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Others employ dozens of scientists to create sophisticated, top-secret algorithms to match customers with similar personality traits (as opposed to shared interests, which are a far less significant predictor of compatibility), ignoring the adage “opposites attract”. “One suspects a lot of their claims are hype,” says Professor Dunbar.
“Do they really know what the criteria are that make a successful long-term relationship, when it’s not something that the scientists still know that much about?
I’d always been attracted to mavericks, handsome men, who – after a year or so – made it clear they had no intention of settling down.
“Although I felt a bit of a loser, I joined an online dating agency.
Cash-rich, time-poor professionals who already do everything from shop to socialise online, now see a search engine as the obvious gateway to love.
Academics, meanwhile, are fascinated by the data being gathered — and largely kept secret — by the dating industry.
But other sites, which can cost up to £3,000 a year to join, offer their clients a bespoke selection of potential partners to share your love of sushi, dachshunds or The Apprentice.
There are dedicated websites for every religion, for the unhappily married, for the beautiful – where existing members decide if you merit joining their ranks – the overweight, Oxbridge graduates, country lovers – not to mention Telegraph readers (dating.uk). Using slogans such as “love is no coincidence” they test samples of your saliva in order to make the best DNA match for you – claiming that these couples are more likely to have enduring relationships, satisfying sex lives and higher fertility rates.
“I’ve known of people who end up spending countless hours on internet dating sites convinced they’ll find the perfect person.
My message is no one is perfect so this is a futile endeavour.