How Dating Site eHarmony Uses Machine Learning to Help You Find Love

Feb 14, 2017

A dating website without photos? That hard-to-imagine prospect was eHarmony's reality when it first launched 16 years ago. Users created a dating profile, filled out a 450-item questionnaire, and reviewed matches without the ability to see any other users' pictures.

Over the years, the site has added photos and made its clunky interface easier to navigate. That, however, hasn’t stopped free mobile apps like Tinder and Bumble from stealing users away from the dating site stalwart.

“People do end up on those sites looking for relationships, and we see that as our challenge,” says eHarmony CEO Grant Langston.

Langston says users gravitate toward the “swipe friendly” dating apps because the services are “cheap and easy.” But Langston says there’s one thing Tinder and Bumble will never have on eHarmony: 16 years worth of rich data.

Unlike the location-based dating apps, eHarmony's matches are determined by a slimmed-down version of its original questionnaire—it now features 150 questions. With a completion rate of 80%, the site charges members monthly subscriptions that cost up to $59.95.

Perhaps most interesting is what the dating site does with the data. The site collects demographic data (age, gender, location), psychographic data (likes, interests and habits), and behavioral data (actions taken on the site). eHarmony’s research team also conducts research on couples who met through the site. eHarmony’s in-house psychologists and data scientists feed that information into machine learning algorithms that help match compatible users.

“That data lets us optimize the site and the process for a number of variables,” Langston says. “We are about relationships, and we track the quality of the relationships we make.”

Watch the video above to hear Langston’s insights on the top three dating mistakes people make.

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