It seems that the promise that someone could be found out there who fits even better, who meets their own requirements even better, weighs too heavily.
Some dating portals try to defuse the problem by promising, in return for a monthly fee, to screen the confusing supply of singles using in-house computer programs – and to filter out precisely those applicants who are particularly well-suited to one another according to certain previously defined criteria.
In advance, interested singles usually have to fill out questionnaires about their biography, interests, values and goals. The placement services use this to develop personality profiles and combine those that, in their opinion, seem to harmonize well.
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But in practice the attempt usually fails due to two fundamental problems. On the one hand, the portals work with unreliable information: You have to trust that the partner seekers describe themselves accurately. However, people are often bad at judging themselves – for example, how creative or open-minded they are.
In addition, the singles registered with the agencies usually want to present themselves as positively as possible. Understandably, they leave out what potential partners might perceive as negative. And sometimes people even deliberately lie. For example, men often appear a little taller than they are in their online profiles. Many women, on the other hand, cheat a bit about weight.
On the other hand, emotional closeness between two people does not arise from the fact that they resemble each other according to objective standards – but rather that they perceive each other as similar. What is ultimately necessary for this, apparently, cannot even predict the relationship seekers. The operators of the online recruitment agency OkCupid have found that many singles set up a number of “must” criteria for potential partners. They believe that a relationship can only work for them if the other person shares their political or religious views.
OkCupid’s internal data show, however, that even such fundamental traits and values often have little to do with how much two people like each other when they meet. Couples who stayed together for longer had similar answers to questions that seemed relatively unimportant – for example, whether they both like to watch horror films.
In addition, sympathy is evidently based much more on peculiarities that two people in direct contact can usually easily assess, but hardly on the basis of an online profile, for example the sense of humor. This means that the formulas that many partner portals use to bring together those who are supposedly particularly well-matched willing relationships are overwhelmed. Scientists rate them as so unreliable that some even consider the new, rather superficial dating apps to be a better tool.