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.
To a frustrated single person, life can often feel like this: And at first glance, research seems to back this up, suggesting that married people are on average happier than single people and much happier than divorced people.
In other words, here’s what’s happening in reality: Dissatisfied single people should actually consider themselves in a neutral, fairly hopeful position, compared to what their situation could be.
One study found that speed daters questioned about their relationship preferences usually prove themselves wrong just minutes later with what they show to prefer in the actual event.
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.