Using dating sites to make friends

Between 20, the number of people using online dating sites doubled, from 20 million to 40 million, and about one third of America’s single people participated in some sort of online dating last year.But despite these numbers, it’s unclear if online dating is any more effective than, or really any different from, meeting someone offline.“I think there is a possibility [that these algorithms] could evolve to better predict long-term compatibility.There’s just a disconnect between what social science says is actually possible, and what the sites say they can do,” said Slater.Plus, many big sites have been hesitant to allow independent researchers to look at their matching algorithms in depth.

“If you don’t have a personality, it’s going to come across in an email, a phone call, or across a table,” said Larry K., 46, who met his wife on nine years ago.Experts say online dating sites see a huge traffic increase between Christmas and Valentine’s Day.With the number of visitors these sites get each month, that increase is pretty significant: Some current estimates report between 10.5 and 23.8 million unique visitors per month for two major dating sites.Research suggests that, while it is possible to predict whether two people could enjoy spending time together in the short term, it’s (nearly) impossible to scientifically match two people for long-term compatibility.The strongest predictors of a good, functional relationship are how a couple interacts, and their ability to handle stress — two things that science says current dating website algorithms can't predict and online profiles can't demonstrate.

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