Cracking the Code | How Dating Site Algorithms Really Work

Man using laptop with glowing flying heart icon

Do you know how to code? If so, lucky you—we are jealous of your digital prowess. But you don’t have to be a tech wizard to understand and grasp that dating site algorithms are a helpful tool to have on your side in the search for love online, thank goodness.

If you’re like us and know the bare basics about these Cupid-like codes but not how they actually work, we’re gonna break it down without any complicated tech jargon—like how dating sites find your potential matches and how they are constantly updating based on your swiping behavior and likes and dislikes. All of these things are fed into the algorithms designed by dating sites with the hope you’ll find someone special.

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Decoding the Digital Cupids

Dating sites don’t just randomly throw profiles at you—that wouldn’t work at all. What they do is meticulously sort through heaps of data to find you potential matches. The word “algorithm” is just a fancy way of saying they have a set of rules to sort through data and locate the most compatible matches. They’re kinda that meddling (but well-meaning) friend that’s always trying to hook you up, but instead of relying on feelings, they use your dating site activity and stated preferences to set you up.

The Secret Sauce

What are the exact ingredients that these digital matchmakers add to their crockpot so they can whip up some matches so you can hopefully find love? Look below to find out!

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  • Demographics: Think of this as the basics – who you are, where you live, and who you’re interested in. This means the matches you get are within a reasonable distance and fit into your specified age range or other basic criteria you have in your profile or search filters.
  • Interests and Hobbies: Whether you’re a game night junkie or an adventure-loving maniac, dating sites take note and commit it to memory. They match you with others who share the same interest, which really does boost the chance of a date or at the very least, a decent conversation.
  • Swiping Patterns: Your habits on the site don’t go unnoticed—if you consistently swipe right on blondes but left on brunettes, the site adjusts its recommendations accordingly, curating your feed to better suit your romantic inclinations and tastes.

Mixing Up the Ingredients

With all of this data, dating sites use a few different algorithms to make sense of it all. And since most of us don’t have a degree in computer science, here is a simplified breakdown of how it works:

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  • The Elo System: Once super popular among dating sites, this system ranks users based on attractiveness. Your “score” goes up or down depending on how others swipe on you. Thankfully, this system is becoming less common because it’s pretty superficial.
  • The Gale-Shapley Algorithm: This one is inspired by solving the problem of arranging stable marriages (I know, weird, right?); this particular algorithm pairs people based on mutual preferences. 
  • Behavior-Based Matching: This method is the one that learns from your dating site activity—it knows who you like, who you message, and even how often you log in, using this info to find matches more your speed and style.

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Do They Really Know What You Want?

While dating site algorithms get better and better with time (and data), they don’t have ESP or magical powers. Your Mr. or Ms. Right might not fit the profile you’ve been swiping right on, which is why it’s always a good idea to occasionally throw a curveball into your swipes or likes. This helps the algorithm (and you) learn that your “type” just might be more general than you believed. Maybe not, but it doesn’t hurt to change things up!

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Past the Dating Site Algorithms: The Human Component

Despite the huge amounts of data and the complicated calculations, there’s an unpredictable element to love that dating site algorithms will never be able to fully grasp. We are talking about chemistry, timing, and that indefinable connection you feel when it’s right—these all play huge parts in whether a match on your screen can translate to love IRL.

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A Little Privacy, Please!

Because we sometimes tell our deepest desires and darkest dislikes to dating sites, we need to have a quick word on privacy. When using a dating site, always check and then double check exactly what info you’re sharing and adjust your settings to keep a level of privacy you’re comfortable with. The goal here is to find love, not to share your entire life story with everyone!


In layman’s terms, dating site algorithms are just a digitized version of a matchmaker—there’s no human touch involved. They use a combo of technology and daters’ personal preferences to steer singles toward potentially compatible love interests. And while they are incredibly sophisticated and useful, they can in no way fully replicate the unpredictable nature of human attraction, no matter how advanced they get. 

Let the algorithms do their part, but they won’t do the whole job for you, so keep an open mind and maybe even challenge their recommendations once in a while by switching things up! When you partner up with them, it could lead you to your perfect match.

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