Lately, there’s been a lot of discussion among relationship experts and psychologists discounting the algorithms used by dating sites to match people (most notably this article from health.com and this recent piece in the Wall Street Journal). The basic argument is that a site’s algorithm — no matter how many data points it takes into account — cannot accurately predict romantic compatibility. Moreover, many argue, these matchmaking methods are mere marketing tools.
I completely agree; but I think they need to follow this theory to its logical conclusion: If a computer cannot match people based on a collection of information about them, why do we think a person can accurately choose a potential mate based on this same data?
One argument against algorithms is that there is no human element to it. There is no personal touch.
Yet when reviewing detailed personal profiles on mainstream dating sites, we are given a list of information about a person and, based on that (and a photo, of course), we are to decide if we want to contact them.
This method lends itself to a ‘checklist mentality’ that is unfortunate. ‘I only want to meet girls with a college degree that don’t smoke, have blond hair, are under 5’6″, and earn less than me.’ ‘I only want to meet guys that have a professional occupation, are 6′ tall, are listed as slim or athletic, and don’t drink more than 3x per week.’
To be fair, many dating sites do have an ‘about me’ section, or an ‘in my own words’ section where members can describe themselves. While this hopefully provides a window into who they are, by this point many have already been weeded out; they don’t fit the idealistic image of the reviewer, and their words and self-expression can’t save them.
Our slogan is ‘Meet People, Not Profiles.’ We are trying to infuse some realness to meeting online, trying to make it feel less like online shopping, and more like a meaningful first impression that quickly becomes an off-line meeting. Members simply write and share a photo, and they are not prejudged by so many data points…they are the one you met at the coffee shop, the one you met at the gym, the one you didn’t know much about until the first date, when you began to paint a mental picture of who they really are, and wondered how important your checklist ever was.