Just Explain It: Finding The Probability Of Love

Love. It’s something we all want, but when you consider that there are over 300 million people in the country and 7 billion people on the planet, it’s amazing that two people in love would have had the chance to meet, let alone connect.

Finding someone - the right someone - can seem daunting with so many people out there, but what if you could crunch the numbers to figure the odds of finding that perfect someone for you? And then what if you could maximize the chances of meeting him or her?

Well, it’s all been done and we’ll show you how, on today’s Just Explain It.

After considering things like looks and personality, age and location, and intangibles like chemistry, the chances of finding Mister or Miss Right can seem statistically impossible.

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Well, hopefully you will find some measure of comfort in the story of Peter Backus.

In 2008, after three years of not having a girlfriend, Peter Backus, then- a London graduate student, wanted to find out how many potential girlfriends he had. So, he wrote a short research paper, appropriately titled, "Why I Don't Have A Girlfriend." 

The basis of his tongue-in-cheek paper was the Drake equation, developed by astronomer Dr. Frank Drake in 1961 to calculate the probability of finding extraterrestrial life in our galaxy that can communicate with Earth. But instead of looking for life on another planet, Backus was looking for love in London.

So, using statistics and some guesswork, Backus started off with the population of the United Kingdom and began multiplying it by the fraction of women in the country, the fraction of women who live in London, who are age-appropriate, and have a college degree. He estimated the number of college-educated women in London he might find physically attractive and who would find him attractive, who are single, and with whom he might get along.

After crunching the numbers, he found he had a 1-in-285,000 chance of meeting a potential girlfriend suited to his tastes. That was only 26 women in all of the United Kingdom! Well, it seems he found one of those 26, or eased up on some of the criteria. Shortly after writing the paper, Backus met a girlfriend and they will be getting married this week!

Let’s say you want to figure out the odds for yourself. First, take a look at the U.S. Census website, the state or local government website in your community that compiles statistics, as well as surveys that are conducted on the characteristics important to you, like location, gender, and age.

Next, factor in other things that may be significant to you such as a college degree or owning a pet. Put all those numbers in the equation, and Voila!  You have your love-match probability.

[Related: 5 Newest Dating Apps People Are Talking About]

After you figure out your chances, get the most out of them no matter what they are. Michael Kaplan, co-author of “Chances Are” a book about probability and unlikely occurrences, says your actions can increase or decrease the probability of a rare event like finding true love. Just like driving safely can decrease your chances of getting into an accident, while driving recklessly can increase it, Kaplan says putting yourself in situations where you’re likely to meet someone will increase the likelihood that you’ll find true love. So, instead of staying home and sitting on the couch every night, go out and try to meet someone!

It’s not rocket science, even if some have looked to outer space to make sense of the odds.

So, tell us, did you learn something? What do you think your chances are of finding mate? Do you have a love story that beat the odds? Give us your feedback in the comments section below, or on Twitter using #JustExplainItNews.

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