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These patterns also generally held for the second step, messaging, but with smaller effects. The results convince Ken-Hou Lin, a sociologist at the University of Texas, Austin, who also studies online dating.

"The science is absolutely solid." He suspects that deal breakers are more important at the early stage of mate selection when people are winnowing down a pool of candidates.

"I expect positive selection to kick in at a later stage of the search," he says.

Lin hopes that other dating sites will release similar data, because website design could play a bit part in how people make decisions.

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Not according to a study of more than 1 million interactions on a dating website published this week in the .

Instead, the results indicate that you are probably looking for "deal breakers," harshly eliminating those who do not live up to your standards. People met their romantic partners through the recommendations of friends, family, or even at real-world locations known as "bars." Whatever signals and decisions led people to couple up were lost to science. According to the Pew Research Center, 5% of Americans in a committed romantic relationship say they met their partner through an online dating site.

With the rise of the digital age, it is no surprise that people have flocked to the Internet as a way to take control of their dating lives and find their “soul-mate.” But is online dating essentially different than conventional dating, and does it promote better romantic outcomes? Communicating online can foster intimacy and affection between strangers, but it can also lead to unrealistic expectations and disappointment when potential partners meet in real life.

Then comes the choice to send a person a message, or to reply to one.

And of course, the final, crucial decision, which isn't captured by these data: whether to meet the person in the real world.

Bruch wondered: Is mate selection like a job interview process, where the person with the best combination of positive factors wins?

Or is it more like a -style reality show, where contestants are picked off one by one for a single failing?

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