The human brain works in a pretty specific way, and a lot of those ways haven’t changed over the years. Specifically, in the way humanity loves. While this may not the most romantic era of human history, the endorphin rush is the same as it was when Shakespeare was ushering in the most epic love story of all time. Biological anthropologist and author of The Anatomy of Love Helen Fisher assures us that nothing about the feelings or practices of love has been changed by online dating. People still flirt as they used to. Heart rates still pound when they meet. The biology is the same.
But the mechanisms of the meeting have changed. Fisher says that we should think of popular relationship sites not as dating websites, but as introduction websites. It’s a matter of making a match, and then letting the humans take it from there, going along the path that we always have. Fisher points out that to find love, you usually have to kiss a lot of frogs – online dating just lessens the amount of those unfavorable encounters - in theory anyway.
Dating algorithms and increased technology allow for online daters to do amazing things – assess their dates to see what they might be like, check out their core beliefs before it’s too late, and even check for past criminal activity.
Perhaps because the digital world allows us to know people so quickly, we find ourselves in an age of increased real-world paranoia. It’s easier to date online than it is to trust the flirting stranger in a coffee shop. The way most of our parents or grandparents met would probably creep younger generations out – it might all be “a little too intense.”
Algorithms in online dating allow people to filter out their deal breakers, farewell the frogs, and get on with the falling in love part. While previous generations may grumble that the technology isn’t natural, or that it stops genuine meetings between couples, there is no denying that the algorithms have great value in helping people find the partner that's right for them.
Love is as messy and complicated and biological as it’s always been, we’re just doing the intros a little bit differently.
Helen Fisher's book is The Anatomy of Love.