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How online dating agencies really work

How Online Dating Agencies Really Work
Matchmaking Techniques in Modern Dating

The big difference between what known as flirt and chat sites or online personals and “dating agencies” (also known as matchmaking sites in the UK) is in their technique. Agencies focus very much on providing the user with a handful of specially-selected matches.

These matches are suggested by a complex algorithm which works based off answers that singles provide in a psychological questionnaire when they first sign up to the provider.

On the other hand, personals sites tend to allow users to search for people themselves. As a result, you may be wondering just how these mysterious algorithms work in order to create such matches in online dating.

Matchmakers have always been with it. Typically, they were individuals whose job it was to assign singles to one another based on a number of factors (personality, land, wealth… it all depended on what people viewed as important at the time). Such matchmakers and dating agencies still exist today, though they have been given more of a modern twist and market themselves quite well.

The heart wants what it wants.

-Woody Allen

Since online dating began in the mid-nineties, however, a few pioneering minds decided to take the art of matchmaking to the Internet. As a result, there are now numerous online dating agencies that provide the services of a matchmaker – however this time, they use complex computer algorithms to pair up single people.

Online Dating Agency Techniques: Questionnaires and Profiling

Information is necessary for the online dating agency’s matching algorithm to work. When you sign up, you will be provided with a questionnaire. The kind of questionnaire you receive will depend on the matchmaking site you’re using, and how good their test is to begin with. Generally speaking you will be asked about things such as:

  • Basic physical characteristics: This includes your height, eye colour, ethnicity/nationality, languages spoken and other somewhat superficial traits. Other boring but important questions will also include where you live and could include some of your dating and relationship history.
  • Your preferences will also be asked of you, many of them in relation to your view of dating and relationships. What gender/s are you attracted to? Are you looking for a specifically monogamous relationship or do you have other models in mind? Do you want to get married? Do you intend on having children, etc.?
  • A psychological evaluation may also be carried out, though this isn’t as scary as it sounds! A lot of the questions will pertain to your mindset as well as your general life-style. Do you save money? Do you like travelling? What sort of things do you expect from a romantic/life partner? The more information that is given, the better.

The online dating profile that you then set up afterwards is going to be based on this. The answers to these questions are not necessarily shown to other singles on the site. For the most part, it is up to you to choose what you display on your page and what you want others to read (at least straight away). The rest of the information that you have given, however, is then used by the algorithm and works in the background…

Online Dating Agencies: Providing you with suitable matching!

The success of online dating agencies is based on bidirectional evaluation. That is, your specific characteristics and preferences will match up with and complement those of several other singles who are also on the site. The algorithm in question, depending on which provider it comes from, will carry out certain tasks and see what fits the best with you. There are numerous different ways these algorithms work, however below is a short example:

  • All user profiles on the site are given a certain number of points. This number is based on how much they conform to your desires in a partner. Points are then also based on how much you match up to the wishes and preferences of the others. Both of these numbers are then summed up and from there a list is generated which goes from the lowest to the highest number of points.
  • If a user receives a certain number of “match points” or higher, then the algorithm will consider that person to be a suitable candidate. The number of points, and the specifics of the matching system itself, will highly depend on the kind of online dating provider you’re using.
  • It is therefore easy to see just how the expertise of a matchmaker has been brought over to the online world.

Matching algorithms are getting more and more complex every day, and are refining their techniques. It should be noted, however, that they will not guarantee that you get on with your potential matches. This system more or less points out who, based on the information that it is given, would be the most likely people that you would have a successful relationship. It is ultimately up to you to message these people and meet up with them!

For those who are curious, don’t forget about our reviews of the best online dating agencies in the UK!

Henning Wiechers
has been observing the UK dating market since 2007. He is among the top opinion leaders in the industry.

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