Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The filter theory of relationships

(The last post was officially the most commented one on this blog. It beat the previous comment total of 50, set by a controversial post condemning the newly set Training and Placement Department in IIT Delhi, back in 2005 by a whole 3 comments. This last post, on the other hand, condemned nothing. Except for the small matter of the presence of God. So the lesson is learned. Controversy does not always sell. Thanks everyone :D. I had prepared a speech to thank everyone for crossing the 50 comment mark barrier for the first time in the blog, but I have lost it somewhere during my many bus trips to Dharamshala, Shimla and Chandigarh. So well. A simple thank you will have to suffice for now.)

Which brings me to the main point of this particular post. The filter theory of relationships. (Suggested previous reading: The 2-d ZSV Matrix). Now, just about an year ago - in December last year in fact - I had written about the XYZ theory of love, relationship and commitment/ here.. Using this argument, I had proposed that arranged marriages are actually unnatural and hence more liable to fail, especially in today's modern world. A consultant, or an ex-consultant, must however challenge his own thoughts. Ten months older, and wiser, I challenge the widely appreciated theory - and present the filter theory to prove why arranged marriages are the way forward.

The filter theory is simple, and while it uses basic mathematics, the nitty gritty details are not too tough to understand. Moreover, the filter theory is also pretty consistent with my seminal work - the 2-d ZSV theory. Infact, the filter theory is like a prequel to the ZSV theory. The theory explains why there is attraction among guys and girls and how do the relations x=0, y=0 change ("Nahin doongi aur nahin loonga") to x=1, y=1 state. ("Degi to Le loonga").

You know, there are different filters which a guy is looking to meet in a prospective partner. And a gal too. These filters include (among others) external attributes like height, beauty, weight, figure, dressing style, dental hygiene, overall hotness and others. (For example, a guy might say my prospective partner should be 5'4" to 5'6" tall, should be good looking, be thin, not very hot, and is equally comfortable in Western and Oriental outfits.) Moreover, there are certain basic filters - which may or may not hold - like country, state, religion, caste etc. (Is she Punjabi?) Similarly, there are professional filters, like educational qualifications, comfort in languages etc, knowledge about the world etc. (Can she speak enough English to interact with my fairly numerous South Indian friends?) Then there is the important cultural capital filter, about book choices, movies, music etc. (Does she like Star Wars?) There might be individual filters like interests in sports and travel. (Does she play and watch sports?)There are filters of social behavior, like smoking/drinking, behavior with friends and family, sense of humor, piety and stuff. (Is she too religious?) Then there are internal characteristics, your character, thoughts on various things and general "compatibility". (Will she take good care of my parents?)

Now well, when you meet a girl, you see of her as a prospective partner if she passes your external attributes parameter - which is the first point of attraction. Over time, as she reveals more of herself to you (stop thinking dirty, you losers!), you pass her through your filters, and see if she matches on those levels. Ofcourse, you are always ready to make allowances in some minor filters = for example, the Star Wars might not be a big deal for some, and for others being Punjabi is not a criteria. But the girl must pass through the other important filters, such as the compatibility filter.

However, while you are judging the girl on these parameters, you yourself are being judged. The girl is also judging you on various parameters, such as smartness, hotness, intelligence, knowledge, money and blah blah blah. Am not really sure what all filters girls use, but the thing is they also use filters to evaluate you, which you might pass, but more often than not, you will fail.

This theory, then gives rise to two distinct problems. According to the filter theory, to choose a perspective partner, you need to meet girls, find out about them, and see if they pass the filter. The first problem, then, is meeting girls and having a suitable sample set to choose girls. Having studied in places of academic excellence (and consequently a low girls:boys ratio), and being pretty much a geek in school (which had some very hot girls, I will admit), the only place where people like you and I can meet girls now is at various parties. But most girls you meet at parties are committed, and even if they are single, it just does not come naturally to us. The talking to them part, and taking their phone number and going ahead on a date, thing, that is. It is tough. Really tough. Even after reading the Game, and watching all the televised episodes of HIMYM, I am sorry to say it, Barney, but I suck at it. And I am sure so do most of you. And this is just the smaller problem.

The second, and the major problem, then is for girls who pass your matrix, you should also pass their matrix for a relationship to start. For her to go from x=0 to x=1 ("Nahin doongi se doongi), you need to pass her filter. That, dear friends, in today's times and age, is not easy. Girls who are most likely to pass your filter require you to be smart, intelligent, rich, handsome, neat and tidy, socially acceptable, humorous, sporty and what not. Which, as my single status testifies, I am unable to match.

So, you have these two seemingly unsolvable problems and are confined to a lifelong single status, right? Thankfully the answer is no. Like Aishwarya Rai in the shampoo commercial, its one solution to two (oops: the Ash ad had five problems, but I will keep the line anyway) problems. And the solution is: arranged marriage.

Imagine meeting a good looking girl in a party/bar, who passes your external attributes filter. Now, the problem no.1 manifests itself. How do you approach her? The question is so difficult, that by the time you come up with an answer, either she has left, or you are drunk beyond any level of comprehensible conversation. Hence, most often than not you just wonder what if, and that is that. However, in arranged marriages, you can approach any number of girls through the right appropriate route. Arranged marriage then helps you increase your sample size. Problem No. 1 solved.

The other advantage of an arranged marriage is that because it is a traditional way, the male half still dominates. In an arranged marriage arrangement then, the girl's filter is superimposed by her parents'. The parents filter is simple, well educated, rich and socially adequate, and potential to earn money. Smartness, cleanliness, and external attributes are not something they pay much attention to. And voila! that is something you and I are easily able to clear - the parent's filter that is. You have finally been able to crack the filter, and are ready to be in a relationship. Problem No. 2 solved.

However, some ignorant people, like this friend I was chatting to last night, believes that there are no girls who can crack the filter available in arranged marriage - His belief is all good girls are taken. I strongly disagree. I have seen my friends get into both love marriage and arranged marriage, and by that sample space, and using only the external attributes filter, I will say arranged marriages rock!!

Epilogue: As always, the filter theory is a work in progress. I am working on a mathematical model to explain this as well for better quantification. Please leave your comments and counter-arguments.


Anonymous said...


will read now.

Harshpreet Singh said...

dude, you are getting prepared to get married.

loved the start of losing the speech and "Barney, I suck at it".


aashish said...

Hmm…Gods existence is not much of a botheration as the lack of a lady is.
btw,your parents and bro went the arrange marriage way?

lurker said...

Human relations cant be reduced to mathematical equations.
Filter theory.Matrix theory,theories to counter theories-Project Failed.
Coz It is EQ not IQ which make marriages work.
Otherwise,an alzebra wizkid like you wouldnt been single.
Last heard-Some girls just dig geeks.

sid said...

Bhai,kindly tell if this is just the topic for the month or you are planning to act on our advice too.

arts said...

This, for once, I like

neha said...

I think in case of a love marriage, people usually expect more from their partner, largely because they have fallen in love before marriage. On the other hand, compromise and adjustments form the foundation of arranged marriage, largely because the married couple does not have any preconceived notions or expectations from one another. The compromise factor might work wonders in case of most of the arranged marriages, while in love marriages, that might prove to be yet another cause for altercation. Due to this factor, arranged marriage are long lasting and better than love marriage.

zubin said...

@Anon: You flatter me. You could have read it and then commented, even then you would have been first :).
@Sherry: Not really bro. Am just very very very wella.
@aashish: Ofcourse - Lack of a lady is a much bigger botheration, aint it? And yes, they did go the arranged marriage way. But how is that relevant?
@Lurker: Everything can be reduced into mathematical equations. Thats the power of maths. And yeah, they do? Who does? Please lemme know :).
@Sid: This is just the topic of the month, I ensure you. No plans yet. Not by a long way.
@Aarti: Thanks! Finally you do like something :).
@Neha: I would agree, but if you read my XYZ theory post (this is shameless self-publicity I know, but please bear with me), I am not very sure nowadays - as opposed to earlier when girls where simulated from childhood to make arranged marriages work - people are willing to compromise to make marriages work. Hence arranged marriages also might fail.
And yeah, the willing to make compromises part is what I mean by different and easier filters in arranged marriages

tarun said...

but wot if ur stuck in a family where u've been alwys told DIY...so how do u solve problem no 1 i.e. meet a good girl..

Witness said...

This is humourously insightful:)

zubin said...

@Tarun: Dude, if you have always been told to DIY, I am sure you are too much of a stud by now to just do it. This argument, and the filter theory, exists for us mere mortals who have been living in a shell for too long :).
@Shweta: Thanks :).

Anonymous said...

Whaaa…This post is commemoratin your previous post?
U cant possibly be looking for some serious thoughts with such scary theorms which go over and above my head:(
However, Being unexperienced in this department with age catching up fast,this post comes as a boon. so m takin notes.
Lessons learned so far-
-gold diggers don’t like geeks.
-smart well educated girls do not lay out traps at the bar.
-zubin might not lead the way to become our own oriental indigenous‘barney’
-arrange marriages rock you:)
-never ever be even slightly or stone drunk at a party,a hottie might just cross your path.
-losers ultimately need parents to take control of things.
:(In the same league.

rohit said...

We all have a similar criteria for a ‘good’ girl,but it’s rather about the’right’ girl.And you simply forgot to include the ‘sexual compatibility’thing.How do you inquire that anyway?

Anonymous said...

Surprisingy,had always thought of more girls being averse to this arrange alliance thing,likening AMs to prostituting themselves in the marriage market.
However,most do trust their folks nowadays,to help them choose.On the positive side,you can always place the blame at your parents’ door if the spouse does not turn out as expected.
Good thing is,Like most men,girls today are also engaged in straightening their career curve till their late 20s,and kissing many a frog alongside in search of the right man.after all is said and done, rejection of a prospective bride/groom by a particular marriage party can come as a real punch in the stomach or at least tests one’s diplomatic skills in declining one.

zubin said...

@Anon1: Haha, nice lessons learnt, and yeah U can always drop in for more lessons. Best of luck. And welcome to the club.
@Rohit: Like I said, this is a work in progress. And the right girl is the first girl who passes your filters. About the sexual compatibility thing, there is only one way to check that - by having sex :).
@Anon2: I guess you are a girl, and this career consciousness of today's liberated women is causing the institution of arranged marriage to fail. And you seem to be totally against arranged marriages. Like Neha says, it might work better than love ones.

nikhil said...

Neither luv nor arrangd,
Singledom rocks ;)
* manages a jig with a whisky glass in hand *

prachi said...

think about arranged and love marriages from a woman's perspective.
From a woman’s point of view,arranging a match may seem like taking her like a goat to a country fair,coming under extreme scrutiny,being scanned and evaluated on many more counts than a man.In this,she is treated more or less like a piece of merchandise than a guy who only has to meet the basic criteria of being a good earner and hailing from a similar background(in most cases).it’s harder on women.Starting from giving sizeable dowry/gifts as ‘ladkiwale’ to putting up with in-laws,respecting their needs,valuing and following their traditions -There is pressure on the women to conform to the conventional ideas and make necessary adjustments whenever required. The other disadvantage of an arranged marriage is that because it is a traditional way, the male half still dominates.and even then,woman are still primarily judged by their ability to "catch" and "keep" a husband.

pradeep said...

good read..great work.. arranged marriages rock..waiting for the mathematical model :)

zubin said...

@Nikhil: I know, man, I know. This, as I said, is just a framework for those guys jumping to get married.
@Prachi: It is the same for the guys too. The tethering part, I mean, and being sold off. The difference is, girls are majorly rated on their beauty in a arranged marriage scenario, while guys are rated on their career. And nowadays, the other things you mentioned - dowry, in-laws, are mostly not present. Small families are the norm today. So well, it is not so bad, cheer up :).
@Pradeep: Thanks. Working on it.

Anonymous said...

A very slim percentage of women my age do find me not entirely revolting after slurping down four Long Islands and dancing dehydratedly to disorienting club noise for 3 hours. However, the great majority of the fairer sex just shrug their shoulders at my advances and walk away. Ah, the everyday tragedies of life.
However, when it comes to older ladies and men, it's a whole different story - to them, I am positively a catch. Often times, these ladies and men recommend me to females my own age. there is something that can be done even in the present to take advantage of this. I can use this to find myself a pretty though somewhat traditional wife. How, you ask? Two words - Arranged Marriage. Thank God for a system of holy matrimony where the prospective in-laws choose :)

nikhil said...

You should post something on the joys and woes of singlehood.
Like how to field this gaggle of aunties who frequently question my unmarried status and queerily decide to take it upon themselves to get me hitched?

ankit said...

U'll have2 agree.Life guarantees you nothing.Even after youve well picked your prize,it all comes down to the luck factor.
Life is what but a gamble.

kanmuri said...

nice post.
Marriage is very important in china. After 29, you're called a "Christmas Cake." Just like a Christmas cake after Christmas is over, if you're a "Christmas cake" you're out of season, too late, expired...I am 27 and most of my peers are married with a child as well(given the one child norm)
My 25 year old single friend is constantly freaking out about how she is not yet married, but she also sometimes confesses that several of her married college classmates are not happy.
China has more of arranged marriages but now the winds are changing.

Anonymous said...

Murphy must have been a batchelor.

zubin said...

@Anon1: It is like reading myself. Especially the Long Island and dancing part :). You just said what I wanted to say :).
@Nikhil: Dude, PG Wodehouse is a recommended read. As also the Reginald stories of Saki. They have done it much better than I ever could :).
@Ankit: Yep agree, but where did this fit in?
@Kanmuri: Thanks! It is the same in India too - the tide is now changing. And the older you get, the more difficult it gets to find a suitable match too.
@Anon: According to what I have heard from my married friends, he must have been married.

Anonymous said...

Ok.I had to be anon to say this.
Why are you wasting yourself away?
Wife will help you wean off alcohol.
You can give the world 2+ IITians.
Play sports with kiddos etc etc
Get married.YES.Arranged.
Everything else will fall into place.
Wave the green flag to your folks.

zubin said...

Do I know you, or do you know me?
My life is as good as it can be.
Why change it by getting a wife,
Who will bring nothing but pain in my life.

Alcohol I can quit anytime,
and wasting away is not a crime.
And as for the kids - think sensibly,
Its too much of a responsibility.

And whats the need for marriage,
love or arranged,
when my life is so smooth,
the pieces have fallen in place so well, it all seems pretty arranged.

Anonymous said...

Life and its pace,
Where everyone needs his space.
it may be well,
But gnawing Loneliness
is what can be a real hell.

before long bygone my salad days,
when sun shines warm with its rays.
I decided not to become,
merely A doddering old ripe
with bed pans under my bottom,
nobody to clean my tripe.

Maybe I was too hung up on the past
When naivity in me eroded a tad too fast.
today I enjoy my fatherhood to boot,
and thank God I planned to root.
Hugging my wife after a fight,
Or laughing together at those days of strife.
I knowingly let my child exploit me in a mall,
or have the younger one bounce on my knees enthrall.

Life to be simple, is always tense-yes
But now I experience it from the other side of the fence.
Let Life now come full circle,before its too long.
it is not something to be dissolved in alcohols seductive siren song.
Life agreed,in its joy and pain,is one onerous session.
But don’t you know,“without contraries there is no progression”?

ankit said...

zubin,the comments generated are very thoughtful and interesting. I half expected people to goad you to marry through this.And is it always referred to as "arranged" or"arrange" can also be used,since it has been used by many here.
Happy Dusshera and post more often.

zubin said...

@Anon: Okay, you win the poetry competition :D. But still, I am not ready for marriage, and maybe never will :).
@Ankit: Thanks, and Happy Dusshera to you too :)

Gurneet said...

It's a coincidence that I stumbled upon this interesting post of yours and the following news article (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-south-asia-11566634) within a span of one hour.

I guess your filter theory takes into account only equations with a unique solution. Time to modify your theory, eh? ;)

Anonymous said...


hohoho....conversion to islam
zubin joy ul huq

kazi n bibi razi
only miyan hi narazi

Phoenix said...

There's a problem out there called meeting the right guy too...nobody cares. Such a chauvinistic world !!

zubin said...

@Gurneet: Ho Ho. Funny :).
@Anon: Why not Zubin Joy Khan?
@Taru: after passing out from an institute with a 8:1 boys: girls ratio, if you still have problem meeting the right guy, to tumhen bhagwaan bachaye :).!!! No doubt the world is chauvinistic :).

B.Ghosh said...

Things that appear cute and adorable during courtship tend to become irritating and unbearable after marriage. Ego then lights a fire and impulse adds fuel to it. Finally, the fire goes on to burn the strongest thread of marriage: tolerance. Gone are the days when tolerance was expected only out of the woman, who would seek to save her marriage even at the cost of her dignity. She would be haunted by uncomfortable questions: “Where will I go?” “Who will feed me?” “What will people say?”

Today’s woman usually finds the answers before taking a question mark-raising step. And that’s bad news for men who think they can still ape their fathers and grandfathers, and it’s bad news for the institution of marriage.

Marriage doesn’t come with a warranty card: it is a commodity you buy purely on trust, like you buy a book.

B.Ghosh said...


B.Ghosh said...


neo said...

As far as possible, get an arranged marriage. The main advantage of an arranged marriage is that a marriage that starts with near-zero love can only get better. If your marriage doesn’t get better over time, you should be ashamed because you really need to stop thinking about yourself and focus on your kids now.

Anonymous said...

In discussions with my wife, we’ve come to the conclusion that arranged marriages are good for the economy!

To find a partner on their own, people would have to invest significant amounts of time socializing and earning their partners on their merits alone. This takes up too much time.

With arranged marriages, one can go on doing a desk job even on weekends and on a mass scale this must increase India’s GDP considerably :D