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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Online dating has something for everyone

    The market of dating sites has tapped into everything one could be looking for in a partner, from age (SeniorPeopleMeet.com) to sexual kinks (FurryMate.com). There is no question that dating apps and websites have influenced the way people meet, but some argue that the process is not so different from the way people used to date. 

    In any relationship, one key question must be answered: How compatible are two people?

    “Successful couples exhibit positive interactions, such as frequent exchange of positive reinforcements, including caring, appreciation, respect and tenderness,” said Austin Grinberg, a psychology graduate student, citing a 2013 study.

    In short, relationships are based on sharing the good and the bad.

    “Successful couples deal with external stressors such as occupational difficulties, health complications, family relational issues, etc., in a more communal way than distressed couples,” Grinberg said.

    Being in a successful relationship may even be beneficial to your health.

    “There is evidence suggesting couples coping with stress in a communal way have better health outcomes when dealing with chronic health problems as compared to couples dealing with health problems more individualistically,” Grinberg said.

    Actually finding the right person, though, is a somewhat more difficult matter.

    “The question of compatibility begins with the question of attraction: How do people get together in the first place?” said David Sbarra, an associate professor of psychology. “We know from a lot of research that people like to date people like themselves — in other words, compatibility is ‘birds of a feather’ rather than ‘opposites attracting.’”

    The idea that dating websites try to link one person with another similar person is not so far from how we pick partners in real life. However, dating websites are not ideal for couples trying to find true compatibility.

    “[They] cannot account for how people mature over time,” Grinberg said. “Online communication can be useful in the short term, but lacks the substantive quality of a face-to-face interaction.”

    Some argue that it is precisely the surface-level, short-term appeal that makes dating websites so successful. According to Eli Finkel, a psychology professor at Northwestern University, the shallower, the better. In an article in The New York Times titled “In Defense of Tinder,” Finkel writes that the conventional algorithm that many dating sites use is inherently flawed.

    “Browsing profiles is virtually useless for discerning the sort of information that actually matters in a relationship,” Finkel writes.

    He points out that the carefully constructed text and photos on a person’s profile will rarely predict short-term satisfaction, such as if a date will go well, and almost never predicts long-term satisfaction. 

    The superficiality of apps like Tinder actually mimic the way people meet in real life: an impulse attraction followed by a short conversation and maybe a date. 

    “[Tinder] takes dating back to the pre-Internet era,” Finkel writes. “People met potential partners about whom they knew relatively little at parties, bars, dog parks — situations in which people can get a strong initial sense of romantic compatibility.”

    The main benefit to dating websites is not their ability to match or predict a relationship, but rather the chance they give singles to meet. The less pressure that there is on a potential meet-up or date, the more people are likely to actually make a connection. In many ways, meeting someone over apps like Tinder or JSwipe isn’t so different from how people meet in real life: Consider the attractiveness of a person, maybe have a short conversation and swipe left if they don’t make the cut. 

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    Follow Lior Attias on Twitter.

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