Rationality and Relationships

by lukeprog 1 min read8th Aug 201148 comments


Recently I asked for feedback on two versions of a new post, 'Rationality Lessons from Romance'. 'Version 2' was my original draft. 'Version 1' was a more recent draft edited in response to comments from a collaborator. We wanted to test whether my collaborator's comments genuinely improved the post. Version 2 now sits at 1 upvote and version 1 now sits at 16 upvotes, and I take this to be some evidence in favor of the hypothesis that my collaborator's comments improved the post.

My thanks to those who participated in that experiment; we got the information we wanted!

Thanks also to those of you who provided feedback on either version of the post. Most comments were critical, but this is often the case even with massively upvoted posts like Build Small Skills in the Right Order. My hope is that relationships posts on Less Wrong merely need to be better and more sensitive to a wide variety of sensitivities than my first attempt was, not that sex and relationships are inherently mind-killing topics. There is an amazing interplay between rationality and relationships, and I feel it would be a shame to leave them unexplored.

So I'm trying to learn how LessWrongers can discuss relationships productively.

One difficulty in extracting lessons from the feedback on 'Rationality Lessons from Romance' is that different people had different complaints. Some were 'seriously skeeved-out' by the overtly personal nature of the post, even though earlier posts of a similar personal nature have fared well on Less Wrong, and even though others didn't mind the personal-ness of the post. Some didn't like the promotion of polyamory, others didn't mind. Some thought my interactions with women were unethical, others didn't. Some disagreed with a premise of the post, that sexual jealousy and monogamy are suboptimal for some people. Some felt the brief lessons pulled out from the stories were effective, others didn't. Some thought I was, like Socrates, being skewered for looking at things with too much clarity, others thought my post was weird and confusing.

I may try to rewrite 'Rationality Lessons from Romance', incorporating as much of the feedback as I can. In the meantime, I'd like to ask the Less Wrong community to very different questions:

  1. What standard or non-standard rationality lessons can you draw from your own journeys in romance?
  2. How have your intimate relationships been affected by your implementation of rationality skills?