Can Online Dating Lead to Love?

While some argue that online dating presents too much choice, it's actually an efficient way to meet a partner — if you use it correctly

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Alice, a marketing executive in her 40s, has been a member on and off of the Jewish dating site JDate.com for years; at her count, she’s been on more than 100 dates with men from the greater Dallas region. But the more she lingers on the site, she says, the harder it is to settle on any one suitor. She blames online dating for her inability to determine who, precisely, qualifies as her perfect match. The catalog of possible dates is just too infinite.

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When Alice mentioned this predicament to me at a conference last week in Texas, she was echoing the growing sentiment that online-dating sites actually prevent people from finding long-term partners. But I told her she only has herself to blame.

The “tyranny of choice” theory posits that surrounded by too many options, we become paralyzed, overwhelmed and unable to make a decision. Some of us begin to think that we have infinite opportunities and become lured by the prospect of bigger, better deals. Others just want out, so they’re willing to settle for someone who seems good enough at that moment in time.

But this phenomenon is only applicable for those people who aren’t really looking for long-term love. They may not willingly admit this to their friends and family as they complain that there are just too many choices, but the reality is that an online dater will never really find satisfaction if she doesn’t know for whom she’s actually searching. Dating sites and the algorithms they employ don’t assess us on the qualities we’re looking for in others; rather, they ask us for data about ourselves. As I argue in my book, people are perpetually single or labor on in unfulfilling relationships not because of tyranny of choice but because they haven’t created a specific list of what they want in a mate. “Aligning on religion, finances and family” doesn’t qualify as a list. To wit: if you were to visit a grocery store with a list that simply read “meat, produce, dairy,” you’d have a hard time choosing and settling on the right items too.

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I believe that I was successful at finding the perfect person for me because I made an extremely granular and specific list, noting everything from acceptable attitudes toward work and sports to what type of jazz he should like. In all, I had 72 attributes that I parsed into two sections: one was a top-tier list of 10 deal-breaker characteristics, and the other was a secondary tier of 15 important qualities I would demand in a partner. I assigned each of those attributes varying point scores that reflected how important each was to me.

Example: I wanted someone who was Jew … ish. I need someone who was raised in a Jewish household. He should know what’s kosher and what’s not, what all the holidays are, the lore and the history. He should know how to survive long shul services on nothing more than a few hard candies from his bubbie’s purse and a promise that if he will just sit still for five minutes, everyone can stop for ice cream on the way home. He has to understand all the inside jokes and have the same set of shared experiences. But he can’t be religious at all. It will be too difficult for me to fake a belief in God. If we don’t have exactly the same point of view on religion, it will absolutely cause problems during marriage. I know it may be a rare breed, but he must be a cultural, emotional, linguistic, intellectual, gastronomic, nonreligious Jew. Total points = 97.

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Once I had my list, I created a mathematical formula to assess each possible candidate before we went out on a date. A possible suitor had to reach a minimum threshold of 700 points for us to chat online or on the phone, and more points were required for us to meet in person. Suddenly, out of a possible dating pool of several thousand men, there were only two or three realistic possibilities.

You don’t need to be a math geek or a computer scientist to find true love online. Online dating is a very effective, efficient way of meeting the perfect partner. But only if you determine exactly what you want and you’ve developed some kind of framework — you can use doodles, or color-coded marks or whatever makes the most sense – to evaluate the data first. The good news for everyone is that you can build immunity to the tyranny of choice.

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18 comments
FatihGuner
FatihGuner

Just for me i think it`s real, already for 6 mounths i with cute girl, and i met her on dating site(globogirls.com). I thinkg on near future i will real love her!

GfShare
GfShare

Yes it can: www.datingbestsites.com

ShamsAci
ShamsAci

Online dating for establishing real love doesn't seem and sound dependable / trust-worthy as per my observational experience.

BingJou
BingJou

The problem with the author's friend, Alice, is not that she does not know what she wants. Alice lacks a courage to pursue a relationship in a deep, profound, meaningful way. It is safe because the chance of failure or being disappointed is small when you keep pursuing new opportunities, but quickly lose your curiosity in the ones you have pursued. The first several meetings are always nice, pleasant and exciting. It never requires you to make adjustments to accommodate another person in your life. Alice is playing safe, clinging to herself at all cost. Alice is also a woman a man should never tries to share a life with.

Be open-minded, be flexible, and, most of all, be brave. A perfectly articulate want list helps you very little in pursuing a relationship.

BingJou
BingJou

Finally, the more precisely you know what you want, the less likely you will have a good relationship. The reason is simple. Those who pay too much emphasis on what they want are more likely to focus on themselves and less likely to care about what the other want; thus incable of compromising in a real relationship. Those who are in a good relationship are always acutely aware of what their partner want and know they can't always deliver as much as theeir partner can't always deliver.

Furthermore, your want list today may be very different from that of 5 years from now. Even though your list does not change, how do you ensure your partner does not change? Will you start a new relationship every 5 years? I don't think Amy Webb would recommend that. We all change. It is scary to live with a man or a woman whose thinking or opinions remains the exactly same for 5 years. That's means he/she virtually has learned nothing for the past 5 years.

BingJou
BingJou

I am pretty sure Amy Webb gets it all wrong about online dating.  A successful dating involves two persons, always. If you know precisely what you want, you can't know precisely what the other person wants.  Without that information about the other person, you are doomed to fail.

Secondly, relationship is a chemical interaction.  When you are developing a relationship, you are affected and changed by the person you are interacting with.  You should be constantly surprised how you affected the other. Thus, you must be to adjust the specifics of your want list.  You are unable to do it, you are too rigid to share a life with another person.

If you can't be affected and changed by the person you are developing a relationship with, it means only one thing, that is, the person virtually has no impact on your life.  Try to live a life with a person who can't or is not allowed to impact you.  That is not sharing a life.  If you acquire a dog, you have to care for it and make some adjustments in your life so as to take care of it.  Your life with a dog must be different from your life without a dog.  If you expect all the same, your dog will either die or run away.  A relationship requires you to make a lot of changes. Those changes will show up in your want list and make your original want list irrelevant.

JeffreyWhite
JeffreyWhite

Your make-sure-you-really-know what you want approach only works well if the other person also really knows s/he wants in a relationship....For example, I dated a woman once who said that I was everything she was looking for in a man. She then decided to finalize her divorce. After spending a lot of time with her ex, she told me that she remembered why she had married him. He was a high-energy man, a man where she could "feed off his energy." So, she dumped me. I am a low-key man.

monicadiazr
monicadiazr

I find love, but sometimes loves is difficult. I had succesfull with love online. Yes! yes.... I married on 2011. But, but... now, I have to understand that life, doesn`t come with a manual of experience. I feel in love, but in many ways the true "always exist problems" if deserve it, fight. If not deserve it let it go. How to know when worth continuing? Well, I not an expert....but appearce in my mind this thought "Listen your internal voice,  and  stop screaming.... you will see!"

ArielChiang
ArielChiang

at the third paragraph, the author spelled the word "tyranny" wrong. 

DMatamala
DMatamala

@magdalenagil Amy necesita un sicólogo. Urgente. Pero urgente.

RachelP
RachelP

As silly as it sounds, the mathematical approach works. If you know what you're looking for, it's easy to weed out what you're not looking for. It's basically how the site OkCupid does things . . . you answer questions on a variety of subjects and then note how you would want a significant other to answer. I used that site, and while I went on a few dates with total duds, I ended up meeting the guy of my dreams--who was listed as a 98% match with me. 

JoeSirbak
JoeSirbak

Amy, I don't wish you unhappiness, but if I had to write a recipie for relationship dissatisfaction, I don't think it would be too far off from your approach of imagining exactly what you want in a partner and then limiting yourself to guys who fit the description perfectly.  There's a beauty and passion that comes from diversity - being exposed to what you DON'T know.  "Opposites attract" may be a cliched hyperbole, but there's truth to it.  I fear you won't find lasting passion with your formulaic and inflexible approach to dating.  As for me, I've been together (now married with 3 kids) to a wonderful woman I met online 13.5 years ago, who I met without so much as a picture.

MattJones
MattJones

ROTFLMAO  You created a mathematical formula for meeting Mr. Right???!!!


I had tremendous success seeking on the church's website for someone of same-faith.  After that, things fell into place.

joseramespe
joseramespe

@TIME @TIMEIdeas Love is everywhere, we don't need to be more than humans to know this. Geeks love to play and joke with it.

noname_8
noname_8

RT @TIME: You don't have to be a math geek to find true love online | http://t.co/OHBI1RpB (via @TIMEIdeas) / -"- cc @PHz @iZATTU @RsmlP

therantguy
therantguy

Is this supposed to be a serious article? The idea that you have a super definite idea of who you are going to work with is beyond silly. Sure there are deal breakers (kids, religion) but how many other criteria are there that can be quantified before even meeting somebody or chatting with them on the phone? Sense of humour, values, all come out as you learn about a person.


In other words, I guarantee that a short profile and a few emails is not enough data to meaningfully profile a human being beyond the big stuff.