Mathematics may be able to tell you if your relationship will last

There's a new formula to help you find true love. But is it accurate?

Sarah Gray
March 13, 2014 11:53PM (UTC)

Back in the 1990s, fictional boy band 2GE+HER (pronounced Together) introduced a simple equation for romance in their song aptly named "U + Me = Us (Calculus)."

The above boy band brand of "calculus" might get some relationship results, but it hardly accounts for the many variables of love. Timing, attraction, beliefs, personality, family, sexual chemistry, mental health -- these factors, and more, can make or break a relationship.

One of the most amazing and infuriating parts of falling in love is how arbitrary it feels. However, if people would like to add some mathematical logic to the mix, the folks at MSN commissioned a "formula to help you predict how long your current relationship will last." With this equation people can get their special number: the one. The equation is below:

"For heterosexual couples the formula is:

L = 8 + .5Y - .2P + .9Hm + .3Mf + J - .3G - .5(Sm - Sf)2  + I + 1.5C

L: the predicted length in years of the relationship
Y: the number of years the two people knew each other before the relationship became serious
P: the number of previous partners of both people added together
Hm: the importance the male partner attaches to honesty in the relationship
Mf : the importance the female attaches to money in the relationship
J: the importance both attach to humour (added together)
G: the importance both attach to good looks (added together)
Sm and Sf: the importance male and female attach to sex
I: the importance attached to having good in-laws
C: the importance attached to children in the relationship

Still with us? In case you’re scratching your head, all 'importance' measures can be scaled from 1 to 5 where 1 is not important at all and 5 is very important.

Note: our research findings for same-sex couples differed slightly from heterosexual couples, so we had to adjust the formula slightly:

L = 8 + .5Y - .2P + 2J - .3G - .5(S1 - S2)2 - I + 1.5C
(where S1 and S2 are the two partner’s ratings for the importance of sex)"

A reporter at The Telegraph tested out the formula. She found a man who would be compatible with her for 12.9 years, but mutual attraction was missing.

If folks who are not in a relationship are worried about the probability of finding a soulmate there's a mathematical equation for that too. A video from It's OK To Be Smart, reveals that there might be 871 specials someones out there for you.

Sarah Gray

Sarah Gray is an assistant editor at Salon, focusing on innovation. Follow @sarahhhgray or email sgray@salon.com.

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