As we approach Valentine’s Day season, many people without a romantic partner may feel that their singleness means they inherently lack something. Then, in the most Tech way possible, the GT Marriage Pact promises to find your algorithmically selected perfect match. At face value, this proposition seems too good to be true; unfortunately, it is.
The concept of each person having “the one” out there waiting for them is prevalent in American culture, especially within the subset of Americans who believe strongly in the institution of marriage. One of the greatest fallacies in viewing prospective romantic partners this way is that there is a person whose beliefs, lifestyle, hopes and dreams all align perfectly with one’s own. Subsequently, this can send people on a fruitless search to identify the perfect person for them. Some of those with this outlook on life who are of a very technical persuasion might even come to the conclusion that “the one” for them can be determined algorithmically. This line of thinking is how we ended up with an algorithm that promises to find someone who is mathematically optimal for you.
The GT Marriage Pact asks participants to gauge larger pieces of their outlook on life, such as religion and the desire to have children, but fails to account for the importance of a person’s everyday lifestyle. Although it is critically important that two people have worldviews that mainly align, especially on divisive topics such as their religion or their political ideologies, the choices that one makes daily are crucial to romantic compatibility. Whether or not two people have enough mutual hobbies to have something to do and talk about together but still enough individual activities to have their own identity is critical to the longevity of a relationship.
When a poll only asks questions on a macro scale but neglects the details of a person’s everyday lifestyle, the quality of matches is likely to suffer. It is often the case that two people who practice the same religion or are both opposed to organized religion have very little else in common. This is not to discount the importance of two people’s philosophical outlooks on their chance at happiness together, but whether or not two people have similar hobbies can be the make-or-break factor in the success of their first few dates. In reality, very few people really want to focus on their thoughts on the makeup of the Supreme Court on the first date as much as they might wish to talk about their favorite hiking spots in Georgia.
On top of the issues with the concept of an algorithmically selected romantic partner and the questions that said algorithm uses, the quality of the matches depends on the pool of participants. In the case of GT Marriage Pact, that pool can be quite constrained or demographically skewed depending on who is single when the survey goes live. In 2023, the algorithm ran, but during the weeks that it was collecting responses, there was a severe imbalance between the number of heterosexual men and women that filled it out.
The disparity was severe enough that many of the heterosexual women who filled out the pact either didn’t receive a single match or received one with a low score.
Between the strange concept of an algorithm choosing you a romantic partner to the lack of variety in questions asked by the algorithm to the limits placed on such a system by the people that opt to partake, the GT Marriage Pact is honestly unlikely to find anyone their forever partner.