Commitment can be a scary thing for many different reasons. One common reason is that you never really know how the object of your current affections would compare to all the other people you might meet in the future. Settle down early, and you might miss out on the chance of a more perfect match later on. Wait too long to commit, and you might find that all of the good ones are gone. In life you certainly don’t want to marry the first person you meet, but you also don’t want to wait too long. This can be a serious dilemma, especially if you’re someone with perfectionist tendencies. On the plus side, there is a relatively simple mathematical rule which tells us how long we should search, and when we should stop searching and begin to settle down.
The math problem I’m speaking of goes by several different names – the secretary problem is one. The fussy suitor problem is another, along with the sultan’s dowry problem. Its answer is attributed to a handful of mathematicians and was popularized back in 1960, when math enthusiast Martin Gardner wrote about it in Scientific American. In the scenario, you’re choosing from a set of options. For example, let’s assume there is a total of 11 potential partners who you could seriously date and settle down with in your lifetime. If you could see all of them together at the same time, you’d have no problem picking out the best. But this isn’t how a lifetime of dating works for us, obviously. In normal life these individuals arrive in a random order, and you don’t know how your current partner compares to those who will arrive in the future. Is the current man or woman a dud? Or, is this really the best you can do? The other problem is that once you reject an individual, you often can’t go back to them later. So, how do you find the best one? Basically, you have to gamble.
The magic figure is 37 percent. In order to achieve the highest chance of picking the very best individual, you should date and reject the first 37 percent of your total group of lifetime partners. For those of you who are into math, it’s actually 1/e, which comes out to 0.368, or 36.8 percent. Next, you follow a simple rule: You pick the next person who is better than anyone you’ve ever dated before.
To apply this to our real lives, you’d have to know how many individuals you could potentially have or want to have – which I can tell you now is almost impossible to know for sure. You would also need to decide who qualifies as a potential partner, and who is just a fling. The answers to these types of questions are never crystal clear, so you just have to come up with an estimate. Let’s assume that you will have 11 serious partners in the course of your life.
IF you were to choose randomly, your odds of picking the best of 11 individuals in about 9 percent. But if you use the method above, the probability of picking the best of the bunch increases significantly to 37 percent which is much better than random! As with any type of gamble, there is still plenty of risk involved when trying to determine the perfect partner based on a math equation. For example, if the first person you date is really your perfect partner. If you were to follow this math rule then you would be guaranteed to reject that person. And as you continue to date other people, no one will ever measure up to your first love, and you’ll end up rejecting everyone, leaving you alone in the end. There should be no argument at the fact we should all experiment with dating at least a few different people in our early years. However, it’s also good to know when you’re ready to stop dating and finally start to settle down.
One thing I can guarantee is that one simple math problem won’t tell you when it’s time to start settling down with your partner. This method can produce better results than any other formula you might find out there, whether you’re considering 10 individuals or 100. But, it also goes to show that there is no scientifically proven method to know when someone needs to settle down with their partner. In the end, it’s a gamble just like everything else in life! This equation is great for reassuring those who live with fear of missing out or those who worry about committing to a partner because they don’t know what they might be missing in the future. It shows that you really don’t have to date all the fish in the sea just to maximize your chances of finding the best one. Learn how to make your relationship successful by focusing on the steps to build a strong relationship with someone whom you honestly think you can spend the rest of your life with. Use the math equation above to try and determine if the person your with right now has a higher probability of working out in the long run, or lower.