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Thread: Arranged Marriages: A Truly Unwise Proposal I've Chosen To Champion

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    Global Moderator Polemarch's Avatar
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    Arranged Marriages: A Truly Unwise Proposal I've Chosen To Champion

    I have a stupid idea, but I've decided to propose it anyway so everyone can poke holes in it: Arranged Marriages at a community/societal level.

    I believe arranged marriages would generally produce far superior outcomes over nonarranged marriages, granted that a centralized authority had both the capability and authority to mandate it for a large enough population. Free market principles do typically produce superior outcomes (in terms of efficiency) to centralized planning, due to the information problem. But I think marriages are a notable exception because:

    • People, on average, don't seem to have any clue what they actually want. They feel enormous social and biological pressure to rush into suboptimal situations.
    • People have a strong incentive to misrepresent themselves to others. Unlike most economic transactions, there's highly imperfect information, or in other words, it's very difficult to objectively determine someone's inner self. And unfortunately, many people are notoriously bad at seeing the truth when it comes to their partner.
    • People have a tendency to perpetuate unhealthy patterns in their relationships. There's a disincentive towards breaking vicious cycles.

    Let's create a really snazzy match.com or okcupid framework, one that vastly surpasses the commercial versions that currently exist, mandate everyone's participation subject to certain caveats and conditions:

    • Anyone under age 25 can't get married at all. No kids either, mandatory birth control and abortions. You spend this period of life in relationships that are preordained to be "going nowhere", so there's really no pressure to be monogamous or possessive.
    • When you reach the age of 25, you can either opt in or opt out. If you opt in, you're added to the marriage pool. If you opt out, you continue to abide by the rules of the under 25 crowd. You can opt in later if you want to.
    • Once you're added to the marriage pool, you register, take good photos, and work with a counselor to provide an accurate profile. The profile has both a public and private element. The public portion of your profile is very much like an existing match or okcupid profile, in the sense that it attempts to put your best foot forward. The private profile, which is not available for public viewing, contains a full psychological assessment, employment history, income information, genetic risk factors (i.e. Gattaca) etc.
    • Part of the registration process involves determination of who and what you're attracted to. Everyone assesses/rates hundreds of profiles in an effort to isolate which characteristics (both physically and otherwise) tend to maximize interest, attraction, connection, and commitment. The system creates preliminary match criteria based on private profiles, and attempts to map you against other users who seem to be compatible. You get a certain number of matches over a certain period of time. The system even arranges dates for you, which you are required to go on eventually (subject to scheduling/availability).
    • After you've had a chance to date a certain amount of people, and provided feedback on each one, the system puts forth a recommendation, which is reviewed by a panel. If the recommendation is approved, the couple is mandated to marry.

    Even typing all of that out, I recognize what an insane and faulty idea this is, but, what the hell, here's a thread. Discuss.
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    I like it. then again, I don't know how ideal "ideal matches" really are. The imperfect/tense aspects of a relationship (within reasonable limits) help people grow, learn to be diplomatic, open-minded, multifaceted, etc. People might feel satisfied/appeased when they have all their preconceptions met due to an ideal match, but in less than ideal matches, they might acquire new and interesting conceptions. This reminds me of the movie Her, except with real people instead of operating systems.

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    Homo siderius Sistamatic's Avatar
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    The very idea that you aren't allowed to marry someone would probably make people want it more. Just ask any parent who has ever forbidden their child to see someone. I think you'd end up with a lot of 18-25 year olds pledging their undying love and finding ways around the birth control to prove it, and getting married in underground ceremonies. A law with no teeth doesn't work, so you'd have to punish them and force the abortions punitively. You'd have a revolution on your hands in no time.

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    Hasta Siempre Madrigal's Avatar
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    The people in arranged marriages that I've known didn't seem any less happy than the ones in personally chosen ones. In fact they seemed much less conflictive. Of course, I suppose that having certain unrealistic expectations increases disappointment in the long run. Arranged marriages seem to cultivate less unrealistic expectations. I could be wrong of course.

    In any case, let's just do away with marriage altogether instead of trying to save it. Wouldn't that make more sense?
    Everything under heaven is in utter chaos; the situation is excellent. - Mao

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    Great. But I'm suing you if my husband cheats or beats me.

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    Tawaci ki a Gnaska ki Osito Polar's Avatar
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    This sounds like it would make a decent science fiction setting. It could either be made into a dystopia like in Brave New World or it could be the setting for a comedy.

    Hmm ... maybe Neville gets himself cryogenically frozen and then when they wake him up, he's entered into the Polemarch dating database. Since he's a time traveler from the past he gets sent on all these absurdly weird dates.
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    If we're going to centralize relationships, I think there's much better systems that could be created than the traditional man/woman romantic pair. I've envisioned something similar, but relating to modern "tribes", or communities of 50-100 people that specialize in certain skills or trades, live together (or at least as neighbors), help support each other, share resources, child rearing duties, etc. The benefits would be enormous on a psychological, social economic, and even political level.

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    ^That sounds much better. Like sister wives, with a better male:female ratio.

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    Minister of Love Roger Mexico's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Madrigal View Post
    Arranged marriages seem to cultivate less unrealistic expectations.
    I've wondered if this might be the case. I mean, it's not something I would actually endorse for various reasons, but it seems like it would take certain questions out of the equation that tend to cause people a lot of trouble without--possibly--being all that worthwhile to ask.

    E.g. people who complain that "there's just no passion in our marriage anymore", which I always parse as "being married to this person isn't as exciting as it used to be," and I always want to respond "well, duh, you've been married to them for 20 years and the novelty is gone; what the hell did you think was going to happen?" Now, people I've known who decided to 'do something about it' (as in cheat, or get divorced, or whatever for this reason) more often than not end up frustrated and somewhat unhappy with themselves--"fuck, I had this nice, comfortable life, but now that's gone and I have all these extra stressors and complications to deal with, all for the sake of seeking out a more exciting partner who has now stopped exciting me, too."

    (Get a fucking hobby--why is it someone else's fault that you're bored?)

    Hypothetically, if you got married in the first place not because you were "passionate" about someone, but because a third party you trusted came up with the idea that it made logical sense for the two of you to be married to each other, you wouldn't be going through this every time life together stopped being "enough" to keep you entertained by itself. There are other things a spouse does besides entertain you--know you well enough to have meaningful feedback about decisions, for instance, in addition to the obvious logistical/economic cooperation involved--and maybe some people would be happier if that aspect of their lives was divorced (so to speak) from their need to be passionate and excited about things.


    let's just do away with marriage altogether
    I don't know. I really think if you "abolished" marriage, something like marriage would emerge to replace it. It's just something I find to be easily observed if you people-watch--yeah, it's fun to go to a party or a concert or whatever and be part of a mass of strangers mingling with each other, but when those things let out you'll always see people pairing off during the denouement phase.

    This isn't a personal comment on you or your opinions, but when I've encountered radical leftists devoted to the "smash monogamy" idea the thing that always comes to mind for me is whether they really think most people would be happier sleeping in a big communal barracks and periodically having orgies than doing the conventional thing of picking one person to be your boyfriend/girlfriend and seeking out some privacy to go do your thing together. Framed that way, it of course sounds absurd (to me anyway) but a scaled version of the same premise strikes me as applicable to less radical versions of the same dichotomy. Intimacy implies privacy, in my view, and this is a big part of what marriage-type arrangements offer to their participants.
    Quote Originally Posted by Ptah View Post
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    i can't imagine myself being happy in an arranged marriage, but that's because everybody who wishes to arrange a marriage for me prioritizes economic and social stability/harmony over my happiness, pressure me, don't talk to me about what i want, and demonstrate no intuitive understanding of what makes me happy in a relationship. they see me happy in a relationship with someone i've chosen myself, and assume that i'm not thinking long-term. my automatic response is bleeecchhh. who the hell gets to be the matchmaker is what i'm wondering.

    what happens to all the "unmarriageables" who wish to get married? are we bringing back the dowry system, too, just so they have a chance?
    Last edited by jigglypuff; 02-08-2014 at 10:16 PM.
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