Relationships: A Dictionary of Economic Terms by Andrei Ghoukassian

The language of economics attempts to describe in scientific terms the behaviour and features of our system of production and exchange. Happily, it can also be applied to the production and exchange of romance. Just ask economist Milton Friedman and his wife Rose, who were happily married for 68 years.

Adverse Supply Shock: Occurs when a necessary input for the good functioning of a relationship is lost, often suddenly. Most commonly begins with a playful post-coital conversation about previous sexual partners, or the discovery of inappropriate communication with a third party.

Bubble: A rising but unrealistic belief in the value of a prospective or current mate, often encouraged by real or imagined demand. Usually bursts when it becomes apparent the person has done nothing of note and most likely never will, particularly if they are an artist, writer, or actor – and especially if they claim to be an entrepreneur.

Capital Consumption: The value of a partner which is lost through use, ageing, and natural wear and tear. Can be partially mitigated by exercise, dietary responsibility, and invasive surgery.

Command Economy: A relationship in which all major decisions regarding production and investment are embodied in a plan formulated by the partners' parents.

Conspicuous Consumption: Dating an individual of significantly higher status, often with the primary goal of impressing others. Often comes at great personal cost; see Billy Joel (Christie Brinkley), Guy Ritchie (Madonna), Lyle Lovett (Julia Roberts), and anyone who’s ever been involved with Tom Cruise. However, conspicuous consumption of this type can lead to certain perquisites.

Credit Rating Agency: The inner circle of friends, commonly a small committee, which evaluates the worthiness of a potential partner; also, the family members who do the same. A positive rating from both agencies is rare, but typically guarantees consummation.

Greenfield Development: Building a new relationship with an individual who is completely separate from your social group while transitioning out of a current arrangement. Problems often arise when the new partner’s friends are not fully accepting of the nature of the agreement, feeling it taints the purity of the individual in question. Often, it does.

Hard Landing: A difficult period which must be negotiated following a period of intense passion. Commonly experienced directly after the honeymoon phase, when dry-humping on picnic blankets is no longer a major feature of the relationship. Failure to deal with the hard landing can result in a recession.

Liquidity Trap: Occurs when all conventional approaches to re-energising a relationship have failed. These may include the introduction of pornographic material to the sexual repertoire, role-playing, a variety of date nights, and weekend trips. The failure of these activities to stimulate a relationship calls for a more intensive approach in the form of quantitative easing.

Non-Marketable Debt: Someone who is unbreakupwithable; typically a non-performing debt you

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Non-Performing Debt: A recently acquired partner who brings great shame upon the individual who chose them, and causes others to question their judgement. Usually reveals their true value after making racist and/or sexist remarks in front of the individual’s family and friends.

Perquisite: A positive that comes from simply being in the relationship; a perk or bonus. The best example is when a partner permits the usage of their superior accommodation, vehicle, or internet connection. More striking examples occur in fully inter-class relationships, which typically see time spent in holiday homes and mounting yards.

Quantitative Easing: Quantitative easing may be required when conventional methods of relationship stimulation have failed, and only a flush of good feelings can lift prospects. For the unmarried this might mean an engagement – for the married, a baby. The long-term effects of quantitative easing are debatable, but short term the jolt is usually powerful and widespread.

Privatisation: The process of a publicly owned asset becoming privately controlled: marriage.

Recession: A period of sluggishness which can result in a liquidity trap if conventional stimulus measures are not effective. In worst-case scenarios it can lead to a sustained depression, and unless your initials are F-D-R you can take it from there.

Redistributive Taxation: Paying for a partner’s dinner/movie ticket/return airfare to Paris because you earn more than them. Often done to ensure equality in the relationship, but commonly leads to resentment if the higher-earner suspects dependence. Critics sometimes suggest the less wealthy partner should simply work more, but efficient couples often engage in non-economic modes of recompense (i.e. massages; house duties; unorthodox sex acts).

Satisficing: Occurs when a couple changes things only when the current arrangements are no longer satisfactory. Once settled on what works for them, they are happy to adopt these processes indefinitely – or at least until a significant problem emerges. Secretly envied by couples who feel enormous pressure to continually optimise their relationship, but ultimately just end up buying more stuff they don’t need.

Shake-Out: The removal of specific practises or behaviours from a relationship because they no longer bring benefit. Often begins with the realisation that both partners have been pretending to enjoy Dexter since season three.

Unfair Dismissal: A break-up issued without sufficient, legitimate, or clear reason. Unfair dismissals commonly begin with the phrase, “It’s not you, it’s me.” This is a lie, however. It is always you.

Voluntary Unemployment: The choice to live as a single agent unencumbered by the restraints of a relationship. Common following emergence from a long-term relationship, especially if it involved an unfair dismissal. Outside of this scenario actual cases are notoriously difficult to locate, and the words I’m just picky should be treated with the utmost skepticism.

Wirtschaftswunder: The wonder relationship: one miraculously able to recover from complete devastation. Perhaps finds its best expression in the story of Burt Pagach and Linda Riss, whose love affair ended when Riss discovered Pagach

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was married. In a jealous rage, Pagach hired thugs and had Riss blinded with lye, spending fourteen years in prison for his crime. They wrote to each other regularly throughout his imprisonment and eventually married upon his release in 1974, later penning a book called A Very Diffrerent Love Story. Indeed.

Andrei Ghoukassian



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