The Proof Is In The Math: Dating Really IS Harder In NYC

by Cary Randolph Fuller · April 13, 2010

In 1966 two mathematicians published a paper titled "Recognizing the Maximum of a Sequence", proving that dating in New York is a hell of a lot tougher than it is in Ames, Iowa. Psychology Today's below...

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The rule proven by math experts John P. Gilbert and Frederick Mosteller is pretty simple: We reject the first 37% of all dating candidates and then choose the first candidate who was better than the one before it. Your chances of choosing the best candidate (or husband) are considered most optimal using this method. And those chances are only 37 percent. And to make matters worse, evolutionary science has established that it is the female who chooses the male. Depressing, right?

What does that mean for the single, spouse-hunting New York girl?

Take a look at some averages. Let's say the typical New York woman meets 1,000 men in her lifetime (or, if she's got a healthy social life, in a couple years). Using this math rule, she will reject the first 369 men who cross her path before finally settling on the first man who comes along who is better than all those who came before him.

That number seems daunting when you consider that she may have to meet a lot more men before she finds one who is better than those before him. And she must first determine that those 369 men are bad candidates.

Remember, in order to determine who the first man is who is better than all the ones who came before, you have to evaluate each of your dates very carefully.  It’s not like you can just hang up on the phone calls or delete the email messages from the first 37% of the suitors.  You actually have to go on dates and talk to them and evaluate how good they are (even though you know that you will automatically reject the first 369 men).  So you have to go on at least 369 separate dates in New York before you can even begin to consider each candidate seriously for marriage.

In other words, she can't just spill champagne on 369 dudes at the (nightclub formerly known as the) Boom Boom Room and expect Prince Charming to haul her onto the dance floor.

The author of this article used a similar dating scenario in Ames, Iowa, to illustrate how much better one's odds are when she or he leaves New York.

In the Great American Breadbasket, Sally Single might only have to vet ten men on average before the finds the best candidate. For those who aren't mathematically inclined, ten is far fewer than 369.

Keep in mind that this is proven to be the best formula for choosing a mate no matter where you are.

And I am now booking a one-way, non-stop flight to the middle of Iowa. (Not really.)