• Lynn K. Girvin, Esq.

A Mathematical Theory Says the Best Age to Get Married is 26

If you are looking for a spouse there’s an app for that … and now there’s an algorithm! Really, there’s a formula behind determining the best age to start looking for a partner. According to journalist Brian Christian and cognitive scientist Tom Griffiths, coauthors of "Algorithms to Live By: The Computer Science of Human Decisions," that age is 26.

Generally, the rule says that when you need to screen a range of options within a limited period of time, the best time to make your decision is after you have considered 37% of those options. You could be looking for a new apartment, screening candidates for a new job or even looking for the right romantic partner. Yes, the rule applies to love.

Christian and Griffiths say that after you’ve considered 37% of your options in the selection process, you will have gathered enough information to make the best choice. Any extra time spent looking is a waste. Most people are looking to get married for the first time between the ages of 18 and 40. Applying the 37% rule to that age range (37% into the 22-year age span) gets you to just after your 26th birthday. The authors say that if you marry before then you will probably miss out on “higher-quality” partners and any time spent after that, the good options become more and more unavailable.

Of course the 37% rule isn’t perfect because it is based in science and can’t therefore consider human emotions. Also, it assumes that most people have a pretty good idea of what they are looking for in a spouse by the time they are 26. It also doesn’t account for the fact that what we are looking for in a partner will probably change dramatically between the ages of 22 and 40.

Either way, it is safe to say that by the time you are 26 years old, you can take that leap of faith with a little more confidence!

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