Via Flickr user [Nicolas Raymond](

Via Flickr user Nicolas Raymond.

Unlike Bridget Phetasy, I have absolutely no business telling anyone anything that even remotely sounds like dating advice. Luckily, this information isn’t coming from me. According to Ana Swanson of the Washington Post’s Wonkblog, the seemingly impossible (or at least improbable) task of finding a soulmate is not that hard provided you have statistics on your side.

For most people the question of when is the right time to settle down is a major dilemma. But as Swanson points out, the so-called “Fussy Suitor Problem,” which is also known as the “Salton’s Dowry Problem,” has an answer. You should settle down after you’ve broken up with 37 percent of your potential partners.

As Swanson writes:

To have the highest chance of picking the very best suitor, you should date and reject the first 37 percent of your total group of lifetime suitors. (If you’re into math, it’s actually 1/e, which comes out to 0.368, or 36.8 percent.) Then you follow a simple rule: You pick the next person who is better than anyone you’ve ever dated before.

For example, if you realistically feel you’ll have 10 viable options for a soulmate, you should date and dump around four of these options first (that’s 40 percent, not 37, but unless you’re a serial killer, it’s hard to date seven-tenths of a person). You should then try to settle down with the next person who comes along whom you feel is better than all of your previous four options. If you jump the gun sooner than that, you run the risk of leaving your best options on the table. But if you wait much longer to choose, you run the risk of passing up your best possible match.

Sounds simple. But of course, it’s not. For starters, in order to break up with 37 percent of your potential partners, you need at least a rough idea of how many options you have. Due to all the variables, that figure is probably impossible to calculate. Second, there’s absolutely no guarantee that your best option won’t be among the 37 percent of the people you initially cast aside. And if that happens, good luck with trying to win that special someone back.

You: “You don’t understand, baby! I thought I could do better!”

Old Flame: “Well, when you put it that way…” (cocks shotgun, aims it at your head)

Last but not least, there’s always the possibility that your “best option” won’t want to settle down with you. After all, we’re dealing with other humans, not buying a couch. Free will is a bitch.

While there are clearly risks involved with this strategy, there are also risks with employing no strategy whatsoever. Statistically speaking, at least this method has been repeatedly proved to maximize your chances. So assuming you’re willing to reduce your soulmate down to nothing more than a cold, unfeeling mathematical equation, why not give it a try?

To read more about the “the fussy suitor problem,“ click here. And then, assuming you haven’t reached 37 percent, go and break up with your current partner. If that strategy backfires, take it up with Ana Swanson, not me!

(**Source: The Washington Post**)