Could a matchmaker find you love?

Could someone else really know you better than you know yourself and know what will work for you in a relationship?

Happy Couple on their Wedding Day

For many single folks, the idea of a setup date might be the least appealing scenario imaginable. It often recalls moments when a caring relative, friend, or coworker proposed a date with someone they know because you supposedly share common interests – which typically boils down to both of you being single and knowing the same person. These reasons don’t really predict whether you’ll click romantically!

The idea of a blind date, where you meet for a coffee or meal with someone you hardly know, can be quite nerve-wracking, especially if you don’t know what they look like. The television program First Dates, shown on Australia’s Channel Seven, highlighted how nerve-wracking it can be to film two strangers on a date and broadcast it nationwide. Participants on the show apply to have dinner on a blind date with someone they've never met. They share details about their likes, dislikes, and personality in a questionnaire and are then matched with another participant.

Yet, the show doesn’t ensure that experts do any deep matchmaking. TV producers often make matches based on physical looks or characteristics that might make for engaging TV. For example, one participant with a preference for feet ended up matched with a podiatrist, seemingly by chance."

Couple's feet whilst in bed

Unfortunately there was not a lot of success on the show and it seemed few couples made it through and went on a second date off camera. Another show that recently aired on the 9Life TV channel followed the lives of three US couples that were arranged in marriage by their families. One couple were of Indian descent and it was quite traditional in their culture to be arranged by their families, but in the modern world, they used the services of a specialist online dating agency for arranged marriages. There was also a gypsy couple where again it is the norm for young gypsy folk to be arranged by their parents around their 18th birthday. The last couple were a Southern couple, who had been arranged by their families as well. There were plenty of fights for TV drama, but there was certainly an underlying factor that because arranged marriages were part of their culture, divorce was likely not a feasible option for these couples and they all had to make it work, happy or not.

Unhappy married couple

Arranged marriages are not traditionally part of the British culture, but this was the premise of a dating show that has captured the United Kingdom’s heart, Married at First Sight. This show promises to match contestants based on scientific compatibility factors after applicants complete detailed personality surveys and interviews with psychologists.  Contestants are paired and told to organise their wedding – but they will not meet their future husband or wife until they get to the alter.

Following their wedding to a complete stranger in front of their nearest and dearest, the couple spend their first night together in a plush hotel room and are then whisked away to a glamorous honeymoon destination. Now, I don’t know about you, but I think I could be quite happy with anyone on a tropical island sipping cocktails in the sun….

But this is sometimes the downfall of the couples and in the most recent series one couple broke up on their final day of their honeymoon as the guy had come to the conclusion that his new wife was not for him and he did not want to carry on with the rest of the experiment, which is living together for 30 days. During the 30 days couples have various tasks they must do to test their relationship, such as visit Ikea and assemble some flat pack furniture without murdering each other, which to be fair is probably a reliable test for all engaged couples before applying for a marriage licence!

The show has had 13 couples over three seasons so far and to date only 2 couples remain together. In November 2016, a couple from the first series which aired in 2015, Alex and Zoe, celebrated the birth of their first child. This was quite a surprising union as Zoe was really not too happy with her chosen husband from the second she locked eyes on him walking down the aisle at their wedding.

Zoe made it quite clear that he was not her type physically, intellectually, or lifestyle wise. Zoe was a Melbourne inner city professional, Alex was plumber from the ‘burbs. She hated his house that he owned miles away from the city. He hated her shoe box apartment in the heart of the city. She could actually be really quite horrible criticising his life choices in front of the camera, but he generally took it on the chin. Against all odds, they got through their first 30 days of ‘marriage’ (which is not legally binding) and decided to stay together at the end of the experiment. 18 months or so have passed and they are still very happy together, with a child and they clearly do believe that the experts got it right.

2 out of 13 relationships working out doesn’t sound like a high success rate, it’s really only a 15% strike rate. BUT as a single person, how many dates have you been on and how many were winners? I think many of us probably have a much lower success rate. Possibly many of us keep dating the same type of people over and over again as that is what we are attracted to, but we are also probably getting the same result over and over again as well.  What’s the definition of insanity again??

Girl going crazy online dating

A lot of people speak about having dating deal breakers, certain criteria that must be present in a potential further life partner for them to consider dating them. It makes perfect sense to be picky about such a big decision as to who to spend a lot of your time with, perhaps even your life with, but how do you know that you’re using the right criteria?

Could someone else actually know what that criteria is better than you? I will admit that when watching Married at First Sight I initially considered it to be a bit ‘Stockholm Syndrome’ like. All of these couples are forced together, forced to live together, forced to do couple activities together and often after a slightly bumpy ride, it’s like they assimilate and just go with it. Many of the couples indicate they will stay together at the end of the series, but by the time the show finale makes it to air months later they have already parted ways, perhaps when they are less committed to the cause with the cameras off.

But the ones that work out often say that they would never have picked that person themselves, as proven by Alex and Zoe on Married at First Sight. So perhaps the experts are actually on to something? Perhaps having your personality traits evaluated objectively against another’s traits by an expert like the psychologists on these TV shows can find you a real match?

As a single person I’ve often had well meaning friends and relatives suggest that I go on a dating show like Married at First Sight, and although I like the concept, I really can’t bear the thought of living out a new relationship on TV every week for the country to watch. But, I have taken on board that there is perhaps more to finding a long-term relationship partner than just determining if we have similar life ambitions, senses of humour and if we find each other attractive.

Many online dating sites these days offer matchmaking services. Some dating sites are solely matchmakers, and you cannot browse or search profiles; you must be ‘matched’. The majority use personality surveys, scientific research and data on success stories of what has worked with other members to identify the important criteria for matching.

Online matchmaking sites cater to all age groups. For example, Ourtime caters to 50+ singles who want to find love and friendships, while SilverSingles is for seniors who wish to embark on a new chapter of love and life.

Additionally, eHarmony and Match are go-to sites for singles of any age, offering unique features to match you with compatible partners.

But perhaps we could all have some more success with online dating if we did try to approach it in that way? What if you did sign up to a matchmaking site that uses psychological profiling and decided that you would give anyone that you were matched with a go? What if you at least chatted with each match, regardless of if you thought you were attracted to them or not?

Try it out. We’d love to hear how you go, comment below and tell us your story!

Chris Pleines, Author at
Chris Pleines
Founder of Datingscout and Author of the book "Online Dating for Dummies"
Chris founded Datingscout 15 years ago, and today he is one of the leading Online Dating Experts. He is the author of the book "Online Dating for Dummies" and the author of the Internet's largest online dating study analyzing 20 Million Profile Pictures with artificial intelligence. Chris Pleines holds a master degree in media science and appeared in numerous television interviews and publications to give expert advice as well as tips about online dating.

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