Remember when the Official Scientific Best Age To Get Married was apparently 28-32? It sounded reasonable enough. Someone in that age range is no longer a young'un with an incomplete prefrontal cortex, after all. Nor is she yet at the age when her gynecologist starts laying on the "fertility drops at 35" talk. This age range has all the markers of a sound decision-making window, no?
Apparently not, because Science — or rather, Math — has issued a recount. According to an algorithm known as "the 37% rule," your best bet for wedded bliss is actually getting hitched at 26.
The Independent reports that the algorithm, which comes from Algorithms to Live By: The Computer Science of Human Decisions, by journalist Brian Christian and cognitive scientist Tom Griffiths, says that we all make the best decisions after we've screened 37% of the options. So if, for example, you're screening job applicants: Once you hit the 37% mark, you should make a leap of faith and choose a qualified candidate. At that point, the authors argue, we know enough to make a good choice, but we're not yet bogged down by the seemingly endless search.
The same goes for picking a partner, the authors argue. They offer a "looking for love" age range of 18 to 40, which puts age 26 right at the 37% mark. After that, they suggest, quality options could become unavailable (eye roll). Is this all exceedingly oversimplified? Yep. Is that "looking for love" age range somewhat arbitrary? You bet. Is it interesting nonetheless? Sure.
Besides, 26 is not that far off from that 28-32 sweet spot supported by research on successful marriages. And of course anyone who gets married — at 26 or 66 — should never assume their relationship is going to be doomed or blessed based on age or algorithms alone. After all, if an expensive engagement ring is supposed to lead to divorce, anything can happen.