The dubious science of online dating

Ok Cupid’s algorithm calculates match percentage by comparing answers to “match questions,” which cover such potentially deal-breaking topics as religion, politics, lifestyle, and—I mean, let’s be honest, most importantly—sex.

For each question—say, “Do you like the taste of beer?

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But perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised: We met through Ok Cupid—85 percent match, 23 percent enemy (which sums to 108 percent, seems to me).

Although many users, especially younger users, prefer swipe-based dating apps like Tinder—or its female-founded alter ego, Bumble (on which only women can write first messages)—Ok Cupid’s mathematical approach to online dating remains popular.

I called Lewis from the third-floor Somerville, Massachusetts apartment that used to belong to my ex-girlfriend and me, a young woman I met on Ok Cupid. Looking back on our two-year relationship from that dreary place—I would move out in less than a month’s time—I felt eaten alive by pain and regret.

Never having met each other, I thought, would have been preferable to what actually happened. K, in fact, was just one in a series of several attempts to salve the heart wound that resulted from the -so-serendipitous union with my 99 percent match.

It’s an over $2 billion a year industry that, as far as we know, produces no greater happiness than meeting people more or less at random through the happenstance of everyday life.

What’s more, for every rhapsodical success story, there’s (at least) one of devastating heartbreak.

Since its inception, Match Group has outgrown e Harmony by a pretty significant margin: Its 2014 revenues, for instance, were nearly twice its rival’s.

Active since 2004, Ok Cupid’s claim to fame is the warm, fuzzy promise of pre-assured romantic compatibility with one’s top matches.

The formula errs on the conservative side, always showing you the lowest possible match percentage you could have with someone.

It also provides an enemy percentage, which is—confusingly—computed without the weighting, meaning it represents a raw percentage of incompatible answers.

“My big finding is that people are more likely to be open to interracial interaction when the other person makes the first move,” he said.

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