On Monday night, Ted Mosby, the hero of the long-running CBS sitcom “How I Met Your Mother,” will finally meet his future wife. Over the series’ nine seasons, Ted (whose unseen older incarnation offers off-screen narration to frame the episodes) has been telling his two kids the long, intricate story of his romantic odyssey—replete with misfires, coincidences and perhaps the hand of fate. Having spent his 20s and early 30s as a single architect in Manhattan, almost but not quite crossing paths with his beloved, Ted (played by Josh Radnor) is now poised to meet the mother of his children (introduced this season, at last, in the doe-eyed form of actress Cristin Milioti).
Sitcoms aren’t exactly social science, of course, but what should we learn from Ted’s adventures? How do Americans actually meet their spouses?