Dating Service Algorithms: How They Find a Match For You

Woman using Dating App

Do you know what is the biggest plus of modern technology? It’s that you and I do not need to understand how it works in order to use it. But you must admit that sometimes you want to understand how something works. For example, how a small smartphone can easily transfer and receive gigabytes of data, how a Blu-ray disc works, or how dating sites and apps are sometimes so good at finding candidates for relationships.

It’s the principles of dating services that we want to focus on. Believe us, this topic is much more interesting than it might seem at first glance. But to start with, here’s a little history.

In 1995, a small group of enthusiasts from Harvard University created the world’s first computer-based dating service, Match. It was very different from what we now mean by dating services. People paid three dollars, received a questionnaire, and answered a series of questions. Then these answers were entered into the computer, after which the system selected potentially compatible people based on them.

Of course, Match was hardly a convenient, fast and intuitive service. But it did work, and that’s the main thing. More importantly, its basic principle has essentially been incorporated into the work of many modern dating sites and applications. Regardless, in the following years, dating services algorithms evolved massively.

How dating sites look for the perfect match for you

Perhaps it is best to consider the current pair selection algorithms using examples of specific dating services. We should probably start with Tinder — the most popular dating app in the world. Tinder’s basic principles build on the usual swipe and location mechanics. In terms of intelligent pair selection, this is the most advanced platform. But the rating is more complicated. For beginners, the system actively offers partners from the Super Hot section, and also places them higher in the ratings. The reason is simple — the desire to engage as many new users as possible. And “oldies” have to pay for premium features to find really promising acquaintances. Many even advise users to periodically delete their account and start a new one in order to get a higher rating at least for a while.

Badoo and Mamba, despite the general similarity to Tinder, are slightly more honest with users. They have not yet made attempts to lower the rating of users in order to impose paid functions. Matching algorithms here are simple, but quite effective. You specify a number of parameters by which the system will try to find the ideal applicants for dating: 

  • Gender and age
  • Location
  • Interests
  • Goal of dating

It is the goals, by the way, that become the decisive factor. If they match, Badoo and Mamba will offer the chance to start chatting. If not, interaction will not take place. Today these sites are more reminiscent of social networks than classic dating sites and applications. Here you can show attraction, send text messages, connect other social networks, etc. In general, it’s convenient, but every year the sites become more and more cumbersome. 

Remember at the beginning of this article we said that the 1995 Match algorithm is used by many modern dating sites? One of the most striking examples of this is OkCupid. The principle is similar: you answer the questions in the questionnaire, the system analyzes your answers and, based on them, selects a potential pair. However, everything is much more interesting and more complicated. If you are short on time, there are 10 basic questions you can answer. But for the most accurate selection of candidates, it is worth paying more attention to the full questionnaire. It contains as many as 500 questions. The more honest answers you give, the more accurately the system will find potential partners. Also, you can set the degree of importance of a particular issue — this also helps the algorithm. As a result, OkCupid will select a list of candidates for you, at the top of which there will be those who are 90% likely to suit you.

Compared to other sites and applications, the Hinge platform stands out quite strongly. It’s all about the pair search technology that the developers used. It is based on the algorithm by David Gale and Lloyd Shapley, created back in 1962. Its point is that for any equal number of men and women, they will all be able to find a pair for a happy marriage. The Gail-Shapley algorithm has been described on the Web several times. If you are interested in this topic, we advise you to search for it — there are many interesting things. The developers of Tinder and OkCupid also claim to use the same algorithm, but objectively speaking, it can be traced only in Hinge.

Why all algorithms make mistakes

Sometimes dating sites and apps manage to find someone with whom you can develop a strong relationship. But not always. What’s the reason for such mistakes?

  1. Imperfection of the algorithms themselves. Even the Nobel Prize-winning Gale-Shapley algorithm is not perfect. And even more simple versions so much less.
  2. Inaccuracies in setting goals by users themselves. A person does not always know what they want, so even the best algorithm may not find the perfect match for them.
  3. Errors, lies and omissions. Not all users honestly answer questionnaires and fill out profiles with accurate information about themselves. In this case, blaming algorithms for imperfection is illogical — they simply do not know what kind of person you want.

Of course, in the future, all these algorithms will be improved and new ones will certainly appear. But you shouldn’t rely on them 100% anyway. Think of them as helpers, not providers.

Sometimes it’s worth trusting to randomness

Errors in the operation of algorithms, regardless of their cause, can greatly spoil your impression of the very format of online dating. Sometimes you want everything to be as simple, understandable and convenient as possible. And in this case, chat roulettes become the best alternative to dating sites and applications.

The operation of chat roulette is based on full or almost complete randomness. There are no complex algorithms and incomprehensible technologies here. Just everything you need to set very accurate search parameters: 

  • Gender and location
  • List of interests
  • Communication language, etc.

There are also chat roulette sites where each user has a karma rating, depending on which the system selects chat partners for them. It’s also a pretty efficient algorithm, albeit a very simple one.

If you trust randomness more than algorithms, be sure to try live video chat with girls. We recommend exploring VideoChat US, Chatrandom, Chatspin, Omegle and Emeraldchat. But if you want, you can try alternative options. There are more than enough of them around today. And each with its own unique characteristics.

Finally, we want to say the following. As perfect as the matching algorithms on dating sites and apps are, don’t rely on them alone. Sometimes a completely random online acquaintance can develop into a strong relationship. And long searches on dating sites and applications, even with the most advanced algorithms, often give absolutely no results.

Try different options, experiment, look for interesting people on different sites and get acquainted with pleasure. We wish you only pleasant meetings and wonderful people on the web.

The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of The World Financial Review.