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Standard Deviations In Dating


For some time now, my friends have been begging me to join one of those internet dating sites. “You are a busy woman, you can’t waste time going to bars and looking for the ideal match.” “Things aren’t like how they used to be, everybody is super busy and that’s OK. We need more direction in looking for romance. It’s completely normal to have a profile on one of those sites.” It seemed for a while that no matter where I was there was a advertisement promising a match in six months or my money back. This of course, I thought, meant that my money would at some point have to end up in their bank account rather than stay in my own. How wrong I was.


So finally, on a cold evening when I wasn’t feeling in the best moods about myself, I decided to give the advice of my friends a go and signed up for a service which will as always when I have to use proper nouns, remain nameless. I signed up, filled in my birthday, my gender, my age, my email address and hit “OK”. Only to be faced with a form of over two hundred absurd questions. What did I think about Smoking (Strong dislike, moderate dislike, dislike, like, moderate like, strong like, no preference)? Religion (Strong dislike, moderate dislike, dislike, like, moderate like, strong like, no preference)? Performing arts? Financial planning? Dogs? Cats? Small rodents?


And to be honest, some of these questions I had no idea how to answer. After all, how can any woman in my position ever tell if her dislike of, lets say, naked sacrifices of chickens is something I am “moderately” opposed to or “strongly” opposed to? What constitutes a moderate support as opposed to simple support? I was about to give up when I finally reached the holy grail of dating sites, that is, the end screen. I waited for the little rainbow pinwheel to stop spinning on my computer in eager expectation as they calculated my matches and results. My credit card was ready for the six month money-back guarantee. I had it all planned out, I would go into a coffee shop to meet with the guy and my girlfriend would be in disguise at the next table. That way, if he wound up trying to kidnap me she could take action in her little five foot two inch, 110-pound sort of way.


“We’re sorry, we feel that it would be inappropriate to use our services given that your results fall outside of the standard deviation of a majority of men who register with us. Thank you for trying our dating site.”


So, apparently there are standard deviations in online dating. I immediately went back to my junior year stats class where we talked about standard deviations and Z factors for a review of what this could possibly mean. Take your typical Bell curve: Ninety-nine point nine percent of the individuals must fit within the bell. The other point one percent are just out of luck when it comes to looking to romance it turns out. I, with my answers of strong likes and moderate dislikes, am a member of that point one percent where it is apparently so statistically impossible to find me a match that they won’t even bother to take my credit card number.


Beyond the entire absurdity of the whole situation (I am apparently unmatchable) begs the question, can human emotions ever be broken down into standard deviations and mathematical equations? At the risk of sounding too much like an excerpt from Carrie Bradshaw’s “Sex and the City”, I don’t think there is a standard deviation when it comes to romance.

I have had friends who are absolutely driven to pure militancy when it comes to finding a boyfriend. Why? There is one individual I met who told me that she was determined through one of these online dating sites to be married within the year. Her strategy was simple, she would go out and meet a guy at Starbucks, and if in ten minutes they didn’t click she would immediately say “I don’t think this is working out”, offer to pay for his coffee and then leave. Within nine months she was engaged, and I guess her clear-cut organization and decisiveness coupled with on the spot thinking worked to her advantage.


But it always seemed to me that half the fun of dating is not knowing what will happen next, like any adventure in life. If a guy walked into where I was sitting with a big neon sign above his head that said “I am the one”, then I might be giddy for a moment but then that excitement would completely disappear and I suspect I would feel completely shackled.


Scientists have struggled and eventually discovered a massive amount of hormones and chemical reactions that go into establishing a good relationship, but there are some aspects of human interaction that science is anywhere near explaining such as true self-sacrificial love. Where is the evolutionary self-preservation in that? If there is any, I’m not sure I would want to find it. There are some wonderful things out there that have been going on for centuries which scientists can’t even begin to explain. These are omens, interactions, and emotions that should be celebrated because they all help create the adventure inherent in the unexpected. After all, as Dr. House indeed said “If the wonder disappears when the answer is gone, there is never any wonder to begin with.”

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