Everyone knows someone who met their spouse online.
A friend of mine whom I hadn’t seen in years told me recently that she, too, met her husband on an Internet dating site.
“You can’t look at a piece of paper and know what it’s like to interact with someone,” says Reis.
“It may yet, and someday some service might provide good data to show it can, but there is certainly no evidence to that right now.” One downside to Internet dating has to do with one of its defining characteristics: the profile.
In the real world, it takes days or even weeks for the mating dance to unfold, as people learn each other’s likes and dislikes and stumble through the awkward but often rewarding process of finding common ground.
“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.
“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.
The fact that candidates are screened via their profiles already sets up a judgmental, “shopping” mentality that can lead people to objectify their potential partners.
It may seem intuitively logical that people who share the same tastes or attitudes would be compatible, but love, in many cases, doesn’t work that way.
Some online dating sites, for example, attempt to predict attraction based on qualities like whether people prefer scuba diving to shopping, or reading to running, or whether they tend to be shy or more outgoing.
And, importantly, does it lead to more successful romantic relationships? Let Me Tweet the Ways) For their 64-page report, the authors reviewed more than 400 studies and surveys on the subject, delving into questions such as whether scientific algorithms — including those used by sites like e Harmony, Perfect Match and Chemistry to match people according to similarities — can really lead to better and more lasting relationships (no); whether the benefits of endless mate choices online have limits (yes); and whether communicating online by trading photos and emails before meeting in person can promote stronger connections (yes, to a certain extent).
Overall, the study found, Internet dating is a good thing, especially for singles who don’t otherwise have many opportunities to meet people.
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.