True love can be a tricky business – the preserve of chance encounters, strange coincidences and seasoned matchmakers such as those at Flame Introductions. But while we’re big on the importance of chemistry when it comes to keeping the candle burning, we were sceptical when we heard that a mathematician has claimed that the perfect partner might have less to do with the periodic table and more to do with algebraic formulas. Could there be something in it?
In her TED talk The Mathematics Of Love, the lovely (watch further down the page) Hannah Fry proposes that happy, everlasting unions might come down to one magic number: 37.
For non-mathematicians, the premise of the thesis (“a delicious bit of mathematics called the optimal stopping theory”) is that the average person who begins dating at 15 and hopes to be settled down by 35, will be happiest in the long run if they dismiss the first 37% of people they date. Then, once they’ve rejected the last of the 37% club, they should marry the next person who comes along who is better than all previous people they’ve dated and ditched.
“It’s mathematically proven that this is the best possible way of maximising your chances of finding the perfect partner,” claims Fry.
Thankfully, Fry concedes that her method does come with risks attached. “Imagine your perfect partner comes along within the first 37%. Or if nobody good comes along [after 37%] and you have to go on rejecting everyone and die alone surrounded by cats,” she mused.
Furthermore, what if the best person is just marginally better than the sum of the 37% club? It might give rise to the sorts of Valentine’s Day cards which won’t win any brownie points for romance…
It’s common sense that through dating you get to learn more about what you want out of a long-term relationship, and that older may mean wiser choices, but we’ll need more convincing that the wonderful process of falling in love boils down to a simple number. Intriguing as Fry’s claim is that certain species of female fish send the first 37% of male pond visitors packing, choosing only to mate with the next fishy type who shows more fintastic qualities that previous swimmers – we think it’s merely evidence that the old adage is true: there really are plenty more fish in the sea; 63% more to be exact.