Love is costly

Falling in love—beginning a new roman­tic relationship—costs you 2 friends, accord­ing to this story from the BBC report­ing on a study by evo­lu­tion­ary anthro­pol­o­gists from Oxford University. As the BBC’s Jonathan Amos explained,

[The] researchers asked peo­ple about their inner core of friend­ships and how this num­ber changed when romance entered the equation.

They found the core, which num­bers about five peo­ple, dropped by two as a new lover came to dom­i­nate daily life.

The story makes abun­dant sense: being in a rela­tion­ship requires time and energy, and being in a roman­tic rela­tion­ship requires even more. Strike that. Being in a mod­ern roman­tic rela­tion­ship requires a whole lot more. It wasn’t always so. As Digby Anderson explained in Losing Friends, roman­tic relationships—and the family—have come to be seen as “the repos­i­tory of all virtues.

It wasn’t always so, though. Friends played a key role in our ances­tors lives, and (based on my read­ing of Stephanie Coontz’ Marriage, a History: How Love Conquered Marriage), I ques­tion whether romance and mar­riage can bear the weight we mod­erns place on it. What if, instead of attempt­ing to find our “best friends” in marriage—and what can that mean in an age where “BFF” is bandied about in a decid­edly unforever-​​like fashion—we found romance, affec­tion, and famil­ial ties in mar­riage, and then spread our com­pan­ion­ship among our fam­i­lies and friends?

H/​t Freakonomics.