For many of us—especially in big cities that can feel incongruously lonely despite being surrounded by millions of people—the search for love consists of a well-executed swipe of the thumb.
But perhaps we’re now so attached to digital dating that we’ve actually become blind to the fact that our potential sweetheart might just be sitting right across from us on the A train.
A recent survey from HSBC found that 1 in 50 people meet the love of their life on an airplane. And since most of us take the bus or subway far more frequently than we fly, the chances of meeting that person are even higher.
Want proof that real-life encounters still exist? Plenty of smitten commuters still post heartfelt missives on Missed Connections in the hope of finding that stranger with whom they exchanged a meaningful glance.
And sometimes it actually works.
But you’ve got to put in a little bit of effort. Mathematicians have calculated that the odds of finding love by just “leaving it up to fate” are 1 in 562, but striking up casual conversations with people significantly improves those odds. Being too prescriptive, on the other hand—swiping left because someone likes cats better than dogs, for example—sends your chances plummeting. (A silver lining: the odds of meeting someone get better as you get older.)
So look up from your phone, pause that podcast, and smile at that stranger—or at least ask them about the book they’re reading.