The 4th Circle of Hell

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There's much to like about a sociology paper that begins with a quote from Dante:

I saw a nation of lost souls...they strained their chests against enormous weights, and with mad howls rolled them at one another. Then in haste they rolled them back, one party shouting out: "Why do you hoard?" and the other: "Why do you waste?"

The paper is "Fatal (Fiscal) Attraction: Spendthrifts and Tightwads in Marriage," and its abstract says:

Although much research finds that "birds of a feather flock together," surveys of married adults suggest that opposites attract when it comes to emotional reactions toward spending. That is, "tightwads," who generally spend less than they would ideally like to spend, and "spendthrifts," who generally spend more than they would ideally like to spend, tend to marry each other, consistent with the notion that people are attracted to mates who possess characteristics dissimilar to those they deplore in themselves (Klohnen and Mendelsohn 1998). In spite of this complementary attraction, spendthrift/tightwad differences within a marriage predict conflict over finances, which in turn predict diminished marital well-being.

"Opposites attract" gets an interesting qualifier there. People are attracted to mates who possess characteristics dissimilar to those they deplore in themselves. Jen and I don't deplore our attitudes toward money. Before we'd ever met, we'd thought about them, deliberately chosen them, honed them. We like them. So, far from our similarity in this regard inspiring some reflexive resistance, we recognized it as one of the bases of our compatibility.

There's a general principle here. The less you deplore in yourself, the better able you'll be to make considered decisions that serve you. Self-hatred is self-perpetuating, and acts chosen from self-hatred won't bring you closer to happiness.

Choose the goals that serve the life you want to lead, make a plan, and pursue them, while pursuing compassion toward yourself. To imagine you can skip that last is to court waste -- wasted energy gone to self-loathing, wasted life gone to bad decisions you allowed self-loathing to make for you. It's choosing hell on earth.

And nothing's less frugal.

(Previously: the most important financial decision you will ever make in your life is the decision of who you are going to marry.)

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