The 37% Rule

To have the highest chance of picking the very best suitor, you should date and reject the first 37 percent of your total group of lifetime suitors. (If you're into math, it's actually 1/e, which comes out to 0.368, or 36.8 percent.) Then you follow a simple rule: You pick the next person who is better than anyone you've ever dated before.

-- "When to stop dating and settle down, according to math". Ana Swanson, February 16, 2016, Washington Post.

When I was one-and-twenty
      I heard a wise man say
"If you would wed a maiden,
      Then listen to my lay.
Let N denote the number
      Of women you might like
First date N over e,
      And tell them, 'Take a hike.'

And then you ask the rest
      To dinner, one by one,
And when a girl outranks
      The others, then you're done!
That way you'll maximize
      The probability
Of marrying the best
      Of all the girls you'd see!"

Considering the cir-
      cumstances of my life
I thought I'd spend two years
      In looking for a wife
With one date every week.
      I couldn't manage more.
I did the math correctly:

Date number 17
      Was Anne. That girl was great!
I yearned with all my soul
      To be her lifelong mate.
But it would be unwise
      To abrogate my plan
And finish prematurely
      So I said "Goodbye, Anne."

After 21 more dates
      I reached the second stage.
A date could now be married
      To share both youth and age.
And then I met Viola
      On number 59
An angel from my dreams!
      I vowed to make her mine.

I thought how wise I'd been
      To heed that learned man,
To exercise due patience,
      To dump inferior Anne.
I boldly told Viola
      That she was now my choice.
She gently gave me answer
      In her mellifluous voice:

"Oh darling! I adore you
      Much more than verse can say.
And out of 40, you are
      19, so that's OK.
But Sid, my 7th suitor,"
      She breathed a wistful sigh,
"Was just a wee bit cuter,
      And so, my dear, goodbye."

The women who came after
      Were neither cute nor fun.
Until I dated Janice
      At number 101
Such charm! Such wit! I loved her
      Almost as much as Anne
But "almost" only counts
      In horseshoes. Goodbye Jan.

So now I'm two-and-eighty.
      I've led a lonely life.
For I have never known
      The comfort of a wife.
But still it's very pleasing,
      As I recall my quest,
To know that my procedure


This is part of the collection Verses for the Information Age by Ernest Davis