A Romantic Boom and Bust: The Opportunity Costs of Love


Last week, I explored the degree of risk and uncertainty involved in pursuing God’s ultimate will for our lives. This week, Tho Bishop has a great piece at the Mises Institute that echoes these themes from the angle of earthly love.

Bishop’s primary goal is to show the parallels between Austrian business cycle theory and what he calls an “Austrian romance cycle,” focusing specifically on the element of time.

The comparison makes for quite an enjoyable read.

Here is the gist:

Romance starts with a first move. Just as Austrians understand that it is the role of the entrepreneur to shoulder the risk of capital investment in order to potentially achieve profit, we can understand that it is the role of an instigator to take the risk in the hope of finding romantic success. Without an entrepreneur, economic growth is unobtainable; without someone making a first move, romantic growth is unobtainable.

To demonstrate the similarities, Bishop provides a brief parable about a young romantic named Adam. In the beginning of the story, Adam is interested in investing in a new relationship, and like any good investor, he is trying desperately to convince certain women that he is “worth the risk.”

Becoming a bit impatient with the slow growth of his success, Adam begins to “stimulate” his love life in the same way a government might try to manipulate an economy: by faking it.

Adam has become frustrated by romantic failure. Fed up with his lack of success in romance, Adam begins to tell every girl who will listen that he saved orphans from the rampaging cannibals of Rojinda, climbed Mount Everest, and once out debated Ron Paul on the House floor. Adam has decided to manipulate his “interest rate.” All of a sudden Adam finds himself as the center of attention.

Behold! The impressive splendor and all-encompassing prosperity of the boom! Spending for the sake of spending is obviously a great way to get things moving!

But alas, the bust cometh:

At some point, however, Adam is going to have to pay the piper. Justin Bieber doesn’t accept his Facebook request. No one can find the C-SPAN clip of him and Ron Paul. Wikipedia shows no island of Rojinda. Chelsea’s brother was at church camp with Adam the summer he was suppose to be climbing Mount Everest. Adam’s bubble has burst.

The artificiality is thus illuminated, and is shown to be the wrong-headed, selfish, and consumption-driven house of cards that it was.

Adam is back where he started, except this time the market undergoes a painful correction:

Betty slaps Adam. Chelsea tells all the girls at school, ruining his chances with all of them. Perhaps worst of all is that Eve, for whom Adam has since developed real feelings, and with whom he actually has a lot in common, never talks to him again. Adam’s short-term gain has created long-term consequences far greater than he would have ever encountered by being honest in the first place.

The moral of the story is relatively obvious: True relationship requires true risk, and any attempt to insulate one’s love life from risk or cost or authentic struggle will only foster an illusion – one that is doomed to fade into painful reality.

The positive side is that we need not waste our time, energy, and resources on pursuing love that is fixed and coercive. Instead, we can invest the true stuff of life into a passionate and authentic pursuit.

As Bishop eloquently concludes:

Time is finite. So every day spent in a relationship of comfort is another day lost that could have been spent in a relationship of love — there are opportunity costs here.

Similar our previous discussion of entrepreneurship and Christianity, such a lesson of risk and reward can certainly be elevated to our relationship with God, but Bishop provides a great reminder that such a parallel is not limited to the divine.

This post-Valentine’s Day, I encourage you to break any illusions that may exist in your own relationships, whether on this earth or beyond. The reward is waiting, but cost is everything.

(Photo Credit)

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  • http://twitter.com/remnantculture/status/37553361188421632 Remnant Culture

    Can artificially stimulating your love life end in a bust? My thoughts on Tho Bishops "Austrian romance cycle": http://bt.io/GhNZ @mises

  • http://twitter.com/emily_batman/status/37623983616688128 Emily Batman

    A Romantic Boom and Bust: The Opportunity Costs of Love http://j.mp/flU4gT via @AddToAny

  • Pingback: Embracing the Mundane: Radical Discipleship vs. Spiritualized Escapism « Remnant Culture

  • http://twitter.com/remnantculture/status/135411285482418176 Remnant Culture

    "Time is finite. So every day spent in a relationship of comfort is another day lost that could have been spent in… http://t.co/6MSTOCKr

  • http://twitter.com/remnantculture/status/169795930772606977 Remnant Culture

    "Time is finite. So every day spent in a relationship of comfort is another day lost that could have been spent… http://t.co/PdI8IGjr

  • http://twitter.com/rjmoeller/status/169812929724694528 RJ Moeller

    "Time is finite. So every day spent in a relationship of comfort is another day lost that could have been spent… http://t.co/PdI8IGjr