I’ve taken a lot of time to get good at online dating so I found a profile that works. Then I experimented and figured out the type of girl I like and what gets their attention. Then I wrote my profile catering to that. “I date many people at once” to communicate I’m seeing others and honest about it, “The triskelion is a favorite symbol” to… well communicate what that means. “Snowboard, martial arts, etc” as hobbies to show I’m athletic and imply I prefer the same without saying it. Top off with a couple really interesting pictures that invite female comments, add in a bit about romance and my thoughts on it with some humor… AND

    The wrong girls weed themselves out. Only the RIGHT girls that I know I’ll like message me at all and I never think about it until my inbox lights up. I literally haven’t updated my profile for years and have gone on a ton of dates, all starting from the girl’s message. So now I can focus on the next steps–Coffee date is down to a routine and I’ll know in 30 minutes if I have a future with a girl at all. If she passes that “test”, we do something awesome and fun and go from there. If not, I’m only out $8 for our coffees.

    I’ve also found it goes in waves, I’ll have several dates every week for a month or two, keep a couple girls from that, then nothing for 3 months, then a whole bunch of new dates again. It’s a system that works for me, particularly being non-monogamous. 😀

  43. JJG

    I agree with the ideology. We’re essentially looking for a handful of traits in a partner and most often everything else builds from there. That said, I’ve never come close to cracking the world of online dating. It seems something of a waste compared to other methods since the services I’ve used have turned up relatively few women who I find attractive and have traits that I’m looking for and, of those, I’ve never managed an in-person.

    That said, I’ve known several people for whom online dating has worked (although their ideal partners are significantly different from mine).

  44. chris r

    The game being played around you. People tend to”feel” things and act on them, but in reality There is a lot of psycology behind relationships for example, men I dont care how hot/smart/whatever you cannot tell a woman you love her or want to marry her on the first date. But if you let her increase her interest in you, she can’t wait to hear it. Notice that this has nothing to do with how you feel or what you want and it’s all about the woman. @ramit I suggest you check out doc love from askmen, imho the authority on this stuff.

  45. Laura

    From recent experience – focus on the big wins. The things that are important in a relationship are that you’re going in the same direction (with compatible goals and needs from the relationship), communication, and equal interest in the relationship. If you can find someone with those, you know its worth your time to see if they’re more compatible. The person you end up with might not be the height you expected (and lets be honest, being picky about things like height and eye colour isn’t really going to widen your options or make you all that attractive to many) but those things are less important. If you’re staring a business and they’re going to end up on the other side of the world in a year you know its not worth starting.

  46. Kim alsbrooks

    I could only access the first article on the hacker. As the woman he”found” stated, she “found him”. It seems his methods produced pretty bad results and his only winning working attribute was persistence.

  47. Tim

    For a 100% success rate, I’d use the Briefcase Technique on the first date.

    If your research (by talking to her friends and family (talk to her ex!!!)) has brought up that she wants to lose weight, for example, you can start your first date by pulling out a diet and exercise plan – specifically tailored for her!

    She will not think you’re a creep but will instead be impressed by the amount of intimate information you were able to gather.

    Smooth sailing from here on out.

  48. Carolynn

    Thrilled to see you covering this topic. Months ago, you brought this up over lunch and it got me started on an adventure. I realized I didn’t understand this topic well and had to change that. So I applied the IWT principles I knew, the same way I’d applied them to my career.

    These principles included:


    I had huge invisible scripts around romantic relationships including:

    -oneitis aka I really want this one person/job, so I’m going to focus here and ignore everything else. I think I picked up this belief from pop culture, which tells us love is about finding that one special person. I rewrote this script to: “There’s abundance everywhere. This process is about finding the right fit.”
    -“Finding my other half”, as if I’m not a whole person until I do so! I rewrote this script to: “I’m complete by myself. This is about being a high-value person who’d like to share my awesome life with someone else.” Way more empowering because you’re not looking for someone to save you.
    -Too many to list re: men. I uncovered these in the research and testing phase.


    I’m not a data scientist like the guy in your linked article, but I started to research and test what I found. I realized I had invisible scripts for so long because I’d needed something to fill in the gaps of my knowledge.

    I started my research by talking to my guy friends. Some were amazingly open, some were shy. I knew my info from them might be colored by their own biases, or embarassment about talking personal things with me, so I used this as a springboard for deeper research.

    Then I delved into reading what guys read: GQ, Men’s Journal, Reddit, the Art of Manliness. I read what my guy friends were reading, and I googled for 2 things: 1) the top sources men were using for advice on being a man and 2) places where guys hang out and collaborate with other guys. I followed experts that men followed. The PUA community was ugly, and I didn’t want a pick up artist, but it was educational seeing the dark side of seduction so I knew what to recognize. I much preferred reading guys like Mark Manson, who were brutally honest about what men want but have a code of ethics.

    Basically, I wanted to understand how guys think, what they liked, what they worried about, and what reassured them. Interestingly, the women’s magazines I read in my youth never advocated going to the source to understand men, which reinforced an invisible script that men are strange, unknoweable creatures.

    Fruits of my research: I WAS CLUELESS. This was so embarassing to admit. But hey, you can’t fix a problem until you admit you have one.

    I started to notice patterns in my research. For one thing, I was surprised by how much time and energy straight/bisexual men spend on trying to impress women, how much men validate themselves through sex, and how scared men are of looking dumb.

    One invisible script I had was that if a guy likes you, he’ll do something about it. Childhood stories are all about the knight in armor taking on a dragon, right? Men are invincible. (Even writing this sounds dumb, but we’re talking about unconscious beliefs on a deep level that you’re not even aware of.) So why couldn’t they ask me out?

    Because I hadn’t been giving them cues that it was okay to approach me. No guy is Superman (though he wants to be). My flirting was terrible. I was shocked when a friend who’d served a tour of duty in Afghanistan said he could go to war in a heartbeat but he still felt anxious approaching women he liked. I realized I had to be way more reassuring to men in my speech and body language and invite them to hit on me.

    Men are directly influenced by my behavior. I had to fix myself before I could demand anything of them. “Don’t be a nickel out there looking for a dime.”


    I took my research and poured it into bettering myself. I consciously swore off dating for a while and focused on myself. I paid off debt, started working out, started expanding my friendships. Remember, I want someone to be excited to be a part of my life, and I want to feel confident in what I can bring to the table.

    I got a job as a bartender, whose audience is 90% men. That meant constant interaction with guys. I practiced my different forms of flirting. Not all types are to seduce someone. When we’re endearing ourselves to a stranger, even if we don’t have seduction in mind, we’re flirting to form a bond.

    I also practiced deep listening skills and mirroring back to people what they were really saying to me. I had a story toolbox prepared so I’d always have stories to share, as well as questions that would get a person to open up and start talking.


    When you have oneitis, you find yourself “saving” up for that special moment or person or opportunity. The truth however is that there’s abundance everywhere and the best way to prepare for it is to act like that special moment is happening right now.

    I became super conscious of talking with everyone I met and trying my improved social skills on them, including my flirting when appropriate. This isn’t about finding “the one”, it’s about forming relationships and providing value to people. Even if this one person isn’t my future partner, they might be friends with that person and introduce us.

    Benefits of this:

    – my skills got better and better, because I’m practicing them in real time. This way when I do find the right fit, I don’t have to switch into a special mode. I’m always “on.”
    – I can afford to be choosy! I don’t have to settle for unacceptable behavior.
    -… which, ironically, makes me appear even more high value.

    Also, I stopped thinking that it was enough to like a guy. That’s an old cultural invisible script, isn’t it? People meet, fall in love, happily ever after. NO. Me liking them isn’t good enough – it’s the same for a date as with a company. In the past, I’d pursue relationships on the sole basis of liking them, and in response, I put up with a lot of bad behavior.

    What makes them a good fit for me is whether they invest back in our relationship. I actually learned very quickly in this testing phase whether to continue a relationship with someone (platonic, romantic, professional) based on this criteria.

    This was a GREAT way for me to vet people. Not only was it much quicker, but it avoided messy emotional drama down the road. It rewrote a script I had – it’s not about rejection, it’s about finding the right fit. If the other person/company won’t invest in this relationship, we’re simply not a good fit. I’m still a good person.

    I tested my research in the world. I practiced different ways of talking with people to see what they responded to best. Men began to respond very well to my flirting – and it didn’t even have to be overt. Many men just needed an open door to know they wouldn’t be brutally rebuffed and made to feel impotent, which I knew was super important to them.

    One thing I was shocked to discover in my research was how much men needed to feel useful to women. Recently I had a guy offer me his jacket. In the past, I wouldn’t want to be a bother and would say, “Oh it’s okay, I’m not cold.” Not realizing that it wasn’t a bother, that it was a gift to him to accept his help.

    So this time I took the jacket and thanked him. I swear he stood taller and grew a Superman cape.

    I started integrating this way of thinking into my new habits: make men feel useful. I even did that with my dad. I used to get annoyed at my dad because he’s a fixer. When the women in his life are upset, he tries to do things for us instead of listening. But I realized that’s how he shows love. So I accepted that and started doing things for him in return. MY DAD LOVED THAT. It’s like I got him on a deep level. He felt seen.


    Well, I’ve already explained to you a ton of my results above. But another result is that I have 2 dates this weekend, my first in 2 years. I very consciously made this happen, too, as I hit a certain point in the process above where I thought, “I’m ready to dive back into dating”. Within days, I got several hits. Contrast this to the past, where I was single for long periods.

    The principles of IWT totally apply to dating as much as your career. Basically, you’re learning how to bend reality to your will instead of waiting for life to happen to you.

    P.S. 1 of my dates loves IWT. Definite point in his favor.

  49. Nadeem

    I just happen to be working a self improvement program that although entirely unrelated to IWT, it utilizes the exact same psychology and methodology to get to a “Soulmate” relationship.

    The program suggest that you identify three people in your life who are very close to you ideal mate. You should give them a very low pressure interview about their ideal spouse taking great care to let them know this is for information only and that you are NOT trying to pair up with them. After completing all interviews, look for the commonalities and then realistically asses your ‘”gap.” Now comes the real work of creating and implementing a plan to close that gap.

    The process works on ten basic commandments with the final one being:
    10. Thou Shalt Take Daily Action To Become Thy Best and Truest Self.

    A fundamental basis of the program is that by becoming someone who could attract your “ideal” mate, you become a higher, fuller expression of you as a person AND you should consciously attempt this journey.

    Doesn’t this sound a bit like Find your Dream Job?

    • Dilys

      what is the program called? and the website address?

  50. Ben

    I use IWT principles all the time with my relationship! Analyzing invisible scripts has been particularly helpful. When I was “on the market”, I studied onilne profiles of both men and women to see what they *said* they were looking for, as well as figuring out what they probably meant with their phrasing. It helped avoid some folks who seemed a good fit on the outside, but weren’t a very authentic match. For online dating, the understanding the Craigslist Penis Effect also definitely works in your favor.

  51. Suz deMello

    Cool ideas, but what the mathematician did is pretty far beyond me. I appreciated the tips that the journalist discovered and have implemented them,. Thanks!

  52. Jane

    All of Ramit’s material teaches us to take action to go after what we want and you have to adopt the same mentality in dating.

    A lot of women think that guys are just going to come to them and in many cases, this is true. But, a lot of the guys that come up to women in bars/other places aren’t going to be who that woman is actually looking for. In the same way that letting the recruiters/hr people do the work for you is not a good idea when you’re looking for your dream job, you shouldn’t let the guys do the work for you when you are looking for your dream man.

    I hadn’t learned any of this before I started dating my current bf, but looking back, I was the one who approached him and it worked! Also, guys find it incredibly sexy when girls have the confidence to ask THEM out, but so many women have invisible scripts around this idea.

  53. Marina

    Online dating takes just as much time as real dating and makes you a chunkier monkey BUT this guy is awesome!

  54. Vicki

    I did online dating for a several (10+)years. I’ve taken a break from it for about 4 years now. I find that I just wasn’t able to meet the right guy that way. Maybe I didn’t create the right profile photos, or hack the right adjectives to filter the bad guys and magnetize Mr. Right, but the whole thing just got so crazy-making I gave up. I totally think that Amy Webb’s hacking methodology might work well for me if I lived in a larger city, where it would be possible to narrow down my dating options to the exact person I think I want. I have decided to just let go of controlling the outcome. I do a sort of meditation for a “good man.” I pray for God to just send me a “good man”, and make me attracted to him as a sign that it’s him, and I don’t really elaborate beyond that. I think law of attraction works when you’re less attached to the outcome, and the more you try to define down all the details of your perfect match, the more you’re trying to control (and hence are attached to) the outcome. I’ve gotten really zen about it. I just sort of set an intention that I will meet a good man, in the course of my routine, in my locality, among the population of men that I meet in my daily life. I haven’t really dated anyone so far, but a couple of really good guys have caught my attention lately, so it’s clear to me that good men are out there, and they aren’t necessarily dating online. (Especially if they have a job that requires them to maintain a certain professional image – they would be extremely hesitant to put themselves on a site like where colleagues might see them). So, you can hack online dating, but your pool of dating candidates is still limited, because not everyone is dating online. A lot of (very good, high quality) people are still very unwilling to do that. My favorite psychological dating advice is the “shadow” work taught by Debi Berndt and Dr. Robert Maldonado, and various law of attraction techniques (especially as taught by Kathryn Alice). I also think that a lot of the advice dispensed by Bobbi Palmer at is very wise, and cuts through a lot of the crap dating advice that’s out there. Adam Gilad is wonderful, and he has dating advice programs for both men and women. He incorporates a lot of in-depth psychology and hero’s journey work into his programs. There are only so many ways to “hack” an online dating site, and you still might end up alone (look at me). I think it’s better to start with adjusting your mindset, and not forget to connect authentically with people in the real world. But what do I know – I’m still single!

  55. Diana

    Today I Learned: Guys aren’t into nice girls with good jobs, and “females” don’t enjoy Star Trek.

  56. Vicki

    I did find when I was online dating that men don’t read profiles. However, they *do* read your subject line, so you want to make sure you know how many characters of your subject line will actually show up in an email from Match (or whatever site) containing a guy’s list of matches. Make sure you are smiling in the photo that shows up next to your subject line, and make your subject line short but very targeted to the type of person you want to meet. I hate acronyms, but they do help you out as a filter. A witty subject line is less useful than a very targeted filter, such as “SWF seeks vegan SM under 50” (just as an example). As a woman, you will probably get responses from men under 50 as well as a few just barely over 50. So, if your actual preferred age range is about 35 – 55, using the term “under 50” will get you mostly matches in your preferred range. Using SWF seeks SM makes it clear he must be single, and you are too (some jerks will ignore this, but at least you’re sending out the call to the right guys as well). Specific lifestyle terms for deal-breaking lifestyle issues should also be included – but only use one, and make sure it’s probably 5 characters or less. You’ll probably have to do some thinking about this one.

    I’m not sure this same technique would work as well for men, but it certainly is direct, lays your cards on the table and invites people who are also direct and willing to lay their cards on the table.

    Aside from online dating sites, there’s always Facebook. To be honest, I’ve never really tried “flirtbooking”. I think it probably works better for men. I’ve had at least one guy friend me on Facebook pretending that he thought we went to high school together (clever, because it led to a fairly long email exchange, and he asked me out on a date). Granted, if he were a sketchy person, I would not have responded to him, but I looked at his FB page, and he was clearly an upstanding type of guy, active in his church, and we had actually met before (at a tax return workshop), so keep that in mind. Don’t approach random strangers on Facebook. It’s weird. Use your existing network, reach out to others, and don’t pressure for dates right off the bat.

    If you want to be depressed, you can read this article about an English math tutor who calculated he had a 1 in 265,000 chance of meeting his soulmate, using the Drake equation:

    Granted, I think I read somewhere later that he did actually end up meeting someone and getting married.

  57. Dennis

    I think the best tip that I got was to be the person I want to attract. I have taken more risks, started more activities, stayed with them and generally just develop myself more.

    It gives you a different vibe and women see that.

  58. Heather Jackson

    Psychology lesson for communicating with your partner – structure your message so that your partner will be receptive to it. That sounds obvious, but observing other people argue, it seems like most people are concerned only with getting words off their chest – not with actually getting buy-in from the other person and successfully persuading them to change some behavior or resolve a disagreement.

    Note that the operative word is “buy-in” – my goal is for my husband and me to cooperate, not manipulate or trick him into doing what I want.

    After lots of trial and error, I learned that my husband is very receptive to, say, helping me with household chores if I frame my request in a certain way. I limit it to one request at a time, avoid bombarding him the moment he walks in the door, and frame it as asking for his help in accomplishing a mutual goal (like having friends over for dinner) rather than complaining about 1,000 things he doesn’t help with. I learned that he is motivated by fairness, as in “I did XYZ last time, it’s only fair for you to do it this time.”

    He also says that as an engineer, he responds to logic and evidence, so when I’d say some typical girl generalization like “Well, you *always* do ABC and it’s so annoying!”, he’d request specific examples to back up my claim, otherwise he’d decide he didn’t have to believe me. I learned that generalizations are too vague and we might not necessarily be on the same page. Now I always provide examples of the specific behavior I’m talking about and a rationale for why I’m bringing it up, whether it’s something he does that I don’t like or something I would prefer he did instead.

    Note that different people may have different responses. You have to get to know your partner and what makes them tick. Pay attention to what they respond best to and what things do and don’t motivate them. The specific words you use, your tone of voice, how you frame it, what time of day you bring it up – these are all part of it.

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  60. Nick Brown

    This is a great question Ramit.

    Two ideas jump out at me:

    (1) Use the idea of doing research and the work up front to find the woman of your dreams.

    Ex. Actually “interviewing” attractive women (in your “market” of interest) on their past boyfriends or current boyfriends and what attracted them to their current partner.

    (2) Using “big wins” or the Pareto Principle to find love.

    Ex. When creating a profile on or identify the one to three things that will get the biggest results from women.

    Sound about right?

  61. Jeffrey

    People are completely clueless about their own dating preferences! Here is some fascinating research for you and your research on relationships.

    Prof. Eli Finkle gave a talk called “The Delusion of Romantic Self-Insight” as part of Dan Ariely’s Coursera class “A Beginner’s Guide to Irrational Behavior.” It discusses how deluded people are about their own romantic decisions. He showed in studies of online dating, speed dating, and meta-studies, that men and woman value attractiveness, earning potential, and personability equally, no matter what society tells us or they personally self-report.

    If you sign in to the Coursera class right away, you may still be able to watch it (Week 1, Lecture 8). It’s just the sort of non-intuitive psychology that you love.

    Cheers! Jeffrey

    • Jeffrey

      Here is his contact information:
      Eli J. Finkel, Ph.D.
      Social Psychology (Director)
      Management and Organizations (Kellogg)

  62. Peter Hedstrom

    Something that keeps coming to mind is the concept from Dream Job of “Front-Loading,” in other words, taking the time at the start to work on the right things. Also, avoiding RANT – Random Acts Of Non-Productive Tactics. Instead, having a system in place, which is rigorously tested, to find out how to interact and engage in your potential “dream partner.”


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  65. Brian

    I’ve used the testing principle to test different openers and recorded the success rate. Of course, to be ethical since real feelings are involved, I have only messaged girls I would actually ask out once the conversation started.

    In addition, I created a fake girl account and studied the FAQs that guys give. I will never ask the tired old question as an opener.

    This instantly separates me from the other “hey” “what do u study” “wanna f***” type messages, plus once I determined the best-performing opener, I’ve gotten responses and new friends!

  66. Patrick Hay

    Ramit, I’ve been waiting for you to talk about this stuff in depth, but you keep recycling this blog post linking to articles from long ago. I know you’re thinking about this stuff in a high-level way yourself — please give us some of your own insights!

    There was a recent NY Times article that mentioned the psychology of settling for a mediocre relationship. Though they’re talking about cohabiting and marriage, it could apply even to casual dating. “In behavioral economics, it’s called consumer lock-in. Lock-in is the decreased likelihood to search for, or change to, another option once an investment in something has been made. The greater the setup costs, the less likely we are to move to another, even better, situation, especially when faced with switching costs, or the time, money and effort it requires to make a change.” It’s similar to the sunk cost fallacy that leads us to throw good money after bad, so to speak.

    The one IWT principle that I’ve applied to dating is from the free Earn1K material: get specific and drill down to your ideal “customer.” This has two parts: #1 is knowing whom you’re looking for, and #2 is understanding what they want in a partner so you can embody that yourself.

    My favorite tool for #1 comes from dating coach Scot McKay. It sounds cold and ruthless (right up your alley, Ramit), but it gives you a sober assessment of romantic partners apart from the emotional haze you’re in while dating them. It involves making a spreadsheet listing the positive traits you’re looking for, and another spreadsheet listing disqualifiers. You rate the people you’ve dated in the past (and present) according to the criteria you’ve made. The idea is that as you meet more people your criteria will evolve and you’ll get better at recognizing who’s good for you and who isn’t. Here’s the article:—Do-You-Really-Know-What-You-Want?&id=2028674

    #2 is much harder. It’s difficult to get honest feedback because nobody likes hurting feelings. As far as online dating, I sometimes message women who seem live too far away to actually meet. I ask for their honest feedback about how my profile comes across, and offer to do the same for them if they’d like. About one in 5 will take me up on it and give me a perspective I never would have thought of. Anybody have ideas about what a real-world equivalent could be?

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