You don’t know how to look for love

You don't know how to look for love

The most common criteria on dating sites are the least predictive of romantic happiness.

The science of romantic relationships, it must be admitted, is a niche discipline. Harry Reis , a researcher at the University of Rochester in New York State, has compared it to adolescence in these terms: “more mysterious than we would like”. However, progress in this area deserves our full attention. Wired magazine picked up on it through the book Don’t Trust Your Gut – Using Data to Get What You Really Want in Life , written by Seth Stephens-Davidowitz , a Harvard-educated Ph.D. in economics and former Google employee.

In this book, the economist returns to several studies, including that of Samantha Joel , a scientist who is interested in what can make a relationship have the best possible chance of being fulfilled. The researcher brought together numerous pre-existing studies and created a team of eighty-six scientists, who collected data on more than 11,196 couples – all heterosexual, therefore not representative of all existing romantic relationships.

In October 2019, the results were presented at the University of Waterloo , Canada, under the title “Can we help those who want it to choose the best partner?”

Surprising results

The first conclusion that Samantha Joel draws from this study is this: romantic relationships are absolutely unpredictable. The values ​​and tastes of individuals, like many other data, would in reality have very little impact on the possibility of being happy as a couple. Even an artificial intelligence has failed to unlock the secret of happiness in love. Some conclusions are nonetheless useful.

If the study does not correctly predict the variables likely to lead to a happy relationship, significant results were obtained for a variable that concerns not the partner sought, but the person looking for a partner. So when you ask someone, “Were you happy before you were in a relationship?” , if the answer is “yes”, then the chances of him being happy in his relationship are higher.

Data science thus tends to confirm the adage that “the only person who can make you happy is yourself”. Don’t be disappointed, the most important part of the demonstration is coming.

The study also highlights a list of variables that are among the least predictive of romantic happiness. In this case: ethnic origin, religion , height, profession, physical attractiveness, relationship history, sexual tastes, and similarities with oneself.

In parallel with this study, scientists analyzed dating sites and looked at what people are looking for in a future partner. Most singles are almost always based on the same criteria, grouped into a list that includes height or physical attractiveness, among other things.

The most impressive correlation between all these studies is this: the list of the least predictive criteria for happiness in love, from the study by Samantha Joel, almost perfectly matches that of the most searched criteria on dating sites . Thus, the qualities required by most people in a future partner are the very ones that least increase the chances of being a happy couple.