The Science of Online Dating

Can science really help you find love and your future life partner?

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Using dating sites to find one’s love prospects isn’t new for people in Singapore, but never has it been so popular and widely recognized as it is today. In this day when the internet – by way of social networking sites and instant messengers – are our primary means of connection, it’s little wonder why more and more people are subscribing to online dating sites to help them find a lover. But is it really safe to pin your romantic hopes on these dating sites?

Well, researchers say there’s no harm to it. In fact, with the growing sophistication of these sites, the chances of its members finding a suitable partner have gotten a lot better. In many popular dating sites today, members are matched not only through their social profile (such as personal interests, and educational and professional background, but also through their biology. In addition to answering personality tests, subscribers are also asked to provide their biological profile, which will then be used to check their genetic compatibility with other members.

The idea of matching people based on biology has a strong scientific support. It has been proven that each person is particularly attracted to certain types of people because of the chemical makeup of our bodies. Using a pool of studies on biology-based attraction, dating sites pair members based on how likely they are to be attracted to each other. So when members find each other attractive and have compatible body chemistry, they’re much more likely to hit it off.

Attraction is a chemical phenomenon, says Dr. Helen Fisher, a professor of anthropology at Rutgers University and the designer for the match-making program of Chemistry.com. According to her: “We fall in love with someone who has a different chemical profile for dopamine, serotonin, estrogen and testosterone that complements our own.”

Some dating sites take the idea further. ScientificMatch.com and GenePartner.com, for example, promise to create lasting relationships based on how likely each pair will produce healthy children (based on the members’ genetic information and immune system). But while these sites may not be such a big hit in Singapore yet, subscribers of dating sites here should expect that their biology will play a big part on how they’ll find their match at any online dating site.

Stepping back, it may seem absurd that we should let genetics and computer algorithms find our soul mate for us, particularly here in Singapore where the idea of technology creating romantic partnerships runs counter to the traditional methods of forming relationships by physical meetings and personal judgment. In fact, there are detractors to the idea even within the scientific community. Says Larry J. Young of Emory University, “The situation is far, far too complex to think we can pick ‘the perfect match’ based on [genetic information].”

Indeed it is. It’s likely that we will never fully understand the mysteries of love – and use it to pair people with each other – and perhaps that’s all for the best. But a little understanding wouldn’t hurt, nor would it diminish the pleasure of being in love. For singles in Singapore, dating sites that use people’s social and biological profile to improve their chances of finding romance is even practical, what with our long working hours and various social responsibilities. The key here is to use what we know to meet people that might suit us, but still base our actual relationships on how compatible we are in real life.

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