Dating Tips
For Men

Why You Can't Solve The Equation For Love

January 22, 2018
▪ 5 mins read

Why You Can't Solve The Equation For Love - but why you have to keep trying.

To explain why you’re not meeting someone to date - I turn to basic maths.

Now you may think equation for love is 1 + 1 = 2 (or if you’re more open minded 1 + 1 + 1 = 3 etc.) However this doesn’t really reflect dating reality.  

For a `relationship’ outcome to work we need three separate variables to lock into place:

  • 1. You being in the right headspace, over your toxic ex, actually making an effort to meet new people, and upholding your standards.
  • 2. Are they open to a relationship? Things are over with their ex? Are they stable enough in their life to offer you anything? How are they choosing to invest their time and are they investing it into you?
  • 3. External Reality. Best example: `Titanic’. Jack and Rose made a sexy couple but they were ultimately doomed by a clash of socio-economic backgrounds, a really big iceberg, and inadequate floatation raft.

The point being is that we can only control ourselves.

To me this creates this kind of equation:

1 + X + Y = Z  

1 - Is You  

X - The Other Person.  

Y - External Reality  

Z - Desired Outcome. I have put this as an unknown as well. This is because whilst you may feel `ready’ for a relationship, as you don’t know person X yet it is going to take some time to work out whether they are a friend, a romantic partner, or someone who you clash with so badly that it ends up in the `delete/block’ pile.  

This is why when a helpful relative questions, `so have you met anyone yet?’ Your brain fires off a `does not compute’ of frustration, occasionally expressed as a series of grunts and sighs.

Not everything is within your control

They are asking you to solve an unsolvable equation for love on the spot.  

As a dating coach pointing out everything that you can’t control may seem like a strange blog to write (although I have written extensively about the difficulties of meeting people in 2018 before.) That is because whilst I am a firm believer in taking as much personal responsibility for creating change as possible - this has to be balanced with an awareness that you can’t be responsible for everything. My goal is to keep you motivated and working on what you can do yourself; rather than proclaiming that there is a `flawless method for getting anyone you want to fall madly in love with you.’ This is impossible and sounds quite tiring.

So first of all here’s a beginner list of stuff that you can’t control:

Factor X:

The other person is already in a relationship.

They recently broke up with someone really evil and needs a little downtime.

The other person is still working out how to pay rent and not looking to complicate their life further with a relationship.

They have to leave the continent, tomorrow.

Their value system determines that you are not a suitable partner for them.

The other person has the romantic attention span of a gnat.

The other person disappears.

They supplement their self-esteem with sexual conquests and have not yet become self-aware of that.

The other person says they want a relationship but can never seem to exit the house.

The other person says tells you the polite untruth that they just happen to be busy with an important project for around the next 5 years.

Factor Y:

It’s raining really heavily so no one really wants to talk to you today.

The train service got canceled, and an uber journey to see you were £50.

The hosts of the Singles Party outsold men’s tickets 4:1 to women’s tickets.

iPhone inexplicably froze at a critical text chat moment.

Gravity meant that you spilled wine down your outfit. You feel foolish.

Your car gets clamped.

A mysterious person `XY’ re-appears into XX’s life.

You meet an amazing X at the worst possible Y timing.

X has their visa expire and has to leave the country.

Aliens invade.

Artificial Intelligence takes over the planet and only cyborg hybrids survive: who can solve the equation for love.

Stuff happens - a lot.

I know these lists may make you think `why bother then?’ well I think bothering is the best we can do. It is leading a life like you’re cashing all your poker chips in: you have a stake in your destiny and certainly how you feel about whatever cards you are dealt with.

Things today YOU can take responsibility for in the equation for love:

Saying `no thanks’ and upholding your standards for how you want to be treated.

Communicating what you want instead of expecting people to guess.

Being open about your intentions.

Accepting that you can’t control Factor X and shouldn’t bother trying.

Leaving the house.

Tidying your house.


Creating a motivational playlist.

Saying `yes’ to invitations even if you fly solo.

Giving people your number if you like them.

Being polite but clear with people if you don’t.

Being honest about what kind of relationship(s) you’re looking for right now.

Saying `sorry’ in an accountable way when you screw it up a bit.

Leaving people better than you find them.

Forgiving people.

Not taking things so personally.

Saving time for yourself and for your friends.

Saving time to make change happen.


I could keep writing this blog all day. I guess the point I wanted to make is love isn’t a transaction you shouldn’t try to `get a boyfriend for Valentine’s Day’ any more than you should try to `get five women’s numbers this weekend.’

That is because people are people. They’re not goals. Not scorecards for your self-esteem or a way of saying `look what I’ve achieved!’ to the world. There is no equation for love.

There are no guarantees in life. The equations are too complex. But we can live life fully by remembering XYZ don’t bring us happiness and that we are the agents for our own contentment

Hayley Quinn smiling profile
About the author

Hayley Quinn is a leading dating and relationship coach, with 3 million views of her TEDx talk and 18 million YouTube views. She is spokesperson for Match, a columnist for Cosmopolitan, a regular contributor to international media, and has been published by Harper Collins (“The Last First Date”, 2022) and Simon & Schuster (“Do This, Not That: Dating”, 2023).

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