Two becomes one dating service
But social science studies have found that such a priori predictors aren’t very accurate at all, and that the best prognosticators of how people will get along come from the encounters between them.
In other words, it’s hard to tell whether Jim and Sue will be happy together simply by comparing a list of their preferences, perspectives and personality traits before they meet.
That’s not necessarily a bad thing, as profiles can help quickly weed out the obviously inappropriate or incompatible partners (who hasn’t wished for such a skip button on those disastrous real-life blind dates?
), but it also means that some of the pleasure of dating, and building a relationship by learning to like a person, is also diluted.
These observations have been borne out in a new study by social psychologists collaborating across the country.
The extensive new study published in the journal sought to answer some critical questions about online dating, an increasingly popular trend that may now account for 1 out of every 5 new relationships formed: fundamentally, how does online dating differ from traditional, face-to-face encounters?
“A partner is another human being, who has his or her own needs, wishes and priorities, and interacting with them can be a very, very complex process for which going through a list of characteristics isn’t useful.” The authors also found that the sheer number of candidates that some sites provide their love-seeking singles — which can range from dozens to hundreds — can actually undermine the process of finding a suitable mate.
But the benefit, she says, is that dating online gives you access to a lot more people than you’d ordinarily ever get to meet — and that’s how she connected with her future husband.
But there are certain properties of online dating that actually work against love-seekers, the researchers found, making it no more effective than traditional dating for finding a happy relationship.
“There is no reason to believe that online dating improves romantic outcomes,” says Harry Reis, a professor of psychology at University of Rochester and one of the study’s co-authors.
“No, because I couldn’t stand him when I first met him,” she says of her husband.
She thought he was full of himself and rude during their first encounter.