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My parents had an arranged marriage. I am perpetually indecisive about even the most mundane things, and I couldn’t imagine navigating such a huge life decision so quickly. 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. Then he met my mom. They decided it would work. A week later, they were married. And they still are, 35 years later.
Happily so—and probably more so than most people I know who had nonarranged marriages. That’s how my dad decided on the person with whom he was going to spend the rest of his life. Let’s look at how I do things, maybe with a slightly less important decision, like the time I had to pick where to eat dinner in Seattle when I was on tour last year. First I texted four friends who travel and eat out a lot and whose judgment I trust. I checked the website Eater for its Heat Map, which includes new, tasty restaurants in the city. And GQ’s online guide to Seattle.
Finally I made my selection: Il Corvo, an Italian place that sounded amazing. At that point I had run out of time because I had a show to do, so I ended up making a peanut-butter-and-banana sandwich on the bus. 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. This kind of rigor goes into a lot of my decisionmaking.
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. 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. 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.