Online dating has been growing steadily in popularity. Roughly, about 1 in 5 relationships now start online in the UK and USA. Despite its popularity, or maybe because of it, online dating currently suffers from what we call a congestion problem.
Users, in particular women, tend to receive a large number of messages, causing the online dating experience to become overwhelming. Some users tend to be matched with too many people, unable to distinguish real interest; other users don’t get any matches.
What does that mean?
This problem is present, in different ways, on all the major platforms. It happens a lot when unsolicited messages are possible (you are familiar with what I mean if you are a member of OK Cupid or Plenty Of Fish). Women tend to receive tons of messages. The most attractive woman on OK Cupid in 2014 (Lauren Urasekii) claims she was receiving around 35 messages a day, which makes it more than a thousand per month, and she is not a unique case!
On these platforms it becomes impossible for women to sort the good from the uninterested. But it doesn’t stop there, as men also suffer from it too. They are always the first to send messages and most of the time, they don’t receive any replies. This leads male users to copy and paste the same message to every woman, disregarding the match percentage feature on which the app is based.
Tinder and the likes of it, where matched users must have expressed a reciprocal interest, are not immune. It’s a fact that on Tinder men like a high percentage of women (on average 46% of them) and often, this appreciation is not backed by strong interest. This dilutes the quality of the signal women receive from a match. Women, on the other hand, are more selective and swipe right only to 14% of the users on average.
In summary, women experience that they are matched with a lot of men, but many of these men aren't very interested in them. So the girls don’t know where to concentrate their attention, while the boys spend all day swiping right and sending blanket messages, only to receive a couple back.
This problem also affects the users’ ability to get to know the people they have been matched with. According to a study from research at different universities, men on the leading swiping app message an estimated 7% of their matches and, according to another study, users of the leading swiping app ignore their matches' first message more than half of the time. How is it possible? It's because they are not really interested in their matches and we are working hard to avoid this.
pear solves the congestion problem in three ways:
First, we don’t create hundreds of matches; the number of people you can interact with at the same time is fixed, but large enough for you to enjoy using the app. This doesn’t mean you are stuck with them - you can un-match someone and we will match you with someone else.
Second, by asking users to perform binary comparisons we remove the incentive to like everybody. Trust us, unlike in other swiping apps, you have nothing to gain by mis-reporting your preferences. You are most likely to end up worse off by trying to game our algorithm.
Last but not least, our matches are not random. We create matches the smart way. Without subjecting the user to long questionnaires, we use the information users provide during their comparisons to offer high-quality, potential partners. When we match you with someone, you know that, in a certain sense, you are meant for each other. More precisely, there’s no other user that you rank higher than your current match that would give up any of their current matches to be matched with you.
This may sound complicated and too much of a mathematical sophistication. We understand, but we know that the algorithm we use isn’t just a beautiful mathematical idea. Research into the topic suggests the algorithm works extremely well in predicting real-life dating and marriage patterns.