TED talk on the mathematics of finding love

This looks interesting. Intuitively, I understand the mathematics of “whoever is doing the asking is better off,” but I’d like to see the full explanation.

Also check out the video above. That 37% thing seems pretty accurate, at least from an intuitive level. I’m assuming it also applies to situations such as finding a job, a career, a place to live, etc. I just ordered Hannah Fry’s book from the library. If anyone wants to do a podcast on this, it could be interesting.

Speaking of someone not doing the asking, this just came up on my Yahoo page: Find This Man a Girlfriend and He’ll Pay You $10k. Without even clicking on it, I already knew that the guy was Chinese (not just Asian, but Chinese specifically). How is that for predictive stereotyping?

From dateren.com. He's a good-looking dude, but I think the unusual strategy may cause more headaches.

From dateren.com. He’s a good-looking dude, but I think the unusual strategy may cause more headaches.

I’d like to see how this turns out. My gut feeling is that it will actually end up wasting the guy’s time: instead of lots of bad dates, he’ll get lots of bad dates after sifting through lots of bad profiles. If it’s a matter of pure efficiency, I think he’d probably be better off using eHarmony or Match.com or some other site with an algorithm, rather than just soliciting inquiries from the crowd. But what do I know? I’m not a matchmaker.

14 thoughts on “TED talk on the mathematics of finding love

  1. Seriously, a guy who “doesn’t have time to find a girlfriend” doesn’t have time to have a girlfriend.

    All this guy is going to get is some woman who wants his money.

  2. That’s a great point, King. Excellent point.

    Related to your point: it’s one thing to say, “I’ve tried lots of avenues to get a girlfriend, and I haven’t found the right person, so I’d like to open up a different method of finding someone.” It’s quite another thing to say, “Man, looking for love is just a pain in the ass. I work in private equity and make a lot of money, so if you do the hard work for me, I’ll pay you.”

    The first expresses human vulnerability, as well as the commitment to put in the work and effort to make things happen, i.e. the willingness to find a partner by being a partner. The second expresses a cold utilitarian outsourcing of effort. Even worse, it’s the outsourcing of effort that you’re supposed to be doing yourself.

  3. I agree Byron

    It seems to me rather like paying someone to play chess for you because you are ‘too busy’ to play yourself. Just write a report after every game and note what you learned from the wins and losses and turn it in. That way I can become a competitive chess champion by using your playing experience! I don’t have time to play myself! I’m too busy! I’ll just pay someone else $10,000 to do it for me.

    Can you imagine how that would work out? Because its one thing to read about strategy and techniques and its another thing to actually feel the emotions, the tension, the stress, the fear, the triumph! Those are things you just can’t learn from somebody else doing the legwork for you. You will NEVER be a great chess player unless you PLAY chess, and play often! If you don’t have the time to play, then you don’t have the time to win.

    Similarly, the process of finding, approaching, and getting a girl to go out with you is all part of what shapes the relationship to come. Feeling the emotions, the tension, the stress, the fear, the triumph, is all part of what makes it special and worthwhile. Those are the very things that remind you why this girl is so worth it, and why you need to keep fighting, not only to get her but to keep her.

    But if you think you can simply order some girlfriend like a box of take-out, then you’ve missed most of the point. What you really want is safety and a lack of emotional risk. Its the cowards way out—to orchestrate some “cattle call” where disposable ‘contestants’ are brought to your door for a fee for you to choose from. That is not the real world, and that will not be areal relationship.

  4. King has some very valid points that I agree with in this day and age. But if you think about it, it’s only been in recent times that men/women have had the freedom to choose whomever we wanted. Throughout the world, even in Europe and USA, marriage had always been more-or-less arranged. And if not arranged, close to it – i.e. introductions from family, etc. I mean, in the not so distant past, people wouldn’t leave their cities their entire lives! I’ve talked to elderly patients from NY who said they didn’t venture out of their ethnic enclave in NYC/Brooklyn until they were much older. Now, we have internet dating where we can find a mating partner from around the world. It’s a sea change in thought and practice.

    So yeah, I can see where King is coming from, but I can also see where this guy is coming from. Maybe he doesn’t care if the girls wants him for this money, and there’s no deeper feelings in their relationship. Maybe he wants that, even. But it’s true that you can’t discount the feelings lost with such an arrangement.

  5. I get where you are coming from guitardude, but I think back in the days of arranged marriages you probably had two things going on.

    The first thing: People who who were mismatched and unhappy in their marriages.
    The second thing: People who were just lucky to end up with a good match
    The third thing: People who’s parents chose even better than they would have.

    But in NONE of those cases was it some guy paying a $10K bounty to strangers to find him a woman. I think that is a bit different. I mean, at least your parents care about you and may have your best interests at heart.

  6. I don’t know if he planned it that way all along, but about half of the people contacting him at the website are girls nominating themselves and trying to get his attention. How is that for flipping the usual script? lol

    He might get a few goldiggers, but how many girls would not want a chance at snagging a young, good looking, Harvard educated man that is so driven and ambitious that he doesn’t have time to waste trying to meet someone? And he’s got 10k to waste too!

    I guarantee you he’s going to do better than the Joe Schmoe at the bar asking a girl permission to buy her a drink. 🙂

  7. Notty, if it was me I wouldn’t let anyone know how much money I made or had. I wouldn’t tell anyone where I had gone to school. To me, all a girl needs to know is that I have a decent job, car, and place to live. That’s were to begin if you want a relationship that actually means something. Anything more is like pinning hundred dollar bills to your shirt and saying, “Here I am, and if that’s not enough, I also come with all these HUMDRED DOLLAR BILLS!!!”

    I don’t care about “flipping the script” because my relationships are not part of some extended war between men and women in which I ‘get even’ with “female behavior” by scoring points trying to get back at the mean girls from high
    school.

    For me, I try and find women who like me because of things other than my bank account or pedegree. In other words, if I lost my house and my savings, I wouldn’t suddenly lose my girlfriend the very next week.

  8. He’s flipped the usual courting script. I’m just stating a fact. I don’t know what flipping the script has to do with war, mean girls or highschool. But i do know that being approached has its advantages (and disadvantages), and that being approached is not a regular occurrence in most men’s lives.

    Plenty of dudes have jobs, cars and a place to live but no women. This dude is using what he has to set himself apart from the tons of dudes that have jobs, cars and a roof over their head which are the bare essentials for an adult, really. Nothing wrong with that in my book.

  9. I don’t know if those girls read the fine print: “It probably goes without saying, but no one I date can claim this reward herself.” What if the girl is schizophrenic? Can one personality claim the money for introducing another personality?

    I have no doubt that this approach, especially since it’s been broadcast in the media, will end with more dates for this guy. It’s definitely flipping the script. But wasn’t that what he stated as being his initial problem–crappy dates with no substance?

    I don’t know–maybe that’s what he wants–more crappy dates with no substance. But I think that it gets hard to juggle such a lifestyle when you’re in a field like private equity where the private eventually becomes part of your professional life.

    Guitardude/King:

    I also think that in the past people worked harder at trying to make marriages work. I know people my own age who are on their second or third marriage already. I don’t fault people for getting out of a bad marriage, but divorce is just so easy these days.

    One thing that I noticed on the guy’s site is that he has a little pull-down menu where you can tell which state the girl is from. That strikes me as self-defeating. If he meets a woman in Seattle, how is that going to work? He already works 12-hour days; how would he manage to see anyone who didn’t live close by? I think it makes sense to just go local–or at least within a one-state radius.

  10. I don’t know–maybe that’s what he wants–more crappy dates with no substance. But I think that it gets hard to juggle such a lifestyle when you’re in a field like private equity where the private eventually becomes part of your professional life.

    The cynic in me was thinking this right from the start, but I didn’t want to sound cynical. I’m glad you said it first, Byron, lol.

    Still, there’s nothing preventing him from having quality dates by doing this. Just by increasing the number, he’s increasing the odds. Still, I’d figure that his friends setting him up would probably be better towards that end, since they should know his likes better than strangers writing to him. Though, I think I read somewhere that friends and family are actually pretty terrible at matchmaking. 🙂

    One thing that I noticed on the guy’s site is that he has a little pull-down menu where you can tell which state the girl is from. That strikes me as self-defeating. If he meets a woman in Seattle, how is that going to work? He already works 12-hour days; how would he manage to see anyone who didn’t live close by? I think it makes sense to just go local–or at least within a one-state radius.

    Hey man, when you have $10K to blow just to get a girlfriend that lasts a mere 6 months, you probably have a private jet in which to fly in dates at no cost to them, lol.

  11. Haha!

    Notty, that’s the only explanation that makes “economic” sense.

    You advertise that you’ll pay $10k for a girlfriend that lasts 6 months. You get a flood of women eager to try. You play the field, pump and dump, burning through women like a Hummer burns gas. Since no girlfriend will last six months, the total cost to you is just the cost of putting up your website plus the cost of the dates.

    I was thinking that this guy has one up over the PUAs. But then I realized: PUAs don’t like to pay for dates!

    One thing I’d like to know: why does it always seem to be the Asian brothers coming up with these schemes? Seriously. “We” were the ones who brought PUA to the forefront, “we” created sites like seekingarrangement, and “we” did this. “We” are awfully creative in certain areas.

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