Virtual dating: the future of courtship?

A recent Harvard Business School Working Knowledge article, “Online Match-Making with Virtual Dates,” explains how virtual dating is a better way of getting to know someone than emailing and IMing.

vitual datingAcademics Jeana H. Frost, Michael I. Norton and Dan Ariely looked at online dating and how it can be improved. After interviewing online daters they discovered that people spend hours and hours looking at profiles, making contact, then emailing prospects before actually meeting. Then most face-to-face encounters fizzle. So the process wasn’t yielding great matches even after all that time and effort.

What is virtual dating? How is it different than online dating? “After two dating-service customers find what looks like a good match, the couple meets over their computers for a five-minute virtual date, a kind of online ice-breaker that allows two people to communicate in real time using colors, words, and images.

“In the process of using virtual dates, couples may pick up more cues about each other than they would through a standard, one-dimensional chat client. Is my date responsive or funny? Are they on time? How do they relate in real time? How does it feel to sit (virtually) across from them?”

By “meeting” real time, and interacting even if through the computer, they pick up on things that aren’t discernable in email. It enables people to decide if they want to make that coffee date after even just a five-minute interaction. Sort of like virtual speed dating!

The author concurs with my philosophy: “The people who go on a lot of dates are the people who find someone. In some sense it’s a numbers game.”

I’d be willing to try this, but I think you get so many more cues in email, phone and of course a face-to-face meeting. But perhaps it would save time if you learned in a virtual date that you weren’t drawn to meet him in person. I’m not sure how one would word the “thanks, but no thanks” message when you’ve only virtually met: “Thanks, but our data didn’t synch”?

Technorati Tags:,,,,,,,

Got a dating-after-40 topic you want Dating Goddess to address? Send your issue to







3 responses to “Virtual dating: the future of courtship?”

  1. Elena Avatar

    I’m confused. How is this different from talking to someone over Skype or Yahoo Messenger and using a web cam or is that the same idea?

  2. Dating Goddess Avatar

    The way I read it, there is no web cam and the process is structured. I’m thinking it’s like some of those tests where it gives you 5 shapes and asks which one is most like you. Then maybe you discuss it via an IM w/your date. Or maybe it’s just paying interactive exercises. The article didn’t clarify.

  3. Bruce Daley Avatar

    There is some good advice in this. For example “Remove yourself as much as possible and don’t invest your ego in one particular date……Remember that it’s very easy to get carried away and imbue a profile with overly favorable qualities….Avoid long e-mail correspondences because they tend to heighten expectations.” They haven’t applied for a patent yet, but if they do, it will be interesting to see how these tests work.