Your Romantic Ideals Don’t Predict Who Your Future Partner Will Be

Last year, I briefly ran an analogue dating service. I’ll never know what inspired me to start it—maybe my stable relationship had me missing the excitement of single life—but I loved the simplicity of it. There were no questionnaires, no algorithms, no thoughtful matchmaking. Instead, I collected phone numbers from singles I met at bars, soccer games, and dinner parties, and arbitrarily set them up with each other. While most of my “matches” never went anywhere, I was surprised by how many turned into second or third dates. Even more surprising was how easy it was to recruit singles. Everywhere I went, it seemed there was someone frustrated enough in their love life to take a chance on a date arranged by a complete stranger.

This strategy may not be as crazy as it sounds. When it comes to predicting who we’ll click with, your guess truly may be as good as mine. At least that’s what a recent study, “Negligible evidence that people desire partners who uniquely fit their ideals,” suggests. It was published this June in the . “The data were very compelling in telling the story that we might not have a lot of insight into what’s really driving our romantic desire,” says Jehan Sparks, a postdoctoral researcher

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