Jewish World Review May 23, 2003 / 21 Iyar, 5763

Lori Borgman

Lori Borgman
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Consumer Reports

Faulty equations on the love calculator | Nobody likes to receive bad news, especially not on the eve of their 25th wedding anniversary. The better half and I were sitting on the sofa when one of our daughters entered the room. She announced that she'd entered both our names into the Love Calculator and our relationship had an 18 percent chance of survival.

"Should we cancel tomorrow night's dinner reservations, hon?" I asked my husband.

"Not just yet," he said. "The marriage has lasted this long, let's give it at least another day."

Turning to our daughter, I asked, "What is a love calculator and did you save the receipt?"

"It's a Web site," she said. ""

"So what's the test based on?" hubby asked. "Personality types, character traits, that kind of thing?"

"No," she said, shaking her head.

"Well, does it ask questions about family backgrounds, education, income? You know, demographics?"

"No," she said. "You type in first and last names and the calculator tells you the chance of your relationship surviving."

And to think we went to lengthy pre-marital counseling sessions with a pastor when we could have used the Love Calculator. Of course, the internet wasn't around 25 years ago. Back then it was merely a twinkle in Al Gore's eye.

Ha, ha, ha. The Love Calculator. What a hoot. Who takes something like that seriously?

I do. I bee-lined to the computer and went to the site. The Love Calculator, should you be interested in the scientific background, is the invention of Doctor Love. I didn't see that one coming, did you? "We all know a name can tell a lot about a person," the site says. "Names are not randomly chosen. The Love Calculator is an affective (sic) way to get an impression of what the chances are on a relationship between certain people."

I typed in our names and saw that the kid was right. The calculator on the hot pink background said we had only an 18 percent chance of making it. I quote: "Dr. Love thinks a relationship might work out, but the chance is very small."

It was shocking to see a highly scientific model of prediction giving us such slim odds. I entered other names to see how they fared. My mom and dad, who have been married 52 years, yielded a paltry 18 percent chance of success as well.

On the other hand, the one without the ring, Eddie Fisher and Elizabeth Taylor, netted a 97 percent chance of success. The only couple I checked who scored higher on the love calculator than Liz and Eddie was Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman, with a 99.

Zsa Zsa Gabor and Any Man scored a 33 percent chance at happiness and Hugh Grant and Ellen DeGeneres (I know, I know, but why not give it a try?) netted a 41 percent chance or survival. Even a couple like Newt Gingrich and Hillary Clinton scored higher than we did. They were a 74. The only couple I entered who scored worse than my husband and me was Michael Jackson and Lisa Marie Presley. Some comfort.

Frankly, I'd use a different set of data for predicting the odds of a relationship lasting; factors like whether both parties can occasionally purse their lips together and utter the words, "I'm sorry."

Can she live with a little dirt? Can he learn to put the toilet seat down?

Do they share a common faith? Do they know the meaning of the word team? Do both parties have a sense of humor?

So much for the Love Calculator. Eighteen percent. Hmmmpf.

It's nice to know we beat the odds.

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JWR contributor Lori Borgman is the author of I Was a Better Mother Before I Had Kids. To comment, please click here. To visit her website click here.

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© 2001, Lori Borgman