In a study on what governs our dating choices more, our preferences or our current opportunities, opportunities wins hands down—our dating choices are “98% a response…to market conditions and just 2% immutable desires.Proposals to date tall, short, fat, thin, professional, clerical, educated, uneducated people are all more than nine-tenths governed by what’s on offer that night.” In other words, people end up picking from whatever pool of options they have, no matter how poorly matched they might be to those candidates.A single person who would like to find a great relationship is one step away from it, with their to-do list reading, “1) Find a great relationship.” People in unhappy relationships, on the other hand, are threeleaps away, with a to-do list of “1) Go through a soul-crushing break-up. 3) Find a great relationship.” Not as bad when you look at it that way, right?All the research on how vastly happiness varies between happy and unhappy marriages makes perfect sense, of course. Thinking about how overwhelmingly important it is to pick the right life partner is like thinking about how huge the universe really is or how terrifying death really is—it’s too intense to internalize the reality of it, so we just don’t think about it that hard and remain in slight denial about the magnitude of the situation. If you live a long life, that’s about the number of years you’re going to spend with your current or future life partner, give or take a few.The respectable way to meet a life partner is by dumb luck, by bumping into them randomly or being introduced to them from within your little pool.Fortunately, this stigma is diminishing with time, but that it’s there at all is a reflection of how illogical the socially accepted dating rulebook is.
For a woman who wants to have biological children with her husband, she has one very real limitation in play, which is the need to pick the right life partner by forty, give or take.It makes no sense—the former is one step away from a happy marriage, while the latter must either settle for permanent unhappiness or endure a messy divorce just to catch up to where the single person is.twinge of excitement, our biology gets into “okay let’s do this” mode and bombards us with chemicals designed to get us to mate (lust), fall in love (the Honeymoon Phase), and then commit for the long run (attachment).Unfortunately, the way society is set up, fear starts infecting all kinds of otherwise-rational people, sometimes as early as the mid-twenties.The types of fear our society (and parents, and friends) inflict upon us—fear of being the last single friend, fear of being an older parent, sometimes just fear of being judged or talked about—are the types that lead us to settle for a not-so-great partnership.