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Best Online Dating Sites
Dating is digital now, no matter which way you look at it. From setting up the very first date to entering the engagement stage, digital technology is deeply ingrained in the way we communicate, show care, and form bonds with significant others as we date. As so, it’s no surprise that the online dating industry has skyrocketed in popularity and crawled out from under the shadow of stigma to become a widely popular and universally accepted method of meeting others for anything ranging from serious relationships to casual one night stands. Meeting a significant other online is just as common, if not more so in certain geographical locations, as meeting her in person, and the vast oversaturation of the online dating industry proves just that.
There’s no longer a lacking in ways to find potential matches through digital means, instead we have the opposite dilemma: too many options. With hundreds of member-filled dating sites available, and new ones seemingly launching every week, it’s hard to know where to place our time and energy. While certain dating sites are very apparently designed for certain audiences, there is still an excess of so-called ‘mainstream’ online dating platforms that all claim to be the best online dating site available. Of course options are always good to have, but having so many can sometimes fog our vision and make us unable to find the best site for our intentions, desires, and basic needs.
As a result, online dating becomes more difficult in theory. Many online daters find themselves skipping from site to site moving much too rapidly to give any one site a real shot. Or they’re stuck juggling so many different online profiles that they’re unable to give their full attention to just one platform, much less to just one match. Eventually the market will die down a bit as the successful dating sites flourish and others become acquired or dissipate into the background, but for the time being online daters are stick weeding through a much too extensive list of options and putting themselves through endless trial and error cycles that simply leave them exhausted, disheartened, and frankly somewhat over the whole idea that finding romance online is possible.
Online dating started as a way to more easily connect with others and although the landscape of digital dating may seem overwhelming, it doesn’t have to be. The newest, shiniest online dating site isn’t always the best option and the secret to successful online dating is to take the time to both consider all options and know your intentions going into it. We often explore only the newer online dating options such as Tinder and Bumble, and forget the more well-established sites such as Match. Zoosk. and Friend Finder X. While considering all possible courses, it helps to narrow down the roaster by identifying what your intentions are for using an online dating site. Should you be on eHarmony looking to meet your future wife, or at this point in your life are you better suited on an adult dating site like iHookup. where you can live out your sexual desires and find others who are looking for the same level of casual commitment, or lack thereof, that you are?
There is a perfect online dating site for you, likely more than one in fact, and the first step to identifying it is to work your way backwards from a list of the best online dating sites available right now. Whether you are just entering the online dating scene or simply need to press the pause button and figure out where your time is best spent, the following list of top online dating sites will steer you in the right direction.
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Best of the Web
So we can bring you the matches with the most potential for a happy and long-lasting relationship, we rely on findings from 40 years of research in this field: The Parship principle ® analyzes 32 personality traits and is based on a matching algorithm of 136 rules.
Sounds complicated. Mathematical. Psychological. But it is very simple: Parship searches — you find. Learn more.
Anonymous + safe. Nothing can happen. Except fall in love.
Parship works hard to make sure you don’t have to worry about security and privacy when looking for a partner online: 128bit SSL encryption. ID check. Profiles verified personally by our staff. Secure photo albums.
What else can happen? Only one thing: that you fall in love. Learn more.
The Serious Online Dating Site
Parship is one of the leading online matchmaking agencies for discerning singles in UK and across Europe. By means of an objective, scientific process, the Parship Principle®, the service helps its members to find love.
Parship wants to make people happy. The compatibility-based online dating service is specifically for people who want to form a lasting, honest and sincere relationship. Parship is the British branch of Europe’s largest and most successful serious online service for professional dating. which members are predominantly affluent, educated men and women between 28 and 55 years old.
Our service: affordable. Find love: priceless!
If you’re looking for a serious relationship, then Parship is the right dating site for you.
It is a relationship site based on a unique compatibility test which assesses the way each member is likely to behave in a relationship and assesses personality, aspirations, interests and lifestyle.
Parship has plenty of dating tips to help you make the most of your online dating experience. Just visit the Parship Magazine for general dating advice and even submit your own questions if you like.
Parship is designed to help discerning singles find meaningful relationships based on genuine compatibility factors and things that really matter. Why not sign up for an account and take our personality compatibility test today? It’s free and may be just what you need to start you off in your quest for that special someone.
Lucy, an IBM Programme Manager who met Pete through Parship two years ago, says:
“I loved the compatibility test where I then stood a chance of meeting someone who I really was compatible with. Because of this, I believe there is true honesty on the site by those who take the time to complete their profiles in detail and the compatibility test. By the time I met Pete, I already knew we had a lot in common — 83% to be precise!”
Dating in London
Dating in Manchester
Dating in Liverpool
Dating in Scotland
Dating in Wales
Dating in Northern Ireland
Genuine, professional people
Just like Lucy, our members are mostly professionals who know what really matters in life. Our members are looking for a long-term relationship, not just a quick fling.
Scientific compatibility test
Relationship Psychotherapist Paula Hall calls our test the best in the industry. As well as matching you with potential partners, it gives a real insight into how you behave in relationships, and what really makes relationships work.
Discretion and security
Parship has some unique features. Firstly, you control who sees your profile photo. Secondly, we carry out more profile checks than any other dating site in the UK. When using the site, members can only communicate through Parship’s anonymous contact and messaging system. At all points, you choose whether you supply another member with further personal details.
What the media say:
“Parship, Europe’s leading online matchmaker. ” — BBC Radio 4, June 2010
Rated “10 of the best” UK dating website — Telegraph, March 2010
The 20 best online dating websites
2 December 2014 • 12:00am
A s the internet plays an ever greater part in our social lives, with sites such as Facebook helping us to keep in touch with our friends, it’s inevitable that we also use it to help us run our love lives as well. Here is the pick of the best dating sites — not forgetting our very own website telegraph.co.uk/dating. of course. With over 140,000 members, it’s easy and safe — what’s more, it’s FREE to join.
Online dating is now one of the most popular ways to meet a new partner and there are more than 1,400 sites in the UK alone, catering for people from all walks of life and interests.
So whether you’re mad about dogs, passionate about green issues or a connoisseur of fine wines you’re sure to find someone who shares your interests.
The 20 best dating sites in the UK
Match.com claims its site has led to more dates, marriages and relationships than any other. With millions of members, its large user base should mean there is someone for everyone, although you may have to trawl through a LOT of profiles to find them!
The place for those well-meaning types who can’t believe their best friend is single. They push your qualities so you don’t have to.
Taking a scientific approach to love — eHarmony matches singles based on key dimensions of compatibility proven to be the foundation for a long-term relationship, like character, intellect and values.
Webcam chats, an online magazine and plenty of Good Housekeeping-style tips and advice.
The net’s biggest Jewish dating service, with often hilariously self-deprecating personal descriptions.
Probably with the broadest reach of the hundreds of lesbian and gay sites on the net, plus news, features, travel tips, fashion and gossip.
Launched in September 2000, Christian Connection is the largest, and longest established subscriber based UK Christian dating site.
If you’re partial to the country life – then this rural Online Dating Site for Single Farmers, Rural Singles, Equestrian Singles and Country Friends could be the place for you.
The romantic social network that found its feet through Facebook, it helps people create and share their romantic journeys, with a multitude of members from around the globe enjoying the service each month.
With over 140,000 members — it’s THE place for people aged 40+ to meet. It’s easy to use with a sophisticated system that matches you and your partner on a multitude of likes and interests. Join now for FREE.
Fancy a date in your lunch hour? If you’re in London you can search for members by tube station.
Dating with a scientific approach — finding "the perfect match" through online psychometric testing.
Claiming to be the world’s largest online matrimonial site — it was founded with one simple objective — to provide a superior matchmaking experience to Indians all over the world.
Because dating’s not just for the youngsters. The over 50s are one of the fastest groups of online daters these days.
If you are looking for a kindred soul that just so happens to also be a veggie lover, this site is worth a nibble.
Newly merged with Meetic, the giant of the dating scene, giving access to nearly 20 million users across Europe and with plenty of high-tech ways to find them.
Simple, straightforward and free UK personals site — hugely popular.
Matching singles who love the arts.
*Based on data collected by Harris Interactive from 19,131 respondents in the United States who got married between January, 2005 and November, 2012.
Meet the man behind eHarmony
Dr. Neil Clark Warren, Founder
Dr. Warren is a clinical psychologist and author of eight books on love, marriage and emotional health. During 35 years of counseling thousands of married couples, Dr. Warren observed a set of characteristics that seemed to be present in all successful relationships. He called them the 29 Dimensions of Compatibility. After extensive research involving thousands of married couples, Dr. Warren confirmed that these dimensions were indeed highly predictive of relationship success and could be used to match singles. Ten years later, eHarmony’s compatibility matching is responsible for nearly 4% of U.S. marriages.*
*2012 U.S. survey conducted for eHarmony by Harris Interactive®
Are you one of the 600,000 married couples who met on eHarmony?
eHarmony creates the happiest, most passionate and most fulfilling relationships according to a recent study. Our relationships have proven to be better not only than those from other online dating sites but also from any other way people meet out in the world. (Yes, even including introductions from your mom!) So, it’s no surprise that eHarmony relationships are the least likely to end in divorce.
Are you one of our happy couples?
Get to know your matches at your own pace, and start dating!
eHarmony — #1 Trusted Online Dating Site for Singles
eHarmony is the first service within the online dating industry to use a scientific approach to matching highly compatible singles. eHarmony’s matching is based on using its 29 DIMENSIONS® model to match couples based on features of compatibility found in thousands of successful relationships.
eHarmony is committed to helping singles find love every day, and with over 20 million registered online users, we are confident in our ability to do so. The eHarmony Compatibility Matching System® matches single women and men based on 29 Dimensions® of Compatibility for lasting and fulfilling relationships.
Traditional Internet dating can be challenging for those singles looking for love that lasts. But eHarmony is not a traditional dating site. Of all the single men or women you may meet online, very few will be compatible with you specifically, and it can be difficult to determine the level of compatibility of a potential partner through methods of conventional dating services – browsing classified ads, online personals, or viewing profile photos. Our Compatibility Matching System does the work for you by narrowing the field from thousands of single prospects to match you with a select group of compatible matches with whom you can build a quality relationship.
Nearly 4% of U.S. Newlyweds Can’t Be Wrong
eHarmony is different than other online dating websites and services, and we believe our success speaks for itself. On average, 438 people get married every day in the United States because of eHarmony; that accounts for nearly 4% of new U.S. marriages.*
At eHarmony, we believe you deserve to find love – true love that comes with a lasting relationship. Because of this, we are committed to assisting singles everywhere in their search to find love and romantic fulfillment.
*2012 U.S. survey conducted for eHarmony by Harris Interactive® online, very few will be compatible with you specifically, and it can be difficult to determine the level of compatibility of a potential partner through methods of conventional dating services – browsing classified ads, online personals, or viewing profile photos.
Our Compatibility Matching System does the work for you by narrowing the field from thousands of single prospects to match you with a select group of compatible matches with whom you can build a quality relationship.
Free Personality Profile
Receive your Free Personality Profile and get matched just by taking our Relationship Questionnaire
Meet People of all Ages, Races, and Religions on eHarmony
With over 20 million registered users, the eHarmony member base is an ethnically, racially, and religiously diverse group of individuals of all ages – all of whom are looking to find someone special.
We understand it can be difficult to find a mate with whom you share a similar background, goals, or beliefs, and regardless of who you may be looking for, eHarmony wants to help you find the love of your life.
Find Local Singles Online
No need to hang out in the local coffee shop to find a date. eHarmony recognizes it can be difficult to meet people with whom you share common interests and goals within your geographical area, and we can help. eHarmony matches you with compatible local men or women — whether you’re looking for love in Los Angeles. Denver. or Worcester, Massachusetts .
Our membership pool consists of quality singles residing in all 50 U.S. states and more than 2000 countries worldwide. Wondering who is on eHarmony in your neighborhood? The girl next door could be your next date, and your next date could be the best date of your life.
Free Online Dating Advice and Community
We at eHarmony want you to find love and romance to and to make it last. To assist you in this quest, we offer free dating advice at eH Advice. Meet people in our online dating community, utilize our Date Planner, and receive advice from our relationship experts.
More Personal than Personal Ads
Unlike traditional dating websites, eHarmony matches compatible men and women based on 29 Dimensions of Compatibility that are predictors of long-term relationship success. Determining compatibility through conventional dating methods could take months, or even years, of interaction between you and your potential partner
At eHarmony, we deliver more than personal ads. We are committed to matching you with truly compatible men or women in order to provide you with the best online dating and relationship experience possible. This is one of the many reasons why eHarmony is now the #1 Trusted Online Dating Site for American Singles .
Start Dating with eHarmony Today
To begin your eHarmony experience, register now and complete your Relationship Questionnaire. Once you’ve completed the questionnaire, you will receive your FREE Personality Profile and our Matching System will begin prescreening singles against your profile. Once matched, review your matches, and choose the payment plan you prefer when you’re ready to begin communication.
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Find True Compatibility Today
Isn’t it the time you experienced the joy of falling in love with someone who sees you, loves you, and accepts you for who you are? This is the kind of joy that comes from finding someone special with whom you share true compatibility, and it’s compatibility that forms the basis of every match we make at eHarmony.
eHarmony Success Stories
If you’ve met someone special through eHarmony, please contact us and let us know how it all started and how the relationship is progressing. Thousands of eHarmony couples have shared their stories with us. To learn more about eHarmony success stories, simply click the link below
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©2000-2016 eHarmony, Inc. Terms and Conditions of Service eHarmony #1 Trusted Relationship Site — Move Beyond «Traditional» Online Dating * A recent study by Brand Amplitude, based on a survey of adults aged 18-64 in 2014.
eHarmony Compatibility Matching System® Protected by U.S. Pat. No. 6,735,568
Those of you who nominated Match shared some of your success stories meeting your significant other there, but also all noted that Match felt the most mature of all of the dating sites you tried—the most elegant, or at least grown up. Where a lot of the services are either aimed at younger people or more casual encounters, many of you said Match felt like a service you were using to go on dates and find real long-term partners. It wasn't unanimous though—many of you bemoaned the cost associated with Match, and said your experience yielded a bunch of dead accounts and unresponsive people, which sucks when you're spending money to communicate with them. Read the good and the bad in the nomination thread here. or this thread here .
OkCupid is completely free, meaning you don't have to pay to see more matches or to unlock specific features that may make it easier for you to find someone interesting. At the same time, because it's completely free, the array of potential matches you get can be wild and varied, to say the least. There are entire blogs around the web dedicated to the types of people you'll find on OkCupid, and part of it is because the service is rapidly growing, free, and accessible to everyone. Granted, that also means that if you're looking for the most possible matches, and the service is very proud of its matching algorithm. When you sign up, you fill out a remarkably lengthy profile full of questions that will be used to help other people find you, and to help you match other people. Mobile apps for iOS and Android help you take your search with you on the go, and stay in touch with people you plan to meet.
Those of you who nominated and praised OKCupid were some of the few who pointed out that you met your significant others there, and your match was—at least for the time being—a success, so congratulations! Seriously, so many success stories in the nominations thread. Many of you bemoaned OkCupid's buyout by Match.com, and mentioned that OkCupid keeps a wealth of statistical data about who uses the service and how successful its matches are. You also explained that if you do go OkCupid, QuickMatch is the way to go—you'll meet interesting, compatible people that way. Read more in the nomination thread here.
Tinder is a bit less of a comprehensive matching site the way you might think of one. It's a little more. to the point, as it were. It's a mobile app only (iOS and Android). You're presented with images for each of your potential matches, and with a swipe or a tap, you can either dismiss them entirely or add them to your "like" list, full of people you may want to contact for a date. You have to log in via Facebook—Tinder uses Facebook to do its heavy lifting, and uses your likes, shares, and other profile information to help match you up with other users. Once you do though, you're off to the races liking and dismissing people. If someone you liked likes you, then you can communicate. If not, keep trying. It's probably the simplest approach to online match-making ever, kind of a blend between an online matchmaking site and speed dating.
Online dating exclusively for BeautifulPeople
BeautifulPeople has been described as an «elite online club, where every member works the door». BeautifulPeople.com is the largest internet dating community exclusively for the beautiful, dedicated to ensuring members find their perfect match. Many of our members have found lasting love through BeautifulPeople.com. Over 700 couples have married through unions founded on BeautitulPeople.com. BeautifulPeople has become a global phenomenon and is the largest dating community of attractive people in the world!
Internet dating that removes the first hurdle
BeautifulPeople.com is the perfect way to meet beautiful men and women. Through our peer selection community — everyone is attractive. Online daters no longer need to filter through thousands of unattractive profiles. Everyone on BeautifulPeople.com is beautiful so members can concentrate on getting to know the character behind the beautiful appearance.
An Exclusive Dating Website
The concept of BeautifulPeople.com was founded on a basic principle of human nature – that being, romantically; people want to be with someone they are attracted to. Beauty is subjective and lies in the eye of the beholder. The peer selection dating site was born from this principle. By giving the power back to the members to define their ideal of beauty in a democratic way.
BeautifulPeople.com is a lifestyle
As a member of BeautifulPeople, you will have access to the most attractive people locally and from around the globe. You will also be able to frequent events and parties hosted by fellow members and BeautifulPeople.com. BeautifulPeople members have access to some of the most coveted guest lists from the hottest clubs locally and around the world. You can also post your own events and invite friends and attractive members you’d like to meet.
Connecting people through exclusive internet dating
BeautifulPeople.com is passionate about connecting people. BeautifulPeople members benefit from having model bookers, talent scouts, production companies, and agents who utilize the site looking for talent. Many members have ultimately gone on to have lucrative careers in modeling, television and other entertainment careers.
BeautifulPeople.com – Selective Online Dating
BeautifulPeople understands that finding a partner can be difficult, especially on the more traditional internet dating sites. This is why we are dedicated to providing you with an exclusive dating community giving you access to the “best little black book in the world”. In the past, online dating has developed a stigma; however BeautifulPeople has revolutionized the dating scene with its X- Factor style membership application.
How BeautifulPeople.com works
BeautifulPeople is the first dating community of its kind. To become a member, applicants are required to be voted in by existing members of the opposite sex. Members rate new applicants over a 48 hour period based on whether or not they find the applicant ‘beautiful’. Should applicants secure enough positive votes from members, they will be granted membership to the BeautifulPeople dating community. The vote is fair and democratic. BeautifulPeople does not define beauty it simply gives an accurate representation of what society’s ideal of beauty is as decided by the members.
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Tired of searching through endless online dating sites? Find love with EliteSingles
EliteSingles is a serious dating site which uses intelligent matchmaking to unite like-minded American singles. Unlike many other online dating sites, our platform takes into account all your relationship desires and personal traits through an extensive personality test. As a result, EliteSingles is able to meet all your expectations and requirements from online dating.
Online dating: Our members
While single life is fun for a while, being in love is something special and it’s no wonder that a third of Americans are now turning to online dating sites to find it. EliteSingles is a good place to start. We ensure that everyone on our dating site is serious about the search for love. We hold our members safety as paramount and have a number of fraud protection measures in place to guarantee your online dating security. Our customer care team is also dedicated to being attentive to all of your needs and answering any queries you have during the online dating process.
If you’re looking for a serious relationship, increase your chances of finding love by joining EliteSingles today. With our extensive personality test. we can help you find someone who you’re truly compatible with. Our online magazine advises you how to build an attractive profile. gives tips on writing the first message to someone new and even helps you prepare for that all important first date. At EliteSingles, we don’t want the search for love to be a struggle but fun –falling in love is great and we’re here to remind you of that.
More dating advice
Online dating sites: the steps
Seeking long term commitment requires both your time and emotional investment. The first step to online dating is establishing clear criteria of what you’re searching for in a partner. This way, you can identify exactly what qualities you’re seeking in someone. It is subsequently important to select a serious dating site that enables and facilitates your search for the person that suits you best; a dating site that allows you to clearly define your priorities for your next relationship. A site like us.
A profile that represents you
Being accepted for who you are by your partner is an essential part of building a love that lasts. Of all the online dating sites, it’s important you choose one that allows you to create a profile that aptly captures your personality. It should connect you with people you actually want to be dating and meet your expectations. Ensuring that your dating site meets your security expectations is also essential to the process of online dating. You want to be guaranteed that your data and pictures are safe and secured with confidence.
EliteSingles: A serious dating site
With the aim of a long term relationship in mind then; the dating site you choose can help you prioritise you important partner criteria, so you can focus on setting up a meeting. If you’re looking for a happy, long lasting relationship, EliteSingles really is the only online dating site for you. Give it a chance today by completing the free personality test.
The Scientific Flaws of Online Dating Sites
Every day, millions of single adults, worldwide, visit an online dating site. Many are lucky, finding life-long love or at least some exciting escapades. Others are not so lucky. The industry—eHarmony, Match, OkCupid, and a thousand other online dating sites—wants singles and the general public to believe that seeking a partner through their site is not just an alternative way to traditional venues for finding a partner, but a superior way. Is it?
With our colleagues Paul Eastwick, Benjamin Karney, and Harry Reis, we recently published a book-length article in the journal Psychological Science in the Public Interest that examines this question and evaluates online dating from a scientific perspective. One of our conclusions is that the advent and popularity of online dating are terrific developments for singles, especially insofar as they allow singles to meet potential partners they otherwise wouldn’t have met. We also conclude, however, that online dating is not better than conventional offline dating in most respects, and that it is worse is some respects.
Beginning with online dating’s strengths: As the stigma of dating online has diminished over the past 15 years, increasing numbers of singles have met romantic partners online. Indeed, in the U.S. about 1 in 5 new relationships begins online. Of course, many of the people in these relationships would have met somebody offline, but some would still be single and searching. Indeed, the people who are most likely to benefit from online dating are precisely those who would find it difficult to meet others through more conventional methods, such as at work, through a hobby, or through a friend.
For example, online dating is especially helpful for people who have recently moved to a new city and lack an established friendship network, who possess a minority sexual orientation, or who are sufficiently committed to other activities, such as work or childrearing, that they can’t find the time to attend events with other singles.
It’s these strengths that make the online dating industry’s weaknesses so disappointing. We’ll focus on two of the major weaknesses here: the overdependence on profile browsing and the overheated emphasis on “matching algorithms.”
Ever since Match.com launched in 1995, the industry has been built around profile browsing. Singles browse profiles when considering whether to join a given site, when considering whom to contact on the site, when turning back to the site after a bad date, and so forth. Always, always, it’s the profile.
What’s the problem with that, you might ask? Sure, profile browsing is imperfect, but can’t singles get a pretty good sense of whether they’d be compatible with a potential partner based on that person’s profile? The answer is simple: No, they cannot.
A series of studies spearheaded by our co-author Paul Eastwick has shown that people lack insight regarding which characteristics in a potential partner will inspire or undermine their attraction to him or her (see here. here. and here ). As such, singles think they’re making sensible decisions about who’s compatible with them when they’re browsing profiles, but they can’t get an accurate sense of their romantic compatibility until they’ve met the person face-to-face (or perhaps via webcam; the jury is still out on richer forms of computer-mediated communication). Consequently, it’s unlikely that singles will make better decisions if they browse profiles for 20 hours rather than 20 minutes.
The straightforward solution to this problem is for online dating sites to provide singles with the profiles of only a handful of potential partners rather than the hundreds or thousands of profiles that many sites provide. But how should dating sites limit the pool?
Here we arrive at the second major weakness of online dating: the available evidence suggests that the mathematical algorithms at matching sites are negligibly better than matching people at random (within basic demographic constraints, such as age, gender, and education). Ever since eHarmony.com, the first algorithm-based matching site, launched in 2000, sites such as Chemistry.com, PerfectMatch.com, GenePartner.com, and FindYourFaceMate.com have claimed that they have developed a sophisticated matching algorithm that can find singles a uniquely compatible mate.
These claims are not supported by any credible evidence. In our article, we extensively reviewed the procedures such sites use to build their algorithms, the (meager and unconvincing) evidence they have presented in support of their algorithm’s accuracy, and whether the principles underlying the algorithms are sensible. To be sure, the exact details of the algorithm cannot be evaluated because the dating sites have not yet allowed their claims to be vetted by the scientific community (eHarmony, for example, likes to talk about its “secret sauce”), but much information relevant to the algorithms is in the public domain, even if the algorithms themselves are not.
From a scientific perspective, there are two problems with matching sites’ claims. The first is that those very sites that tout their scientific bona fides have failed to provide a shred of evidence that would convince anybody with scientific training. The second is that the weight of the scientific evidence suggests that the principles underlying current mathematical matching algorithms—similarity and complementarity—cannot achieve any notable level of success in fostering long-term romantic compatibility.
It is not difficult to convince people unfamiliar with the scientific literature that a given person will, all else equal, be happier in a long-term relationship with a partner who is similar rather than dissimilar to them in terms of personality and values. Nor is it difficult to convince such people that opposites attract in certain crucial ways.
The problem is that relationship scientists have been investigating links between similarity, “complementarity” (opposite qualities), and marital well-being for the better part of a century, and little evidence supports the view that either of these principles—at least when assessed by characteristics that can be measured in surveys—predicts marital well-being. Indeed, a major meta-analytic review of the literature by Matthew Montoya and colleagues in 2008 demonstrates that the principles have virtually no impact on relationship quality. Similarly, a 23,000-person study by Portia Dyrenforth and colleagues in 2010 demonstrates that such principles account for approximately 0.5 percent of person-to-person differences in relationship well-being.
To be sure, relationship scientists have discovered a great deal about what makes some relationships more successful than others. For example, such scholars frequently videotape couples while the two partners discuss certain topics in their marriage, such as a recent conflict or important personal goals. Such scholars also frequently examine the impact of life circumstances, such as unemployment stress, infertility problems, a cancer diagnosis, or an attractive co-worker. Scientists can use such information about people’s interpersonal dynamics or their life circumstances to predict their long-term relationship well-being.
But algorithmic-matching sites exclude all such information from the algorithm because the only information those sites collect is based on individuals who have never encountered their potential partners (making it impossible to know how two possible partners interact) and who provide very little information relevant to their future life stresses (employment stability, drug abuse history, and the like).
So the question is this: Can online dating sites predict long-term relationship success based exclusively on information provided by individuals—without accounting for how two people interact or what their likely future life stressors will be? Well, if the question is whether such sites can determine which people are likely to be poor partners for almost anybody, then the answer is probably yes.
Indeed, it appears that eHarmony excludes certain people from their dating pool, leaving money on the table in the process, presumably because the algorithm concludes that such individuals are poor relationship material. Given the impressive state of research linking personality to relationship success, it is plausible that sites can develop an algorithm that successfully omits such individuals from the dating pool. As long as you’re not one of the omitted people, that is a worthwhile service.
But it is not the service that algorithmic-matching sites tend to tout about themselves. Rather, they claim that they can use their algorithm to find somebody uniquely compatible with you—more compatible with you than with other members of your sex. Based on the evidence available to date, there is no evidence in support of such claims and plenty of reason to be skeptical of them.
For millennia, people seeking to make a buck have claimed that they have unlocked the secrets of romantic compatibility, but none of them ever mustered compelling evidence in support of their claims. Unfortunately, that conclusion is equally true of algorithmic-matching sites.
Without doubt, in the months and years to come, the major sites and their advisors will generate reports that claim to provide evidence that the site-generated couples are happier and more stable than couples that met in another way. Maybe someday there will be a scientific report—with sufficient detail about a site’s algorithm-based matching and vetted through the best scientific peer process—that will provide scientific evidence that dating sites’ matching algorithms provide a superior way of finding a mate than simply selecting from a random pool of potential partners. For now, we can only conclude that finding a partner online is fundamentally different from meeting a partner in conventional offline venues, with some major advantages, but also some exasperating disadvantages.
Are you a scientist who specializes in neuroscience, cognitive science, or psychology? And have you read a recent peer-reviewed paper that you would like to write about? Please send suggestions to Mind Matters editor Gareth Cook, a Pulitzer prize-winning journalist at the Boston Globe. He can be reached at garethideas AT gmail.com or Twitter @garethideas .
ABOUT THE AUTHOR(S)
Eli Finkel is an Associate Professor of Social Psychology at Northwestern University. His research examines self-control and interpersonal relationships, focusing on initial romantic attraction, betrayal and forgiveness, intimate partner violence, and how relationship partners bring out the best versus the worst in us.
Susan Sprecher is a Distinguished Professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Illinois State University, with a joint appointment in the Department of Psychology. Her research examines a number of issues about close relationships, including sexuality, love, initiation, and attraction.
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