These algorithms can probably pick up some key things – for example, it’s true we’re more likely to be friends with people with the same values as us, who share our cultural milieu.
“A secondary problem to this is feeling you don’t match up to your competition because the longer you spend on sites, the more you realise you’re up against vast numbers of singles.
Many singles I’ve met report starting out fairly confidently on online dating sites but then begin to feel they’re simply not good enough.” Lucy Wilkinson, has only one regret about her online dating adventures.
From Romeo and Juliet, to dashing Mr Rochester choosing plain Jane Eyre, we celebrated stories of Cupid’s dart striking randomly.
But since 1995 when the first online dating site was launched, the tables have completely turned.
Moreover, couples who’d first met face-to-face reported slightly less satisfaction with their relationships than their online counterparts.
Professor John Cacioppo, who led the study, said the sheer number of available potential partners online could be among the reasons for the results.
“We’d love to get hold of more of it, but they’re not keen to share though we’re in discussion with a few of them,” says Robin Dunbar, professor of evolutionary psychology at Oxford University and author of The Science of Love and Betrayal.
“They have a huge database and they also can follow couples’ stories through, which hasn’t been possible so far.” For most of history, using a third party to help you find love was the norm.
Others employ dozens of scientists to create sophisticated, top-secret algorithms to match customers with similar personality traits (as opposed to shared interests, which are a far less significant predictor of compatibility), ignoring the adage “opposites attract”. “One suspects a lot of their claims are hype,” says Professor Dunbar.
“Do they really know what the criteria are that make a successful long-term relationship, when it’s not something that the scientists still know that much about?
But in the 20th century this all changed, with young people deciding they wanted to be in charge of their own domestic destinies.