Dating with science on your side
January 27th, 2011
11:24 AM ET

Dating with science on your side

Ian Kerner, a sexuality counselor and New York Times best-selling author, blogs about sex on Thursdays on The Chart. Read more from him at his website, GoodInBed.

Anyone who’s single and dating knows it’s a numbers game. All it takes is one person to set you on the path toward happily ever after - or to give you another dating nightmare story.

But how many dates do you have to go on to find “the one”? And how do you know for sure that once you do meet Mr. or Ms. Right, a more attractive, more compatible prospect won’t pop up right around the corner?

Science can help us streamline the process. Cognitive science all-stars Peter Todd, Ph.D., of Indiana University in Bloomington, and Geoffrey Miller, Ph.D., of the University of New Mexico, used advanced computer simulations to determine the best approach to find lasting love.

Todd and Miller applied a well-known system of hypothetical decision-making called the “secretary problem” to dating. In this situation, a person must pick the best secretary from a group of applicants who appear in random order, drawn from a pool whose quality is not known. Once rejected, applicants cannot be recalled. It’s all about moving forward and making smart choices.

Todd and Miller found that the solution to the secretary problem - and potentially your dating problem - requires sampling a certain proportion of people, remembering the best of them, and then picking the next person who is even better.

So, what’s the magic number? In the secretary problem, the ideal percentage for sampling is 37% of a pool of 100 applicants. That means it would make sense to initially sample 37 people, remember the best of the best, and then pick the next candidate who meets or exceeds that standard.

Now, in the real world of dating there are many, many more prospects than 100 (at last count, there were nearly 100 million singles if you count all ages) and for many of us, even dating just 37 people would be far too tiring. You also might be thinking, “Please! I’ve already dated hundreds of people. I don’t need to sample any more candidates. I’m sampled to death!”

Going back to their advanced computer simulations, Miller and Todd raised the number of potential candidates from 100 to 1,000 and proved, to the relief of singles everywhere, that a little bit of searching indeed goes a long way. According to their research, in a group of 1,000 potential mates, only 1 to 2 percent needs to be sampled.

But you do need to set your “aspiration level” - your ideal mate based on a realistic view of who’s available and whom you can attract - and date those people you consider to be in the top 25%. That means you shouldn’t set your expectations too unrealistically high or low.

In other words, you have to go on roughly 10 first dates, with mates who are within your aspiration level. If after 10 dates there’s someone you want to go back to and he or she is available, then go for it. But give yourself those 10 first dates.

Want some other tips to date with science on your side?

  • Think before you potentially hop into bed on the first date. According to a poll by the National Opinion Research Center, only 1.4% of married couples had sex within the first two days of meeting. The pursuit of sexual gratification plays heavily into the brain’s reward centers. The more we pursue something, the more we want it.
  • If you’re really attracted to him or her, go to a dimly lit place and stare into each other’s eyes. Researchers at Stony Brook University found that men and women who stared into each other’s eyes for more than four minutes said they felt unusually attracted to each other. And enlarged pupils are a sign that we like what we see, and a sexual cue to like us back. Dim lighting causes our pupils to widen.
  • At some point, lean in and take a deep breath. Liking someone’s natural scent is an indication of genetic compatibility.
  • Be sure to compliment your date. People tend to be most comfortable and to live up to the expectations we place on them. So if you tell dates, “You seem so smart and funny,” they will be smarter and funnier and you’ll see them at their best.
  • Don’t let your sense of your own attractiveness hold you back. In many studies, men pick women of average weight as their ideal mate as opposed to super-skinny women, and many women find short men who are confident to appear a few inches taller than they actually are.

I personally believe that dating and finding love should be like buying a piece of art - you need to be captivated by someone you want to take home and frame. Yet all too often, we're walking around with our tiny frames trying to fit people into them. We're looking for something or someone rather than really seeing. So dismantle the frame, take some risks and give yourself 10 first dates! If you’d like more dating advice, please visit our experts at Good in Bed.

soundoff (212 Responses)
  1. Ayana Woodbeck

    I absolutely love your blog and find the majority of your post's to be just what I'm looking for. can you offer guest writers to write content for you? I wouldn't mind publishing a post or elaborating on a number of the subjects you write in relation to here. Again, awesome web site!


    March 3, 2021 at 03:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. keyword seo for hemp cbd

    why do the poor reside closer to the cbd in brueckner’s simple urban mode


    March 5, 2021 at 01:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Danny Berlinski

    I really appreciate this post. I've been looking all over for this! Thank goodness I found it on Bing. You've made my day! Thank you again!


    March 6, 2021 at 14:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. 우리카지노



    March 21, 2021 at 21:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. 카지노사이트



    March 21, 2021 at 21:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. 우리카지노



    March 22, 2021 at 05:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. myJxzEPYLI

    alabama homework help online help with college essay i hate doing homework with my son business plan purchase

    March 24, 2021 at 14:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. napilim.pro

    Профессиональный монтаж напольных покрытий.Обращайтесь всегда рады вам помочь.
    Мы делаем следующие работы
    Монтаж напольного плинтуса из массива
    Монтаж напольного плинтуса МДФ
    Монтаж напольного плинтуса дюрополимер
    Монтаж напольного плинтуса ПВХ
    Монтаж напольного плинтуса ЛДФ
    Монтаж потолочного плинтуса.
    Монтаж напольного плинтуса из металла и т.д кроме камня.
    Покраска плинтуса.
    Монтаж напольных покрытий
    Монтаж паркетной доски на подложку.
    Монтаж ламината.
    Монтаж винилового ламината
    Монтаж инжинерной доски
    Монтаж моссивной доски (с готовым покрытием)
    Монтаж фанеры.
    Монтаж галтелий и наличников.
    По другим работам уточняйте!
    гарантия на все виды работ.

    March 26, 2021 at 19:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. ZNilnPWIJO

    essay good customer service best college application essays self service garage business plan need help on my geography homework

    March 27, 2021 at 14:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. UtggVvbkOx

    good customer service experience essay write my essay today persuasive essay teachers pay teachers homework help robots

    March 28, 2021 at 17:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. crYYffwsfY

    short essay about customer service persuasive essay about not doing drugs math 9 homework help creative consequences for not doing homework

    March 30, 2021 at 03:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. betflik68

    Your method of telling the whole thing in this paragraph
    is truly good, all be able to simply be aware of
    it, Thanks a lot.

    March 30, 2021 at 11:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. CuUeuluhrd

    essay on money can't buy love buy an essay paper online civil service essay syllabus law of sines homework help

    March 31, 2021 at 09:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. fVGrFBsLXL

    math homework word problems help writing essay papers after school homework help jobs qualities good salesperson

    April 1, 2021 at 16:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. DAdexidYJa

    i want to buy essay nrotc essay help business plan of internet service provider houghton mifflin harcourt homework help

    April 3, 2021 at 01:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. ErnDdWoIlo

    anatomy homework help order order of an essay does doing your homework make you smarter math homework help answers

    April 4, 2021 at 07:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Edda Schramm

    Mining crypto is hard. Investing in crypto is risky. Too many of us are left out of the cryptocurrency revolution. Pi makes crypto mining easy, our Breakthrough tech allows you to mine on your phone without draining your battery.


    April 4, 2021 at 20:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. mwooaummin

    doing homework stoned buy essay online integrated marketing communications objectives examples parts of reaction paper

    April 4, 2021 at 22:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. HaHvrVsAOi

    business plan preparation service toronto pay pay to write my essay cpm homework help 6th grade network marketing business pay plan

    April 5, 2021 at 07:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. OsBzlXsKpU

    best literature review writing service autobiography essay help affordable homework help resume writing service augusta ga

    April 5, 2021 at 16:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. beHFqlTogO

    essay help melbourne pay persuasive essay teachers pay teachers systems of equations help solutions guide in doing research paper

    April 6, 2021 at 00:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. yaTpAUFRkf

    dissertation help and advice service voluntary service essay help with thesis statement is it safe to buy essay online

    April 6, 2021 at 20:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. 우리카지노



    April 7, 2021 at 13:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. 카지노사이트



    April 7, 2021 at 13:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. 카지노사이트



    April 7, 2021 at 18:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. Jospeh Kulik

    amazing blog


    April 8, 2021 at 00:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. Things to Consider While Choosing an Ideal Water Pipe

    Good Afternoon everybody ! can anyone recommend where I can buy Honeyroot Wellness?


    April 9, 2021 at 07:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. bAyybtspzq

    a2 english literature exam help buy college essay papers buy a college essay online business plan for a security service company

    April 9, 2021 at 20:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. SmjAzxZZfv

    ap european history help law best law essay writing service purchase a business plan need help doing essay

    April 11, 2021 at 04:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. alprostadil penile injection

    how to adminiter transurethral alprostadil https://alprostadildrugs.com/ injectable for ed

    April 12, 2021 at 15:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. shuxLkyeKY

    ontario homework help online essay topics for the odyssey 7th grade math help websites brainly homework help

    April 13, 2021 at 13:24 | Report abuse | Reply
1 2 3 4

Post a comment


CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.

About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.