Is tech deciding who you love? 4 ways algorithms are influencing your relationships

Dating apps have revolutionized the world of dating.

They are incredible, really – connecting us to people in our area and around the world who we might never otherwise encounter.

I know I owe my relationship success to dating apps – just like many of my friends do, too!

But there’s a downside to dating apps that even the creators of dating apps know.

The algorithms aren’t always foolproof in how they decide who’s a good match for you (and who isn’t).

They can influence your relationships in all kinds of ways. Sometimes for good, but sometimes not so much.

If you use dating apps, there’s a good chance that tech is deciding who you love. It just depends on how it’s doing it.

Let’s find out the top ways algorithms influence your relationships!

Up first:

1) Deciding your type for you

The primary way algorithms influence your relationships is by showing you matches based on a pre-built “profile” of what you like.

This profile is formed by collecting data on what type of person you typically swipe left (no) and right (yes) on.

They use this profile to work out who’s your “type”, so they can show you more of the same people.

Say you’ve swiped left (no) on a couple of people with tattoos. You swiped no because of something iffy in their bio. Or because they were looking for different things from you (short-term fun maybe?).

But the algorithm won’t know why you said no. Instead, it’ll think you don’t like people with tattoos.

So, it’ll rarely show you anyone with tattoos in the future. Even if you actually like romantic interests to have tattoos or don’t mind them!

It’ll simply figure out your type based on those swipes.

2) Deciding who thinks you’re their type

The algorithm works in the same way for you as it does for your potential partners.

Just like it decides your type for you, it also decides who thinks you’re their type.

Say there’s a guy out there who swiped right on a couple of women with kids. Women with kids aren’t necessarily his type. He was just into the profiles of these specific women.

But now, all the algorithms do is show him profiles of women with kids.

If you have kids, he’ll see your profile even though you might not be his type for other reasons.

Or if you don’t have kids, he might never see your profile – even though you could be each other’s soulmate!

See what we mean? It works both ways.

Just like you might not be seeing people who are truly your type, your “true love” might not be seeing your profile either – just because the algorithm doesn’t think it’s quite right for them!

3) Matching based on browsing history

Not all dating apps do this, but most have some access to your browsing cookies from sites you’ve visited previously. And they use this data to decide your “interests”.

I.e., if you often research travel sites and theatre shows, they might show you people who also visit travel sites and book theatre shows online.

But as most of us know, what you Google doesn’t necessarily represent your interests. Especially if you’re Google-ing on behalf of a family member or friend.

Like the other day, I was chatting to my dad and ended up researching what the difference is between ravens and crows. We went down a rabbit hole with it, visiting all kinds of birdwatching sites to find out the differences.

An algorithm might presume I’m into birdwatching from that session and show me people who love birdwatching on the weekend.

And unfortunately, they would be left bitterly disappointed!

That’s a minor example of how the browsing history could impact who shows up on your dating apps.

But since we don’t really know what “profile” is built about us from our browsing history, it begs the question:

What impact does our search history have on who we fall in love with?

4) Showing people just like your ex

You know when your friends say that you keep dating the same type of guy – and you need to go for someone different instead?

Or when the guy you’re dating ends up being just like your ex (and not in a good way)?

Well, algorithms could be doing their thing to make this true!

Most dating apps use your previous matches and likes to determine who they show you next.

And if you’ve swiped right on a certain “type” of person – and had success in chatting to them and even exchanging numbers via the app before – they’ll keep showing you people just like them.

So they really could be “forcing” you to date people just like your ex!

If you like what you like, this could be a great thing for you.

But if you want to get away from your typical “type”, this might not be doing you any favors…

Final thoughts

The moral of the story is: dating apps do influence who you end up dating. That’s the point of them, after all.

But whether it’s in a good way or not is unclear.

The thing with dating apps is they don’t know the reasons why you’re swiping the way you’re swiping.

You could come across a profile that ticks all your boxes. But you might say no to them because they’re your friends’ ex – not because they aren’t your “type”.

And the app may not ever show you someone like them again. Or they’ll just show people like that few and far between.

That being said, I’m a strong believer that true love will always find a way!

I met my partner online and we had nothing in common on the apps. We both said that we didn’t even think much of chatting to each other on there.

But now we couldn’t imagine life without each other – and we’re so glad we stumbled upon going on our first date months after matching.

And whether you love or hate them, you could argue that the algorithms are right in using these metrics to decide who you’re likely to be interested in!

So even though the algorithms are a little crazy, if you want to find love, “trust the process”, as they say – and all could work out OK in the end.

Picture of Amy Reed

Amy Reed

Amy Reed is a content writer from London working with international brands. As an empath, she loves sharing her life insights to help others. When she’s not writing, she enjoys a simple life of reading, gardening, and making a fuss over her two cats.

Enhance your experience of Ideapod and join Tribe, our community of free thinkers and seekers.

Related articles

Most read articles

Get our articles

Ideapod news, articles, and resources, sent straight to your inbox every month.