It may not surprise you that love is an inexact science. No one has ever been able to prove why two people are a match or predict who might be compatible.
However, if you listen to claims by some online dating firms, you’d think they have uncovered the science of attraction.
Wrong, say several collegiate researchers who collaborated on a new study.
“To date, there is no compelling evidence that any online dating matching algorithm actually works,” says Eli Finkel, associate professor of psychology at Northwestern University.
He teamed up with faculty members from Illinois State University, Texas A&M University, UCLA and the University of Rochester. The 64-page report is called “Online Dating: A Critical Analysis From the Perspective of Psychological Science.”
“Online dating sites frequently claim that they have fundamentally altered the dating landscape for the better,” the study says.
But Finkel concludes that signing up for a dating site may not be “any better than strolling into the neighborhood bar.”
Damn. You mean, I’ve spent hundreds of dollars on online dating subscriptions for naught?
Online dating does have merits
Well, not necessarily. The study, which will be published in a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, does have some kind words for the dating sites.
“Online dating has important advantages over conventional offline dating,” the report says. “For example, it offers unprecedented (and remarkably convenient) levels of access to potential partners, which is especially helpful for singles who might otherwise lack such access.”
I’ve never viewed online dating as the perfect way to meet your soul mate. I don’t believe the marketing hype of Match, eHarmony and other sites. But their value is that they vastly increase the number of single people you can meet.
There’s strength in numbers. The more people – or dating profiles – that you see, the more likely you are to find someone compatible. I’ve also learned that the process of reading profiles and meeting people helps you define the qualities you’re seeking in a partner.
I can imagine this scenario: I continue to do online dating for several more years. I read hundreds of profiles and go out with dozens of women. But I never meet “the one.” Then a friend introduces me to a woman and – bam – I fall I love. I would trust my feelings because I had done my dating research online and learned more about what I really wanted in a woman.
I hope the new scholarly study doesn’t discourage people from trying online dating. I’ve met some nice women and had some enjoyable times.
My advice: View online dating as entertainment, not as a mission to find everlasting love. Then you won’t be disappointed if the trumped-up compatibility measures don’t land you the woman of your dreams.
There’s no perfect method to find the love of your life. You could meet her through a friend, in the grocery store or online. Or you may look and look and never meet your ideal match. Relax. You can’t find love like you find a new job. Work on yourself and you’ll be ready for a relationship if one comes along.