Recently, I enjoyed a lively conversation with JL, one of our readers. He mentioned an article in the Economist magazine that he was reading about online dating. As it turns out–and contrary to everything I would have ever thought to be true–according to the article, people who meet online and begin to date are 30% less likely to divorce when/if they marry.
I was completely dumbfounded. Full disclosure: I haven’t read the article yet. Still, the statistics are very surprising. As an Old Money Guy, I would have advocated being introduced to someone by friends and family, or at university, have a very good idea of who they are and where they come from, and wade very slowly into the romantic waters.
But this is a new time, and perhaps technology isn’t always a bad thing. (If you quote me on that, I will deny it, regardless of the evidence. Wink, nod.)
As I thought about it, however, there might be a ‘reverse, low-tech logic’ to this process that leads to an increase in the success of these relationships. First, I’ve heard that dating sites like e-harmony and match.com require a substantial commitment of time to fill out their forms and go through their protocols.
This sets up a first filter: the people on these sites are serious about finding a partner or spouse, not just messing around. The second thing they allegedly do is match you up with compatible candidates. This means that you’re more likely to meet someone who’s also looking for a serious relationship and, based on their analytics, likely to click with you on some fundamental level.
Finally, the initial contact–from what I’ve heard second hand–is that the initial contact is via email. This means that you’ve got to have a conversation first. You are required to express yourself, not with a charming smile or coy look, but with words. This filter is key because this is what an enduring relationship is all about. The romance may come and go. The conversation–the dialogue–is always there in marriage or a long term commitment, whether it’s a candlelit dinner or driving to the in-laws for Sunday dinner.
I think these three filters or demands might be what is contributing to the relationship success of people who use online dating services. Are they serious? Are they compatible (in general)? Is there chemistry in conversation? Of course, nothing can predict what will happen in that magic moment when you first meet someone in person for the first time, but these services might be onto something with these protocols. I’ll remain neutral and wait for more data.
If I was more entrepreneurial, I’d come up with an Old Money dating site. For now, though, I’ll leave it to Silicon Valley…and the gods of love. Like the old song says, Cupid, draw back your bow…