Is Dating an Optimization Problem?

Is dating an optimization problem? If so, how?
Friend with Dating Question

Dear Friend with Dating Question,

At first when I read this question, my mind went to search engine optimization (SEO) or database optimization (as in database normalization) and I wondered what these had to do with dating or relationships. (Yes, I am not only a psychology major, soon to be a doctor, but also a geek and technology-oriented).

After switching gears (no pun intended) I think I am on the same page with what you are asking. The optimization aspect, when it comes to dating, is sometimes referred to as the 37 rule and the idea behind it is that you have to go through 37% percent (as in 37 out of 100) of the prospects before coming close to finding the right one. Granted, that is an oversimplification of the concept and is only one definition and you could spend hours Googling the term and terms to find different answers and approaches and methods...if you wanted to prepare a research paper on it...

My guess is that you are here because you care less about the math, strategy, method, etc. and more about the success aspect of finding the right one or a viable dating partner. If you are more interested in the method than the date, then this is probably not the right venue for you. Geek as I may be, I am focused on helping people in the area of relationships (and other psychology aspects) and not necessarily discussing the mathematics of dating. Though I do have a site dedicated to statistics and that may be an interesting topic for that site... But, another discussion for another time (and another site.

Back to your question of optimization. Yes, there is likely a mathematical component and if tested long enough, there may even prove to be identifiable patterns. But, I have a question for you. If you spend your time counting out the 36 or 37 frogs you have to kiss (or date) before reaching the one that may have a chance with you, how much time are you really going to be putting into assessing whether they are the right person for you (or even whether they are a prince, princess, frog, or whatever)?

So, I would keep this simple. Be aware that there are likely quite a number of people that you may have to consider (or even date) before finding the right one but don't spend all of your time thinking about that. Instead, spend some time getting a new outfit or a manicure (yes, guys too!) and prepare yourself, mentally, for a fun time, rather than turning your future date into a math problem. Granted, all of the other advice still applies. Make sure you know enough about him or her that you are not dating a dangerous person but that really is a question for another time.

I'll leave you with this final note. I married my husband in less than a month. Yes, he was an acquaintance, that I had met a few months before that (less than a year) but we married within 30 days of dating. However, when I went out for coffee with him (is that called a date?) I was in no mood to find a new relationship. I had stopped looking and there, right in front of me, was my prince. We have been married for almost 25 years now and he is still the love of my life. So, it does happen. But, don't get hung up on the math - just enjoy. That's what I did and I married my prince.

Deborah E
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