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After a horrible breakup, woman hacks online dating system; without this formula she would have never met her soulmate

Posted May 24

At 30 years old, Amy Webb’s steady relationship crashed and burned and she found herself single again.

Devastated and alarmed, Webb realized her pre-planned timeline of getting married and having children wasn’t going to work anymore at her age. She also felt urged by her family to change her single status ... ASAP.

“My very large Jewish family was already all married and well on their way to having lots and lots of children, and I felt like I was under tremendous peer pressure to get my life going already,” Webb said in a Ted Talk.

When Webb turned to her grandmother for advice, she was told to "stop being so picky. You've got to date around. And most importantly, true love will find you when you least expect it."

With personal and family pressure to find a match, Webb decided to take matters into her own hands.

First try at quantifying love

As a lover of data and algorithms, Webb decided to try quantifying her dating options.

“In short, I was trying to figure out what's the probability of my finding Mr. Right?” Webb said.

She started with her city's population — 1.5 million people. Webb then kept narrowing it down through factors such as gender, age and religious background until she got down to 35 men in the entire city who could be compatible.

“So I have two possible strategies at this point I’m sort of figuring out,” said Webb. “One, I can take my grandmother's advice and sort of least-expect my way into maybe bumping into the one out of 35 possible men in the entire 1.5-million-person city of Philadelphia, or I could try online dating.”

Giving online dating a try

Though the idea of online dating may be unappealing and unromantic to some, it was appealing to Webb because of its own use of numbers and algorithms to match people up.

But Webb experienced several bumps along the way.

She hates filling out questionnaires of any kind, so she filled in dating profiles by copying and pasting from her resume.

“Obviously this was not the best way to put my most sexy foot forward,” said Webb. But as it turned out, several men showed interest in her in profile. She accepted several dates, which all went horribly.

One cringeworthy date involved an I.T. guy who took Webb out to a very high-end restaurant, ordering dish after dish and lots of wine until their table was overflowing. He then went to the bathroom and never came back.

Though these horrible dates didn't deter her; Webb was convinced she could streamline the process. She saw two major problems in dating sites that she was determined to fix.

Hacking the online dating problems

The first problem Webb said was “while the algorithms work just fine, you and I don't, when confronted with blank windows where we're supposed to input our information online. Very few of us have the ability to be totally and brutally honest with ourselves.”

The second major problem has to do with the questions commonly found on dating sites. “These websites are asking us questions like, are you a dog person or a cat person?” said Webb. “I'm not looking for a pen pal. I'm looking for a husband. Right? So there's a certain amount of superficiality in that data.”

So instead of going off of the dating site’s superficial data, Webb decided to keep using the site but use her own questions. She thought long and hard about every single possible thing she was looking for in a future husband and ended up with 72 questions (or data points, as she calls them).

Her questions ranged from topics of travel preferences to their cultural background to opinions on parenting. Her next step was to prioritize the list, giving each question a point value and separating the data points into a top and second tier.

Finally, she built a scoring system, determining to only agree to go out with a person if they score a minimum of 700 points and not even consider a relationship before somebody had crossed the 1,500 point threshold.

The algorithm’s final results

Webb had creating a new, optimized dating profile which attracted a lot of men ... but not anyone who had "scored" enough points to be seriously considered.

Then, along came Thevenin. As they talked online, he mentioned several things on her list of data points and immediately scored 850 points on Webb’s algorithm scoring system. That well surpassed Webb’s minimum for a date, so they soon after met up in person and ended up spending 14 straight hours together.

When she finally got back to her house, she re-scored him and was pleased at his score of 1,050 points.

“Well, a year and a half after that, we were non-cruise ship traveling through Petra, Jordan, when he got down on his knee and proposed,” said Webb. “A year after that, we were married, and about a year and a half after that, our daughter, Petra, was born.”

Can you do it too?

Instead of being less picky (as her family nagged her), Webb chose to be even more picky and successfully found true love through a picky algorithm. After her miraculous experience, she encourages others to follow a similar method.

“So whether you're looking for a husband or a wife or you're trying to find your passion or you're trying to start a business, all you have to really do is figure out your own framework and play by your own rules, and feel free to be as picky as you want.”

McKenna Park is a staff writer at FamilyShare. She's a happy wife, puppy mama, ice cream addict and film nerd. Contact her at mpark@deseretdigital.com.

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