Choosing a mate the rational way

BY LEAH HAKIMIAN

If you really want to find the right mate, be smart. David and Luba Teten believed a sound analytical approach was crucial, so much so, that they spoke at a singles conference in 2004 on the subject in a lecture entitled “Executive Recruiting for a Spouse: A Systematic and Efficient Method to Optimize Yourself and Find, Evaluate, and Sign the Deal with your Spouse.”

David, CEO of Nitron Advisors, an investment research firm, holds a BA from Yale in economics and an MBA from Harvard. And, of course, he was systematic in his search for his own mate. First he prepared himself thoroughly. David was fond of a bit of wisdom from Abraham Lincoln, who said, “If I had six hours to chop down a tree, I’d spend the first four sharpening the ax.” David hit the gym.

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Leveraging his investment banking background for his personal life, David wrote a prospectus for the purpose of summarizing his selling points and profiling his targeted investor. It showed that he knew himself, he knew what he wanted in a wife; and by putting it in writing, he could circulate it to others to help him search. He wanted to find a woman to fall in love with, but his search would be rational and organized.

Luba Kozlova had goals of her own. She was born in Belarus in 1979 and immigrated to the U.S. with her family at the age of 17. She met the language challenge and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a degree in economics. The next challenge was David Teten.

David believed in pursuing all legal and ethical avenues to get leads. To find a wife, he met with more than 60 matchmakers, and he circulated his dating prospectus to everyone he knew — business associates, friends, and religious leaders. Last year, the American Management Association published David’s book, the first business guide to online networks (The Virtual Handshake: Opening Doors and Closing Deals Online). With that background, it’s no surprise he also went online to find a wife.

David Teten is a “more-is-better” kind of guy. By contrast, Luba is a “less is more” kind of woman. You could tell that from the one-paragraph bio she posted on an Aish Hatorah site, speeddating.com. Unbeknownst to her, Luba was following two of the rules stated by Ellen Fein and Sherrie Schneider in their best-seller, “The Rules for Online Dating.” Rule No.1: Less is more when writing your ad. Rule No. 2: Let the guy e-mail first. They also advise posting a smiling photo, but Luba hadn’t read that book. Luba posted no photo.

David e-mailed Luba, and they began seeing each other. After each date, Luba would ask herself: “Is there any compelling reason to reject this young man?” There were no red flags. They went out again and again. They found themselves facing a stack of positives. They were intellectually compatible; both were Torah-observant Jews living in New York; they were age-compatible (both were born in the ’70s); both wanted to get married and have children; there was mutual trust and respect; and their basic values were in sync.

Psychologist Aaron C. Ahuvia, who co-authored the study “Market Metaphors for Meeting Mates,” has studied dating behavior for more than two decades. An associate professor of marketing at the University of Michigan, Dr. Ahuvia lauded a focus on values. “People tend to focus on common interests and superficial characteristics and not understand the importance of — or want to talk about — goals, values and what they want to get out of a relationship.”

Luba works in risk management at Merrill Lynch and grasps what it means to minimize risk. She and David systematically evaluated the compatibility of their values and interests. How many kids? What schools for the kids? Where would they live? Most helpful to them was the list of some 500 pre-marriage questions in Corey Donaldson’s book “Don’t You Dare Get Married Until You Read This!”

Rationally, they were ready. Emotionally, they were ready. They both acknowledged that there was no such thing as 100 percent certainty. “If you decide that the person is your bashert (meant-to-be),” said David, “you can make that person your bashert.” He added, “If you hold out for absolute certainty, you’re guaranteed never to get married.”

David proposed on Oct. 16, 2002, and on Jan. 5, 2003, David and Luba were married. They are now the happy parents of a baby daughter and live in Riverdale, N.Y. Mazal tov!