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.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.Plus, many big sites have been hesitant to allow independent researchers to look at their matching algorithms in depth.Whether or not the algorithms work, it's perhaps even more important if online daters they work.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.
While many dating sites claim the ability to find your perfect match, social scientists aren’t buying it.But even if algorithms aren’t the answer, there’s no doubt that online dating has led to successful relationships — my own included.The question is: Are those first dates and relationships really any different from connections made in more traditional ways? Even though the number of budding Internet relationships is increasing, the overall rate of partnership is not increasing at all.These sites can serve as a way to practice those skills and build up self-confidence, too.“[Sites like] Ok Cupid give people a mechanism to combat the anxiety of being single,” said Ana B., 24 of New York City.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.It only changes the process of discovery," says Mehr in Dan Slater's new book "Love in the Time of Algorithms: What Technology Does to Meeting and Mating." (Slater notes that Mehr was the only dating exec he interviewed who felt this way.)It’s the efficiency of this “process of discovery” that’s appealing to many daters.“I guess maybe the promise of online dating is that it allows you to get out and have those experiences and make those mistakes and hopefully learn a lot from them,” said Slater. is to get [them] out there and get them to socialize.” Sure, you might encounter some horrific experiences — but hopefully you’ll learn from them and those lessons will benefit your search for a partner in the long run.“Even if I had married someone that I had met through a friend or whatever, online dating still would have been fun,” said Feifer.“Maybe it’s not the best means to the end of finding the best relationship, but it gives people a way to do something about their situation.It may or may not be the best shot at finding what you want, but it’s doesn’t mean it will never happen.