Relationship Economics 101

The challenge in life and in relationships is finding a healthy equilibrium between the supply and demand of something, anything and everything. It is an economic concept. But it also applies to affection, intimacy, love, care, money, time, effort in relationships as much as it does to physical materials in economics. Everything. Everything that is important in life.

Take SM. Most of us have an oversupply of affection, intimacy and dare I say sexual desire for our refuser spouse. However, there is little to no demand of that from the refusers' side. That's a serious mismatch of supply and demand. Like anything else, if you find too many of an item in a store and you don't really want to buy any, how much would you pay for that item? Answer: not a whole lot, if any at all. In SM, the oversupply alone causes our spouses to feel pressured by our "constant pestering". The more we supply our passion, the more the refusers feel drowned. On our end, it causes us to feel rejected when we try to give our spouses what in our minds are precious. Make no mistake, passion, affection, intimacy and love are precious, but they are only precious when there is a demand. This ultimately results in resentment on both sides because what we feel is precious is viewed as oversupplied and cheap and worse, worthless, to our spouses. The only difference between something being priceless and it being worthless is a two letter word: NO.

Let's flip the table for a moment. We feel terrible in our SM because we actually want to receive affection, intimacy and passion from our spouses. That's the demand side of the equation. However, our spouses supply little to none. When demand outstrips supply in a particular item, the value of such item skyrockets and the supplier of such item gets the perverbial upper hand in the deal. It makes the party demanding such item feel desperate and results in them losing control of the terms of the transaction. In SM, the lack of supply of affection and intimacy by the refusers gives them control of the marriage. We find ourselves paying an increasingly higher "price" to try to get that ever-decreasing supply of affection. The more we do to try to demand passion and intimacy, the more control we are yielding to the refusers. Often times refusers actually use that control against us because they know they can. In other words, our demand of such affection against zero supply results in us yielding more and more control of our marriage to our refusers. It ultimately allows them to manipulate us and the marriage and makes us feel manipulated and humiliated.

Usually by the time we realize there is a supply/demand mismatch in a relationship, it is already too far into the problem. Some SMs get reversed when both sides can reset their expectations and learn to rediscover that equilibrium, or perhaps a new equilibrium. Many, however, don't survive the mismatch because resentments are deeply rooted or the refusers do not want to give up that control of the marriage that they've gained by an extended period of tight supply control. In this case, there is no new equilibrium and the marriage is ultimately doomed. No sane person can live his/her whole life feeling cheap, worthless, humiliated or manipulated or all of the above.

The object of this relationship economics 101 class is: Relationship, like goods and services, is all about supply and demand. A healthy relationship/marriage is one in which a supply-demand equilibrium exists. Those that are in mismatch, try your best to rediscover that equilibrium or plan your exit so you can create a new supply-demand equation in equilibrium with someone else.


DolphinSmiles DolphinSmiles
41-45, M
9 Responses May 18, 2012

Excelent post¡

Equilibrium assumes full knowledge ... and really when does that happen? <br />
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My own personal philosophy is that where someone spends their time and money shows you what they value. I'll call that pragmatic economics.

Equilibrium in eco 101 is defined as the price at which quantity supplied equals quantity demanded. To solve the deficit all you need is to up the price. Are you willing to do that?

I am not sure if I am understanding you correctly. But as I said in the story, "We find ourselves paying an increasingly higher "price" to try to get that ever-decreasing supply of affection. The more we do to try to demand passion and intimacy, the more control we are yielding to the refusers."

This is very insightful , it provides a good understanding of the basics , well done, thank you for taking the time to share this, I think it is helpful for many relationships.

I suppose to embellish the analogy here - and if economics were the discipline it should have been (rather than the tool of big business) - it would focus much more on value to individuals.<br />
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It's quite entertaining (also sobering) to imagine what would happen if the Saudi's decided - akin to some of our refusers - and said, oh, it's my oil and I don't have to give you any of it, I've taken a unilateral decision to let you run you car once a month.<br />
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And in that context, I feel that the currencies of exchange that we value are completely different, even if both parties are willing to exchange and are not playing control games. Like an FX exchange with no liquidity.<br />
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Yet if you can get to a better basis, one can start to do much more creative non-zero-sum things, like exchanging real value and meaning.<br />
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I've also found it useful to think about the relationship in terms of ecology. That is to say, I'm very concerned that what we have works for both of us, that the environment is healthy for both. In what we've now got together, I think that's what makes it sustainable because I'm as concerned for her satisfaction as she now is for mine. In the SM, clearly the environment is a blasted barren waste, supporting no real life. But in a healthy, loving, cooperative relationship, we can each support each other in a good environment. Again, 101, but seems to be beyond some people's understanding.

Add this to our "Essential Reading" list. Excellent piece, Smiley...<br />
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I was going to add something about "outsourcing" or "contracting with a new supplier"...but you took care of that at the end !<br />
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(hugs)<br />
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-MR

Excellent, all of you! Love the phrase "an unapologetic stubborness to love and be loved"!!

This is brilliant. Many bulls-eyes hit. Thank you.

Taking this a step further, when one of the spouses wrests control of the domestic economy, and then proceeds to severely regulate it on a unilateral basis ba<x>sed entirely on 'what is good for them' with no attention to 'what is good for the union' then the union ceases to exist in any tangible sense. Unfortunately, it takes the spouse who is being dudded quite a long while to recognise this - and it suits the 'regulator' spouse to keep the illusion that there is a union in place.<br />
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When the 'regulated' spouse wakes up, and starts making their choices ba<x>sed on their best interests, the house of cards collapses.<br />
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Tread your own path.

Right on point. Thanks for posting Relationship Economics 102. :)