Thursday, August 02, 2007

there's more pretty girls (and boys) than one

I think I might have discussed this with you before. I've certainly discussed this with BBFK before. I bring it up again because I was at the bookstore and ran across a book called "Chance: A Guide to Gambling, Love, the Stock Market and Just About Everything Else," by Amir D. Aczel. I had read it a few years ago. It's sort of a street level mediation on probability.

He has one small chapter in which he claims that probability can be brought to bear on the matter of finding Mr. / Ms. Right.

"How do we know when to stop looking and choose?" Aczel asks.

The answer that he says the mathematicians have come to is: "You will maximize your probability of finding the best spouse if you date about 37% of the available candidates in your life and then choose to stay with the next candidate who is better than all previous ones."

He claims that this is true in looking for the right house, or job or puppy too.

I am sitting here trying to remember who all I have dated. My memory is proving to be embarassingly weak. I have been alive for 36 years. I had a "boyfriend" in kindergarden and then nothing until about my senior year of high school.

Since the age of 17 I can recall going on dates with about 33 (?) people.
Some for the blink of an eye - some for over a year. It averages to about 1.7 people a year. Let say I live another 54 years. At that rate I might go on dates with about 91.8 more people. Making a total over my lifetime of 124.8 people.

37% would be about 46.17 more first dates.

So maybe 13.17 first dates from now (at my going rate that translates to about 7.75 years from now) when I am 43.75, I am going to need to start looking for the person I like better than the 46.17 that went before and ask that person to marry me.

Hopefully, that person will either be nearing their 37% point or foolish enough to allow themself to be overwhelmed by the force of my certainty that we are meant to be. Up to now this has not been the case. And hopefully this person will be interested in the option of adopting kids.

Having done these rough calculations it occurs to me that I have probably been on more first dates than I have listed here. And as I get older and stranger and wrinklier and saggier I might not manage to maintain my grueling schedule of 1.7 first dates a year. Maybe I am at 37% already or way past it.

Then again, it's good to take on the attitude that you don't want to settle. That what you want is to be with someone really neato, someone you like better than all the other people that you have been with up to this point. This would not be a terrible thing. It might even be a good rule of thumb to work with. For instance, when working your way past a bad break up.

1 comment:

MomVee said...

I would argue that in college, you're having absolutely tons of "first dates" all the time, sitting down with a group of people at dinner, chatting while walking, etc. That's speaking as someone who settled for serious boyfriend #3.