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Recognizing the unique possibilities afforded by the Inter- net, numerous commercial Web sites have arisen to provide these services to users seeking romantic relationships. To attract customers, online dating sites typically empha- size two aspects of the services they offer.
Specifi- cally, the past 15 to 20 years have witnessed the development of Web-based companies that specialize in providing some combination of: a. First, they empha- size that their services are unique to dating through the Internet; that is, the sites are offering a service that cannot be duplicated in any other way. Contemporary methods of social introduction: Is the stigmatization justified?
Third, whereas the choice of a mate once relied largely upon the individual’s intuitions and personal opinions, the Internet promises to create matches between suitable partners using new tools that draw upon data provided by thousands, or millions, of users. Each year, millions of hopeful relationship seekers use these sites, often paying substantial fees for the privilege. Regarding matching, no compelling evidence supports matching sites’ claims that mathematical algorithms work— that they foster romantic outcomes that are superior to those fostered by other means of pairing partners. Introduction For as long as humans have recognized the urge to form romantic relationships, they have also recognized that finding an appropri- ate partner can be challenging, and that sometimes it is useful to get some help. Predicted outcome value in initial conversa- tions. From the Jewish shadchan immortalized in the musical Fiddler on the Roof, to the khastegari customs of Iran, to the arranged marriages still prevalent in parts of Southeast Asia, there is a tradition—millennia old—of romantic relationships arising not only from chance encounters between two individuals but also from the deliberate intervention of third parties (Coontz, 2005). In particular, online dating, which has rapidly become a pervasive means of seeking potential partners, has altered both the romantic acquaintance process and the compatibility matching process. For example, rather than meeting potential partners, getting a snapshot impression of how well one interacts with them, and then slowly learning various facts about them, online dating typically involves learning a broad range of facts about potential partners before deciding whether one wants to meet them in person.