Love Exists at 37% Capacity

How do you find the One?

The optimal stopping problem rephrases this as: "How do we know when to stop searching for new information and finally commit to a decision?"

Here's a graph that answers that.

If you plan to date 100 people in your life time, because you place importance on your dating life, then the answer is after the 37th romantic interest. You should stop there. Why 37%? We want to optimizing for time as well, not just picking the right partner. A mathematical symmetry of beauty, doing so also gives us a 37% success rate.

Yes, it might be wise to increase that # of people you date. Or it might be the worst decision of all. Because time. Time means we have windows of opportunity that are shrinking. Time means that if we skip over the 2nd romantic interest, who is to say they will still share your romantic interest by the 37th date? Heck, would you even be? We might get similar choices, but we never get the same exact choice,

So most importantly, the first variable to define is how much time to you want to allot for a decision.

Let's say you prefer to spend 5 years in your 20's dating. Out of the those 5 years, it would be nice to date 30 people. That sounds like enough to know what you want. Well, actually, the 37% rule says you should stop after 11 people.

But I'm not here to argue about the validity of the the 37% rule. It's provable mathematically. There is a formula that converges to roughly 0.37.

What I want to explain is that the 37% rule fails in the case of love. Love is not dating. It's arguably much more of a finite resource than time –– it becomes the new limiting factor. Unless you happen to ascend into the enlightened few of humanity, this statement holds true.

I once heard that –– from a pure romantic type of love, Eros –- we only have room to love 2 - 3 people like that.

If so, then the optimal time to stop exploring love would be after the first person. 37%. Well, arguably somewhere between the first and second person then.

Tropes of first love exist most commonly in Asian media, but exist in literature all over the world. Well, here is the mathematical explanation for it.

If you frame romance as the search for the "One", then it's disheartening to hear that even the best strategy gives a 63% chance of failing. (The absolute best candidate by your chosen standards, and not the 2nd best or 3rd best). Forget about it, I say.

Here's a word of advice for first-love couples; high-school / college sweethearts who also are unsure if they will regret not experiencing more. Feeling like you have more capacity to love other people than your current SO is to be expected –– you've only loved 37% of the potential romantic partners you could love. But it is the most optimal choice at being and having love at ALL –– from a binary standpoint (do you have it or not), despite not being the optimal choice for being able to look back at your life decades from without regret of not having enough experience enough romantic love.

And here's more silver lining. Romantic love is essential and a precursor to many other forms of love, but it is not the only kind of love. Looking at those forms should take you past a 37% full tank of love.