And I thought, what's wrong with me? I don't understand why this keeps happening. So I asked everybody in my life what they thought. I turned to my grandmother, who always had plenty of advice, and she said, "Stop being so picky. You've got to date around. And most importantly, true love will find you when you least expect it.
I am constantly swimming in numbers, formulas and charts. I also have a very tight-knit family, and I'm very, very close with my sister, and as a result, I wanted to have the same type of family when I grew up.
So I'm at the end of this bad breakup, I'm 30 years old, I figure I'm probably going to have to date somebody for about six months before I'm ready to get monogamous and before we can sort of cohabitate, and we have to do that for a while before we can get engaged.
And if I want to start having children by the time I'm 35, that meant that I would have had to have been on my way to marriage five years ago.
So that wasn't going to work. If my strategy was to least-expect my way into true love, then the variable that I had to deal with was serendipity. In short, I was trying to figure out what's the probability of my finding Mr. Well, at the time I was living in the city of Philadelphia, and it's a big city, and I figured, in this entire place, there are lots of possibilities.
So again, I started doing some math. I figure about half of that are men, so that takes the number down to , I'm looking for a guy between the ages of 30 and 36, which was only four percent of the population, so now I'm dealing with the possibility of 30, men.
I was looking for somebody who was Jewish, because I am and that was important to me. I figure I'm attracted to maybe one out of 10 of those men, and there was no way I was going to deal with somebody who was an avid golfer.
So that basically meant there were 35 men for me that I could possibly date in the entire city of Philadelphia. In the meantime, my very large Jewish family was already all married and well on their way to having lots and lots of children, and I felt like I was under tremendous peer pressure to get my life going already. So I have two possible strategies at this point I'm sort of figuring out. One, I can take my grandmother's advice and sort of least-expect my way into maybe bumping into the one out of 35 possible men in the entire 1.
Now, I like the idea of online dating, because it's predicated on an algorithm, and that's really just a simple way of saying I've got a problem, I'm going to use some data, run it through a system and get to a solution. So online dating is the second most popular way that people now meet each other, but as it turns out, algorithms have been around for thousands of years in almost every culture. In fact, in Judaism, there were matchmakers a long time ago, and though they didn't have an explicit algorithm per se, they definitely were running through formulas in their heads, like, is the girl going to like the boy?
Are the families going to get along? What's the rabbi going to say? Are they going to start having children right away? The matchmaker would sort of think through all of this, put two people together, and that would be the end of it. So in my case, I thought, well, will data and an algorithm lead me to my Prince Charming?
So I decided to sign on. Now, there was one small catch. As I'm signing on to the various dating websites, as it happens, I was really, really busy. But that actually wasn't the biggest problem. The biggest problem is that I hate filling out questionnaires of any kind, and I certainly don't like questionnaires that are like Cosmo quizzes.
But the real failure was that there were plenty of men for me to date. These algorithms had a sea full of men that wanted to take me out on lots of dates — what turned out to be truly awful dates. There was this guy Steve, the I. The algorithm matched us up because we share a love of gadgets, we share a love of math and data and '80s music, and so I agreed to go out with him.
So Steve the I. And we went in, and right off the bat, our conversation really wasn't taking flight, but he was ordering a lot of food. In fact, he didn't even bother looking at the menu. So we're nearing the end of our conversation and the end of dinner, and I've decided Steve the I.
And listen, I'm a modern woman. I am totally down with splitting the bill. But then Steve the I. Gasping And that was my entire month's rent. Audience gasps So needless to say, I was not having a good night. So I run home, I call my mother, I call my sister, and as I do, at the end of each one of these terrible, terrible dates, I regale them with the details. And they say to me, "Stop complaining.
I'm going to shove it into my bag, I'm going to have this email template, and I'm going to fill it out and collect information on all these different data points during the date to prove to everybody that empirically, these dates really are terrible. Laughter So I started tracking things like really stupid, awkward, sexual remarks; bad vocabulary; the number of times a man forced me to high-five him. Laughter So I started to crunch some numbers, and that allowed me to make some correlations.
So as it turns out, for some reason, men who drink Scotch reference kinky sex immediately. Laughter Well, it turns out that these probably weren't bad guys. There were just bad for me. And as it happens, the algorithms that were setting us up, they weren't bad either. See, the real problem here is that, while the algorithms work just fine, you and I don't, when confronted with blank windows where we're supposed to input our information online.
Very few of us have the ability to be totally and brutally honest with ourselves. The other problem is that these websites are asking us questions like, are you a dog person or a cat person? Do you like horror films or romance films? I'm not looking for a pen pal. I'm looking for a husband. So there's a certain amount of superficiality in that data. So I said fine, I've got a new plan. I'm going to keep using these online dating sites, but I'm going to treat them as databases, and rather than waiting for an algorithm to set me up, I think I'm going to try reverse-engineering this entire system.
So knowing that there was superficial data that was being used to match me up with other people, I decided instead to ask my own questions. What was every single possible thing that I could think of that I was looking for in a mate? So I started writing and writing and writing, and at the end, I had amassed 72 different data points. I wanted somebody was Jew-ish, so I was looking for somebody who had the same background and thoughts on our culture, but wasn't going to force me to go to shul every Friday and Saturday.
I wanted somebody who worked hard, because work for me is extremely important, but not too hard. For me, the hobbies that I have are really just new work projects that I've launched. I also wanted somebody who not only wanted two children, but was going to have the same attitude toward parenting that I do, so somebody who was going to be totally okay with forcing our child to start taking piano lessons at age three, and also maybe computer science classes if we could wrangle it.
So things like that, but I also wanted somebody who would go to far-flung, exotic places, like Petra, Jordan. I also wanted somebody who would weigh 20 pounds more than me at all times, regardless of what I weighed. Laughter So I now have these 72 different data points, which, to be fair, is a lot.
So what I did was, I went through and I prioritized that list. I broke it into a top tier and a second tier of points, and I ranked everything starting at and going all the way down to 91, and listing things like I was looking for somebody who was really smart, who would challenge and stimulate me, and balancing that with a second tier and a second set of points. These things were also important to me but not necessarily deal-breakers.
Laughter So once I had all this done, I then built a scoring system, because what I wanted to do was to sort of mathematically calculate whether or not I thought the guy that I found online would be a match with me. I figured there would be a minimum of points before I would agree to email somebody or respond to an email message.
For points, I'd agree to go out on a date, and I wouldn't even consider any kind of relationship before somebody had crossed the 1, point threshold. Well, as it turns out, this worked pretty well. So I go back online now. I found Jewishdoc57 who's incredibly good-looking, incredibly well-spoken, he had hiked Mt. Fuji, he had walked along the Great Wall.
He likes to travel as long as it doesn't involve a cruise ship. And I thought, I've done it! I've cracked the code.
I have just found the Jewish Prince Charming of my family's dreams. There was only one problem: He didn't like me back. And I guess the one variable that I haven't considered is the competition. Who are all of the other women on these dating sites?