I logged on to a
dating site the other day and was greeted by a
large, flashing message. It promised that if I
took the time to answer a series of questions
that they would find a "perfect match" for me.
Imagine that? All the work and worry of being
single - gone! We truly have evolved! Not only
can computer programs manage the entire traffic
system of a city and make chess grandmasters cry,
but now they can lead my perfect match right to
my doorstep. I always wanted a Stepford wife,
I hope it comes assembled.
The recent trend in Internet Dating has been the
use of a "computer personality test" of some sort.
Websites claim that these tests, usually developed
by a "top psychologist", have the ability to understand
you and your needs through a series of questions.
Confused? Lost in love? Problems communicating?
Don't worry, the Online Dating Hal 5000 can figure
you out! In fact, when you're done, this computer
program will know your needs and desires better
than you do.
Remember the Broadway play “Fiddler on The Roof”?
You might not, it was the first Broadway play
I went to when I was seven. A song that always
stuck in my head for some reason was “matchmaker,
matchmaker, make me a match…” The song starts
as a plea to the matchmaker to bring true love
straight to the altar; someone beautiful, rich,
intelligent, and perfect.
But by the end of the song, the singer realizes
that the Matchmaker might not be up to the task.
She decides that “playing with matches, a girl
can get burned”.
So, do these tests really work?
Personality tests have a long history. Really,
really smart guys with names like Freud, Maslov,
Fromm, and Jung developed respected psychological
theories, and these theories are used as the basis
for all types of tests. “The Big Five” theory
suggests that there are five dimensions of personality:
openness to experience, conscientiousness, extraversion,
agreeableness, and neuroticism. Some popular personality
tests use this as a foundation. Others go the
“Big Three” route, which does away with the “openness”
and “agreeableness” dimensions - mostly because
it’s easier to remember.
I joke a little about these theories, but the
truth is that they’ve survived the test of time
and there is a ton of scientific research behind
them. The real question is if these tests can
be effective in applying a theory to the complexity
of a human being. Add to this the additional layer
of meshing your answers with another, equally
complex person. That’s a tall order.
People have impulsive behavior that simply can’t
be measured when they’re sitting, relaxed and
introspective, taking one of these tests. Often
our answers reflect our perfect (or hopeful) idea
of ourselves. Even if we are trying our best to
be honest, our impulsive behavior in real-life
situations can be far different than we’d expect.
Another wildcard is attraction. We can meet someone
who’s empirically good-looking, has a similar
background, is kind and successful – and yet we’re
not attracted. Often we can’t explain why we like
another person. It may be how they make us laugh,
a crooked smile – even how they smell! Sometimes
little things that are immeasurable on their own
can collectively make us attracted.
Human beings and our emotions and desires are
far too complex, and a computer program can’t
solve the riddles of our romantic lives. As Jung
put it, “the meeting of two personalities is like
the contact of two chemical substances; if there
is a reaction both are transformed”. It sounds
good, but even Jung was hedging his bet when it
comes to love. What will cause two individuals
to react to each other? Even the developers of
the study of personality would not presume that
a series of questions could predict romance.
If you rely solely on matchmaking services, you
are missing the entire beauty of online dating.
The beauty is opportunity. Online dating offers
you an almost limitless opportunity to meet and
date new people. It gives you the time and space
to find what best suits you. Going to a quality
dating site that isn’t trying to sell you fantasy
of finding your match for you will mean you will
have a pool of millions of singles to meet.
Treat matchmaking options as just another fun
way to explore. It can serve as an ice breaker
to start a conversation, but don’t expect them
to be the answer to finding your perfect match.
Keep all options open and explore possibilities.
As a unique individual, only can you know what
works for you. You need to develop skills to communicate
and meet people. Developing both online and offline
dating skills is the best way to find the right
Next time you’re brushing your teeth, take a look
in the mirror. See that amazing person? That’s
your matchmaker with a mouthful of toothpaste.
Take charge of your life and get into action!
Enjoy dating and enjoy the process of discovery.
Your experiences, both good and not-so-good, are
essential to finding the right person for you.
About the author:
Devlyn Steele ("America's Leading Life-Coach")
is a Relationship Coach, Life-Coach, radio host,
columnist, and the developer of ToolsToLife.com
. His new program OnlineDatingKit.com teaches
Internet daters the skills they need to find their
perfect matches on their own.