In 1966, Look Magazine wrote these prophetic words: “Thousands of boys and girls who’ve never met plan weekends together, for now that punch-card dating’s here, can flings be far behind? And oh, it’s so right, baby. The Great God Computer has sent the word. Fate. Destiny. Go-go-go.”
Four decades ago, then, the idea of “punch-card” computer dating was revolutionary. But now in 2017, computer algorithms are routinely used by a variety of online dating sites in an effort to automatically match couples who are the best “fit” for each other.
Indeed, one of most well-known online matchmaking sites – eHarmony – made no secret of their complete and total reliance on a computer algorithm which would (supposedly) automatically find you the love of your life within their databases.
If this all sounds like the start of some dystopian science fiction world, then that’s because the whole idea of “finding love” entirely through a computer algorithm is much more of a marketing scheme than anything grounded in the complex realities of human life.
For starters, these matchmaking computer algorithms are often based on personality traits – like the famous Big Five traits. According to some scientific research (not all), couples with similar Big Five personality traits experience more satisfaction in their relationship.
But such studies are statistical in their nature – which means that there will always be exceptions to these observations.
This point is underscored by human behaviour specialist Paul W. Eastwick, who wrote this in the New York Times regarding eHarmony’s algorithm: “For example, what really matters for my relationship satisfaction is whether I myself am neurotic and, to a slightly lesser extent, whether my partner is neurotic. Our similarity on neuroticism is irrelevant.”
Yet matchmaking algorithms do not take into account the possibility of “exceptions to the rule.” Instead, they blindly match you with an individual who is nothing more than a cluster of data points in the algorithm. So if matching you with the love of your life – the very best person for you – violates the rules of the algorithm, then the algorithm would never find you the love of your life.
That’s why having a human, personal matchmaker who understands the intangible components of human chemistry is essential if you actually want to find the love of your life – and not just an agreeable person who would go well with pretty much anyone.