A few weeks ago, while reading a New York Times article about evolution+dating, I came to a passage that I found particularly interesting. It said that a great way for a person to increase his or her odds of meeting a mate was simply by making more of an effort to tap into his or her social networks.
The NYT story went on to say that:
... a landmark 1992 Chicago sex survey of 3,432 adults ages 18 to 59, ... found that 68 percent of married people in the survey reported meeting their spouse through a friend, family member or other mutual acquaintance.
The story also mentions a new book, Connected: The Surprising Power of Our Social Networks and How They Shape Our Lives, that is coming out next month. Co-written by Dr. Nicholas A. Christakis of Harvard Medical School and James H. Fowler, a political scientist at UC-San Diego, the author cite the Chicago study when arguing that dating is not a random process. They also help to illustrate the staggering number of people we are connected to, through three degrees of separation:
If you are single and you know 20 people reasonably well, and if each of them knows 20 other people, and each of them knows 20 other people, then you are connected to 8,000 people who are three degrees away. And one of them is likely to be your future spouse.
The Chicago study would suggest that most of us don't have to waste our time online dating--or even flirting! Rather, we should get busy asking our friends to set us up; going to parties that people we know invite us to; and perusing our friends' Facebook friends to see if we can find people we're interested in.
At the same time, I wonder how things have changed since the Chicago study was done, almost twenty years ago. Since the dawn of Internet dating, do more people now marry complete strangers? And how do marriages of people who are socially connected beforehand compare to the marriages of people who were initially complete strangers, in terms of things like self-reported happiness and duration of marriage?
Anyway, once Christakis's book comes out, I'm hopeful he'll do an interview with me for the blog, so we can have all these questions answered then.
as for all the comments yesterday:
i stand by everything i wrote in yesterday's post.
part of my job as a blogger--as i see it--is to reveal my insecurities so you can be along for the ride. at the same time, i'm also trying to overcome my low self-esteem--which has been around a lot longer than the blog has--and that is a part of the blog too. so if you have any advice on how i can do that, please write.
now for sir hugo. he took it upon himself to read the blog after also taking it upon himself to swear to me he wouldn't. so any discomfort he might have experienced from reading it was entirely his own responsibility, and not mine. i did not put a knife to his throat and force him to read. plus, his having been without a career was not something he himself was not aware of. it's not like i outed some horrible secret or even pushed him to face something he was hiding from himself. he himself knows it's an issue.
also--i warned him i was going to get bitchy in yesterday's post, and told him he might not want to read it.
incidentally--you may recall--when i talked to him on sunday, sir hugo said that reading about himself and how attractive he was had been a huge ego rush. (he didn't say anything about feeling BAD about what he'd read. he said he'd gotten addicted to the blog and to seeing what i was going to write next.)
finally--my post yesterday was NOT about MEN vs. WOMEN. sir hugo is NOT representative of every man in the world. he is one single man! ... and for the record: i LIKE men! a lot! many members of the species are even MY DEAR FRIENDS! and in fact, i made a point yesterday of noting that i think BOTH men and women should be a little more considerate about people's feelings when it comes to the dating game.