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Dating and Math
In the end, everything is math
It’s a general rule of thumb in my life that everything can be explained by mathematics once you get to a high enough level of understanding regarding a subject.
My mother once told me a joke which I have found to be eminently true throughout life:
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“Biologists think they are chemists. Chemists think they are physicists. Physicists think they are mathematicians. And mathematicians think they are Gods.”
Today, we will be applying math to one of life’s most fun and yet challenging subjects: dating.
Now, it is to be noted that I am a straight male so all of this will be told from a straight male’s perspective, but it is easily applied to any dating philosophy.
I was lying in bed once with a woman I was dating getting ready for sleep when I remembered that I needed to purchase something on Amazon. This was quite an important purchase and, being forgetful as a goldfish, I quickly grabbed my handy iPad and started shopping. We had been discussing something nonsensical beforehand so I thought nothing of it as we continued our nonsensical discussion. Soon though, I noticed something was amiss. She was distant and upset. I care deeply about the women I date so I asked her what was bothering her and, refusing to let the subject go, successfully nailed Jello to the wall and got her to tell me what it was that perturbed her so much.
She said: “I just thought the time we spent together belonged to me.”
This took me by surprise. I have never looked at time that I spend with a partner as belonging with me and certainly never believed that I was giving up my time to someone else when I spend it with them. That night was not even a formal date. She had come over after dinner to discuss philosophy and ponder the peculiarities of the world together. We were in our pajamas within sixty seconds of her getting in the door.
But rather than tell her this was a not my notion, I considered it for a moment. I recalled many past experiences with partners where there was a similar experience. Where I had been distracted and had to take my attention away from them, even momentarily, which resulted in a similar dissatisfaction on their part. Presumably for the same reason.
I won’t make any generalities of the sexes, but I will say that I have never taken her approach to time in a relationship. I look at the time the same as I look at any other time. Any attention being given to the partner is a gift, a wonderful gift that should be valued greatly since time is an unrecoverable asset. We don’t simply stop time and our lives when we are spending time together. I think perhaps many women and men misunderstand this, causing great strife in relationships. If this is indeed a man/woman thing, than it would explain a great deal of confusion between the sexes in dating.
Men - Try thinking about the time you spend with your woman as belonging to her and don’t let anything interfere.
Women - Try thinking about the time your man spends with you as a gift from him because he is busy and has many other things on his mind.
Both of you will probably be happier. And ironically, these are the same belief, just put into different words.
But I digress. Math.
All of dating is math. For instance, take the simple rating of a person’s attractiveness on a scale of 0-10. This is on a true bell curve in society. We generally don’t even bother saying out loud anything lower than a 7. And like real statistics, there are no true 10s because we know someone more attractive might exist. The closest we may get is 9.9999. But finding a 9.9 that will date you is unlikely in most people’s lifetimes.
Well, just as with everything, people want something better than themselves. That is to say, people like to date up. A man who is an 8 wants to date a woman that is a 9. A woman that is a 7 wants to date a man that is an 8. It makes us feel better about ourselves. It makes us feel better than we believe we are, or that we actually are.
But no one likes to date down. That feeling is awful. We are settling. We are not getting what we could get. We are cheating ourselves out of something better.
Hence, unless you are a 9.99 yourself, don’t expect that 9.99 to want to date you. Note that my estimate includes personality though as it plays as much if not a larger role in attraction that physicality. Most very attractive people, especially women, tend to be lonely in my experience because very few people actually approach them, considering them to be out of their league. Try it sometime. You may be surprised by the result. What do you have to lose? If your pride is hurt by a 9.99 rejecting you, then you have some issues with your pride.
Now, we know how to spot people that would be willing to date us. Look for people +/- 1 from our attractiveness level. That is our dating pool. How do we know which will actually date us? Well, Carl Sagan actually helped figure this out with the Drake equation.
The Drake equation is a famous equation used to estimate the number of alien civilizations in the universe. It goes:
N = R * Fp * Ne * Fe * Fi * Fc * L
N = the number of civilizations in our galaxy with which radio-communication might be possible (i.e. which are on our current past light cone);
R* = the average rate of star formation in our galaxy Fp = the fraction of those stars that have planets Ne = the average number of planets that can potentially support life per star that has planets Fl = the fraction of planets that could support life that actually develop life at some point Fi = the fraction of planets with life that actually go on to develop intelligent life (civilizations) Fc = the fraction of civilizations that develop a technology that releases detectable signs of their existence into space L = the length of time for which such civilizations release detectable signals into space
Pretty cool huh? What’s amazing is that the most important values are R and L, the rate of star formation and the length of time during which such civilizations release signals. L is so large that it means there are most likely a huge number of civilizations out there amongst the stars.
This formula can be directly applied to dating. I call it The Sibble Singularity:
R = S * Fiu * Fui * Fi * Fs * Fm * L
R = The # of successful relationships you will have
S = The number of compatible singles you talk to in a given year Fiu = The fraction that are interested in you Fui = The fraction that you are interested in Fi = The fraction that you are intellectually compatible with Fs = The fraction that you are sexually compatible with Fm = The fraction that you are morally compatible with L = The number of years that you do this for
What’s most interesting about this equation is that, unlike Drake’s equation, we are not going to be around for 10x years, where x > 2. That means that the single most important variable is S and that the fractions play a very important role as well. That is to say, throwing yourself out there will dramatically increase your chances of having a successful relationship. Talk to everyone! You are seeking alpha. You are seeking a compatible match. But in order to find it, you have to pass all these other tests. The only way to increase your output (relationships) is to increase your input (the people you talk to).
But here’s the hardest part. We all know that just because a relationship is formed, it won’t necessarily last. Once again, math can help us.
The quality of relationships is also on a bell curve centered at 0.5 (or 50% quality). Half of your relationships will be below 50% quality and half will be above. True love is probably those above 90%. Marriage is simply hedging your bet that you have met someone of high enough quality that you want to keep them for the rest of your life, despite knowing that something better may come along.
I have devised a formula for determining the eventual quality of a relationship as well.
Probable quality is defined as:
Pq = Cab * Cba * Ea * Eb
where (all values are between 0 and 1):
Cab = Compatibility of partner A with partner B
Cba = Compatibility of partner B with partner A
Ea = The effort of partner A in the relationship
Eb = The effort of partner B in the relationship
In order for a relationship to be successful, both partners have to be compatible with each other and put effort in. Even if they are compatible, if one partner fails to put in effort, the relationship will fail. If one partner is in love and the other isn’t, the relationship will fail. It’s a very delicate balancing act.
Current quality during a relationship is defined as:
Cq = Pq * limit(time approaches infinity) * r
That is to say, as length of duration of the relationship increases, current quality will increase as well. But, finally, there is a random element that cannot be controlled. These are the car accidents, unexpected pregnancies, job losses, lottery winnings, etc. that dramatically affect a relationship. They are completely unpredictable but do influence everything.
The quality of a relationship will not stay stable on that bell curve. It will fluctuate. That can be a good or a bad thing. This includes divorce. We think we are marrying into a 0.92 but after a decade, we are at a 0.67 and we want out. This is frequently due to changes in Pq (someone putting in less effort) and random events r that are beyond our control.
So there you have it. Dating theory in math form.
It is also interesting how relationships prove that 1 + 1 = 3 when a baby becomes involved.
In the end, everything is math.
Which makes me wonder……why can’t math explain why my date thought my time belonged to her? Perhaps people’s behavior cannot all be explained by equations. After a huge burst of memories and conclusions, I put away my iPad and made a mental note to order my items the next day, curled up behind her, and continued our original discussion, realizing that the quality of our time was far more important than whatever the hell it was that I was ordering. Because we only have time in this life for precious few things. And love is the greatest of them all.
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