Read the title again, please. That’s an interesting question, don’t you think? Is it mathematically possible to calculate the odds of finding your significant other? Can logic and love co-exist? What is a soul-mate? How many soul-mates are out there for each one of us? What are you supposed to do if you’re in a loving relationship with someone you think is your soul-mate, then, out of the blue, your true soul-mate shows up? What element does chance play? Can you be happy if you never find your soul-mate? How do you know when you’ve hit the jackpot and your search is over? While I think any one single question would make a decent article all by itself, not any one answer alone will give us the whole truth we’re looking for. To the point, were we placed on this earth one half of a whole? Do we need to find the other half to be happy and if so, how many other keys exist out there that will unlock our hearts?
WHAT IS A SOUL-MATE?
Ask a woman what a soul-mate is and her eyes will glaze over, her hands will go to her heart and she’ll say “It’s the one!” If you ask, “The one what?” she’ll say, “That one person placed on this planet who it is your destiny to find. This is the only person who will truly know you, complete you, and finish your sentences for you, love you like you’ve never been loved–the one that will laugh with you, cry with you, and be your compass.” (Maybe soul-mates are a lot like G.P.S. systems.) If you ask a man what a soul-mate is, his eyes will glaze over, his hands will go to his stomach and he will say, “The one who can cook like Mama!” Just kidding, but certainly anyone who can cook should get some kind of brownie points. No, for a man, at least the ones I talked to, a soul-mate is the one he can truly be himself with and not be slapped across the face and be accused of being a pig. Someone who in some small way makes him feel like a hero. Guys like being heroes. If you look up the word soul in Gray’s Book of Anatomy (supposed to have labeled every human part) there is no mention of soul. Webster defines a soul as: “The spiritual nature of humans regarded as immortal, seperatable from the body at death and susceptible to happiness or misery in a future state.” Hmmm…If that’s right then a soul-mate is someone we may be destined to be with even after we die! How’s that for a commitment?
HOW MANY SOUL-MATES ARE OUT THERE FOR EACH OF US?
Everyone I talked to seemed to agree, or at least be open to the possibility that we may have more than one soul-mate out there, (this was mostly the men). The die-hard romantics (women) said while there are many people we may be compatible with, there is only one true love; one soul-mate for each of us. While the romantic’s point of view has a very clandestine appeal, I couldn’t help but feel that with over six billion people in the world, and most of us with expired passports, it’s awfully convenient that our Maker always puts our soul-mate in places we like to hang out and not in the Congo, Switzerland or Bulgaria.
WHAT ARE YOU SUPPOSED TO DO IF YOU’RE IN A SIGNIFICANT RELATIONSHIP WHEN YOU MEET YOUR SOUL-MATE?
If there were a United Nations that governed soul-mates, kind of a rules and regulations committee, they’d probably argue that while there are many things we cherish in our lives that have great meaning to us (money, siblings, friends, family, pets), we owe it to ourselves to be with our soul-mate…at any cost. This could be the reason for such a high divorce rate in this country. Just when we’ve convinced ourselves we’ve found “true love,” the B.B.D. (Bigger, Better Deal) walks in the door. While many marriages are marriages of convenience and some are even arranged, this kind of leads us to our next question.
HOW DO WE KNOW WHEN WE’VE FOUND OUR SOUL-MATE?
While this may seem like a very complex question, it isn’t. You know you’ve found your soul-mate when you no longer have to ask yourself if you’ve found your soul-mate. Doubt does not live in Soulville.
While we could probably debate at length the importance of having a significant other in our lives, there are still a great number of us who never tie the knot. According to the U.S. Census 2002, 30.6% of all men and 23.6% of all women will never marry. Many of these people have been interviewed and found fulfillment in their jobs, friends or life’s work. Happy is not a commodity solely owned by the paired-off couples of this world. In Anthony Storr’s book, “Solitude A Return to the Self,” he cites account after account of people that found their Nirvana in the absence of the company of others. It’s as if they’re soul-mates with themselves. While at the same time, he acknowledges “the need to be loved for being oneself is one of the highest needs we have.” If this is true, all solitude must eventually break and we must rejoin the group. In the absence of that which I am not, that which I am is not. People need other people (whether they like them or not) to define themselves. We use people as mirrors to help us recognize who we are. To me, soul-mates are people who can see past the façade of clothes, fine cars, expensive houses and stupid jokes and know who we are underneath it all. Someone once told me that when you can sit on the throne and do a #3 (that’s a #2 plus a #1), and carry on a full conversation with your partner, you’ve probably found your soul-mate. If you run out of toilet paper and they bring you a new roll and don’t just toss it to you, then you’ve definitely found your soul-mate! But let’s get back to the original question.
HOW MANY PEOPLE DO YOU HAVE TO MEET IN ORDER TO FIND YOUR SOUL-MATE?
While this seems like the hardest question of all, it was always the easiest. The answer is 23. Well at least 23 to have a decent shot; you know, at least a 50/50 chance. While this number may seem extremely small to you, the producers of all the reality TV shows already know this fact. That’s why the Bachelor and Bachelorette of reality TV always start off with 25 people to pick from (they rounded 23 to 25), because they want at least an even money shot at true love. Why 23? Simple. It’s based on an old math puzzle called “The Birthday Paradox” which asks, “How many people do you have to put in a room before you have a 50/50 chance that two of them will have the same birthday?” The answer is 23. All of you non-mathematicians can scroll to the bottom of this article to read the explanation of “The Birthday Paradox.”
Let’s continue. Go ask any married couple how many people they had to date before they found their true love. Go ahead, ask anybody. I guarantee that nobody will give you an answer larger than 365. See the correlation? 365 days in the year, 365 dates, max, to find true love. Using the Birthday Paradox, we can turn the very complicated question of love and soul-mates into a numbers game. Go out with 23 people; pick them carefully. At the end of the process, one half of you will be married. Don’t believe me? Go see. Two more things to remember: 1) Almost 1/3 of all men will never marry and almost 1/4 of all women will never marry. Marriage doesn’t necessarily equal happiness. 2) Before anyone is ever going to fall in love with you, you’d better be in love with yourself. If you can’t sell yourself to you, then why should anyone else bother? Last question: What element does chance play? If you ask the romantics; none—it’s all destiny!
THE BIRTHDAY PARADOX
By Dave Reitzes
Just how likely is it that, in a group of people, two of them will have the same birthday?
To simplify this question a bit, let’s ignore leap years and assume that each year has 365 days.
If there are two people in a room, the odds of having the same birthday are one in 365.* The probability is therefore 0.0027. That’s pretty unlikely.
Suppose you have three people in the room: A, B and C.
There are three possibilities for two of them to have the same birthday. A and B might. A and C might. Or B and C might.
What is the probability that two of the three will have the same birthday? We have to start by noting that the probability of A and B not having the same birthday is 364/365 = 0.99726.
Thus the probability of A and B not having the same birthday and B and C also not having the same birthday is .99726 x .99726 = 0.994528.
And it follows that the probability of A and B not having the same birthday and B and C also not having the same birthday and A and C not having the same birthday is .99726 x .99726 x .99726 = 0.9918.
Following this logic, when there are five people in the room there are ten possibilities for two of them to have the same birthday (4 + 3 + 2 + 1 = 10), and if there are six people in the room there are 15 possibilities (5 + 4 + 3 + 2 + 1 = 15).
In this latter case (six people in the room), the probability of none of the six having the same birthday is:
(364/365)15 = 0.959683
Therefore there are about four chances in a hundred that at least two of the people will have the same birthday.
Since the number of possibilities of two people having the same birthday increases roughly as the square of the number of people, the probability of at least two having the same birthday rises rapidly as the number in the room increases. With 20 people in the room, there are 190 opportunities for two people having the same birthday.
The probability that no two will is:
(364/365)190 = 0.59377
Repeating the analysis with 30 people, the probability is:
(364/365)435 = 0.30318
In other words, the odds are only three in ten that no two people will have the same birthday.
by Fred Cuellar