Between the spreadsheets

Alice Hines in More intelligent Life:

Once upon a time, there was a man who thought love was a maths problem.

“Love is a capricious spark, a miraculous whirlwind,” one of his blog posts began, sarcastically. “It is found by following ancient prophecies, embarking on dangerous quests…Something like that, who knows. Anyway, it sounds like finding a girlfriend was crazy hard before computers!” The man’s name was Jacob. He is currently 32 and works in finance, creating software that helps banks comply with regulations. He has dark curly hair and a beard, a left eyebrow that’s often raised and, in his own words, a “dad bod”. His self-deprecating streak is tempered by optimism. “Growth mindset” is one of his favourite phrases. As in “I’m still not bisexual, but, you know, growth mindset.” For most of his life Jacob dated only when he’d received clear signs of encouragement from one of the many women he found beautiful or fascinating. In 2013 he moved to New York from North Carolina. Thanks to the volume of people using dating apps, it was suddenly possible to spend each night of the week with a different woman who was already intrigued by his online persona. There was the cheesemaker. The fashion designer. Three different med-school students. Jacob liked them all. On each date, he holidayed in another person’s world and learned something new.

But cumulatively, the experience was overwhelming. Jacob knew he wanted to get serious with someone, but he found it hard to weigh the merits of each of these potential partners against each other. So he did what he knew best: he made a spreadsheet. He called it “How to Choose a Goddess”. When he described this to me, some of the calculations lay beyond my comprehension. But my more quantitatively minded friends seemed impressed when I rattled them off.

More here.