Whenever someone says “Well that’s one date closer to the Right One,” I think about Zeno’s Paradox and asymptotic functions. A step may bring you closer, but that doesn’t mean you’re ever going to arrive.
I recently marked my 42nd gentleman caller — although that’s a bit of a misnomer as I had to go to him. (Driving 2 hours to date someone in NYC is normal. Driving two hours to date someone outside is to much to ask.)
The rate of gentlemen over the years has not been constant; there’s been a bit of an increase. Indeed, if this trend continues I think I may soon see my 50th “caller.”
That calls for a party, methinks. A Confirmed Bachelorette party, celebrating Half a Century of Men and Boys. Gifts not required, but welcome if they purr.
Does this signify anything? I doubt it. After all, my math shows that there must be hundreds if not thousands of bachelors in my range around. So this is more of an excuse to throw a party, and maybe get a cat, than anything else. But the big Five-Oh… surely that’s a number worth marking?
I have received a correction on the matter of the non-identifying caller from another reference of mine. Apparently, he wasn’t trying to hide his name from me so I wouldn’t know who had done the asking. He intended to hide the fact that he had called at all, so I wouldn’t be disappointed when nothing came of it. There must have been a miscommunication or misunderstanding, and it got passed along to me as “someone called, can’t tell you who.”
In other words, he wasn’t being creepy and evasive, he was being nice.
So I guess I owe him an apology for suspecting him wrong. While I do usually operate on the assumption that most people aren’t trying to be jerks, I have had enough experience with no-name callers to be predisposed to suspicion.
If we were back in summer camp, we’d say I owed him a brocha. So my wish for him is that he should waste less time looking into people who aren’t right for him.
But really, did he have to do that?
To be honest, I don’t care if I never find out that someone has looked into me. I assume it happens every now and then. But the idea of someone deliberately hiding the fact from me in order to preserve my tender feeling strikes me as, well, a tad condescending. I mean, I’m not a little kid any more. If I can’t handle rejection by the ripe old age of 27, I’m in trouble.
But that could just be me. I have objected to being treated like a child ever since I was a child. In fact, my very first memory, from when I was two and shouldn’t have any memories, was of getting upset at my parents for not taking me seriously. I then spent the proceeding six years resenting relatives who called me cute and pinched my cheek because that’s not the sort of thing you say and do to someone you respect. Clearly, I have taken myself a little too seriously for about as long as I have had a sense of self.
So I decided to find out via proper research methods: is this subterfuge necessary? Or does it just complicate people’s lives unnecessarily?
Study on the Dating Sensitivities of Orthodox Jewish Women between the Ages of 22 and 31 with Regard to Men They Have Never Met But Who Have Already Rejected Them
Methodology: Text messages were sent to all the singles in my Contacts list. In order to avert pool bias toward a Bad4-Friend-Type, I also contacted Good4’s friends. Singles were also asked to pass the questions along to their friends and return the results.
Singles were asked two questions, sequentially. The second question was only asked after the first had been answered.
The question were: “If a guy looked into you and said no, would you want to know, or would you rather not know?”
This was followed up by the question: “Would you be hurt to find out about it?”
Sample Size: 11 singles, 5 under the age of 24, and 6 over the age of 24.
Results: I’ve divided the respondents into “Below 24” and “Above 24” to see if there are age-related differences.
Results for the question “Would you want to know or would you rather not know?”
“Prefer not to know at all. Except for the occasional times that he said no cuz you’re too frum or something because then it’s flattering instead of insulting.”
“I don’t care. It probably depends on the person because some people want to know that people are suggesting things even if nothing comes from it. And some would be hurt to hear people said no. There’s no better way, in my opinion.”
“Rock and hard place. Probably to know he said no.”
“Yes I’d like to know if you aren’t asking this hypothetically. If I had no idea I wouldn’t care.”
“Don’t really care either way. If he said no, it’s not gonna go anywhere.”
“[I would want to] Know.”
“I’d like to know that someone tried to do something on my behalf. But given the above options [know or don’t know], I’d rather not know.”
“To me it makes no difference. Unless I personally know the family/boy, I don’t care if he said no; he’s a stranger.”
“Nothing about it at all. Obv. You know about my low self esteem.”
“Probably know nothing.”
“Honestly I would not care.. I would assume looks, height or something superficial. Honestly if people are saying bad things and the idiot is listening, then forget that dude anyhow…”
Since everything looks prettier in a graph:
Results for the question: Would you be hurt to find out?
“Nope. Family policy is “one closer.”
“Depends if I knew him or was desperate to go out with him. But I will get over it.”
“That would depend on how I felt about the guy.”
“Depends if I would have wanted to go out with him. Not so hurt, but a lot of rejection over time is hurtful, yes.”
“More annoyed than hurt. But I’d also rather know the guy said no as closure. How often does someone suggest a possibility and then leave it hanging – did he say no? Did the shadchan just drop the ball?”
““Can’t be uber-offended if he says no without meeting me. I am not that fragile. And then I know not to pursue him in the future. And I know my friends were thinking of me.”
“It would bruise my ego a little but if I don’t know the guy that’s not the worst rejection in the world. Def not the same as being interested and then they say no.”
“Yes, I’d wonder what was wrong with me.”
“No, I am currently going out with someone. Even if I wasn’t, I have the philosophy that if someone doesn’t think I am right for them, it is nothing against me (it just means we wouldn’t be right for each other). One more down. ;-)
“No, I don’t recall that [ever] happening.”
“No, why should I care if someone I don’t know said no?”
In beautified form:
It appears that most women are not quite as delicate as supposed. Only one woman said she’d be upset to be “rejected.” The ones who said “It depends” specified that they’d have had to have previously agreed and truly wanted to date the gentlemen. Notably, these were almost all under the age of 24. A towering majority of the singles over 24 simply said “No.”
It appears that when dating a woman who has no prior knowledge that you are investigating her, you need not worry that she will be saddened by your “rejection” of her. If she has previously agreed to go out with you, and is of young and tender age, you may want to tread delicately. If she is old and hard boiled, forget it. She doesn’t care about you.
I am very lucky: my high school class has an excellent archivist. So when there was a sudden and unexpected flurry of engagements this year, I was able to request the data.
Here’s what I wanted to know: how many of us are still single?
There were 66 students in my graduating high school class. Of those, 59 are married or engaged. For those who don’t care to reach for their calculator, that’s 89%. Which is to say, 10.6% are still single.
Well, we all know the 10% statistic. So, as a member of the 10% of my high school class, I think I can officially give up.
Yes, I know, it’s a statistic, not a rule. Of course it’s not a rule! I have a friend who is the last in her class still single. Although, granted, at a class size of 15, that may not be a significant variance from 10%. I don’t know – I haven’t got the time to figure it out.
It should probably be disheartening to think that I’m now a statistic. But the truth is, everyone’s a statistic. If you’re not in the 10% single then you’re in the 90% married. Honestly, what’s the difference? We can all be distilled into numbers one way or another.
So I kept adding columns to my spreadsheet. This time I was curious about rate of marriage. Is it sort of bell-shaped, or is there a tail? That’s really what set off my quest in the first place.
As you can see, there’s a slow start, as most of the sample was in Israel, and had a delayed start entering the marriage pool. But those who stayed in New York City lost no time at all in engaging themselves to the local male populace.
Once the Israel-seminarians returned, they too threw themselves into the marriage market, marrying an astonishing 18 of themselves off in the first year alone! This rapid rate of pairing slowed only marginally for the next two years, before dropping precipitously. This may be due to the fact that a grand total of 71% of them were now paired off and busily reproducing themselves. The remaining 29% were slower and more circumspect. However, eventually another 20% of them also found a mate. These pairings were slower, more gradual, and illustrate undramatically on the histogram above.
You may be wondering: yes, there is a rapid marriage rate. But what about the divorce rate?
Well, I reassure you, the class currently stands at zero divorces, which is a rate of 0%.
Considering the weather, I’d best not tip my hat to all the people who sent me emails informing me that the Drake Equation Boy is engaged.
The Drake Equation is an equation invented by a Professor Drake to estimate how many evolved civilizations might exist in nearby galaxies. Drake Equation Boy, otherwise known as Peter Backus, applied this equation to the UK to figure out how many potential girlfriends might exist for him in nearby London. (For the record, there is nothing especially brainy about this. It’s a simple probability equation, in which you multiply an incident by the probabilities affecting its occurrence.) He concluded that there are 10,510 women in London (0.14% of the population) who he might like to date.
Naturally, we all wonder: how does this apply to shidduch dating?
Well, I am here to provide the answer for you.
This post has taken a great deal of time and effort to write. This is because there are not too many statistics readily available regarding the Orthodox Jewish community. Most of it is estimations and guesswork. The United States Census, sadly, does not take down any information about religion. So instead, I had to rely predominantly on two studies of the Jewish American population. One by the Berman Institute’s North American Jewish Data Bank, and the Jewish Population Study done by the UJA Federation of New York. I also picked up a few commonly bandied about statistics from random websites, which I will cite as they come up.
So! The Drake Equation!
G = R x Fm x Fg x Fa x Fp x Ft x L
I am not going to go into what all these stand for in the context of interstellar civilization. If you’re interested, just click through to Peter Backus’s original report. Instead, I will dive right in to how I chose to define the terms.
G = The number of potential basherts out there for me. This is the solution we will solve for.
R = The rate of formation of Orthodox Jews (i.e. population growth). Some fun stats: The rate of formation of Jews worldwide is estimated at 0.4% annually; closer to 1% for Ultra-Orthodox Jews.
The Jewish population of the world is estimated at 13.3 million Jews, of which approximately 1.67-1.8 million are Orthodox. (That’s a generous estimate of 13%. Other estimates hover at 10%.)
But the number we really care about is how many Orthodox Jews exist in the world right now. I’ll go with 1.3 million OrthoJews alive in a given contemporary year, or 10% of world Jewry.
Fm = The fraction of Orthodox Jews who are male. Wolfram Alpha (and everyone else) assures me it’s 0.49, or 49%.
Fg = The fraction who are geographically compatible – that is, located in Northeastern United States. Why am I being geographically narrow? Because I’ve never had a successful long-term relationship. Besides, I think I’m being generous. One guy in Washington Heights refused to date me because it entailed driving to Brooklyn.
According to the Berman Institute, 43.7% of the American Jewish population lives in the Northeast. That’s 0.44, for our purposes. Since 46% of the world Jewish population lives in North America, the total fraction of Jews in the Northeast is approximately 0.46*0.44 = 0.20.
Fa = The fraction of men who are age appropriate. I have no idea how Peter got his 0.2 number for this one, but here’s how I got mine:
The average male lifespan in the USA is 76 (Wikipedia). If you take the total male population between 0 and 75 and break it into chunks of 15 years, you get 5 chunks. I am willing to date within a generous 15-year range, from a couple of years younger to more than 10 years older, so I date one 15-year chunk. One out of five population chunks is 1/5 or 0.20.
Fp = Mr. Backus used a university degree for this criteria. I do not demand a level of education from my potential spouse. However, since I rarely get set up with non-baccalaureates, this number would essentially be 1. For the yeshivish end, it would be zero. Obviously this not a good criteria for our community.
I should note here that this is a probability equation. You are not forced to use any given term just because Backus did. You can leave something out. Or add something in. If you’re really picky, you can introduce an infinite number of criteria.
So I’ll create my own criteria. Assume there are four main branches of Orthodox Judaism: Modern Orthodox, Centrist (encompassing the MO-machmir and yeshivish-liberal groups), Yeshivish, and Chassidish. I date only one of those groups. Although it’s a stretch to assume equal populations, for lack of data, I could use 0.25 for religious compatibility. Considering how people can be over matters of religion, this seems reasonable.
I’m also considering using a Myers-Briggs criteria. I’m an INTJ. I’m told I’m compatible with NFs, I respect NTs, and I’m tentatively beginning to think I could handle an SP. Using population estimates for Myers-Briggs types, I could get along reasonably well with about 33% of the personality population. (That’s a 0.33 for our equation.)
Ft = The fraction I find attractive. Backus assumed he’s attracted to about 5% of the female population. Doing the math on the number of men I’ve dated and the number I’ve found immediately attractive, that seems a sound estimate. So, 0.05 is the fraction of Jewish men I’d find attractive.
L = Length of time I’ve been alive, making such an encounter possible. I’m actually not a fan of how Backus defines this term. The number we need isn’t how long I’ve been alive, because obviously I haven’t found anyone in that time. Moreover, if I met my bashert when I was 10, well, I wasn’t paying attention. Rather, the number we need is how long I plan to be dating before I give up.
So I will use 15 years, the number of years from when I started dating (20) until I plan to throw in the towel, adopt a child, and start a spinster colony (35).
Let’s do the math now. Here’s a snip from my Excel spreadsheet:
And so, there are 1,524 OrthoJewish men between the ages of about 25 and 39 living in Northeastern USA who I could potentially partner up with. These possible basherts comprise about 1% of the total Orthodox Jewish male NE USA population.
So far, I’ve met 38 of them. That leaves me 1,486 men to meet in the next 9 years.
Wow. The world has never been so full of possibilities!
Of course, this doesn’t take into account how many of them are already married. And we all know that all the good ones are already taken…
Enpey sent me today’s link ages ago. It’s a rather bizarre xkcd post about soulmates. It takes a few leaps of logic that don’t strike me as very logical. All in the name of proving that the whole soulmate idea is kinda ridiculous. Too bad the agenda is too obvious to permit the post to be credible.
I didn’t post it because I wanted to do the math for frum Jews. Calculate how many Jews there are in the world. Where they live. How likely you are to meet them. How many you’d have to meet to find your soulmate.
But somehow, more interesting things kept getting in the way – like trying a new carrot ginger soup recipe, or attending a kayaking club meeting.
But a quick google right now brings up an estimate of 1.6-1.8 million Orthodox Jews worldwide. Maybe 500,000 of those are chasidim. Probably an equal number are modern orthodox, yeshivish, heimish, Mizrachi, or some other group you’d be able to share a life with in a million years. So take off 1 million.
There are about 550k in Israel and 120k in the rest of the world outside the USA. Let’s assume that most of those are in countries that don’t speak your language and who you’d be highly unlikely to communicate with. Nix another 600,ooo.
Let’s say about a third of the population is too young for you and a third too old for you. Divide by three. That leaves 133,333 people that you’d have to date to find your soulmate.
If you have 15 years or so for dating (on the assumption that when you hit 35, if you don’t add “froze my eggs” to your profile, you won’t get any more dates), that would be 8,889 guys per year. If you freeze your eggs or find open-minded guys, that’s 5,333 guys per year.
Wow. I am so behind.
Sadly, people and relationships cannot be reduced to mere equations. As Dostoyevsky points out in Notes from Underground, if we did come up with an equation proving that people always behave in their best interest, people would do the opposite just to prove their free will.
(I know what you’re thinking. In that case, we can say that people will do the opposite of what’s in their best interest because the equation says so. But then people might contradict that prediction, and you’d be left saying that people will either do what’s in their best interest or not, depending on whether they’d rather stick it to you or just get on with life. And then you’d need an equation to predict who would do what, and we’d be right back where we started.)