After a rough breakup last January, I was sad and single in the Big Apple.
Valentine’s Day was approaching, and this city of more than eight million people was feeling oddly lonely.
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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.
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.
In many ways, online dating resembles offline dating — the resulting relationships are no different. So why do so many millions turn to the Web to find love?
While many dating sites claim the ability to find your perfect match, social scientists aren’t buying it.
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.
It doesn’t help that these algorithms are closely guarded trade secrets.
The majority of the surveys, studies, and reports evaluating online dating sites’ efficacy are paid for by the companies themselves, leading to some possibility for biased results.
Plus, many big sites have been hesitant to allow independent researchers to look at their matching algorithms in depth.