How to Find "The One": The Math Formula that Can Help

By Chiara Atik for

The Internet is full of dating theories, and it seems like every day there's a new study which might impact your dating life.

But this theory might really, really change your approach to dating.

One of the major issues that modern daters who are looking for a permanent relationship (and not everyone is) face is trying to determine who is "the one." An active dater will go on numerous dates a year, and will probably have a few relationships under his or her belt by the time they hit 30 years old.

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So at what point do you stop looking and start settling down? How do you know if you're being too picky, or if you should keep searching for the right person?

Peter Todd, a professor of informatics and cognitive science, answered this question in the December issue of Wired Magazine.

"In the face of this conundrum, the best strategy for picking a mate is to date enough people to establish some baseline standards, then settle down with the next person you meet who exceeds the bar."

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According to Todd's research, 12 seems to be the magic number when it comes to figuring out what you want in a relationship. After dating 12 people, most people have enough information to determine what qualities they're looking for in a long-term partner. Statistically speaking, that's the point when people who want to settle down should basically end their search and settle with the next person they date who meets (or surpasses!) these expectations.

That's how it works in theory. In practice, it's more like this:

How do I know when I should settle?

If you've dated fewer than 12 people, feel free to keep looking (and dating).

If you've dated, say, 30 people, you're probably being too picky.

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It's really hard to quantify something like love: some people find it on their first try, while others find it on their fourth marriage. But having some sort of numeric baseline to apply, as inexact as it might be, is extraordinarily helpful. The encouragement to date more if you've only had a few relationships, the necessary wake-up call if you've dated many. And with so much of dating advice being so enigmatic ("when you know, you know!") it's nice to have a concrete rule to apply in order to somewhat gauge your progress.

So, how many under (or over) 12 are you?