How Many People Should You Date Before Settling Down?

Is there a magic number of partners before you find "The One?" One expert seems to think so.

Last updated on Nov 30, 2011

woman kissing frog

Romantic comedies, fairy tales and Sex And The City have led us to believe that finding "The One" is the primary goal of a woman's life. Find that magical, elusive guy and you'll unlock a lifetime of love, affection and happiness, right? Uh huh...

But just how long does it take to find your one and only? Honestly, I don't think there should be any talk of a math formula to help you determine how many frogs you'll kiss before you find a prince. However, some experts believe there is indeed a magic number that leads to happiness — and it's 12.


Our friends over at eHarmony reported on this miraculous finding, which came from Peter Todd, a professor of informatics and cognitive science, and was first published in the December issue of Wired magazine. Todd believes that the best strategy for selecting an ideal mate is to date a few people, see what qualities you would like in a long-term partner, and then settle down once you've found them. Most people, he says, should settle down after dating 12 people.

Listen, Professor Todd. I think your logic is sound — we obviously need to learn what we value in a partner and what we'd prefer to pass on. But to claim that there's some sort of magic number? We're not buying it.


First of all, why should there be a negative stigma surrounding having dated more than 12 people? What if you were dating around and had no idea what you wanted? It doesn't necessarily mean you've missed out on your one and only. The same goes for anyone in a loving relationship who has only dated one, two or even zero other people; why upset your couplehood with the question of "should I keep looking?" when you're otherwise happy?

Not to mention that people who tend to settle in or are looking for long-term relationships don't really have time to date 12 different people! That's a lot of people!

Chiara Atik at HowAboutWe makes a good point, saying, "It's really hard to quantify something like love: some people find it on their first try, while others find it on their fourth marriage." Yes, yes and yes. However, she finds some value in this numeric system, whereas I disagree with it wholeheartedly. Really, we need to stop looking at relationships as some sort of science to be figured out and start just letting them be. So let's end this talk of numbers once and for all, shall we?

Do you think you should date a certain number of people before settling down?


Kait Smith is a freelance writer living and working the the beautiful Hudson Valley of New York State.