Dark clouds are gathering above the sky of online dating. There has always been some naysayers who booed the idea of meeting someone over the internet, condemning this modern form of relationship building as inferior to face-to-face dating. The appeal was often dismissed, despite the apparent popularity of online dating. But those millions of people looking for intimacy on these sites, do they really have a shot at happiness or are they just wasting their time until they get to the point where they feel hopeless about their online dating ventures? Recent scientific studies point towards the latter, claiming that online matchmaking is broken, while admittedly the uneven ratio between genders makes it harder to find someone you might click with.
Matchmaking Is Unpredictable
A study published in the category of psychological science inquired whether or not romantic desire can be predicted by a machine. In other words, are the recommended profiles on a dating site just randomly selected, or do you truly have a shot with the partner?
For the study, researchers asked a selected team of speed-daters about the traits and preferences that they seek in their partners. The questionnaire was processed by an advanced algorithm, while the singles participated in four-minute long dates.
The researchers compared the sympathy ratings of the couples with the predictions of the machine, only to find out that the computer wasn’t able to guess even one match-up. This is clear evidence that algorithms have nothing to do with how real life works.
Online Dating is Uneven
The other criticism of online dating is that there are far more men than women on these sites, which upsets the balance. When the private information of the adultery site Ashley Madison was leaked, it turned out that from the roughly 36 million users only 5.5 million were female.
Such an unfair ratio is bad for both parties. On one hand, the guys must compete with each other for a handful of ladies, making it highly unlikely that an inexperienced online dater will succeed at first, leading to a soured experience. Women, on the other hand, must deal with overly aggressive, creepy and sex hungry males, which may prompt them to give up on the idea of online dating.
Online Dating Isn’t a Waste of Time
These two reasons may paint a negative image of online dating, but bear in mind that those are only one side of the coin. Dismissing the idea of matchmaking is silly just because the engine behind it doesn’t guarantee 100% success. Most profiles are recommended because your personal preferences are identical.
The system acts as a mediator, introducing two potential matches to each other, but it’s still up to you to work things out on your own. Additionally, it is better to seek dating sites that have a large user base to buff up the odds of meeting a desirable person, and look for dating sites that go beyond default matchmaking. eHarmony and Chemistry.com, for instance, integrated professional psychology tests into their system.
Bias and Pretension of Dating Preferences
We also believe that researchers most likely overlooked the relevance of social desirability bias in their study. When asked, most people would say they look for a funny, kind, caring person and that appearance doesn’t matter that much, because these are the sorts of answers that are expected of us by society’s standards. However, when actually meeting with someone, more often than not interest is piqued by other more unique characteristics.
People tend to suggest more generic answers instead of traits they actually like in fear of being labeled as a weirdo. This, however, also throws matchmaking algorithms for a loop. Being honest about yourself and your preferences is vital for online dating, even if it means deviation from the mainstream.