After a rough breakup last January, I was sad and single in the Big Apple.
Valentine’s Day was approaching, and this city of more than eight million people was feeling oddly lonely.
While many dating sites claim the ability to find your perfect match, social scientists aren’t buying it.Research suggests that, while it is possible to predict whether two people could enjoy spending time together in the short term, it’s (nearly) impossible to scientifically match two people for long-term compatibility.The strongest predictors of a good, functional relationship are how a couple interacts, and their ability to handle stress — two things that science says current dating website algorithms can't predict and online profiles can't demonstrate.It doesn’t help that these algorithms are closely guarded trade secrets.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.Plus, many big sites have been hesitant to allow independent researchers to look at their matching algorithms in depth.Whether or not the algorithms work, it's perhaps even more important if online daters they work.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.Instead, both joined the site after ending long-term relationships and moving to a new city without many friends.They both used the site to meet more people and go on more dates, while using their limited free time efficiently.