Dating Odds Calculation

This week, someone noted that I was single not because I was hopelessly unattractive, or that women weren’t available. It was because I was picky. We decided to go through some probabilities. Yes, I know this is very xkcd. But how far on the curve am I?

xkcd: Dating Pools

Some of these numbers are approximate, and others are estimates, but they’re close. I’m also assuming independence, an assumption to consider later.

  • About 1 in 2 Americans is female.
  • Of the females, about 1 in 8 matches in age, between roughly 27 and 37. That’s 1 in 16.
  • Slightly under 1 in 3 females between 25 and 34 have never been married. Let’s round the multiplication to 1 in 50.

So far, things look promising, but then we get to personality, interests, and faith. It’d be easy if I was just looking for someone to share a household, have sex, and maybe have kids. Instead, I have criteria.

  • Being Catholic, I want to marry a Catholic. The best Pew Forum estimate is that about 1 in 4 Americans are Catholic.
  • It’s not just being Catholic, it’s being a practicing Catholic. Taking the optimistic report from this article, 1 in 3 stated Catholics attend Mass regularly. That means 1 out of 12.
  • I’m an intellectual; though I don’t meet the Urban Dictionary criterion, nerd flirt is quite charming. I would only be happy with a woman with intellectual curiosity. I’ll estimate 1 out of 20 people fall into this category, putting the count at 1 out of 240.
  • While a life partner doesn’t need to have my exact values, they need to be compatible. This is the most challenging estimate. What proportion of intelligent Catholic Mass attending women would match? We’ve already identified lots of similarities, though politics, compassion, and “chemistry” remain. Let’s somewhat arbitrarily say 1 out of 5 intelligent faithful attendees, making the final personality count 1 out of 1200.

Before we get to the small conclusion, we have to consider independence. It helps a little. Intellectuals are slightly less likely to be married, so the 1 in 50 could become 1 in 40. The rest of the parts are reasonably independent or conditional.

No wonder things are so tough! 1 out of 40 people are available, while 1 out of 1200 are interesting. According to population estimates, there are roughly 1,200,000 people in the Louisville metro area. Dividing 1200000 / (40 * 1200) … get out the slide rule … 25 candidate women. Plus, that doesn’t include the chance that someone I want wouldn’t want me.


Less than one of my classes. At least that’s 2.5 times the people the Lord needed to save Sodom. Louisville should be saved, since I like righteous women, but that doesn’t help me much.

What does help is that the location of these women will not be independent. It’s not as easy as if there was a progressive intellectual Catholic female boarding house, but I can expect that such women will be concentrated in cities and academic settings. Fortunately for me, I’ll be moving to a large academic setting, not too far from a major transient city. That means my Z = 4.1 on the edge of the bell curve has a better chance of making the identity matrix not work.

Love changes things

Even the identity matrix doesn't work normally.

About Adam

My quest is a world where calling someone "virtuous like a fairy tale hero" is routine, not fantastic or ironic. My vocation is the teaching and learning of statistics. My dream is a long happy life with a wonderful wife and kids. Who knows if any will become true? More information is at my homepage on the twelvefruits network:
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