For those who are interested in finding someone to date, a little probabilistic thinking can help a lot. To see how, let’s take a moment to analyze the situation.
Every time that you meet a new person, there is some chance that you will end up in a romantic relationship. If we want to assign a probability to this happening in any particular case, that probability will depend on the information that we know about both you and this other person. For instance, if we know that he or she is of a gender that you do not find attractive, then the probability will be almost zero. On the other hand, if we know that the person has similar interests to you, this probability of entering into a relationship will generally be significantly increased. In other words, if we lump together all of the relevant factors governing mutual attraction under the term “compatibility”, then we can summarize this by saying that the probability of starting a relationship with a newly met person is dependent on the information about compatibility that we happen to know.
Now, suppose that you would really like to find a boyfriend, girlfriend, husband or wife. This probabilistic thinking leads immediately to a couple of simple ways to speed up the process:
- Alter where or in which ways you meet people, such that these people tend to be more compatible with you than those you usually meet. Naturally, will increase the probability that each person you meet turns into a new relationship. In particular, a little math shows that if the probability of starting a relationship with each new person you meet is p, then the average number of people you have to meet to get into a relationship is 1/p (assuming that this probability remains fixed, and that things not working out with one person don’t influence whether they work out with the others). This means that if you can double p by increasing the average mutual compatibility of the people you are meeting, then the average number of people you’ll have to meet becomes only 1/(2p), half of what it was before. Therefore you’ll have to meet half as many people to find a relationship as you would have otherwise! And that means that if each month you continue meeting the same number of new people as usual, but you are selective about where you meet them so as to double the chance that each leads to a relationship, you can expect the average amount of time to find a new relationship to be cut in half.
- Increase the number of people you meet, but without reducing the compatibility you have with the people you’re meeting. In other words, start meeting more people, but not lower quality people. In this case, while the probability of each person becoming a significant other is the same as was previously the case, the simple fact that you are meeting more people each month will mean that you tend to find a relationship faster. If you meet these people twice as fast as normal then it will take you on average half as long to enter into a relationship!
Not only are these two strategies simple, but for many people they are pretty easy to implement. And, they can even be applied simultaneously. Consider using the following approaches for implementing these strategies:
- Sign up for an online dating site. You’ll be able to screen carefully who you message or meet (and therefore likely boost your average compatibility with the people you are meeting) as well as ramp up the number of new people who you meet each month. Doing this well will require an investment of time (you’ve got to construct a profile designed to attract the sort of person you’d like to meet, find good pictures of yourself, get feedback from friends of the appropriate gender on how your profile could be better, search profiles, compose messages, etc.) The more time you put into online dating and the more messages you send, the more people you will meet, and the more choosy you can afford to be about who you bother meeting.
- Ask five friends if they know of anyone they think you would be compatible with. Assuming that your friends know your dating preferences and personality, the people suggested are more likely to be compatible with you than those you typically meet. Repeat this process as often as you can without becoming a nuisance.
- Start doing activities (like volunteering) which provide an opportunity to meet new people regularly. Or join groups of people with specific interests. Once you’ve gotten to know all the people in one group, join another. If you think you’d be especially likely to date a guy who is into philosophy, then join a philosophy group. If you think you’d be more likely to hit it off with a foodie, join a group of people who are into trying new restaurants in your area. When selecting these groups, the key is to choose ones where people you are likely to be compatible with are most likely to be (as opposed to the groups that sound the most interesting to you).
- Make a point of going to every party or gathering that you are invited to where people you’re likely to be compatible with have a decent chance of being. Then, when you are there, make sure to speak to every person that seems at least fairly attractive. When you go to a party but don’t bother to speak to that good look person on the other end of the room, you’ve just missed an opportunity.
If it normally takes you an average of a year to find someone you’re compatible enough with to be in a relationship with, you can reduce this down to six months just by doubling the number of people you meet each month (as long as you can maintain the level of compatibility you have with those new people you are meeting). Furthermore, if you are able to improve the average compatibility you have with people you meet in addition to the number of such people, then you can reduce that six months down even further. If you’re looking for a relationship, the simple suggestions above may save you months of being alone. Sure it may be worth it to become fitter, learn to dress better, learn to flirt better, etc. But some of the biggest improvements to romantic life can be achieved just by upping the number of people you meet, and taking control of who those people are.