There’s been a lot of talk about why it’s so hard to date in Seattle. It’s been the topic of blogs, twitter conversations, and many happy hours with friends. I’ve been single for the past year, and while I probably shouldn’t have been dating, I was – and experiencing disaster after disaster. I kept asking my friends what I was doing wrong – and why I wasn’t meeting the man of my dreams.
Turns out, I probably wasn’t looking hard enough. Thanks to an email thread that started at work today, I was inspired to actually crunch the numbers on actually how many men in Seattle might even qualify as the man of my dreams – let alone be compatible with me. I started by considering how many men there are in Seattle between the ages of 30 and 40. According to Seattle.gov, that number is around 100,000. Then I considered how many were white (feel free to call me racist in the comments) and how many are not gay or bisexual. Based on recent census data, about 69.5% of Seattle residents identify themselves as caucasian, and in 2006 a study revealed approximately 12.5% of Seattle residents were gay, lesbian or bi.
Of course, I have a few other deal breakers; he has to have a college degree – which only 37 percent of people in this age group in Seattle have according to census data – and he can’t want kids – which another recent study showed that about 80% of men do. He also can’t be overweight, let alone obese – which 50% of men are based on national averages.
Finally, he needs to be available, as in, not dating (or married to) someone else. That leaves me with an estimated 20% of men at any given time. Also, I’d like to avoid the drama of someone who has been married or is divorced, which leaves me with only about half (53.4%) of these men.
So when we break it down, starting with all 100,000 men in Seattle, this is what it looks like:
100,000 * .695 * .875 * .37 * .20 * .50 * .2 * .534 = …
Of course, Seattle is a relatively small city, and based on my preferences, I might run into one of these men at a meetup or while getting coffee. But that’s leaving chance to….well, chance. I have a very specific set of preferences, which, interestingly enough, align with the algorithms that online dating uses. In fact, crunching these numbers made me realize I’ve been using sites like OKCupid all wrong for the past year. I haven’t been giving the algorithm the data it needs to match me up based on this preferences.
As someone who has personally used data to hack her own life, including into losing 40 pounds in less than a year, this shouldn’t have taken so long to realize. Of course, I hadn’t been so inspired to look at this way until today when I watched this TED talk by Amy Webb as she explained how she came up with this same equation – and then met the love of her life. (This blog was also inspired by my coworker, who took to task writing up the same algorithm based on data in San Francisco.)
Obviously, only having 204 men to choose from in Seattle sounds dire. It sounds like I need to be less picky; expand my options; move somewhere where there are more men than women. But the reality is by leveraging an algorithm, I’m more likely than ever to find that man of my dreams. The reality is I need to start taking a serious approach to online dating sites.
What do you think about these numbers? Is dating with data the right way to approach love? Share your thoughts in the comments or on Twitter!