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How long before phone numbers are exchanged, for example — which means that yes, these companies are scanning your private messages, wading through the dirty talk with algorithms to discover trends.
That seems to undercut a fairly fundamental assumption of dating websites: that a list of romantic opinions, physical attributes, and financial or professional demands can be as unhelpful and as ultimately useless as a shopping list you've left at home.This the ubiquitous sales-pitch of online dating: they net you the man, woman, or vampiric lover of your dreams.These sites occasionally make very grand — and sometimes implausible-sounding — claims.Users often revel in the choices they're being given — many describe it as "going shopping for love." And while this might make a nice after-hours hobby, and certainly helps explain why these services have become so popular, it shouldn't be in itself enough to make being single more attractive than a fulfilling relationship.Reducing the business of finding love to a throwaway consumer experience is a bit chilling, when you think about it. Well, it is this exact idea — that of a "fulfilling" relationship — that has come under fire with the advent of online dating.A study in 2010 showed that people, far from messaging each other evenly across the range of races, ages, and attractiveness, quite predictably emailed the most attractive, successful, and intelligent people, irrespective of whether those people matched the criteria message-senders had themselves specified.
Christian Rudder, one of the founders of Ok Cupid, described these people as "surrounded." So, while in a bar or similar situation you can tell when a person is popular quite easily, and so might prefer to flirt with someone unattended to, on a dating website that "surrounded" factor is obscured.
People create profiles, which they fill with basic physical and personality traits in the hope of getting matched up with someone who is looking for that particular mix, while hoping that they find satisfaction themselves in the person concerned.
It's rare for this to be the only thing a website will want its users to do, though.
The research that relates directly to online dating is especially poor, given that key romantic factors — body language, smell, voice, and simply the physical presence of someone — are missing when you meet online.
To compensate, dating sites are updating their research methods, using user data like time spent on profiles, number of messages, and quality of messages.
Our understanding of what counts as "enough" is shaped by what choices are available to us.