TOS Blog: Daily Commentary from an Objectivist Perspective

A Vital Truth for Valentine’s Day: Say’s Law and Romantic Love

This is an excerpt from my course “God Said.” —CB

Like all proper relationships, romantic relationships operate on the basic principle of selfish human interaction, the principle of trade. To put this in memorable terms: The realm of romance, like that of economics, is governed by Say’s Law. Supply constitutes demand. What you produce (supply) is what you have to trade in the marketplace (demand).

Say’s law does not mean that if you create something people will want it—or “if you build it they will come.” It means that if you want to trade with others, you have to produce something with which to trade—something of value. The values you create—whether computers or works of art or educational services—constitute your demand on the goods and services created by others. What you create is what you have to offer in trade for what others create.

The same is true in romance. If you want a relationship of mutual love, you have to produce something with which to trade—something that a good person will want and be able to love. The one and only demand you can exert in the realm of romance is what you have made of yourself. That is your “supply”; it’s what you bring to the table.

This is not an analogy; it is the literal truth. And it applies to both mind and body.

As we discussed earlier [in the course], we are beings of self-made soul—and self-maintained body. We are responsible for what we choose to do with each of these elements. If we want good intellect and moral character—intellect and character that good people will be attracted to—then we have to make the right choices and take the right actions to achieve those values. Likewise, if we want to be (and/or stay) physically attractive to someone special, then we have to act accordingly.

Love is not “unconditional.” True love is fully conditional. It is a trade. It has to be earned. “God said ‘Take what you want and pay for it.’”

What matters in this respect?

  • Intellect matters. A Disciple of Causation [i.e., a person who recognizes and embraces the fact that to achieve a desired end he must enact its cause] uses his mind fully in the pursuit of his values—and this is an attractive characteristic to other rational people.
  • Values matter—not only moral values, but also optional values: especially our hobbies, recreational activities, and how we spend our leisure time. The kind of person we want as a lover is the kind of person who is attracted to someone who pursues values. The kind of person we want is the kind of person who is looking for a Disciple of Causation. (Conveniently, that is just what we want to be anyway.)
  • Appearance matters. He or she may not look like Liv Tyler or Hugh Jackman—but a Disciple of Causation works with the looks he’s got. He gets himself and/or keeps himself in reasonable shape. He keeps himself clean and well groomed. He dresses nicely and appropriately for the occasion. And so forth. (Again, there’s no duty here—just the law of causality, what we want, and what the kind of person we want wants.)
  • Manners matter.
  • Excessive pressure and pushiness matter. There is nothing more off-putting than a guy or girl who doesn’t know when to back off.

If we want a wonderful, lasting romantic relationship—if we want to fall in love and stay in love with a great girl or guy—then we have to make ourselves of value to such a person.

Supply constitutes demand. “Take what you want and pay for it.”

If you enjoyed this post, consider subscribing to The Objective Standard and making objective journalism a regular part of your life.

Related:

Image: Wikimedia Commons

Posted in: Ayn Rand and Objectivism, Romance

Comments are welcome so long as they are civil.