As times have changed, so have our dating habits. From the ancient era of arranged marriages to improve our wealth or status, to the Pride and Prejudice days of being formally introduced, to the past century of meeting through work or through social settings—the modern world approaches dating differently.
With the rapid growth of technology, the world we occupy went digital, and dating followed suit. Since the first Internet dating site appeared in 1995, online dating has quickly flourished. Following the early stigma of meeting someone online, a recent survey indicated that online dating is now the second most popular way to meet our other half! In fact, almost a quarter of the people surveyed had met their current partner online.
So what does the future hold for online dating? Well, the coast looks clear… With our increasingly busy lives, many singles are switching to online dating, and with the advent of apps such as Tinder where you can look for romance on your phone while getting the bus to work, it's easy to see why. The online dating giants predict that by 2030, half of all new couples will have met online, and by 2040, a staggering 70 per cent!
What form this online dating will take is a popular topic. Some suggest that online dating will go, ironically, offline, with a plethora of new apps encouraging their members to meet in person and quickly take the relationship back into reality.
It's undeniable that most people wanted to meet like-minded partners with similar interests. With tons of specific dating sites for vegetarians, uniformed staff, and football fans, some experts predict that online dating will simply become smarter and better at finding us suitable candidates.
The idea behind this is that complex algorithms could eventually find us the perfect match if they know enough about us, not from the 90's-style questionnaires, but from analysing our online behavior. In particular, apps such as Facebook with its wealth of knowledge, or should I say, data about our lives and social circles, could play a big role in matchmaking. This "behavior-based matching", as it's known, would analyse where we go and what we do, and direct us to those who display similar behavior.
In physical terms, online dating looks set to grow with the advancement in new technologies such as virtual reality wearables, allowing us to "experience" the other person in all five senses before we actually meet them. What might sound like a far-fetched Sci-fi film might be the norm by 2040, with full-sensory virtual reality dates. Similarly, smart contact lenses that record our body's reactions to those around us might enable technology to discern who we'll find attractive in the future.
If these technologies were combined with online dating, we could find potential partners who we are both compatible with and find attractive, faster and easier. And if all of this data could be analysed and matched against millions of other people's data, finding "the one" could become a reality.