When to stop dating and settle down, according to math (2023)



Committing to a partner is scary for all kinds of reasons. But one is that you never really know how the objectof your current affections would compare to all the other people you might meet in the future.Settle down early, and you might forgo the chance of a more perfect match later on. Wait too long to commit, and all the good ones might be gone. You don’t want to marry the first person you meet, but you also don’t want to wait too long.

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This can be a serious dilemma, especially for people with perfectionist tendencies. But it turns out that there is a pretty simple mathematical rule that tells you how long you ought to search, and when you should stop searching and settle down.

The math problem is known by a lot of names – “the secretary problem,” “the fussy suitor problem,” “the sultan’s dowry problem” and “the optimal stopping problem.” Itsanswer is attributed to a handful of mathematicians but was popularized in 1960, when math enthusiast Martin Gardner wrote about it in Scientific American.


(Video) How to Know When to Get Married Using the Optimal Stopping Theory

In the scenario, you’re choosing from a set number of options. For example,let’s say there is a total of 11 potential mates who you could seriously date and settle down with in your lifetime. If you could only see them all together at the same time, you’d have no problem picking out the best. But this isn't how a lifetime of dating works, obviously.

One problem is the suitors arrive in a random order, and you don’t know how your current suitor compares to those whowill arrive in the future. Is the current guy or girla dud? Or is this really the best you can do? The other problem is that once you reject a suitor, you oftencan’t go back to them later.

So howdo you find the bestone? Basically, you have to gamble. And as with most casino games, there’s a strong element of chance, but you can also understand and improve your probability of "winning" the best partner. It turns out there is a pretty striking solution to increase your odds.

The magic figureturns out to be 37 percent. Tohave the highest chance of picking the very best suitor, you should date and reject the first 37 percent of your total group of lifetime suitors. (If you're into math, it’s actually 1/e, which comes out to 0.368, or 36.8 percent.) Then you follow a simple rule: You pick the next person who is better than anyone you’ve ever dated before.

To apply this to real life, you’d have to know how many suitors you could potentially have or want to have — which is impossible to know for sure. You'd also have to decide who qualifies as a potential suitor, and who is just a fling. The answers to these questions aren't clear, so you just have to estimate. Here, let's assume you would have 11 serious suitors in the course of your life.

If you just choose randomly, your odds of picking the best of 11 suitors is about 9 percent. But if you use the method above, the probability of picking the best of the bunch increases significantly, to 37 percent — not a sure bet, but much better than random.

This method doesn’t have a 100 percent success rate, as mathematician Hannah Fry discusses in an entertaining 2014 TED talk. There’s the risk, for example, that the first person you date really is your perfect partner, as in the illustrationbelow. If you follow the rule, you’ll reject that person anyway. Andas you continue to date other people, no one will ever measure up to your first love, and you’ll end up rejecting everyone, and end up alone with your cats. (Of course, some people may find catspreferable to boyfriends or girlfriends anyway.)

Another, probably more realistic, option is that you start your life with a string of really terrible boyfriends or girlfriends that give you super low expectations about the potential suitors out there, as in the illustration below. The next person you date is marginally better than the failuresyou dated in your past, and you end up marrying him. But he’s still kind ofa dud, and doesn't measure up to the great people you could have metin the future.

So obviously there are ways this method can go wrong. But it still produces better results than any other formulayou could follow, whether you’re considering 10 suitors or 100.


(Video) When Should I Stop Dating Multiple Women and Settle Down (aka MegaDating)?

Why does this work? Itshould be pretty obvious that you want to start seriously looking to choose a candidate somewhere in the middle of the group. You want to date enough people to get a sense of your options, but you don't want to leave the choice too long and risk missing your ideal match. You need some kind of formula that balances the risk of stopping too soon against the risk of stopping too late.

The logic is easierto see if you walk through smaller examples. Let's say you would only haveone suitor in your entire life. If you choose that person,you win thegame every time -- he or she is the best match that you could potentially have.

If you increase the number to two suitors, there's now a 50:50chance of picking the best suitor. Here,it doesn't matter whether you use our strategy and review onecandidate before picking the other. If you do, you have a 50 percent chance of selecting the best. If you don't use our strategy, your chance of selecting the best is still 50 percent.

But as the number of suitors gets larger, you start to see how following the rule above really helps your chances. The diagram below compares your success rate for selecting randomly among three suitors. Each suitor is in theirown box and is ranked by theirquality (1st is best, 3rd is worst).As you can see, following the strategy dramatically increases your chances of "winning" -- finding the best suitor of the bunch:

As mathematicians repeated the process above for bigger and bigger groups of "suitors," they noticed something interesting -- the optimal number of suitors that you should review and reject before starting to look for the best of the bunch converges more and more on a particular number. That number is 37 percent.


The explanation for why this works gets into the mathematical weeds-- here's another great, plain-English explanation of the math -- butit has to do with the magic of the mathematical constant e, which is uniquely ableto describethe probability of success in a statistical trial that has two outcomes, success or failure.

Long story short, the formula has been shown again and again to maximize your chances of picking the best one in an unknown series, whether you're assessing significant others, apartments, job candidates or bathroom stalls.

Other variants ofthe problem

(Video) Mathematical Way to Choose a Toilet - Numberphile

There are a few tweaks tothis problem, depending onyour preferences, that will give you a slightly different result.

In the scenario above, thegoal was to maximize your chances of getting the very best suitor of the bunch -- you "won" if you found the very best suitor, and you "lost" if you ended up with anyone else. But a more realistic scenario, asmathematician Matt Parkerwrites, is that "getting something that is slightly below the best option will leave you only slightly less happy." You could still be quitehappy with the second- or third-best of the bunch, and you'd also have a lower chance of ending up alone.


If your goal is to just get someone who is good, rather than the absolute best of the bunch,the strategy changes a little. In this case,you review and reject the square root of n suitors, where n is the total number of suitors, before you decide to accept anyone. As in the formula above, this is the exact point where your odds of passing over your ideal match start to eclipse your odds of stopping too soon. For our group of 11 suitors,you'd date and reject the first30 percent, compared with 37 percent in the model above.

All in all, thisversion means that you end up dating around a little less and selecting a partner a little sooner. But you have a higher chance of ending up with someone who is pretty good, and a lower chance of ending up alone. With a choice of 10 people, the method gets you someone who is 75 percent perfect, relative to all your options,according to Parker. With 100 people, the person will be about 90 percent perfect, which is better than most people can hope for.

In 1984, a Japanese mathematician named Minoru Sakaguchi developed another version of the problem that independent men and women might find more appealing. In Sakaguchi's model, the person wants to find their best match, but they prefer remaining single to ending up with anyone else. In this case, you wouldn't start looking to settle downuntil reviewingabout 60.7 percentof candidates. In this situation, you notice that, since you don't care too much if you end up alone, you're content to review far more candidates, gather more information, and have a greater chance of selecting the very best.


These models are theoretical, but theydo support some of the conventional wisdom about dating. First, they offer a good rationale for dating around before deciding to get serious. Without a dating history, you really don't have enough knowledge about the dating pool to make an educated decision about who is the best.You might think your first or second love is truly your best love, but, statistically speaking, it's not probably not so.

Second, when you choose to settle down really depends on your preferences. If you want to find someone who is pretty good and minimize your chances of ending up alone, you'd try to settle down relatively early -- after reviewing and rejecting the first 30 percent of suitors you might have in your lifetime.

(Video) The mathematics of love | Hannah Fry

If your goal is to find the very best of the bunch, you would wait a little longer, reviewing and rejecting 37 percent of the total. And if youwould like to find your perfect match, but you are also okay with ending up single, you'd wait much longer, reviewing and rejecting 60.7 percent of the total before you start looking for your match.


These equations are also reassuring forthose with fear of missing out, those who worry aboutcommitting to a partner because theydon't know what theymight be missing in the future.The math shows that you really don't have to date all the fish in the seatomaximize your chances of finding the best.

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When to stop dating and settle down math? ›

That is, you should “stop” when you're 37 percent of the way through with something — whether that's hiring an assistant, looking for an apartment, or whiling away fertile years — and commit to the next option you come across that's better than all the ones you've already seen.

What is the math 37% rule? ›

Developed by mathematicians, the 37-percent rule quantifies what's intuitive, that you should look at enough candidates to establish a standard and then take whatever candidate satisfies this standard. The “enough” is 37 percent.

Does the 37% rule apply to dating? ›

The best strategy for dating, according to math, is to reject the first 37 percent of your dates. The actual percent is 1/e, where the base is the natural logarithm. That's 36.79 percent, but you need to round up because you can't date a fraction of a person.

What is the 37% rule in decision making? ›

Here it is in a nutshell: Spend the first 37 percent of your decision-making process gathering information and committing to nothing. After that period, choose the next option that comes along that's better than everything you've seen before.

How many people should you date before settling down 37%? ›

The 37% rule tells us you ought to enjoy yourself on the first three — have a laugh and a drink or two — but do not arrange a second date with any of them. You can do better. What the 37% rule tells us is that the next best date you have is the keeper. They are the ones you should try to settle down with.

How much should you date before settling down? ›

The first three dates shouldn't be taken too seriously. According to the 37% rule, your fourth date should be a keeper. The principle is that you're exploring different types of personalities and experiences before settling down.

What is the 4 rule in math? ›

The Rule of Four stipulates that topics in mathematics should be presented in four ways: geometrically, numerically, analytically, and verbally. Implementing the Rule of Four supports students in being adept with all four types of representations and also provides support to students who learn in different ways.

What is the magic of the number 37? ›

The mathematician is entirely free, within the limits of his imagination, to construct what worlds he pleases. What he is to imagine is a matter for his own caprice; he is not thereby discovering the fundamental principles of the universe nor becoming acquainted with the ideas of God.

What is the 48 hour rule in dating? ›

Use the 48-hour rule.

If your partner does something hurtful or that makes you angry, it's important to communicate it. If you aren't sure that you want to bring something up, try waiting 48 hours. If it's still bothering you, let them know.

What is the rule of 7 for dating? ›

The rule suggests the younger person in a relationship should be older than half the older person's age plus seven years in order for the relationship to be socially acceptable. For example, the youngest a 26-year-old person should date is 20. The beginnings of the rule are murky.

How many dates before you decide it's not a match? ›

Three dates is a good rule of thumb.

That's a pretty fair amount of time together. If you're not feeling any sense of chemistry or attachment, it's OK to give up.

What are the 4 R's of decision making? ›

Aligning the Four Rs of Decision-Making: Results, Resources, Restrictions, Risk.

What is the optimal stopping rule? ›

The theory of optimal stopping is concerned with the problem of choosing a time to take a given action based on sequentially observed random variables in order to maximize an expected payoff or to minimize an expected cost.

What are the Six C's of decision making? ›

The 6 'C's-character, capacity, capital, collateral, conditions and credit score- are widely regarded as the most effective strategy currently available for assisting lenders in determining which financing opportunity offers the most potential benefits.

What age gap is most successful? ›

A study found that a zero to three year age gap might be best.

How long is the honeymoon phase in a relationship? ›

The honeymoon phase is an early part of a couple's relationship where everything seems carefree and happy. It usually lasts from six months to two years and can be marked with lots of laughs, intimacy, and fun dates.

How long between dates is optimal? ›

The first dates should be close together

The second date should not take place more than two weeks after the first date. If the first date went exceptionally well, the best thing you can do is lock in a second date soon after. The following dates should all be spaced as close together as possible.

What is the 3/4 rule in dating? ›

Called the "3-4 rule," Nobile's method requires that singles learn four key principles about their prospect by the end of the third date. Those tenets are chemistry, core values, emotional maturity, and readiness. According to Nobile, this method allows daters to assess chemistry and long-term compatibility.

How many dates until exclusive? ›

If a couple goes on one date a week, that's anywhere from 10 to 12 dates before they establish exclusivity, according to the survey. Say, schedules allow a couple to see each other more than once a week, that means it could even take 24 dates before exclusivity.

What is the 90 10 rule dating? ›

The 90/10 principle says that 90% of the reason you react a certain way to your partner, is something that you brought to the relationship. It's your “stuff,” the baggage from childhood and previous relationships.

Why is the 4 rule outdated? ›

While the 4% rule is a reasonable place to start, it doesn't fit every investor's situation. A few caveats: It's a rigid rule. The 4% rule assumes you increase your spending every year by the rate of inflation—not on how your portfolio performed—which can be a challenge for some investors.

What is the FIRE 4% rule? ›

Adherents of the FIRE movement — short for financial independence, retire early — aim for a target of 25 times your annual income in retirement. The figure, known as your “FIRE number,” is based on the idea that you can safely withdraw 4% of your portfolio per year, adjusted for inflation, without running out of money.

What is the rule of 7 in math? ›

The divisibility rule of 7 states that, if a number is divisible by 7, then “the difference between twice the unit digit of the given number and the remaining part of the given number should be a multiple of 7 or it should be equal to 0”. For example, 798 is divisible by 7. Explanation: The unit digit of 798 is 8.

What is the 11 trick in math? ›

Times tables: trick for the 11 times table. To multiply by 11, we add a zero to the number we're going to multiply (in other words, we multiply by 10) and then we add the original number to the result.

What is the basic rule of 2 2 2? ›

What is 2+2÷2? Since there is no parenthesis, exponent, and Multiplication. Skip those and divide 2÷2 first, you'll end up with 1 and then add 2 to it which you would get 3 for the answer.

What is the correct answer for 8 2 2 2? ›

The correct answer is 16 according to the modern interpretation of the order of operations. The expression can be simplified by the order of operations, often remembered by the acronyms PEMDAS/BODMAS.

What is the powerful number in the world? ›

The most powerful number of all, 22 is often found in the charts of people who are doers, leaders, and visionary builders. These are individuals who are capable of turning wild dreams into solid accomplishments – blessed with the intuition of the number 11 but possessing a more disciplined approach to action.

What does 777 mean? ›

Peace of mind and contentment are two positives associated with the angel number 777, said Summers. It also has an intuitive energy. The number is associated with spirituality, more related to getting in touch with your inner self; to raise your own consciousness about what you want and need on your journey.

What is the most magical number? ›

Those three digits, as it turns out, have long been the rare object of fascination that bridges the gulf between science and mysticism. "137 continues to fire the imagination of everyone from scientists and mystics to occultists and people from the far-flung edges of society," Arthur I.

What is the three second rule in dating? ›

It refers to the idea that when guys see a woman they fancy, they have three seconds to approach her, make eye contact, or strike up a conversation before she loses interest - or he bottles it.

What is the 10 minute rule in a relationship? ›

Douglas Weiss developed this easy-to-follow plan for improving your marriage. By investing just ten minutes a day to focus on each other and do simple exercises, couples can enhance their marriages in ways they will benefit from for a lifetime!

What is 10 second rule relationship? ›

It's really quite simple: In any conversation during which the temperature has started to rise, wait 10 seconds before you respond. That's it. Just stop. Don't respond immediately.

What is the 5 1 rule in relationships? ›

This means that for every negative interaction during conflict, a stable and happy marriage has five (or more) positive interactions. That “magic ratio” is 5 to 1. This means that for every negative interaction during conflict, a stable and happy marriage has five (or more) positive interactions.

What is the 3 date rule? ›

That's where the so-called “three-date rule” came in — a guideline that says you should go on three dates before sleeping with a new love interest. It's unclear where or how the rule, which was later popularized by “Sex And The City,” originated.

What is the 12 date rule? ›

A professional matchmakers says you should wait 12 dates before having sex with someone. Check out her video below. There are six segments to her 12 Date Rule, this is #3.)

When should you ask for exclusivity? ›

If you know they're seeing other people and you'd like them to stop, knowing when to ask to be exclusive can be more complicated. While there are no firm rules, experts suggest waiting at least three months after you start dating someone.

What are red flags in dating? ›

A dating red flag is a warning sign that appears during a date that could indicate a problem, miscommunication, or challenge in the future. Examples of dating red flags are: Talking only about themselves, avoiding difficult conversations, gossiping about their ex, and withholding affection..

What defines a situationship? ›

A situationship is an uncommitted, undefined romantic relationship between two people—meaning that those in this type of relationship have not established what they are to each other. While it may share some similarities with a friends-with-benefits relationship, the two terms do not mean the same thing.

What is the 5 step decision process? ›

The decision-making process allows for the exploration of all alternatives in order to solve a problem, and it ensures that the best solution is found. The decision-making process includes the following steps: define, identify, assess, consider, implement, and evaluate.

What is the 5 step decision process approach? ›

The 5 steps are problem recognition, information search, alternatives evaluation, purchase decision and post-purchase evaluation.

What is the stopping rule in psychology? ›

in a clinical trial comparing two treatments, a strategy in which results are examined after only a fraction of the planned number of participants in each group has completed the trial (usually either half or two thirds of the patients).

What is an example of optimal stopping? ›

Coin tossing

You have a fair coin and are repeatedly tossing it. Each time, before it is tossed, you can choose to stop tossing it and get paid (in dollars, say) the average number of heads observed.

What is the purpose of a stopping rule? ›

The Stop Rule is a universally applicable alternative to the often tortuous process of weighing up a situation and deciding which direction or choice to make. It's a cognitive tool for deciding whether to continue or stop an action on the basis of the present information, process, and past events.

What are the three 3 C's in decision-making? ›

Clarify= Clearly identify the decision to be made or the problem to be solved. Consider=Think about the possible choices and what would happen for each choice. Think about the positive and negative consequences for each choice. Choose=Choose the best choice!

What is cross-cutting decisions? ›

Cross-cutting decisions, like big bets, are broad in scope, but they are more frequent and familiar. They consist of a series of smaller, interconnected decisions made by different groups in the company as part of a collaborative, end-to-end decision process, as with a pricing decision.

What is the 37 percent rule in the secretary problem? ›

By analyzing the possible distribution of talent, it was calculated that if you interview the first 37 percent of any queue then pick the next one who is better than all the people you've interviewed so far, you have a 37 percent chance of getting the best candidate.

At what age does mathematical ability peak? ›

The ability to do basic arithmetic peaks at age 50.

But the next time you try to split up a check, keep this in mind: your ability to do basic subtraction and division doesn't reach its apex until your 50th birthday. In other words, "there may not be an age where you're the best at everything," Hartshorne said.

What age is right to settle down? ›

"By the time one has reached the late 20s or early 30s, generally, they're aware, experienced, and mature when it comes to dealing with trauma, issues (emotional, health, financial, etc), and communication," she says. "That's why I see that time as a convenient one for those looking to settle into marriage."

What is the mathematical formula for dating? ›

According to internet lore, there's a mathematical equation that governs the lower bound for the socially acceptable age of a potential dating partner: half your age plus 7, or, in mathematical terms, if x is your age then the lower bound is f(x) = x/2 + 7. Seems simple, right?

What is the optimal decision rule? ›

What does this mean? To make an optimal decision, economists ask: “What are the extra (marginal) costs and what are the extra (marginal) benefits associated with the decision?” If the extra benefits are bigger than the extra costs, you shall go ahead with the decision, namely the decision is good.

What is the secretary rule? ›

The applicants are interviewed one by one in random order. A decision about each particular applicant is to be made immediately after the interview. Once rejected, an applicant cannot be recalled.

What is the percentage rule? ›

The 50/30/20 rule is an easy budgeting method that can help you to manage your money effectively, simply and sustainably. The basic rule of thumb is to divide your monthly after-tax income into three spending categories: 50% for needs, 30% for wants and 20% for savings or paying off debt.

At what age is your brain the sharpest? ›

They conclude that humans reach their cognitive peak around the age of 35 and begin to decline after the age of 45. And our cognitive abilities today exceed those of our ancestors. “Performance reveals a hump-shaped pattern over the life cycle,” report the authors in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

At what age does mental decline begin? ›

The brain's capacity for memory, reasoning and comprehension skills (cognitive function) can start to deteriorate from age 45, finds research published on bmj.com today.

What age are you the strongest? ›

Strength peaks at age 25.

Your muscles are at their strongest when you're 25, although for the next 10 or 15 years they stay almost as hefty - and this is one of the traits that can be most easily improved, thanks to resistance exercise.

What is the average age people meet their spouse? ›

On average, women meet The One at the age of 25, while men find their life partner at 28 years old (there was no data collected for non-binary people).

What age do guys start thinking about marriage? ›

The age varies from man to man, but there are patterns that are easily identified: Most men who graduate from high school start thinking of marriage as a real possibility when they are 23 or 24. Most men who graduate from college don't start considering marriage as a real possibility until age 26.

What makes a man decide to settle down? ›

But what does it mean for a man to settle down? It may mean that he now desires to pursue something more stable in his life in all aspects of it. He probably wants more job security, a stable relationship, and is done with his “experimentation” days. Wanting to settle indicates a wish to kickstart the entire process.

What is the golden rule of dating? ›

Our golden rule for couples is: “Do unto others as they would have you do unto them.” Instead of treating our partner as we would like to be treated, we need to treat them as they want to be treated. This is harder than it seems, for at least three reasons.

What should be the max age difference for dating? ›

"Half-your-age-plus-seven" rule

An often-asserted rule of thumb to determine whether an age difference is socially acceptable holds that a person should never date someone whose age is less than half their own plus seven years.

What is the love code in math? ›

143. This one is the most common mathematical way of saying I love you and you probably know of it already! The numbers 1,4,3 represent the number of alphabets that are present in each of the words of the phrase 'I love you'. That is: I = 1, love = 4 and you = 3.


1. Session 14.1 - Who is the one ... according to math!
2. When Is The Right Age To Settle Down and Should You Get Married
(Practical Wisdom - Interesting Ideas)
(Nicole Michelle)
4. How Maths Help You Find Love | Hannah Fry
(TKP Clips)
5. How To Find TRUE LOVE According to Mathematics ? - The Science Based Approach to Finding THE ONE
(Soukaina Kanice)
6. Stable Marriage Problem - Numberphile


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