by Motte Brown
A few years ago The Wall Street Journal highlighted a study from psychology professor Eli Finkel of Northwestern University about the merits, or lack thereof, of online dating.
It begins with Dr. Finkel acknowledging some of the benefits of online dating like expanding your pool of “relationship” minded prospects. But he goes on to question the usefulness of the compatibility algorithms sites use to make good matches.
But, the typical online dating site—where individuals view profiles of people who match certain characteristics or values—doesn’t improve one’s chance of meeting a compatible mate, according to Dr. Finkel. That is because it’s hard to judge chemistry or rapport—so-called “experiential” information—without meeting face-to-face.
A prime example is “similarity,” a category that some dating sites say is the key to finding a suitable mate and serves as the basis for complicated matching algorithms. In relationship research, similarity between couples doesn’t well predict the long-term success of the relationship, says Dr. Finkel.
Dr. Albert Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, posed a similar question as online dating services were becoming more and more popular.
Of course, some of the “science” behind these services doesn’t appear very cold or hard. The worldview represented by many of these services is deeply rooted in humanistic psychology. The basic assumption is that compatibility — measured and evaluated by various factors, depending on the service — is the key to marital happiness. Christians must wonder, however, if compatibility — however described and measured — is really the key to a faithful and fulfilling marriage that glorifies God.
The role of compatibility and marriage is something we weighed very carefully when creating Marry Well. Compatibility is important, but it’s not the key to a God-glorifying marriage. It’s why our tag line is “A Better Path to Marriage” instead “29 dimensions of compatibility.” We believe how you date can be as important as who you date.
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