Self / 01.12.2014

Online dating: your best bet for meeting your match

By Christina Quaine
Tinder, Match, eHarmony, MySingleFriend – we've all tried one of them, but what really makes us click?

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Internet dating has come a long way. One in three marriages now starts online and it’s the over-50s who are taking to the web in the biggest numbers.

Think of the couples you know and it’s likely at least one of them started their relationship in front of a computer screen. Fastforward to 2031 and, according to a study by eHarmony, more than half of all couples will be getting together online.

Why are more and more of us are choosing online dating as our preferred method of finding the one?

‘People are more socially mobile while real life communities are increasingly fragmented,’ says clinical psychologist Dr Jay Watts. ‘We might grow up in one town, go to university in another and embark on a career somewhere else entirely. So while we know lots of people, our network is spread out all over the place. It’s not like previous generations when you would settle down with someone from your home town.’

Jenni Trent Hughes, eHarmony’s resident relationship expert, argues that online dating is so successful because there is none of the pressure associated with finding love in real life. ‘It’s more relaxed,’ she says. ‘You don’t have to stand at a bar, feeling nervous, not knowing what to say because you can get to know each other first at your own pace over messages and on the phone.’

And how exactly do these websites match us up?

Dating sites rely on algorithms that process data in order to solve a ‘problem’; in this scenario, which set of statistics marries up best with each other.

Trent Hughes advises that you should actually pick the site that asks you the most questions about yourself. ‘It may seem like a nuisance at the time, but the more the company knows about you, the better they can make matches,’ she explains.

Lovestruck goes a step further and uses something called a ‘behavioural recommendation engine’ as well as the usual algorithms, because as the site’s co-founder Laurence Holloway says, what so many of us actually want is not always what we say we want.

If we are to believe in these algorithms and such like, it would mean that online dating sites actually know us better than we know ourselves. So it seems, online dating may just be the very best way to find that special someone.

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