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Of the 13 online daters I talked to for this article, only one believes algorithms can make successful matches. “I don’t believe that an algorithm can match me up, and I don’t want to match me up,” said Jason Feifer.A senior editor at Fast Company, Feifer met his wife Jennifer Miller, a freelance journalist and author, through Ok Cupid after narrowing his search criteria to two requirements: "Jewish" and "journalist."Feifer and Miller told me they didn’t start using Ok Cupid with the hopes of finding their soulmates.
The majority of the surveys, studies, and reports evaluating online dating sites’ efficacy are paid for by the companies themselves, leading to some possibility for biased results.Miller agreed, saying: “And it accomplished what I wanted to do, which was go on a lot of dates."While online dating sites give people another tool to find potential mates, the dates themselves are not very different, other than maybe knowing a bit more about the other person before officially meeting.“It’s no different than if you meet someone on the street.The same rules apply,” said Steven C., a yoga instructor who met his partner on [email protected] (a dating site that’s no longer active) 15 years ago.The majority of the daters I interviewed (and Slater, too) at some point referred to online dating as a tool, and that’s just what it is.Between 20, the number of people using online dating sites doubled, from 20 million to 40 million, and about one third of America’s single people participated in some sort of online dating last year.
But despite these numbers, it’s unclear if online dating is any more effective than, or really any different from, meeting someone offline.
But even if algorithms aren’t the answer, there’s no doubt that online dating has led to successful relationships — my own included.
The question is: Are those first dates and relationships really any different from connections made in more traditional ways? Even though the number of budding Internet relationships is increasing, the overall rate of partnership is not increasing at all.
“I think there is a possibility [that these algorithms] could evolve to better predict long-term compatibility.
There’s just a disconnect between what social science says is actually possible, and what the sites say they can do,” said Slater.
The good news is that it’s probably only going to get better with time.