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Everyone knows someone who met their spouse online.A friend of mine whom I hadn’t seen in years told me recently that she, too, met her husband on an Internet dating site.They’re happily married, just moved into a new house, and are now talking about starting a family.When I asked her if she thought online matchmaking was a better way than offline dating to find guys who were more compatible with her — and, therefore, better husband material — she laughed.That’s not necessarily a bad thing, as profiles can help quickly weed out the obviously inappropriate or incompatible partners (who hasn’t wished for such a skip button on those disastrous real-life blind dates?), but it also means that some of the pleasure of dating, and building a relationship by learning to like a person, is also diluted.“No, because I couldn’t stand him when I first met him,” she says of her husband.

In the real world, it takes days or even weeks for the mating dance to unfold, as people learn each other’s likes and dislikes and stumble through the awkward but often rewarding process of finding common ground.

It definitely wasn’t love at first sight, she said — that took a while.

In other words, according to my friend, Internet dating is just as unpredictable as the non-digital version.

But social science studies have found that such a priori predictors aren’t very accurate at all, and that the best prognosticators of how people will get along come from the encounters between them.

In other words, it’s hard to tell whether Jim and Sue will be happy together simply by comparing a list of their preferences, perspectives and personality traits before they meet.

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