There’s this problem in mathematics called the Stable Marriage Problem, which involves finding an optimal bijection between two sets, where each element in a set has a ranked list of preferred members from the other set. It’s used in matching medical school students to residency programs, among other things. There’s a well-known algorithmic solution, called the Gale-Shapely algorithm, which is basically an iterative greedy algorithm. Anyway, I bring it up because it’s been somewhat influential on my reasoning over the last two years.

I had a big crush on this really smart girl I knew from college. I had moved to Seattle for work and she went to Nashville for medical school, so I didn’t see her much but we kept in contact over letters (like if Ryan Gosling in the Notebook had been a nerdy computer programmer). She had a boyfriend from college and I dated a few people, but at one point I decided that I didn’t want to have regrets about not being with her (it may or may not have had something to do with reading about the Gale-Shapely algorithm), so I wrote her a letter telling her that I had strong feelings for her, and even though I was worried it would make things awkward for both of us, I wanted her to know that. But I kept that letter in a drawer for a month before I finally sent it.

Anyway, her birthday is a few days before mine, which is over Christmas. I had gotten out of a brief relationship a few months prior and I decided to take some time off work. Because of some incompetence on my part in buying plane tickets, I ended up spending the holiday in Paris by myself instead of Istanbul with some friends. A few days before Christmas, while out at a bar with some Australians from my hostel, I called her to wish her a happy birthday. I had drunk a few beers and rambled a lot, and in my not-completely-sober state and on a less-than-stellar phone connection I thought she told me “I love you,” at which point I hung up, bought a plane ticket to go see her, went back inside the bar and bought a round for the people I was with. As justification I think I said something like, “the love of my life just said she loves me”.

Fast forward a few weeks, once I’d gotten back to the US and had flown to Nashville, it turns out that is not what she said. But we got dinner, talked for a few hours, and I told her that I didn’t want to keep hanging onto these feelings, and I would be disappointed but would understood if she didn’t want to date me. I was just following Gale-Shapely, and rejection was a key convergence condition. We hugged good night and I went back to my hostel. I told her I was going to be flying out the next day, because I wanted to play it off all cool like some mysterious stranger, but I didn’t leave for three days because the tickets were cheaper, so I just hung around the hostel playing games on my phone.

Long story short, as of August 22, 2020, at 2:22 PM, she’s my fiancee.

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