Friday, December 10, 2010

You + Him - Energy = Breakup, Mathematician Finds

You know how sometimes a marriage will end and one spouse will ask why, only to get the (usually bitter) reply “Do the math”? Well, someone has finally done the math. Literally.

Jose-Manuel Rey, a mathematician at the Universidad Complutense in Madrid, has devised a mathematical model to explain marital breakups.

The theoretical model of “sentimental dynamics” is based on the second law of thermodynamics, which states that in a closed system energy is always being lost.

The equation is based on what Dr. Rey calls the “second thermodynamic law for sentimental interaction,” according to which a relationship will disintegrate unless “energy,” otherwise known as effort, is fed into it.

“It is based on the idea, generally accepted in psychology and marital therapy, that love is not enough to sustain a satisfactory relationship forever. Effort is required to keep it alive and in shape,” he wrote in an e-mail.

In essence, the model says that if you want a long-term relationship to last, couples have to work at it.

Less obvious is the fact that, according to the model, a union everyone hopes will last forever is likely to break up, a feature Dr. Rey calls the “failure paradox.”

But it’s not all doom and gloom. Just as the model explains why marriages come to an end, it also holds the key to how to make sure a relationship lasts, Dr. Rey says.

The model states that the most successful relationships are ones in which there is the most “tolerable” gap between the amount of effort the couple would regard as optimal and the effort they actually have to make to keep the relationship a happy one.

“For people that are about to engage in a long-term relationship, they should be prepared to exert an effort level which is higher – this is always the case – than the effort level they would have considered optimal [before getting in to the relationship],” he says.

All you need is love? Hardly. It’s all in the math.

This article was taken from can be found here.

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