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Dating by Numbers

              by Grace Anders

Is dating really a numbers game?-- by hownowdesign via Flickr

                  I have a very bad habit: I tend to overthink everything. In fact, I can't even go to stores like H&M, because I get overwhelmed with the options. I can't make a decision, and go home to look at everything online in an organizational manner-- which is kind of ironic -- because once I buy the clothing, that clothing is going to spend its lifespan disorganized somewhere in my closet, the backseat of my car, or in a suitcase perpetually waiting to be unpacked.

                  Anyway, in my usual manner, I decided to evaluate my dating prospects by applying something everyone with a liberal arts graduate degree loves: math! This was spurred by an evaluation of my messages on OkCupid – a dating website for those committed enough to make an online profile, but not committed enough to actually pay for it. I have 256 messages from guys since I joined, and I've replied to 14; a reply rate of slightly under five percent. There are 8,336,6971 people in New York, and, on average, 49.22 percent of the population is male – that means that if I'm only interested in five percent of them, it still leaves 205,082 men available to me.

Is he a prospect?--by Ed Yourdon via Flickr

But wait – not all of those men are available. Research suggests 1/10 men are attracted to men (and I've on occasion wondered if this wasn't the vast majority of men in certain areas of NYC) So that only leaves 184,574 (and a half!) men I could date.

But, that's not true either. The average guy lives to age 75. So (and this what republicans may know as 'fuzzy math.') there are 2,460 men/boys of each age in the city – 2,460 20-year-olds, 2,460 21-year-olds, 2,460 22-year-olds, etc. My age range is (and this is broad, because I'm all about salt-and-pepper hair) 28 to 40. So now, with a 12-year age range, that leaves 29,531.91 potential matches. I guess the .91 must be a short guy.

But wait (again!), I don't want to date a married guy, so that rules out, um, a bunch. The average age of marriage in the US is 29 for men, but people get married later in NYC – hedge funds and vodka-launch parties are more important. So, even if 50 percent of the men in my age range are single (and I think that's generous,) I'm now down to 14,766. For comparison, that means every eligible man for me could fit inside Madison Square Garden, with plenty of elbow room.

This is still a lot of men to choose from--via wikipedia

Unfortunately, those are only the basics. There are a few points on which I'm not quite ready to compromise. It's very important to me that the person I date be politically aware (45 percent of the population, so down to 6,645 men) and democratic (68 percent of the NYC population; down to 4452 men.)

And here's the nail in the coffin: he has to be a skier; a sport enjoyed by a staggering four percent of the population. Ouch. 4452 multiplied by .04 is 178 men.

My  man has to be a skier--by jsmjr via Flickr

So for fun, let's add a few other qualities I was hoping I could have:

If I want a guy who is better looking than, say, half of all other guys:  89 guys are left for me.

If I want a guy with a bachelors degree: 21 men. An advanced degree narrows the field further to just 8 men.

And if I want a man who scuba dives, watches zombie movies, has a dog, rocks facial scruff and enjoys modern art?  I'm not bothering to calculate, because the statistics will probably suggest that he doesn't exist; at least not in the tri-state area.

Sadly, in all of these scenarios, I didn't even take into account the percentage of men who already have a girlfriend.

How many New York men already have a girlfriend?--by videocrab via Flickr

...and now it's time to end this post, because I clearly need to revisit some of my ignored OkCupid messages.

Any source not listed comes from Wikipedia, the most accurate and obsessively-updated website on the planet.

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