To get away from the serious and the philosophical dimensions of love, here is an intriguing video on the math of love found on one of my all-time favorite websites, Brain Pickings. Using two mathematical principles (the Fermi paradox and the Drake equation) , Joe Hanson calculates the odds of finding your soul mate and tells you why there are roughly 871 special someones for you out there. That is, 871 if you are a young female looking for a young gentleman in New York City.
Now, obviously, this number doesn’t apply to everyone since Hanson presented one specific case, but is the overall idea that you can calculate your odds of finding your soul mate valid? Can you create a formula and plug in what you are looking for to see how many individuals fit that description?
I think no. To extrapolate from some of Badiou’s views discussed earlier, love involves risk and the unknown. Putting it simply, most people don’t know what they are looking for, so they probably wouldn’t know what variables to plug into an equation to calculate how many people in this world are for them. While everyone can conjure up a list of desired qualities in their theoretical significant other, I’m not quite sure people have an accurate understanding on what qualities actually matter to them.
Contrary to most blogs, I don’t really want to get into my life experiences, but in this case I will share a bit. If someone had asked me what I was looking for in a guy before I met my current boyfriend, I would have said someone who: works at a job rather than owns a business, is politically and socially aware, is an avid reader and has a thirst for knowledge, loves to travel, is emotionally intelligent, and can communicate and discuss issues.
I’m not saying that my boyfriend doesn’t have some of these qualities or that these are the most important traits I was looking for because clearly being a good, kind, gentle, loving, family-oriented, ambitious, driven person are all crucial on almost everyone’s list. Rather, I’m pointing out that if I was asked about what interests matter to me in addition to these key foundational qualities, I would not have aligned with my boyfriend. If I had seen him on a dating site, I would have thought he was attractive but after looking at his interests and his description, I would have dismissed him on the basis of incompatibility.
Therefore, I am very glad I met him in person and got to know him, and that we are together. In my experience, having common interests or the lack of common interests do not make or break a relationship. Those are plus points, but not essential. The items we are looking for in the ideal significant other do not often correspond to person we find ourselves in love with and wanting to be with.
I also have an issue with the idea of a soul mate, “the one”, etc. as I was telling a friend earlier today. I don’t believe that there is one person out there for you and that destiny will help you meet him/her….but that is for another post.
So, do you buy Hanson’s argument? Why? Or…why not?