The Bottleneck Relationships aka How a Macroevolutional Concept Helps People Get Laid

Bring twenty young strangers together for a week and observe their group dynamics. At the end of the week you will see at least one couple emerged. Bring three hundred for a half a year and thirty couples emerged – perhaps five of them will last a lifetime, sixteen have already ended and the other nine will end within the following year – not to mention the dozens or hundreds of hookups which are hard to count, because most remain a secret; or the ones who met there, but got together later.

This outline has two titles: Erasmus+ and Bottleneck. That means Erasmus+ youth exchange projects and study semesters abroad create the so-called bottleneck.

For non-Europeans: Erasmus+ concludes exchange semesters, study abroad master programs, short term youth exchanges, training courses and more stuff, all funded by the EU.

Bottleneck is a term used in macro evolution, describing how a population recovers after a disaster. Barely a few of the original population are left who then will find the best of the remaining for mating. From an evolutionary perspective, making babies is the goal of life: therefore, eventually the disaster is forgotten and enough babies made to recover the population [monkeys, tigers, bugs and human alike]. The modulation of it happens when you are in the middle of nowhere with a bunch of strangers: you choose a mate/companion/gf/bf/fb who is the best from the little choice you have. Whether you are interested in finding someone or not, you are still human and lay your eye on someone. Considering they have not much choice, your chances to get lucky finding the love of your life or someone to share some special moments with, will be freaking high. Your regular taste won’t matter. The choice that is around is the choice. Most people don’t really know whom they want anyway. Sheena Iyengar and Raymond Fishman from Colombia university have concluded, like described in Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking, from their long study of speed-dating that after a speed date the women would adjust their “ideal partner qualifications” according to whom they had met way more often than men would.

No travel hungry youth says “no” to a free trip, nor to a half a year or a year long adventure – no wonder the Erasmus study program is responsible for about one million babies.

The bottleneck concept is especially strong in projects or universities that are in smaller towns or where most activities are isolated within the campus or the project venue. When less people are involved and the people are isolated from the cities [the extra fish in the sea] – their choice is limited. Try being stuck on a lonely island with some random man or woman or whomever you prefer – I’m pretty sure even if they are as dumb as bricks, eventually you’ll develop some tenderness between you two. Travel flings in hostels happen often on the same principle.

Next time you go to a youth exchange, study abroad, a training course, or wherever you would be stuck with a bunch of people around your age, be prepared to observe your and others’ behaviour, relationships and analyze what you feel and why. Perhaps you’ll get that pretty woman or that handsome man like you, perhaps you think you’re developing feelings, perhaps it is all just temporary. Perhaps staying up all night gets you lucky after all.


PS. 4 of the 6 youth exchanges that I have attended got people couple up. One of them with the funniest statistics was a youth exchange with 40 people which concluded in 8 relationships or hookups that included 15 people in total. Stories spread like wildfire.

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