How To Have A Relationship, According To Maths
The Debrief: Want to find true and lasting love? There's an equation for that...
Happy couples have sex 100 times a week! Always reject a guy 3 times before saying yes! Only have sex with 3.5 people until you meet the one! Not my words, but the (highly embellished) words of Science. With Valentine’s Day fast approaching, the obligatory relationship formulas are out in full force. But let's be honest, if there’s one way to set the mood it is surely not algebra. Plus, someone devoting that much time to formulas about sex and relationships probably isn't having much actual sex but hey, it’s Science so don’t argue.
Here’s five 'love formulas' (I know, gross) for all stages of your relationship.
How many people to reject before you find ‘the one’
Dr. Hannah Fry, mathematician, scientist and author of The Mathematics of Love, talks about 'optimal stopping theory' AKA the ideal time to start finding someone to settling down with. Apparently you need to reject 37% of people to give you the best chance of finding the perfect partner, which is all well and good but kind of hard to apply IRL. Alternatively, Hannah suggests thinking ahead, so if you started dating when you were 18, you’d need to reject anyone you met before the age of 24 if you wanted to settle down by 35. But really, is anyone that organised?
How long to wait before you sleep with someone
First date, tenth date? Does anyone care anymore? Apparently so. According to the 2015 global dating survey by Time Out, you should wait a very precise 3.53 dates. If you’re not entirely sure how to calculate that point in your fourth date, might I suggest: a quickie in the restaurant toilet after you’ve had your mains or a pub date that consists of knocking back a couple of G&Ts before legging it back to your place to get down to it.
How to deal with bad habits
Ok so this is based on zero science, but in a piece on compatibility tests for The Guardian, Guy Browning came up with this formula: unsavoury habits you have X number of times a day you do it X intensity of partner's disapproval (1-10). Scores under 10 mean there’s no major issue, and scores between 10-60 mean you’re vaguely annoying but your partner puts up with it. Anything over 60 means you’re a vile person or your partner is very sensitive to minor bad habits. Either way, no one likes a nose-picker.
How to have ‘good’ arguments
The honeymoon period is over and your relationship is less G&T-fuelled sex, and more bickering about washing up. But apparently there's an optimum way to argue too. Psychologist John Gottman recorded couples discussing their most touchy subject, and measured their blood pressure, skin conductivity, heart rates and the content of their conversation. Based on this, he predicted which couples would get divorced with 90% accuracy. The couples that stayed together dismissed negative behaviour – 'she’s just tired,' while those en route to a breakup were all: 'you’re always like this!' Basically, don’t be a dick to your boyfriend/girlfriend. No shit Sherlock.
The ultimate formula for never ending love
Yes, this is it: the motherload. According to research by MSN, this formula can work out how long a relationship will last. Unfortunately, it looks like this: L = 8 + .5Y - .2P + .9Hm + .3Mf + J - .3G - .5(Sm - Sf)2 + I + 1.5C. Which is far too reminiscent of a GCSE maths lessons for anyone to be bothered to understand it, so here’s the general gist. Of the 2,000 men and women surveyed, 25 per cent of both sexes felt that four sexual partners before them was optimum, twice as many men than women thought sex was important for a happy relationship and the one trait we all want is humour. So to sum up: be funny, have sex with four people before you meet ‘the one’, and er have loads of sex with said ‘one’ and you’ll live happily ever after. You’re welcome.
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