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Why I Will Never Have A Girlfriend Tristan Miller German Research Center for Artiﬁcial Intelligence∗ Erwin-Schr¨dinger-Straße 57 o 67663 Kaiserslautern, Germany email@example.com 20 December 1999Abstract Not the author, though. I, for one, refuse to spend my life brooding over my lack of luckInformal empirical and anecdotal evidence with women. While I’ll be the ﬁrst to ad-from the (male) scientiﬁc community has long mit that my chances of ever entering into apointed to the diﬃculty in securing decent, meaningful relationship with someone speciallong-term female companionship. To date, are practically non-existent, I staunchly refusehowever, no one has published a rigorous study to admit that it has anything to do with someof the matter. In this essay, the author inves- inherent problem with me. Instead, I am con-tigates himself as a case study and presents a vinced that the situation can be readily ex-proof, using simple statistical calculus, of why plained in purely scientiﬁc terms, using nothingit is impossible to ﬁnd a girlfriend. more than demographics and some elementary statistical calculus.Why don’t I have a girlfriend? Lest anyone suspect that my standards for women are too high, let me allay those fearsThis is a question that practically every male by enumerating in advance my three criteriahas asked himself at one point or another in for the match. First, the potential girlfriendhis life. Unfortunately, there is rarely a hard must be approximately my age—let’s say 21and fast answer to the query. Many men try to plus or minus three or four years. Second, thereason their way through the dilemma nonethe- girl must be beautiful (and I use that term all-less, often reaching a series of ridiculous expla- encompassingly to refer to both inner and outernations, each more self-deprecating than the beauty). Third, she must also be reasonablylast: “Is it because I’m too shy, and not ag- intelligent—she doesn’t have to be Mensa ma-gressive enough? Is it my opening lines? Am I terial, but the ability to carry on a witty, in-a boring person? Am I too fat or too thin? Or sightful argument would be nice. So there theyam I simply ugly and completely unattractive are—three simple demands, which I’m sure ev-to women?” When all other plausible expla- eryone will agree are anything but unreason-nations have been discounted, most fall back able.on the time-honoured conclusion that “there That said, I now present my demonstra-must be Something WrongTM with me” be- tion of why the probability of ﬁnding a suit-fore resigning themselves to lives of perpetualchastity.1 that they were too discriminating with their attentions. They will consequently return to the dating scene, en- ∗ This paper was written when the author was at tering a sequence of blas´ relationships with mediocre eGriﬃth University, Australia. girls for whom they don’t really care, until they ﬁnally 1 After a short period of brooding, of course, these marry one out of fear of spending the rest of their livesmales will eventually come to the realization that the alone. I am convinced that this behaviour is the realreal reason they were never able to get a girlfriend is reason for today’s alarmingly high divorce rate. 1
able candidate fulﬁlling the three above-noted . . . in “developed” countries:requirements is so small as to be practically 605 601 000impossible—in other words, why I will neverhave a girlfriend. I shall endeavour to make [WP98, Table A–7]this proof as rigorous as the available data per- We now further restrict the geographical areamits. And I should note, too, that there will of interest to so-called “ﬁrst-world countries”.be no statistical trickery involved here; I have My reasons for doing so are not motivated outcited all my sources and provided all relevant of contempt for those who are economically dis-calculations2 in case anyone wishes to conduct advantaged, but rather by simple probability.their own independent review. Let’s now take My chances of meeting a babe from Bhutan ora look at the ﬁgures. a goddess from Ghana, either in person or on the Internet, are understandably low. In fact, I will most likely spend nearly my entire lifeNumber of people on Earth (in living and working in North America, Europe,1998): 5 592 830 000 and Australia, so it is to these types of regions that the numbers have been narrowed.[WP98, Table A–3]We start with the largest demographic in which . . . currently (in 2000) aged 18I am interested—namely, the population of this to 25: 65 399 083planet. That is not to say I’m against the [WP98, Tables A–3, A–7]idea of interstellar romance, of course; I justdon’t assess the prospect of ﬁnding myself a Being neither a pedophile nor a geriatrophile,nice Altairian girl as statistically signiﬁcant. I would like to restrict my search for love toNow anyway, the latest halfway-reliable ﬁg- those whose age is approximately equal to myures we have for Earth’s population come from own. This is where things get a bit tricky, forthe United States Census Bureau’s 1999 World two reasons: ﬁrst, the census data is nearly twoPopulation Proﬁle [WP98]. Due presumably to years old, and second, the “population by age”the time involved in compiling and processing tables in [WP98] are not separated into indi-census statistics, said report’s data is valid only vidual ages but are instead quantized into “15–as of 1998, so later on we’ll be making some im- 19” (of whom there are 39 560 000) and “20–promptu adjustments to bring the numbers up 44” (population 215 073 000). Women aged 15to date. to 19 in 1998 will be aged 17 to 21 in 2000; in this group, I’m interested in dating those 18 or older, so, assuming the “15–19” girls’ ages are. . . who are female: uniformly distributed, we have 2 941 118 000 |21 − 18| + 1 39 560 000 × = 31 648 000.[WP98, Table A–7] |19 − 15| + 1 Similarly, of 1998’s “20–44” category, there areI’d’ve thought that, given the title of this es- nowsay, this criterion goes without saying. In caseanyone missed it, though, I am looking for ex- |25 − 22| + 1clusively female companionship. Accordingly, 215 073 000 × = 34 411 680. |44 − 20| + 1roughly half of the Earth’s population must bediscounted. Sorry, guys. females within my chosen age limit. The sum, 66 059 680, represents the total number of fe- 2 Due to rounding, ﬁgures cited may not add up ex- males aged 18 to 25 in developed countriesactly. in 2000. Unfortunately, roughly 1% of these 2
girls will have died since the census was taken;3 Let’s assume that I will settle for someone athus, the true number of so-far eligible bache- mere one standard deviation above the normal;lorettes is 65 399 083. in that case, a further 1 1 1 1 2. . . who are beautiful: 1 487 838 +√ · e− 2 z dz ≈ 84.1345% 2 2π 0Personal attraction, both physically and of the population must be discounted.personality-wise, is an important instigator ofany relationship. Of course, beauty is a purely . . . and not already committed:subjective trait whose interpretation may varyfrom person to person. Luckily it is not neces- 118 027sary for me to deﬁne beauty in this essay ex- I could ﬁnd no hard statistics on the numbercept to state that for any given beholder, it will of above-noted girls who are already married,probably be normally distributed amongst the engaged, or otherwise committed to a signiﬁ-population.4 Without going into the speciﬁcs cant other, but informal observation and anec-of precisely which traits I admire, I will say dotal evidence leads me to believe that thethat for a girl to be considered really beautiful proportion is somewhere around 50%. (Fellowto me, she should fall at least two standard de- unattached males will no doubt have also no-viations above the norm. From basic statistics ticed a preponderance of girls legitimately of-theory, the area to the left of the normal curve fering, “Sorry, I already have a boyfriend” asat z = 2 is an excuse not to go on a date.) For reasons 1 1 2 1 − 2 z2 of morality (and perhaps too self-preservation), −√ · e dz ≈ 0.022 75 2 2π 0 I’m not about to start hitting on girls who haveand so it is this number with which we multiply husbands and boyfriends. Accordingly, thatour current population pool. portion of the female population must also be considered oﬀ-limits.. . . and intelligent: 236 053 . . . and also might like me:Again, intelligence can mean diﬀerent things to 18 726diﬀerent people, yet I am once more relievedof making any explanation by noting that it, Naturally, ﬁnding a suitable girl who I reallylike most other characteristics, has a notion- like is no guarantee that she’ll like me back.ally normal distribution across the population. Assuming, as previously mentioned, that per- 3 [WP98] gives the annual death rate for developed sonal attractiveness is normally distributed,countries as 10 per 1000, but does not list death rates there is a mere 50% chance that any given fe-per age group. Presumably, the death rate graphs as a male will consider me even marginally attrac-bathtub curve, but in absence of any numbers support- tive. In practice, however, people are unlikelying this hypothesis, and for the sake of simplicity, I willconservatively estimate the death rate among this age to consider pursuing a relationship with some-group to be 1% biennially. one whose looks and personality just barely 4 Despite my eﬀorts to research the matter, I could suﬃce. Let’s make the rather conservative as-ﬁnd no data on the distribution of beauty, either outer sumption, then, that a girl would go out withor inner, amongst the population. Perhaps attractive-ness, being a largely subjective trait, does not lend itself someone if and only if they were at least oneto quantiﬁcation. It is not unreasonable, however, to standard deviation above her idea of average.assume that like most other traits, it has a normal dis- In that case, referring to our previous calcula-tribution. Indeed, this assumption seems to be backed tion, only 15.8655% of females would considerup by informal observation and judgment—in any rea-sonably large group of people, most of them will be someone with my physical characteristics andaverage-looking, and a tiny minority either exceedingly personality acceptable as a potential romanticbeautiful or exceedingly ugly. partner. 3
ConclusionIt is here, at a pool of 18 726 acceptable fe-males, that we end our statistical analysis. Atﬁrst glance, a datable population of 18 726 maynot seem like such a low number, but considerthis: assuming I were to go on a blind date witha new girl about my age every week, I wouldhave to date for 3493 weeks before I found oneof the 18 726. That’s very nearly 67 years. Asa North American male born in the late 1970s,my life expectancy is probably little more than70 years, so we can safely say that I will bequite dead before I ﬁnd the proverbial girl ofmy dreams. Come to think of it, she’ll proba-bly be dead too.Reference[WP98] U.S. Bureau of the Census, Report WP/98, World Population Proﬁle: 1998. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Print- ing Oﬃce, 1999. 4