Psychology and online dating

Last week The Atlantic ran an interesting piece interviewing several different psychologists (and a handful of non-psychologists too) about online dating and particularly facial profiling. I think some of the folks they surveyed are highly biased (and one comes off as pretty darn sexist), but this gem of a quote made me happy:

“The whole point is that you can’t tell much from a profile, anyway, so using some complex algorithm to assess whether the partner is as kind as Mother Teresa or as smart as Einstein is a fool’s errand. Find somebody who seems cute or sexy, and then get face-to-face to assess whether there’s actual compatibility there.”

That sums it up nicely! All these compatibility percentages and match suggestions are really just trying to get you to go on dates and act like people. However, I must add that it doesn’t hurt to focus on getting better at writing about yourself. A  well-crafted profile will stand out and will attract people who are drawn to your wit or intelligence or innate sense of humor, which is a higher indicator of compatibility than algorithmic calculations based on awkward writing.

It also doesn’t hurt that the sense of intimacy you create with more evocative and conversational writing will help your potential dates establish a comfortable rapport with you. This will in turn make the dates you go on more enjoyable, and the people you meet are likely to seem way more attractive than you might have even ranked them on screen, because that in-person comfort and chemistry factor had room to grow when your writing introduced them to feeling comfortable about getting to know you. All of these little pieces really do add up!

Grant and I on a plane; I forget where.Side note; many people have commented over the years that Grant and I look similar. They, uh, they may have a point. But I’ve dated and been attracted to many different types in the past, and so has he. Both anecdotally and scientifically, I don’t put  stock in the facial similarity or even facial traits as predictors of compatibility. (Kai and I actually discussed this and heavily mocked the FaceMate site in episode 4 of the Heartographer podcast.)

The art of what makes for great relationships is far subtler than any given study can encompass with scientific methodology and data analysis, ya know? We’re all a bit more complex and nuanced than that. Which is both frustrating and wonderful, of course. (But mostly frustrating until it gets wonderful; I know. I’m here to help!) [icon-heart]


We needed to update our Facebook status to "married." (I have no idea what we're both actually doing here, but it was clearly our wedding day.)


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