Let’s say your 15 year old kid wants to start dating. What do you say?
Assuming you want your child to live a happy life, the prudent answer is actually “go ahead darling, but reject everyone until you’re 24!”
This may sound like a nonsense rhyme out of Alice In Wonderland, but statistically speaking, it is the right answer. Yes, there is a mathematical formula that can help you end up with “The One”.
But wait – what about romance? What about fate?
As the great blog, Wait But Why points out, we take things like business, or getting into the university we want, or hiring an employee very seriously. We do our research, put effort in, go about the process with a strategy and a plan. Anyone who takes this same approach to their love life, however, is seen as a loser who is trying too hard.
Which makes no sense.
The Harvard Study of 268 men over a course of their entire adult lives found that the biggest factor that affects your happiness, health, and even your success is the person you choose to spend your life with. Doesn’t that mean we should take the search seriously? I mean, at least as seriously as finding a good secretary.
The search for a good secretary was deemed such an important issue, that a mathematical model was developed to figure out a how to do it. It’s also called “the optimal stopping point”, and can apply just as easily to the search for the perfect house to buy, and guess what – finding The One.
The mathematician herself, Hannah Fry, explains the details in her TED talk, but here’s the gist:
If you could casually date many people over your whole life, you’d be able to rank them from best to worst, but what would be the point? What you want is that list before you pick someone to settle down with.
The optimal stopping point can tell you exactly how many people you should date and drop to give you the best chance of finding The One.
And it’s 37%.
It works like this: If you start dating when you’re 15 years old, and hope to settle down with someone by the time you’re, say, 40, date around but don’t get serious with anyone until just after your 24th birthday (that’s 37% of your dating life). Then, choose the next person you meet who is better than the best person you met in those formative dating years.
In Hannah’s words, “Spend a bit of time playing the field when you’re young until you’ve got a feel for the marketplace.”
Doing this will give you almost a 40% shot at setting down with The One by the time you’re 40.
(If you’re not so picky about The One, and will settle for someone in the top 5%, your chance of success shoots up to nearly 60%.)
I mean, you could leave it to fate and so on, but the fact is, dating is a numbers game. And that’s what you should tell your 15 year old, just before you get into the safe sex talk…
As I said, this is the biggest aspect, but still one of many that affects human happiness. If you’d like to learn more about Happiness and ways to get more of it in your life, have a look at The Happy Course, made by the Happiness Research Institute and 42courses.