It's no secret that millennials are waiting to settle down and get married, which often means delaying homeownership in the process, especially when you add pricey down payments and student loan debt into the mix. But now, The Washington Post's Wonkblog reporter Ana Swanson reports that there's a mathematical formula that could determine when you should stop dating and settle down with your perfect match. Popularized in 1960 by math enthusiast Martin Gardner, the idea seeks to answer how you choose your perfect suitor out of a set number of matches over a lifetime of dating.
It's a little more complicated in practice than it is on paper: If you could only see them all together at the same time, you’d have no problem picking out the best. But this isn't how a lifetime of dating works, obviously. One problem is the suitors arrive in a random order, and you don’t know how your current suitor compares to those who will arrive in the future. Is the current guy or girl a dud? Or is this really the best you can do? The other problem is that once you reject a suitor, you often can’t go back to them later.
Reportedly, the magic number is 37%--that is you should date and then turn down the first 37% of your total lifetime suitors before deciding on the perfect one. Now, this theory can be a little risky. What if by chance the first person you date really is your perfect partner, but based on the formula you rejected that person?
The explanation for why this works gets into the mathematical weeds -- here's another great, plain-English explanation of the math -- but it has to do with the magic of the mathematical constant e, which is uniquely able to describe the probability of success in a statistical trial that has two outcomes, success or failure. Long story short, the formula has been shown again and again to maximize your chances of picking the best one in an unknown series, whether you're assessing significant others, apartments, job candidates or bathroom stalls.
So when is the best time to stop looking for your ideal match and settle down with the person you're with? There doesn't seem to be a specific age, but depends on personal preference. Swanson writes: If you want to find someone who is pretty good and minimize your chances of ending up alone, you'd try to settle down relatively early -- after reviewing and rejecting the first 30 percent of suitors you might have in your lifetime. If your goal is to find the very best of the bunch, you would wait a little longer, reviewing and rejecting 37% of the total. And if you would like to find your perfect match, but you are also okay with ending up single, you'd wait much longer, reviewing and rejecting 60.7% of the total before you start looking for your match.
So is there really even a perfect age for millennials to settle down and start buying homes? The article also didn't take other factors into consideration, such as economics, incomes, and career goals. Some may find their perfect match and still not decide to marry or buy a home together until years later. Do you think there's a "magic number" for the age when millennials will settle down?