Why don't I have a girlfriend?This is a question that practically every male has asked himself at one point or another in his life. Unfortunately, there is rarely a hard and fast answer to the query. Many men try to reason their way through the dilemma nonetheless, often reaching a series of ridiculous explanations, each more self-deprecating than the last: "Is it because I'm too shy, and not aggressive enough? Is it my opening lines? Am I a boring person? Am I too fat or too thin? Or am I simply ugly and completely unattractive to women?" When all other plausible explanations have been discounted, most fall back on the time-honoured conclusion that "there must be Something Wrong™ with me" before resigning themselves to lives of perpetual chastity.
Not the author, though. I, for one, refuse to spend my life brooding over my lack of luck with women. While I'll be the first to admit that my chances of ever entering into a meaningful relationship with someone special are practically non-existent, I staunchly refuse to admit that it has anything to do with some inherent problem with me. Instead, I am convinced that the situation can be readily explained in purely scientific terms, using nothing more than demographics and some elementary statistical calculus.
Lest anyone suspect that my standards for women are too high, let me allay those fears by enumerating in advance my three criteria for the match. First, the potential girlfriend must be approximately my age—let's say 21 plus or minus three or four years. Second, the girl must be beautiful (and I use that term all-encompassingly to refer to both inner and outer beauty). Third, she must also be reasonably intelligent—she doesn't have to be Mensa material, but the ability to carry on a witty, insightful argument would be nice. So there they are—three simple demands, which I'm sure everyone will agree are anything but unreasonable.
That said, I now present my demonstration of why the probability of finding a suitable candidate fulfilling the three above-noted requirements is so small as to be practically impossible—in other words, why I will never have a girlfriend. I shall endeavour to make this proof as rigorous as the available data permits. And I should note, too, that there will be no statistical trickery involved here; I have cited all my sources and provided all relevant calculations in case anyone wishes to conduct their own independent review. Let's now take a look at the figures.
Number of people on Earth (in 1998): 5 592 830 000We start with the largest demographic in which I am interested—namely, the population of this planet. That is not to say I'm against the idea of interstellar romance, of course; I just don't assess the prospect of finding myself a nice Altairian girl as statistically significant. Now anyway, the latest halfway-reliable figures we have for Earth's population come from the United States Census Bureau's 1999 World Population Profile (WP/98). Due presumably to the time involved in compiling and processing census statistics, said report's data is valid only as of 1998, so later on we'll be making some impromptu adjustments to bring the numbers up to date.
…who are female: 2 941 118 000I'd've thought that, given the title of this essay, this criterion goes without saying. In case anyone missed it, though, I am looking for exclusively female companionship. Accordingly, roughly half of the Earth's population must be discounted. Sorry, guys.
…in "developed" countries: 605 601 000We now further restrict the geographical area of interest to so-called "first-world countries". My reasons for doing so are not motivated out of contempt for those who are economically disadvantaged, but rather by simple probability. My chances of meeting a babe from Bhutan or a goddess from Ghana, either in person or on the Internet, are understandably low. In fact, I will most likely spend nearly my entire life living and working in North America, Europe, and Australia, so it is to these types of regions that the numbers have been narrowed.
Similarly, of 1998's "20–44" category, there are now
females within my chosen age limit. The sum, 66 059 680, represents the total number of females aged 18 to 25 in developed countries in 2000. Unfortunately, roughly 1% of these girls will have died since the census was taken; thus, the true number of so-far eligible bachelorettes is 65 399 083.
…who are beautiful: 1 487 838Personal attraction, both physically and personality-wise, is an important instigator of any relationship. Of course, beauty is a purely subjective trait whose interpretation may vary from person to person. Luckily it is not necessary for me to define beauty in this essay except to state that for any given beholder, it will probably be normally distributed amongst the population. Without going into the specifics of precisely which traits I admire, I will say that for a girl to be considered really beautiful to me, she should fall at least two standard deviations above the norm. From basic statistics theory, the area to the left of the normal curve at z = 2 is
and so it is this number with which we multiply our current population pool.
…and intelligent: 236 053Again, intelligence can mean different things to different people, yet I am once more relieved of making any explanation by noting that it, like most other characteristics, has a notionally normal distribution across the population. Let's assume that I will settle for someone a mere one standard deviation above the normal; in that case, a further
of the population must be discounted.