When it comes to finding love and settling down, we naturally assume it’ll be the powers above that determine who we will be with and when we will be with them.
Most believe we don’t have much to do with the process, for it’s one that’s out of our hands and belongs to something far greater than our own desires.
But what if maths comes into play? And what if an algorithm can determine exactly when you should be settling down, and how you should be going about your dating?
Mathematician and lecturer Hannah Fry thinks she can help out. In her TED Talk in 2014, she says “love, as with most of life, is full of patterns and mathematics is, ultimately, all about the study of patterns.”
She talks about the mathematical trick that can maximise your chances of finding lasting love. It’s called the 37 percent rule and it can sound a liiiiittle bit complicated, but stay with me.
If we imagine you’re choosing a future love from 100 potential suitors on, say, Tinder, the idea is that you swipe left for the first 37 people. No matter how pretty they may be, or smart they may seem, swipe left. They’re out. You won’t end up with them.
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From purely a mathematics perspective, the idea is that if you shoot too early, you miss a great match later on. And if you hold out, hoping the next person, and the next person and the next person will be better than the last, you’ll miss out on the good ones in the middle.
If it sounds a bit funky, think of it this way. You play around in the early dates. Learn things about yourself, learn things about other people and learn things about the nature of relationships. And then after a little while, you’ll reject them. That way, later, when you understand how people function and the kind of person you are, you can settle down with the “37th” person that comes along.
Same thing goes when you’re looking for the best person to hire for a job. At the 37 per cent mark of any screening process, you’re in a good place to pick the best of the bunch.
Journalist Brian Christian and cognitive scientist Tom Griffiths, coauthors of “Algorithms to Live By: The Computer Science of Human Decisions,” touch on how the 37 percent rule can be used in their latest book.