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With some goading from a friend — who somehow convinced me that the stigma against online dating was no more — I joined Ok Cupid and started scanning the thousands of matches that popped up on my screen.

Apparently, I wasn’t alone in my Valentine’s Day depression-induced hunt for Prince Charming.

But even if algorithms aren’t the answer, there’s no doubt that online dating has led to successful relationships — my own included.

The question is: Are those first dates and relationships really any different from connections made in more traditional ways? Even though the number of budding Internet relationships is increasing, the overall rate of partnership is not increasing at all.

It only changes the process of discovery," says Mehr in Dan Slater's new book "Love in the Time of Algorithms: What Technology Does to Meeting and Mating." (Slater notes that Mehr was the only dating exec he interviewed who felt this way.)It’s the efficiency of this “process of discovery” that’s appealing to many daters.

“I guess maybe the promise of online dating is that it allows you to get out and have those experiences and make those mistakes and hopefully learn a lot from them,” said Slater. is to get [them] out there and get them to socialize.” Sure, you might encounter some horrific experiences — but hopefully you’ll learn from them and those lessons will benefit your search for a partner in the long run.“Even if I had married someone that I had met through a friend or whatever, online dating still would have been fun,” said Feifer.

But despite these numbers, it’s unclear if online dating is any more effective than, or really any different from, meeting someone offline.

It doesn’t help that these algorithms are closely guarded trade secrets.

The majority of the surveys, studies, and reports evaluating online dating sites’ efficacy are paid for by the companies themselves, leading to some possibility for biased results.

“I think there is a possibility [that these algorithms] could evolve to better predict long-term compatibility.

There’s just a disconnect between what social science says is actually possible, and what the sites say they can do,” said Slater.

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