How Much Money is Love Worth?


I. Wish. I. Made. This. Video.

But my inability to grow a full beard and my lack of molecule software would prevent mine from being as snazzy as this one.

I really like this guy’s blend of hard and soft science; it’s what I try to do here as much as I can.

My biggest takeaway – and it was something I already knew – was that more money doesn’t equate to (much) more happiness. If you freeze the chart at 3:21, you’ll see for yourself. People who make $75K rate their actual happiness at a 7/10. People who make a half million dollars rate theirs at a 7.3/10.

More money doesn’t equate to (much) more happiness.

But the most important message is that committed, long-term love — a pair bond that lasts forever — is about the greatest ticket to happiness known to mankind. Dogs are great. Friends are cool. Travel is a fun, temporary high. But if you want a long happy life, choose a great partner to share the ride.

Have a great day, everybody.

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  1. 1
    David T

    One takeaway is men pursue more than women because they fall faster. Men fall faster, therefore they will be stepping up and trying harder sooner. This also means in today’s world where people are almost expected to date multiple potential partners at the same time, men will start to drop their other options sooner, focus on one woman who has not fallen for any of her suitors yet, and will more likely end up broken hearted.

    i would love to see the figure caption and text describing the 3:21 graph to know what they really mean by “predicted happiness” vs. actual happiness. With a little context there is a wealth of inferences to be made, maybe enough to make me 7.8 happy while I think about them.

  2. 2

    This is such a great video! It’s a wonderful incentive to form a partnership. I really loved the break down triangle of Liking, Passionate Love, and Committed Love. I wish that could have been in the Is it Love? post. It makes me even more motivated to make finding love a part-time job. 😉

  3. 4

    Evan, every study I’ve ever seen shows that a “long-term committed love” is the true source of happiness for MEN, but NOT WOMEN. One study that I read showed that married men and single women were the happiest and the healthiest, while married women and single men were the unhappiest and the sickest…and earliest to die.
    This makes sense when you consider the old-school servile role of the wife, the health hazards of pregnancy, the confinement of caring for small babies, the cooking, the cleaning, the pressure to be a sex goddess, and the constant threat of cheating. Of course, this goes both ways with the cheating threat. Interesting topic.

  4. 5

    this is the second blog i’ve read today that said men fall in love faster than women.
    hang on, i thought the premise here was that men keep disappearing? so i guess that means that maybe it’s not a whole lot to do with how I’m behaving (though Rori Ray would have me beleive otherwise) and actually means they’re JNTIM.

  5. 6
    David T

    Maybe if men fall faster, they also know sooner if they aren’t going to.

  6. 7

    In case any of you who have perhaps never been in a long term relationship are sceptical, I can vouch for this theory. When I was married, we had a LOT less money than I do now, as a job change following my divorce has made me considerably wealthier, but even so I struggle to maintain the same level of happiness I had during the good phase of my marriage now that I am single. Leaving aside the (not inconsiderable) practical aspects – that living as a single person requires more cash just to achieve the same standard of living as you had in a couple – I certainly feel that achieving a happy life costs more when you’re single. In a couple, you can have a great evening just cooking a simple dinner at home and holding hands, or going for a walk – wheras for me, going for a walk alone is one of the most misery-inducing experiences I know! Eating a simple dinner at home alone can be nice as a single person if you’ve had a really hard day and just want to chill out, but on a saturday night??! Suddenly, that great simple pleasure just becomes a depressing reminder of the lack of love in your life. So, you have to go out, at least some of the time.
    Lest you all think I’m just a negative lonely loser, I woukld point out that I have a very sociable job with great colleagues, a close bond with my friends, brother and sister and nieces and nephews, I live in a great city and have severla regular social activities that I enjoy. But even with all this, it is an effort to achieve the same sort of happiness I had when I was loved by a special person. So, i travel to great places, I eat out, I buy great clothes, treat myself to nice foods, spa days, trips to the theatre…. all of this costs money. To me nothing beats holding hands, a hug and great sex with someone who loves you.

  7. 8

    I’m torn about this.

    I definitely believe this is true. But given the way the world works these days, and what dating has become for so many people, women can’t automatically assume like they once did that they’ll get married by their late 20s-mid30s.

    So women should put some effort into meeting someone, socializing, and doing some online dating, but not necessarily count on finding this lasting love to find lasting happiness and fulfillment. I know women who married pretty much the first guy who came along after college and they’re happy enough, but they also don’t have much of a social life outside of that relationship, don’t do interesting and unique things on their own, and don’t exactly have a life that I envy. If it works for them, great, but I think a lot of women who think that marriage is the one and only thing end up unhappy later in life when they look at everything they missed out on.

    At the same time, even as an independent woman, I’m freaked out about not being in a relationship. I wouldn’t be as anxious if it weren’t for the fact that even though I’m not even that old yet (late 20s), nearly everyone I know is getting married or in a ltr and those people aren’t as available to hang out with a single person and don’t put a priority on investing in friendships. I feltl like all of my friends were moving on without me, so I recently moved to a new city and saw a big improvement in my social life, but this is still a problem wherever you go, I think.

    It seems like you HAVE to be in a relationship as a woman to have any kind of companionship and social life after 26ish, but especially after 30-32, and I find that immensely frustrating as a woman who otherwise wouldn’t mind as much being single, a woman who wants a relationship but wouldn’t be as upset about not having one if it weren’t for this problem.

  8. 9

    Evan – you need a tight, black, v-necked t-shirt! Yeah, being in committed love is cool and all… if only it were as easy to achieve as it is to understand.

  9. 10

    Great video! I really enjoyed it.

  10. 11

    Mia – I get where you’re coming from. Another problem with not being in a relationship is being excluded from social activites because you’re not part of a couple. So not only do you not have a partner to hang out with, but your opportunities to hang out with friends are reduced as well when other couple up. Spending time with other single people is the obvious option, but as you say, at the age you are at people are all beginning to settle down and disappear. If its any consolation, things do get better later on as people get divorced! At the age I’m at – 47 – there are certainly others around in the same boat as myself, who are keen to rebuild a social life after years of marriage and kids. Where I live there are a huge number of “MEET-UP” groups, which attract a lot of single people, even though they are not specifically orientated at singles. For me, part of the adjustment to being single has involved valuing the contacts that I make at these sorts of events, rather than seeing them as transient opportunites to engage in “cocktail party” type chat. I suppose what I’m trying to say is that no, its really not easy, but it is possible, you just have to find what works for you and then MAKE it work for you…

  11. 12

    Thank you Helene, and Mia, for both articulating so well what so many women feel but often are too afraid/ashamed to admit.
    Yes, the reality is that no matter how good our lives are – how successful we are, how broad the social circle, range of hobbies, income level, whatever…the cold reality is that it’s just not as much fun doing this stuff alone. especially when it so often feels like either a/ every one else in your circle is coupled or b/ everyone is stuck on the dating hamster wheel.

  12. 13

    maria #4 wrote: “every study I’ve ever seen shows that a ‘long-term committed love’ is the true source of happiness for MEN, but NOT WOMEN. One study that I read showed that married men and single women were the happiest and the healthiest, while married women and single men were the unhappiest and the sickest…and earliest to die.”

    maria, I have no doubt that this is true, but also that it is changing, for two main reasons: 1 – greater equality of the sexes at both work and home, and 2 – fewer couples deciding to have children.

    Children are a major factor in determining happiness, for the most part in a negative way. The Economist ran a double article a year and a half ago about how raising children significantly depresses the happiness of individuals compared with matched childless individuals. That could explain part of what you read, maria – traditionally, women have done most of the childrearing, which can be a very frustrating experience.

    But I think there’s another side to it that hadn’t been explored in that article, which gets to what helene was saying in #7. I think single women with children may be happier than single women without, because they have the company that all humans crave (as several people have pointed out here). Then the frustrations of parenthood are balanced with the fact that they keep you company and put you in the company of other parents.

    Personally, the happiest years of my life were when my husband and I were married without children. Am I blaming kids in general for causing unhappiness? No. I think that one major flaw in how our society has evolved is to take away the large support network families used to have in raising children together. A single parent or even a couple doing all the childrearing is extremely stressful. When you do it as part of a network, even if it’s overall the same number of adults and kids, the work becomes not only easier, but enjoyable. We don’t have that commonly in the US anymore, and it’s a shame. I think this video could have considered the monetary value of social support in general, not just through one person.

  13. 14

    Helen #13

    I’d have to disagree with you that single women with children are happier than those without, at least from my own personal observation. The pressures and demands on single women with children are far greater, both financially and emotionally. My single friends with kids also have a lot more trouble dating, because so many men don’t want to take on the responsibilities of their children, especially those who don’t have involved fathers.

    Also, with something like 50% of the US population single, there really isn’t any reason to feel stigmatized or isolated. I’m not saying that singles shouldn’t feel the need to find a partner, but consider friendships with those outside your age range or typical social group as well.

  14. 15

    Helen, that expanded social network is great for raising kids, but I’ve Also read that the expanded network in some other countries is a great benefit to singles, too. Singles face a lot of isolation here in the us bc the idea is that everything revolves around the couple instead of the idea that you get emotional fulfillment from a range of folks out in the community.

    I think coupling up makes a lot of people selfish and less interested in the outside world. I think relationships are a wonderful thing– but a lot of people would have better relationships if they dedicated more time to building their own lives and friendships that have nothing to do with coupled life.

    I can’t tell you how many friends I was so loyal to when I had a bf and they were single, disappeared on me when the tables were turned. Each time I meet a cool new girl who could be a great friend I pray that she’s single; I live in dread of my remaining single friends actually finding someone. Obviously I want to be happy for people, but sadly the way society is, i feel like weddings are more a cause for mourning than celebrating.

  15. 16

    Hi all, just thought Id put my thoughts across. Im UK.
    I was widowed at 33, son at awkward age so concentrated on bringing up him best I could ie not looking for a new man to bring into his life due to the circumstances of finding myself unexpectedly single. What Ive found is not only being suddenly single but also widowed turned me into a social leper. All ‘friends’ that we had as couple friends left me, guess the women saw me as a threat?? I dont have a large family as only child and both exs parents dead and own father dead so only family i have is my mother. So in a nutshell Ive been in a vacuum for almost 11 years, no social life at all, just work and home. Im told im attractive ,and have a lovely figure , i look after myself etc but ab no joy getting dates in last year either as it seems so many men are being stung for maintenance by ex wifes and dont want a relationship, just a booty call every so often. Its v v difficult but things can only get better 🙂

  16. 17

    Interesting article on Quebec’s de facto marriage law.

    “This place is the province of Quebec. The French language spoken here is no guarantee for romance. Couples are practical, and lovers treasure their individuality. Quebec has become one of the least marrying places in the world, thanks to the institution known as “de facto spouses,” But now, thanks to a bizarre legal case entangling a Quebec billionaire and his de facto spouse , the freedom to un-marry is under threat. More than 1 million Quebecois in this kind of relationship may soon be automatically married by the state, against their will.”

  17. 19

    Mia 15, exactly. An expanded social network is beneficial both to families and to singles. And yes, we don’t have nearly enough of that here in the US.

    About the other point that you and Stella 16 bring up, about couples leaving single people out: hub and I have certainly tried to keep our part in inviting our single and non-dating friends at work and elsewhere, but usually it’s worked out that they come alone. Once when we invited two single friends, they accused us (lightheartedly) of trying to set them up, though we had no such intention. Other times, when it’s bigger groups with other couples and families, we never know if single people feel left out.

    1. 19.1
      Mrs Happy

      My husband and I entertain a lot. I’ve noticed that single people don’t reciprocate invitations as much as couples do. I understand there may be various reasons for this.

      I recall when I was single I once received a pointed remark from a woman (she was part of a couple) to the point of, she’d never been invited over to my home. Only once she said it, I realised it was true.   Her male defacto partner had visited my home numerous times over 1-2 years (he and I were in the same study group, the group rotated being at each members house every week), and I’d been to their house for dinner a few times… but as a single woman I hadn’t formally entertained   much, in terms of having them both back for dinner.

      Anyway one of the things that happens in the invitation – reciprocal invitation meal back, is that single people who don’t entertain couples much, get left out of the loop. When the loop is on repeat, that’s a lot of events over time.

      I try to keep inviting single people to our events. But sometimes I think, wow, he/she has attended 10 events we’ve held (e.g. at our home, at restaurants), and I’ve never seen the inside of their house… and I just feel like it’s all one way. So I stop inviting some of them.

  18. 20

    I’m divorced and childfree by choice, and am very, very happy. I don’t feel lonely, or bored. I have some great friends, a pretty good family, and I am very happy being alone.

    I was married to a man who came from an extremely wealthy family and I can tell you right now, that money does not buy happiness at all. All it did was pay for my exes five, yes five, maybe six now, rehabs which did him no good. When I got out, I was broke and stuck with a bunch of debt he would not pay off. I have paid most of it off now and am very happy and proud of myself that I did it, and went on alone, and have been alone for six years.

    Money will never buy happiness because happiness is a choice. You can either choose to be miserable, or you can choose to be happy and live your life. I’ve chosen to live my life, and I’ve never regretted that choice. I will be happy, whether I end up getting married again or stay single forever. Marital status doesn’t have anything to do with it.

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