When Amy Webb, a single 30-something who had just gone through a breakup, was faced with the prospect of trying to find eligible bachelors in the city of Philadelphia, she realized the pickings were slim. How slim? After crunching some data on single, Jewish men, she ascertained that she had exactly 35 possible romantic options in a city of 1.5 million. Webb knew that she could either take her grandmother’s advice to “luck into love” or go online. Could her story sound any more familiar? I don’t think so.
Webb eventually chose to post an online profile, which she filled out by copying and pasting phrases from her resume. After a few horrendous dates (one guy left her with a bill that cost an entire month’s rent!), Webb, a data junkie and lover of algorithms, undertook the Herculean task of outsmarting online dating at its own game. Here’s how she did it:
First, she made a list of 72 qualities that she was looking for in a partner, then split them into two groups, ranked by priority. She also made 10 fake, male profiles to collect data from women she was competing against in order to reverse-engineer her own profile. Crazily enough, it worked and she suddenly found herself to be “the most popular person online.” That’s when she applied her personal ranking system to score her many suitors. In the end, only one scored high enough for a date. They went out on what turned out to be an epic, 14-hour, first date. And, well, now they’re married and have a daughter. HAPPILY EVER AFTER.
If only I had known Webb’s secrets when I was online dating, it might have spared me all the horrendous dates (especially the one with the man who announced he was under “federal investigation” over spaghetti). But then again, I probably wouldn’t have had the mathematical acumen to execute this type of thing with the precision that Webb did. Either way, I bow down to her for cracking the most mysterious algorithm in life — the algorithm of love. But the question remains: Would she have met her husband even if she didn’t make all those spreadsheets? Who knowns. We can only hope that other single people can replicate these results for themselves. If not, I guess there’s always the “lucking into love” option that Webb’s grandmother was so fond of. [TED Blog]