What I’m about to say is going to sound very mean, but Derek is a pretty boring guy.
Medium height, thinning brown hair, nicely dressed and personable, but not immediately magnetic or charming.
If she were at a bar and smiled at him, Derek of 1993 would have melted.
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Throw in the fact that people now get married later in life than ever before, turning their early 20s into a relentless hunt for more romantic options than previous generations could have ever imagined, and you have a recipe for romance gone haywire.
In the course of our research, I also discovered something surprising: the winding road from the classified section of yore to Tinder has taken an unexpected turn.
The question nagged at me—not least because of my own experiences watching promising relationships peter out over text message—so I set out on a mission.
I read dozens of studies about love, how people connect and why they do or don’t stay together.
Whether it’s where I’m eating, where I’m traveling or, God forbid, something I’m buying, like a lot of people in my generation—those in their 20s and 30s—I feel compelled to do a ton of research to make sure I’m getting every option and then making the best choice.
If this mentality pervades our decisionmaking in so many realms, is it also affecting how we choose a romantic partner?
I asked my dad about this experience, and here’s how he described it: he told his parents he was ready to get married, so his family arranged meetings with three neighboring families. That’s how my dad decided on the person with whom he was going to spend the rest of his life.
I am perpetually indecisive about even the most mundane things, and I couldn’t imagine navigating such a huge life decision so quickly. Happily so—and probably more so than most people I know who had nonarranged marriages.
I quizzed the crowds at my stand-up comedy shows about their own love lives.
People even let me into the private world of their phones to read their romantic texts aloud onstage.
I checked the website Eater for its Heat Map, which includes new, tasty restaurants in the city. The stunning fact remained: it was quicker for my dad to find a wife than it is for me to decide where to eat dinner.