Online Dating: Why and is it Scientific?

Go ahead and type the words “dating apps” into the Google search bar. What comes up will be a very long drop down menu of various applications for smart phones and websites that were all created for the purpose of trying to match one human being looking for a romantic partner with another looking for something similar.

There are the ones that are more generally inclusive such as Tinder, OkCupid and Match where a user makes a profile that tells other users a little about who they are. These profiles include things such as their interests and what kind of person they are looking to connect with by using the application or website and a few pictures of themselves for the other users to see.

After the more general and inclusive digital dating platforms you can find the ones that cater to a more specific community. Some of these, like Grindr and Fem, are based on matching people who identify their sexuality as gay or lesbian. This gives them a platform where they can search and swipe for love without coming across individuals whose sexual identity would not be interested in creating a relationship with them or casually dating someone of the same gender identity as them.

Another website that uses or enforces a type of gate to their users is The League, which boasts that it is a dating site for professionals and the elite. These apps require a potential member to create a profile for review that will then be accepted or denied and includes a member’s LinkedIn profile when making matches.

The dating application and website market has become so oversaturated with potential matchmaking and hookup sites that there is almost literally a place in cyberspace where anyone can put up a profile and try to find a date. There are dating sites where fans of specific pop culture moments or identify as part of nerd culture can go such as Cuddli and Plenty of Geeks. The site can be based on your religion like Christian Mingle, or on your occupation like Farmers Only.

It’ has become so much more common for dating to take place almost entirely through the Internet that going on dates or meeting people in the real world has become its own thing that is referred to as “dating like it’s the 90s.” Back in 1998, or even just a decade ago, the idea of meeting someone online and then pursuing a romantic relationship with that person was thought of as weird thing to do.

Romantic online exchanges are in part what lead to the popularity of shows like MTV’s Catfish. This show publicizes the act of cat fishing itself and the image of the awkward social outcast on a desktop in their basement trolling chat rooms and messages boards to try and make a connection with someone else.

With all these choices and other factors you have to wonder, does it actually work?

I personally have very little experience in field of online or application based dating. I am one of those people who are still “dating like it’s the 90s” and even then I am not very good at it and have had little success in the realm of creating and maintaining a lasting relationship that is not of a platonic nature.

I am definitely not someone who can give an accurate opinion on what it is like to use these dating services. I would say that on the surface it does seem to be more accurate than an old-fashioned matchmaker who would just pair up people’s children based on social status and wealth.

But it is actually not.

According to many advertisements for dating websites, they use algorithms and formulas and other means of determining your scientific compatibility with another user of their website or app. However, these claims to be “scientific” in the way they match people are not actually true.

Most of the people who create these dating sites and claim to have invented a “scientific formula” that they use to find the perfect match for their users are not actually scientists.

But so what? They still create lasting marriages and partnerships, right?

In the case of eHarmony they claim to be number one in most marriages, most enduring marriages and most satisfying marriages. However, in 2014 the Better Business Bureau told eHarmony that they had to stop making those claims because they were actually misleading current and potential clients. In fact none of these sites know what they are actually doing. The founder of OkCupid, Christian Rudder, even said, “OkCupid doesn’t really know what it’s doing. Neither does any other website.”

At the end of the day, dating websites and mobile apps are no better at matching people together in a partnership that will last forever than if you just pull two pictures of people at random and say they should date.

Story By: Carlee Jo Blumenthal
Photo: rawpixel on Unsplash