What Is Your Relationship Cost?


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What Is Your Relationship Cost?

This post is for all you folks out there in a safe, familiar, boring relationship that you're currently tolerating. It's not a bad relationship, but it's not a good one either. It's easy and safe. It doesn't make you happy, but you don't feel any pressing need to give it up either.

-By Caleb Jones

There is a concept in economics called opportunity cost. If you've never heard of it, it means that if you choose one thing that takes your resources, you forgo all the other things you could have done with those same resources.

For example, if I'm 25 years old and choose to take a three-year full-time job working for Acme Company, that means I can't take any other full-time job during that three-year period working for some other company. Or working full-time in my own business. Or travelling the world. Or whatever. By choosing that job, I have "spent" those three years of my life. I miss out on all the other possible jobs I could have taken during that same three year period. My ages between 25 and 28 are then gone forever.

If you save up $10,000 then use it to buy a Honda, you can't then use that same $10,000 to buy a Toyota. Or a boat. Or use for a down payment on a house. Purchasing the Honda has cut you off from all other things you could have used that $10,000 for. (For you nitpickers, yes, at some point you could possibly sell that Honda, but you still wouldn't get your $10,000 back. You'll get a fraction of that. You still spent your opportunity cost.)

Once I was out with one of the best looking women I have ever dated in my entire life, a blonde who would rate a 9.5 or 10 on most guy's scales. We were talking about our former marriages. I mentioned that although I got divorced, I was at least glad for wisdom that living with a woman and having kids taught me. I still would have much rather never gotten married, and would have rather had a live-in OLTR or something like that, and I would have vastly preferred that I had separated from her at about three years rather than nine, but regardless of all that I didn't view the nine-year marriage as a complete loss or waste.

She shook her head and said, "Not mine. Mine was a waste. A total waste. I wasted six years of my life. Six years completely wasted. Six years I will never get back. I wasted my twenties. I still can't believe I did that." As she spoke her hands started to tremble and tears streamed from her eyes.

Whenever you rationalize your boring, unfulfilled, safe relationship because "it's easier" or because you're "used to it" or because it's "better than being single" or because "at least I don't have to go out on dates," you're not considering the greatest damage that relationship is doing to you: Your relationship's opportunity cost.

By spending all those months and years with that person, you are cutting off all other people in the world you could have (and likely would have) a much better, happier, more fulfilling relationship with. This is especially true if your current relationship is monogamous. (At least us poly people are still free to experience other people, at least on certain levels.) All those wonderful experiences...experiences you'll never have at your current age because you're rationalizing your current mediocre, boring, "safe", soul-killing relationship.

Get your current age in your head. Picture yourself in the mirror looking like you currently look at your current age. Got that?

Now picture yourself seven years older. Now look at yourself in the mirror, seven years later. You're still in that bullshit relationship. Now how do you look? Happy? Healthy? Fulfilled? How does it feel knowing you've blown the last seven years of your life? Seven years you'll never get back?

That pain you're feeling is the opportunity cost of the relationship you are now tolerating. It's far more destructive to you than you think.

As they say, there's only one guarantee in life: That you're going to get OLDER.

Every time I look at something that will potentially take a good amount of my time, emotions, or money, I very carefully weigh the opportunity cost of such a commitment. I know that the age I am now I will never be ever again, and I don't want to waste my precious time or (comparative) youth on something good when I could be doing something great.

Connect with exactly what you're missing out on because you don't have the balls to break out of your boredom and pursue something that will make you happier.

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This article was originally published on February 7, 2013


  • Maldek 2013-02-07 10:49:17

    What about the opportunity cost of NOT having a family?

  • Blackdragon 2013-02-07 15:14:25

    Your limited black-and-white thinking is astounding. Why are having a boring relationship or not having a family the only two options for you? "Having a family" automatically means you must have a boring relationship? And if you get a divorce or break up that means you no longer have a family? Your kids vanish off the face of the earth forever? And you're never again able to find a new woman/girlfriend/wife who was as good or better than the old one? And you're never able to make any more kids, if you want them? This is what we call “scarcity mentality”.

  • Maldek 2013-02-07 15:36:43

    Scarcity beeing the time you have with your kids, not the available women. You have kids, so do I. Every year not living with them and guide them is an opportunity cost. If we exclude the viewpoint regarding children I could not agree more with your writings regarding OLTR, monogamy and solutions. You really know your craft.

  • Blackdragon 2013-02-07 16:16:58

    You have kids, so do I. Every year not living with them and guide them is an opportunity cost.
    Of course I agree and no where in my post did I say otherwise. I'm talking about relationships, you're talking about kids. That said, suffering through a horrible marriage just so you can spend a few more nights a week after work with your kids is a horrible idea and indeed incurring massive opportunity costs, both for you and your kids.

  • Rob 2013-02-09 10:44:44

    BD, there is also something to be said about the clear attitude of your lady friend who was uncompromising in her review of her marriage. This is often a real feature of women's biology. The ticking clock is often more than just about their plumbing drying out. Women tend to be acutely aware of their declining stock in the market, hence their pursuit of knowledge which they can leverage against men's abilities to provide long term comforts. This is a crazy arrangement, and I am glad that even the science world is waking up to the fact that too little time has been spent on things that matter as this article shows: http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2013/feb/08/can-love-drug-cure-divorce

  • Erudite Knight 2013-02-09 16:07:55

    The people who need the hear it are the people who dont want to hear it.

  • Reza 2016-06-03 22:53:50

    Just ended one of these relationships after 7 months. Thanks god I didn't continue it. She called and asked why (while sobbing). I said: "I already wasted 4 years of my life in another so-so relationship. I don't want to settle for something less than great this time"