“Our real-life and online identities are more and more interwoven.” Because of this cultural shift, online dating sites now have unprecedented reach into our lives. Reams have been written about online dating, but as far as we know, no one has put the sites to the test.

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There’s a whole range of difficult human emotions to contend with: insecurity, disappointment, rejection, maybe heartache. “Sometimes there is nothing that clicks whatsoever,” says Julien Nguyen, a 30-year-old software designer from Austin, Texas, who has used Bumble and Tinder.

“Sometimes whatever chemistry we had just fizzles out.”Perhaps being in the market for a mate can’t be compared with using other services. D., a professor at the Harvard Business School who studies consumer behavior, thinks so.

Online dating is different from shopping for, say, a sweater, he explains: “Once you decide on the sweater you want, you can get it.

But with dating, the sweater has to agree, too.”Another reason for the low satisfaction scores may be that “most dating sites have some misalignment between profit model and user experience because they are financed through subscription fees or advertising,” says Scott Kominers, Ph.

“Those are among the most popular dating sites in the world, and when you’re fishing, it just makes sense to drop your line in the most crowded ponds.” That’s generally true unless you have a particular guiding factor, such as religion, race, or politics, in which case you can go to a niche site like JDate or Black People Meet.

Kate, the government analyst, has started using Tastebuds, a site based on music preferences.

“It was—unbelievably—not a crazy experience.” Online dating has certainly lost its lonely-hearts stigma.

Just look at how many people seeking dates or mates are flocking to matchmaking sites and apps.

Collectively, we spend huge sums of money on matchmaking, not to mention all the time and substantial emotional investment. Given that we usually rate products (like refrigerators) and services (like banking), this is new and fairly unusual territory for us.