How much time and effort do you think you need to invest in order to find a romantic relationship? If we’re talking about speed-dating, the answer is close to 75 hours. Is that surprising? For many people, the idea of investing a certain amount of time in order to get a relationship might fly in the face of the spontaneous “it just happened” mentality we have become accustom to. But whether we admit it or not, how much time we invest will affect how much dating we do, and how likely we are to be successful. Going back to the 75 hours of speed dating, consider what this means: if the average speed dating event lasts 3 hours and you’re meeting 11 potential partners, you would need to go to 25 speed-dating events. You need to meet 275 people in order to find that special someone, due to a low success rate of 4-6%. Now take a moment to reflect – realistically, how many hours are you investing in finding a romantic relationship? This means meeting people in the course of daily life, engaging in new activities, developing networks of friends, going to social gatherings, and trying singles-specific activities like online- or speed-dating.
How many potential partners are you meeting each week? And how long will it take to get up to 275? If you find you are meeting 5 a week, you’re still looking at over a year in order to get up to 275. It takes initiative, effort, and assertiveness to meet new people; on the other hand, it doesn’t take any work to sit on the couch and watch reruns of Becker (anyone get the reference?). But often when people complain that they aren’t meeting anyone, you also find out that they aren’t investing much time in looking. Interestingly, the amount of effort men put into meeting women has also been found to significantly predict who women want to date after a three minute speed-date.
Now these numbers come from just one recent German study, and it looked only at the outcomes of three minute-long dates. And people tend to meet their romantic partners in a range of different ways, most commonly through work, school, or through friends of friends. We also don’t know how much time and effort would be required to predict developing a romantic relationship. This analysis doesn’t consider the fact that some potential partners you meet are a better “match” for you than others (e.g., you are likely to match with people within friendship networks compared to strangers because of increased similarity). But it does illustrate the concept that time and effort must be invested to increase the odds of getting the outcome you desire. So take a look at how much time you invest towards achieving important goals, and whether you are dedicating as much time as needed to developing your love life.
- Asendorpf, J. B., Penke, L., & Back, M. D. (2011). From dating to mating and relating: Predictors of initial and long-term outcomes of speed-dating in a community sample. European Journal of Personality, 25(1), 16-30.