I remember when a good friend of mine gave a litany and complained about how difficult New York hookup is. It’s really not surprising, because since the mid-60s, it’s been mathematically proven that it’s quite tough to hook up in New York.
A 1966 paper entitled “Recognizing the Maximum of a Sequence” which was published in the Journal of the American Statistical Association provided a solution to the “beauty contest problem.” This is how the problem is described:
Let’s say a man is to go out on a date with his choice of one from a group of unseen and unknown women, and let’s say he wishes to get the prettiest. The women are presented for him to see one at a time at a random order, and he must select or reject a woman as she appears. Once he decides on one, he gets to see the rest, and then gets disappointed if his date is not the most attractive. How can he increase the probability of getting the prettiest of the lot?
According to the paper, it is proven that the optimal strategy is to reject the first 37 percent of all the candidates, and then go for the first candidate who is better than any previous candidate. If you follow this strategy, you will be able to select the best candidate of all 37 percent of the time. You may think that it’s not much of a good chance, but there are no other ways you can employ that will generate a higher average probability of getting the best candidate, so this is the optimal strategy to follow in maximizing the quality of getting a mate.
Now, let us go from mathematics to evolutionary psychology. While this mathematical strategy has been proven to be optimal, the logic of natural selection suggests that, during the course of human evolution, all women will ultimately be selected to use this strategy without being aware of the mathematics behind it. Women who follow the “reject the first 37 percent and go for the next best” tactic are expected to have greater reproductive success on average than women who follow the “marry the first one I find,” or “reject the first 5 percent and select the next best,” or “reject the first 90percent and select the next best,” or any other potential strategy there is. Unwittingly, women should possess the evolved psychological mechanism to reject the first 37 percent of the estimated total number of lifetime potential partners, and choose the next best candidate.
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