What age should you get married?
Here’s the dilemma. There are 7.5 billion people in the world, and you need to find *the one*. The one who looks at you like the bloke in the video looking at his pint.
But even if you narrowed it down to people of a certain age, interests, language etc. clearly it is impossible to managerthat many swipes and small talk to find the person who most does it for you. And of course they might not reciprocate, and as every know woman doesn’t need reminding the clock is ticking.
But luckily there is an algorithm that can help. It comes down to the science of ‘optimal stopping’, and the number is 37%, according to the book ‘Algorithms to live by: the science of human decision’. That is the point at which, when you have viewed 37% of the options so far, that you should choose the best option available that is better than all the previous ones you have rejected.
If you put a time limit on your search: let’s say you are a young woman at the age of consent, 16, who knows that by the age of 35 your chances of conceiving naturally and not having complications during pregnancy begin to reduce significantly. So you have a window of approximately 19 years.
37% of 19 years is just 7 years so by the age of 23 you should consider your best available option, something that many might baulk at,and settle down. The grass is not going to be any greener once you pass your mid-twenties.
Coincidentally, this is exactly the age at which I met my wife in 2005 (though we didn’t get married until 2010). Given she has lived with me — and believe me I presented a series of unique challenges —it seems like mathematics was right all along.