Our Lives Online

The Art and Science of Finding Love Online

Jessica Ferri Writer
couple with tablet

Fifty years from now, your grandchildren won’t be asking how Grandma and Grandpa met, but rather which online dating website they choose.

According to a recent study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, one-third of married couples today met through a dating website. Not only did they find a mate online, but they report higher satisfaction with said partner and are statistically less likely to end their marriage in divorce.

Online dating is more than a trend — it’s the norm; a very successful one at that.

Match recently reported that there are now 1 million children in the world whose parents met on their website. In celebration of that milestone, they launched a scholarship program, asking these children to submit a short video about their parents’ love story under the hashtag #matchmade. The winner will receive a $50,000 scholarship to go towards his or her education.

Why do people go for online dating over a more organic approach?

According to an article published in Psychology Today by Catalina Toma, a psychologist at the University of Wisconsin, it’s mostly because of three factors: the reliability of the compatibility algorithm, a greater pool of partners and the differences of those who go online compared to those who don’t.

Toma said those who go online to date are generally older, 30+, and have more self-insight, they are highly educated and generally wealthier compared to the rest of the dating pool.

first date

The success of online dating is undoubtedly related to how much of our lives are spent online — as social networking became an integral part to any person’s social life, not to mention their job prospects and personal branding, finding love online was the next inevitable step.

But the success of the first online pioneers like Match and eHarmony have spawned multitudes of other apps and sites like OK Cupid, Tinder, Hinge, Crazy Blind Date, Grouper and The Dating Ring. There may be, as the saying goes, someone out there for everyone — one app or more to cater to your dating needs.

As it turns out, according to a recent article in the Atlantic, many of these sites are owned by the same umbrella company, Spark Networks, which owns Match, Chemistry, OK Cupid and the immensely popular Tinder.

Tinder screenshot

Sam Yagan, founder of OK Cupid and now the CEO of Match, claims that the “explosion” in online dating is due to the systematic break down of the stigma.

“Almost everyone knows someone who is or was in a relationship that started online,” he said, explaining that people are conflicted: either you’re a weirdo for dating online, or you’re missing out because everyone else is.

“Your best friend, your cousin, your mom, are on Match,” Yagan continues. “But you’re not. Explain that. Why is it good enough for friends and family but not for you?”

Now there are even online matchmaking sites to help you find a pet — like BarkBuddy, which functions similarly to Tinder — to help you adopt a dog best suited to your lifestyle.

Ultimately which dating site you choose could say more about you and what you’re looking for than an online profile. Tinder is used largely for hook-ups and blind dates; there are no lengthy profiles and users swipe right if they are interested and left if they aren’t. One industrious man even invented a robot to maximize his matching potential. Said robot is capable of 900 right swipes in one hour.

But if you’re looking for a more serious relationship sites like eHarmony make users go through a rigorous personality test and five steps of communication before meeting in person. Big questions about commitment, past relationships and children are answered immediately and without any awkwardness.

Spark Networks recently announced they are partnering with comedian Steve Harvey to launch Delightful, an online dating site that caters specifically to women who are looking for a serious commitment.

But online dating isn’t easy for everyone. One woman, writing for XO Jane, claims not a single person messaged her during her online dating trial. “Online dating has made me feel more alone and rejected than ever,” she wrote.

In a recent Op-Ed in the New York Times, Anna Altman argues that online dating, especially apps like Tinder, reinforce our biases and prejudices.

MELD flyer

The creators of a new app, Meld, made for black professionals, cite the fact that black users on networks like Match and OK Cupid are less likely to receive messages than other users.

New apps are working to provide answers for these complex questions. For those who might hesitate to try online dating because of safety concerns, Grouper offers women the opportunity to meet people in a group — two of her friends, two of his friends, hence the name.

Overwhelmed by the meat-market aspects of Tinder? The Dating Ring sends you personalized matches along with reasons why they think you’d get along. Their motto is: “We match people, not profiles.”

They also offer a personal matchmaking service. And don’t worry about penning the perfect message. According to a recent study by the co-founder of OK Cupid, the shorter the message the more likely it is to be successful. “The numbers are your wingman.”

It’s obvious that online dating is going the way of the lifestyle market, even now, with celebrity endorsements. It won’t be too long before Blake Lively and Gwyneth Paltrow are vying for the best online dating app for vegans who love organic cotton and eco-friendly baby showers.

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