Online Matching Systems: Do They Really Work? - dummies

Online Matching Systems: Do They Really Work?

By Pepper Schwartz

Online matching systems are increasingly used by people over 50 to find dates. These systems don’t necessarily send you your true love, but if you think of them as narrowing down the pool of eligible people so that you know more about them and they about you, you’ll be pleased with the results.

These tests aim to get you to someone you may love by helping you discard people who just don’t have the personalities or characteristics that you find pleasing. A good matching system not only helps you avoid people whom you’ve expressly said you don’t want but also helps you know yourself better and feel more comfortable about whom you should look for.

In this sense, quite a few of the matching systems are very helpful. In fact, one good reason for trying several of them is because they give you different kinds of insights into who you want and what your own personality type is, and these insights can help you be more effective in relationships.

For example, the matching system for Perfect Match called Duet is based on the theory used by the Myers-Briggs test, a highly successful matching system developed for organizational teams to understand one another and to see how different ways of approaching a problem can actually be helpful, even if the parties experience frustration because of their differing approaches.

If, for example, one person is a closer and likes to come to conclusions rapidly, and the other is an extender and likes to think about all aspects of a problem before rushing to judgment and execution, the two may get aggravated with each other, not realizing that they actually make a pretty good team, even if it isn’t an easy fit.

In Duet, the system matches people based on characteristics — both similar and somewhat different — where the combination of characteristics produced some degree of predictability about how compatible the two people might be. Four characteristics are listed in the personality category, where similarity generally works best:

  • Risk-taking versus being risk-averse

  • Active types versus more laid-back people

  • Optimistic versus cautious approach to life

  • People who like predictability and replication of places and people versus people who like variety and change

The characteristics and preferences that may work with similarity or difference are:

  • Flexible people who accept many solutions to an issue versus people who want things to be done a certain right way (structured)

  • Calm people versus people who are excitable and usually passionate about their feelings

  • People who like to lead versus people who like to follow or compromise

  • Extroverts versus introverts (defined here as people who get energy from being with people versus people who feel depleted by a lot of interaction with people)

These tests aren’t a panacea for matching, but they do give personal insight, and they’re based on solid social science data. Many of the other sites also have interesting and useful matching systems that may be worth looking into.

What is not particularly valuable are sites that give you long lists of questions and then fix you up with potential dates without telling you what your answers said about you or why you should be matched with this particular person. They may be good matching systems, but they don’t give you any additional insight into yourself or the other person.