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An overarching facet of social capital has to do with self-esteem.

If you have learned to think poorly of yourself, you will underestimate the strength of your position in the marketplace and, equally importantly, you will be a sucker for other people’s exaggerated claims.

If you’ve been on a date, you know that you think in that context about marketing, advertising, and packaging. Generally speaking, you mate with someone who has about as much social capital as you do.

By social capital, I mean looks, brains, income (both realized and potential), entertainment value, excitement value, treating people well, and so on.

(If you are hyper-aware of your partner’s less-than-movie-star looks when you are around friends, you can mention your partner’s sexual prowess; in a monogamous relationship, no one will ever know if you are telling the truth.) It won’t work, of course, to go on a date in rumpled clothes and confessing all your faults.

The reason it won’t work is because an important asset in social capital is knowing how to behave, so the metamessage will not be that you are communicating your actual social capital; the metamessage will be that you lack social skills.

Nowadays, people who no longer match their mates in social capital have to decide if they want to stay together.

All potential empathic mates would then back off; only a narcissist would persist.

If you think unrealistically highly of yourself, you will set your cap for partners who can do better than you.

Since we are all suckers for other people’s exaggerated claims about themselves (as long as the claiming is not too easily disproved), bragging can lead to sexual successes, but when it comes to mating or partnering, the falseness of the claims will eventually come due.

You are better served remembering that bragging to your friends about who you snagged is a very small part of eventual happiness.

You are especially blessed if your partner will help you put on a performance for friends and family, so you can get the person you really want and also get some social status out of deal.

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