Let’s take a look at some of the common types of people who fall victim to all of this and end up in unhappy relationships: Overly Romantic Ronald’s downfall is believing that love is enough reason on its own to marry someone.

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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.

But unlike death and the universe’s size, picking a life partner is fully in your control, so it’s critical to make yourself entirely clear on how big a deal the decision really is and to thoroughly analyze the most important factors in making it. I’m pretty sure no one over 80 reads Wait But Why, so no matter who you are, that’s a of time—and almost the entirety of the rest of your one existence.

(Sure, people get divorced, but you don’t think you will.

This is logical, because that’s the way you proceed when you want to do something well and minimize mistakes.

But if someone went to school to learn about how to pick a life partner and take part in a healthy relationship, if they charted out a detailed plan of action to find one, and if they kept their progress organized rigorously in a spreadsheet, society says they’re A) an over-rational robot, B) way too concerned about this, and C) a huge weirdo.

In our world, the major rule is to get married before you’re too old—and “too old” varies from 25 – 35, depending on where you live.