What Game Theory can Teach us About Relationships

What Game Theory can Teach us About Relationships

Do you live your life by your values or by your interests? This was a question that I asked myself recently. I stumbled upon a thought-provoking talk by Simon Sinek, who in less than 10 minutes managed to explain in layman’s terms the strategies and outcomes of war.

He elaborates by saying that game theory and war share the same objectives, that of winning and losing. But what if there’s a third objective? Which is to not be led by our interest of ‘winning’ or ‘losing’ but by our values?




Finite Game vs. Infinite Game

In Sinek’s talk, he states that when nations engage in policy making, it is important to decide whether they are basing their decisions on their values or their interests. When you base your policy making on your values, you are playing an infinite game. Whereas, when decision making is based on interests, you are playing a finite game.

It is important to note which type of game you are playing so that you understand the rules of engagement. If both parties are playing by the same rule set, then there’s a stable environment. The problem arises when both parties are playing by a different set of rules.





Secret to long-lasting relationships

I have always been fascinated in what makes a relationship work for the long haul. Watching this talk made me realize that the same rules of engagement in both game theory and war can be applied to relationships. In our own personal lives we have the choice to operate from our values or from our interests.

When you operate from your values you are playing the infinite game. Whereas if you are basing your decisions solely on interests, then it is finite because it has an end goal.




Food for Thought

While I still don’t know what the answer is to a long-lasting relationship, it did cause me to pause on what it means to base one’s decisions on one’s values rather than immediate interest.

Click here to watch Simon Sinek’s talk and let me know your thoughts.