To be honest, I'm a skeptic when it comes to online dating. How many Tinder swipes are necessary for me to find true love?
Flippancy aside, I realize not everyone may believe in soulmates or even marriage for that matter, but whatever your intent, do you find yourself wondering if online dating even works? I know I do.
So does it really work? Can I find my future husband, my true love? I spent the past few months examining a range of studies on online dating and marriage to see what I could find. According to online dating literature, dating services can't really improve relationship outcomes.
On dating sites like Match.
Studies show that they are unable to make successful selections. This could be because, as humans, we have a tendency to not know what we really want. Or the fact that these sites offer too many choices. Research shows that having too many choices overwhelms us, and can cause us to make either poor decisions or no decision at all.
A second reason is that online dating uses side-by-side comparisons.
Instead of focusing on how compatible we think one potential partner is to us, we perform joint evaluations, which make us prioritize traits that don't really matter to relationship success.
Algorithmic matching services like eHarmony and OkCupid don't fare much better.
Research shows no evidence of algorithm-based matching being effective. These algorithms focus on searchable traits that aren't predictive of relationship success measured by long-lasting relationships and satisfaction. Searchable characteristics consist of those easily taken from a person's profile, such as age, religion, income level and race. What really matters aren't these superficial, surface-level qualities, but rather how two people interact.
John Gottman, a renown expert on marital stability and relationship success, discovered that in predicting happy relationships, how couples resolve conflicts and whether they exhibit positive affect towards one another matters most. His research points to interactions, affect and behavior as the indicators of relationship outcomes, rather than searchable traits that these online dating services use for matching.
The sheer number of singles who use online dating services has already improved dating prospects. It's a numbers game.