Tag Archives: self-awareness

The Unmeasurable Value of Nanaya

Atoms, or perhaps it would be more accurate the say those aspects of the atom which scientists choose to consider, are immeasurably less complicated than men. And yet nobody who is not professionally a physicist would venture to discuss the nature of atoms. Where man is concerned, the case is different. Not only the professional anthropologist or sociologist but every human being thinks himself qualified, by the mere fact of his humanity, to lay down the law about man and society and with what arrogance, too often, what absurd cocksureness! An amateur like the rest, I too rush in. But before rushing, I would offer some brief apology and explanation.

Aldous Huxley, “Measurable and Unmeasurable” 

Some people might be moved by the numerical results: that there are genuine odds of finding love that can be predicted. Or that there may be a uniquely shared bond between one and their partner that may be better or worse in provide happiness than any other.

As I wrote in my first post, I’m actually not one of those people. Of course I believe we can calculate those odds or simulate that happiness, but to measure that which is unmeasurable leaves me feeling unmoved.

Rather, I personally value Nanaya for the process we are busy designing, not just for its numerical results. When we have enough data to finish the implementation of our algorithm we won’t just be putting together a machine that generates numbers. For the algorithm to work, we need to ask detailed questions about what you want in life and how certain you are of it. Do you want to settle down? Do you want children? How many? Where do you want to live? How do you get along with your friends?

Not everyone has these answers. People may never have actually sat down and asked themselves these questions. Even if family and friends have asked those questions, did you answer?

Of course some people may have these answers but they may not have the answer to the follow up question: Are you sure?

Marriage or any long-term monogamous bond may be singularly the most important life decision – and there’s a lot of discussion online. Notably Tauriq Moosa  expresses “We need to have a frank discussion about marriage” on The Guardian on the mythos surrounding matrimony. Carolyn Hall addresses men in a frank open letter that exposes the truth of living with someone for decades beyond the ideals that have been engraved by culture and media.

Last week, Nanaya was covered by the New Scientist. There was a critical remark expressed by Dr. Harry Reis, “You simply can’t do [prediction of attraction] from paper and pencil characteristics.”  Though Nanaya does quantify quality of life in relationships, I agree with his sentiment. As far as Dr. Paul Eastwick’s comment on matchmaking, Nanaya does not perform traditional matchmaking and we do plan on performing extensive validation during the Beta with a control set (there will be emails to users and a post about that when the product becomes ready). Plainly, Nanaya will provide the best estimate of your romantic options you’ll ever find.

To return to the introductory quote by Huxley, Nanaya is yet another group to try to understand and assess human behavior. I can’t deny that! However, whereas online dating is a platform to explore others, I hope that Nanaya is a platform to explore yourself.

Ultimately,  Nanaya does assess relationships in a numerical way but the result is not an end in itself. I hope future users value the process of Nanaya, the questions we ask and the results, as much as I do. Think of Nanaya as a canvas where you can sketch out your life dreams and see what it looks like. If you don’t like what you see, contemplate further what you want out of your life and why you seek it. The sketch is but a draft – completing the masterpiece is up to you.

The Catch-22 of Finding a Match

It shouldn’t be a big surprise but the best chances of finding a romantic match are after a big life change, such as a move, going to college, or a new job. In fact it takes on a shape that looks a bit like this:


Being in a new environment means exposure to new people. For each person we meet, there’s some chance we’ll be invited to events and parties where we can meet more people and have a social snowball effect. But time is zero sum, you can’t go to every party in the same night. There’s typically a maximum amount of people you can meet based on the group and how outgoing you are.

Of course it doesn’t go on forever. The biggest factor in how fast a social life settles down is your personality. In particular we consider the Big Three traits that are relevant: extroversion, openness to experience, and neuroticism. The first two help you take more chances in social interactions and in getting to know people. These traits help extend the amount of time someone has chances of making lasting relationships, including friendships. The last one puts the brakes on social interactions. The more neurotic you are, the more you worry about how you’re perceived and how much you can trust others.

So why is it that everyone doesn’t meet their future spouse the first month of college or a new job? This is where the Catch-22 kicks in.


When we are in a new place we’re out of our element. We’re adapting and trying to make heads or tails of how the old “me” can become the new “me.” What’s really going on is the (re)formation of cultural identity. For those who are emerging from adolescence or those who have long been in culturally homogenous environments, the shock of entering a new environment can be destabilizing. Destabilization doesn’t mean bad but simply that emotions are in flux and when that’s the case it’s difficult to be emotionally self-secure. When insecurity exists, whether emotionally or financially, it’s all but impossible to maintain a stable, happy intimate relationship. Inner turmoil and insecurity will soon find ways to manifest in behavior. For adolescents, the challenges of emergent adulthood are a part of development. You need to find yourself before you can find someone else and stay happy. Adults dealing with major transitions are hit harder, especially if culture clash contradicts existing identity development. For those who are not as open to experience or neurotic, social and relationship anxiety can develop.

Now it’s also possible to be too open to experience and not feel that anxiety. People who are more extroverted and opportunistic may date and hookup with no end goal. This can be for the thrill of it, theorized to be biologically driven, or out of insecurity. Namely, people may feel that better is out there and through serial dating they can find “the one.” Maybe Hollywood and false impressions of other relationships have created a unreasonably high expectations of what a long-term relationship should be like?

Ironically all of this happens during the best times to make friends and partners! Is there a way out? Yes and no.

Here’s the “No.” There’s a reason people worry and get anxious. It’s to prevent us from falling into harm. If we are acclimating to a new environment, there’s a reason it doesn’t feel right to settle down and that’s evolution kicking in. If you start dating someone and everything is going great but you feel the need to move on, try to understand why. If you feel that it’s too soon, it might be the case but be honest about it. It’s natural to take time to grow and settle down in a new place or job, and maybe romance should even take a backseat for until that happens. Adding romance into your life while being insecure about life is just trouble waiting to happen.

The best way to fight the Catch-22 is to focus on the first two of the Big Three. Without a doubt, the older we get the better we are in dealing with major life transitions through what we’ve learned from our own experiences and those of others. Those who are more open to experience will stand the best chances of overcoming major life hurdles without anxiety and emotional insecurity. Those who are more extroverted will keep putting themselves in circulation – not to find a partner necessarily, but it will always improve their chances of finding one.

If this Catch-22 feels too real, it’s because we’re human. Try to detect which anxieties are there to protect you as you acclimate and which anxieties are there to get in the way of your happiness. Battle those irrational worries and you might find yourself a happier person more ready to settle down.

Self-awareness and Relationships

I ❤  I ❤ Huckabees and this is one of my favorite gags in the film – but there’s an interesting point here as Jude Law’s character takes a major turn. If you want to ask how you are not being yourself, you only need to think about self-awareness. But self-awareness isn’t just important to you, it’s important to your relationships. Lack of self-awareness is a major underlying cause of failed relationships.

Self-awareness is really funny. It’s one of those things you have when you admit you don’t have it. Lack of self-awareness is sometimes easy to spot in others, but spotting it in oneself is always hard. At the very least, some might be helped by trying to think more rationally about their beliefs or accepting failure. Realizing that your view of who you are is different from who you are may lead to a few different places. At worst, it leads to a personality crisis. At best, it leads to greater self-acceptance.

When it comes to relationships, lack of self-awareness is big trouble. Someone who lacks self-awareness may have a very different idea of who they are from how they’re acting. An example is a partner who judges you for feeling emotional while he seems to be blissfully unaware of the times and ways he acts out. Feeling judged is bad enough, but it makes relationships so much harder when there’s hypocrisy there. Directly confronting someone lacking self-awareness on that hypocrisy will typically backfire, reinforcing existing beliefs.

Of course, self-awareness can manifest itself in other ways but the signs are typically clear. I’m adopting these from Inc. but it’s important to note that these are for otherwise loving, well-intentioned relationships! There’s a difference being lacking self-awareness and being purposefully mean:

  • Do you ever feel like you’re telling a story or expressing your opinion politely only to notice your partner take a hostile tone?
  • Controlling behavior. Asking for changes in behavior for reasons that aren’t clear. It may not come across as controlling but it directly is. Specifically, lack of self-awareness is clear when a partner’s stated expectations don’t reflect the partner’s stated values.
  • Passive aggression. Sometimes passive aggression is on purpose as a means of acting out while trying actively to not act out. Sometimes someone really has no idea they’re being passive aggressive.
  • Making excuses. If things don’t work out, it’s never the fault of someone who lacks self-awareness.

Even as symptoms these are enough to doom relationships. If not, there might be more trouble in the long run. Self-awareness is a key trait required for self-actualization, according to interpretations of Maslow’s (criticized) hierarchy of needs or just common sense. If you want to willfully change yourself into the person you want to be, you have to know who you are. In a long-term, committed relationship with someone you love, a time may come that a partner or circumstances, like parenthood, tell you things in your behavior need to change. Without self-actualization, that change may not come. Even worse, a person who lacks self-awareness may not realize that the person they are most compatible with is the person they want to be with for a long-term relationship.

Scary thoughts! Dealing with a significant other who lacks self-awareness is hard, especially if it impacts the quality of the relationship. It may need professional help. You may not be able to change a partner but the one person you can always change is yourself. So just think about it: “how are you not yourself?”