Do Online Dating Site Matching Algorithms Really Work?

online dating site algorithmMany online dating sites claim to offer users superior matches computed by sophisticated proprietary computer algorithms. The first and largest of these sites is Eharmony, which claims its computerized algorithms will help match you with a “soul mate.” Do they have any hard science to back up their claims? According to articles in the NYTimes and Scientific American, the answer is NO.

So why do millions of singles spend up to $60 a month to receive these computer generated matches? They must be doing something right. If it’s not in the algorithm, then what is it that seems to make their matches more successful than the norm? I think there are three main reasons.

1. Process
In order to sign up for Eharmony you need to fill out an extremely thorough intake form consisting of around 200 questions that could take up to an hour to complete. Most singles who will commit the time and effort to join the site are therefore probably serious about finding a relationship partner. They care. That means the chances of them taking the dating process seriously is much higher than those who spend 10 minutes signing up for other popular online dating sites.

2. Money
Eharmony is the most expensive online dating site out there. Singles willing to spend that much cash are probably more serious about meeting their soulmate. Even though $60 a month, or $2 a day, is not a huge investment compared to other common purchases, if you’re not really committed to taking the process seriously you won’t bother wasting your money when you can get your fill of online profiles for free on some of the biggest online dating sites or for much less money on others. This is particularly true for men. If a man is willing to spend a decent amount of money to find his match, there’s a good chance that he’s serious about the process.

The financial barrier of entry exists in offline dating too. The free or super cheap single’s events will tend to attract lots of men who might just be interested in a quick hookup instead of a serious relationship. There’s nothing stopping them from giving it a shot, so why not try? When there’s a financial barrier that’s high enough to make these guys think twice about spending money on something they don’t really want and that they can get for free elsewhere, they will pass.

3. Common Sense
Eharmony claims to match couples by focusing on a few primary factors including level of agreeableness and optimism. In other words, if you’re nice and happy you’ll be matched with someone who is also nice and happy. Now, if you put two nice, happy optimistic folks together and they happen to be attracted to each other, the chances of relationship success are HUGE. Yes, it’s that simple. Relationship success revolves around being agreeable and just plain nice. Common sense. Think about it.

So, while computer generated algorithms probably don’t hold any secret matchmaking success formulas, when online sites impose certain screening processes and create barriers of entry, the chances of successful matchmaking skyrocket.

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