If people really wanted an app to find The One…

Last week the New York Times ran a profile on The League and called it a “a Dating App for Would-Be Power Couples.” The League, it seems, tries to find better matches by using LinkedIn information “to create professional and educational affinities while also weeding out immediate colleagues.” In an effort to get users to take the matches seriously, it offers only five of them per day. The League’s use of LinkedIn data as a filter was mocked and called elitist by its critics and The League’s founder, Amanda Bradford, responded by saying “We’re trying to hit home that these people do have high standards. They’re not accepting everybody.”

Contrast this to Tinder, the incredibly popular dating app that presents only a photo and a witty intro of a potential partner and has no match limit and users swipe right for a like and left for a not. Tinder claims 1.2 billion swipes a day (!) with over 50 million active users. Other amazing engagement stats from last October: “on average, people log into the app 11 times a day. Women spend as much as 8.5 minutes swiping left and right during a single session; men spend 7.2 minutes. All of this can add up to 90 minutes each day.” The Times analyzed Tinder’s success as simply giving singles what they want: to pick a partner according to looks only.

IMG_20150205_153817The challenge for the different dating apps is to figure out is what users really want, on the scale between a fling and a long-term relationship and try to build a solution accordingly. It seems that Tinder does the fling side of the scale quite well, but I’m not sure that The League goes all the way on the other side of the scale. Trying to do some research on the topic, I came up with this gem from a few years ago discussing the Ideal Husband. Father Pat Connor, a 79-year-old Catholic priest with decades of marriage counseling under his belt came up with a few suggestions to finding a the ideal husband. I wondered that, like the way The League has integrated LinkedIn data to their matching algorithm, can his suggestions can be paired with publicly available data (assuming generous APIs) and be used to suggest potential mates? Let’s take a look at what can be done with Father Connor’s advice.

  1. “Never marry a man who has no friends.” This one can be easy: look at his Facebook friends (not family) and analyze them by engagement. How many friends are tagged in photos with him? How many social events has he attended? How many of those were “significant” such as weddings, showers, anniversaries?
  2. “Does he use money responsibly.” See what’s on his Amazon wish list, analyze for frivolous items. Analyze what purchases he’s bragged about on Facebook and Instagram. Check his location check-ins, Yelp reviews and food photos to see if he goes to many expensive restaurants.
  3. “Steer clear of someone whose life you can run, who never makes demands counter to yours.” This one’s a bit tricky and I’m not quite sure how to quantify it. Would it be how much of an online influencer he is? Sort of like a Klout score but a bit more nuanced, not just followers but also engagement and “voice.”
  4. “Is he overly attached to his mother and her mythical apron strings?” This is Facebook all the way. How many comments were made by his mother? How many photos are they tagged in together? Do they go out a lot together, to restaurants, movies or vacations? Does he brag about it by sharing it on Facebook?
  5. “Does he have a sense of humor?” Honestly, this one is so objective it may be impossible to quantify. Possibly on Twitter, where one-liners are common, a good joke can get more engagement. Yet how does one recognize a joke to begin with? Scratch this one, leave it for the date.
  6. “Don’t marry a problem character thinking you will change him. He’s a heavy drinker, or some other kind of addict, but if he marries a good woman, he’ll settle down.” Again, Facebook is your friend, but so is Instagram and any photo sharing app.
  7. “Take a good, unsentimental look at his family — you’ll learn a lot about him and his attitude towards women. An atmosphere of racism, sexism or prejudice in his home?” Twitter, Reddit, any sort of forum, board where he can express feelings outside his close circle of friends. What forums he participates in can be a good indicator as well. There is also an aspect of similarity in this piece of advice. How similar is the couple in terms of values, religion, upbringing? Can this information be gleaned a bit from Facebook and a bit from LinkedIn when comparing two profiles?
  8. “Finally: Does he possess those character traits that add up to a good human being — the willingness to forgive, praise, be courteous? Or is he inclined to be a fibber, to fits of rage, to be a control freak, to be envious of you, to be secretive?” Here as well, wait for the date. These are qualities that may not be easy to define by looking at data.

Note that none of the advice given by Father Connor implies that higher education or career achievements are necessary for a good marriage. He also doesn’t say anything about looks. Yet, I doubt any of the dating apps are going to follow his advice.

Final note: this post started out as a joke with a bit of cynicism thrown in for good measure. Please don’t treat it too seriously. I have been in a relationship far too long to have any idea what really goes on in today’s dating scene or to even offer an opinion.

 

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