As Hussey explains it, think about the last 100 potential partners you’ve met—not the ones you ended up dating, but every man or woman whom you interacted with that, at least based on their gender and sexual orientation, might have been a potential date. Odds are, only 10 of them met your criteria when it comes to looks and interests, such that you were attracted to them on some level. Of those, maybe one or two were people you truly connected with and had a chance at a real relationship with. Now, how many potential partners do you meet in an average week? For most of us, the answer is zero, maybe one. At that rate, it not only could take years to find someone—it mathematically should.
“If right now you are going on five dates a week because you are on a dating site, but otherwise you wouldn’t be going on any dates a week, then great,” says Hussey. Simply increasing the number of people you meet dramatically increases your odds of finding that someone you want to spend the rest of your life with. Online dating does that, but it’s not the only method. The more you interact with the people around you, whether it be striking up a conversation with the guy behind you in line at the supermarket or joining a running club, the more likely you are to meet that special person.
As far as the science goes, algorithms and calculations might be able to weed out a good number of bad matches, but they aren’t going to scientifically find you Mr. Right. The reason online dating works for many is because it brings together a large number of people who are looking for a relationship and connects them with others who have enough similarities to have a shot in hell at being compatible. There’s no evidence, though, that it does this any better than we do in our offline lives, like when we meet people through friends or engage in social activities. Science can evaluate what makes for a great relationship, but it’s not as good at predicting the future based on personality tests.
A little disheartened by what I’d learned about the science of matchmaking, I asked Hussey to speculate a little. Sure, maybe our current methods don’t have the predictive power we might want, but what about eventually, in some sci-fi future? Does he think we will ever be able to use scientific tools to truly predict relationship happiness?
“Yeah, I do,” he said. “We probably could.” But, he added, “part of life is discovering.” Meaning, trial and error, headache and heartbreak—they’re what makes falling in love so magical in the first place. Bypassing all of the frustration would take some of the fun and excitement out of dating. So even though there is some future where we can calculate love with mathematical certainty, Hussey wants no part of it: “It’s not a world I ever want to live in.”
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