(Backus based his formula, for instance, on the assumption that he’d find only 10% of the women he meets agreeable and only 5% attractive.) In fact, this “price of admission” problem is also at the heart of a chapter probing the question of how you know your partner is “The One.” Fry writes: Indeed, some such mathematically minded people have applied an area of mathematics known as “optimal stopping theory” to derive an actual equation that tells you precisely how many potential mates to reject before finding the perfect partner and helps you discern when it’s time to actually stop your looking and settle down with that person (P): Fry explains: It tells you that if you are destined to date ten people in your lifetime, you have the highest probability of finding The One when you reject your first four lovers (where you’d find them 39.87 percent of the time).
If you are destined to date twenty people, you should reject the first eight (where Mister or Miz Right would be waiting for you 38.42 percent of the time).
She’s just showing how selfish she is.” Instead, it’s the positive behavior that is considered unusual: “He’s only showing off because he got a pay raise at work. He spent decades observing how couples interact, coding and measuring everything from their skin conductivity to their facial expressions, and eventually developed the Specific Affect Coding System — a method of scoring how positive or negative the exchanges are.
In relationships where both partners consider themselves as happy, bad behavior is dismissed as unusual: “He’s under a lot of stress at the moment,” or “No wonder she’s grumpy, she hasn’t had a lot of sleep lately.” Couples in this enviable state will have a deep-seated positive view of their partner, which is only reinforced by any positive behavior: “These flowers are lovely.From the odds of finding your soul mate to how game theory reveals the best strategy for picking up a stranger in a bar to the equation that explains the conversation patterns of lasting relationships, Fry combines a humanist’s sensitivity to this universal longing with a scientist’s rigor to shed light, with neither sap nor cynicism, on the complex dynamics of romance and the besotting beauty of math itself.She writes in the introduction: Mathematics is ultimately the study of patterns — predicting phenomena from the weather to the growth of cities, revealing everything from the laws of the universe to the behavior of subatomic particles…[But] if the husband is a little bit negative — like interrupting her while she is speaking — he will have a fixed and negative impact on his partner.
It’s worth noting that the magnitude of this negative influence is bigger than the equivalent positive jump if he’s just a tiny bit positive.Gottman and his team deliberately built in this asymmetry after observing it in couples in their study.