The gamut of online dating has now expanded from apps such as Tinder and Bumble to college-specific services. Boston University students who participated in the BU Marriage Pact, a survey-based matchmaking service, received an email Wednesday with the name and email address of their on-campus match.
These algorithm-based dating services — Marriage Pact and Datamatch — have thrived during the pandemic, creating avenues for much-needed human connection. The BU community in particular has spent 2021 getting newly acquainted with them.
Want to find someone within walking distance of your dorm room? BU Marriage Pact delivers. Alternatively, want to connect with a Harvard University student and engage in some inter-school mingling? Datamatch has you covered there. Or, maybe you want to anonymously nudge your crush to sign up so you can potentially match with them? Both services allow you to play Cupid in your own love life.
From our experiences, the culture of these college dating websites seem to be more fun and lighthearted than serious — despite the heavy moniker of “Marriage Pact.” These services are more reliant on math and similarities than appearances or photo quality.
In that way, they’re significantly different from hookup culture apps that emphasize first impressions, and instead allow for more privacy and anonymity in your casual search for love. It’s mostly limited to the undergraduate student body, and a less public profile greatly reduces the risk of seeing your graduate student teaching assistant like you might on Tinder.
Even if you aren’t entirely invested in the results, you stand a chance of finding friends or people you are told you would get along with. Datamatch specifically has a platonic option for those not interested or already committed. During social isolation and the pandemic, this opportunity to explore outside of your social circle and meet new people is invaluable, be it virtual or in person.
In both platonic and romantic connections with new people, the questionnaire — and attending the same school, in the case of Marriage Pact — allows you to meet people you already know are similar to you, and acts as a great jumping-off point to get to know one another.
On the other hand, it’s unclear if there’s much incentive for follow-through because it isn’t taken too seriously. Given that it’s BU’s first year participating in these services, with 851 Datamatch signups and 1,076 Marriage Pact responses, we don’t yet have much information on how successful matches were. Overall, more than a third of all Datamatch users found at least one successful match in 2020, which seems promising.
The limited pool of college students — while its strength and selling point — can also quickly become its weakness. Being matched with another BU student from this group of respondents could mean that if the situation went south, you’d likely see them constantly: on the walk to class, at the dining halls, even in class. There would be no escape.
Furthermore, BU Marriage Pact ended up leaving 291 heterosexual women unmatched due to the unbalanced pool of respondents. Many others were matched with people outside of their preferences.
A survey consisting of 50 personal questions probably isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. Though entertaining in its own right, it doesn’t have the same special “je ne sais quoi” of Tinder — where you have no obligation to the person on your screen and you can justifiably bond with friends while swiping through.
However, Marriage Pact and Datamatch are still similar to Tinder in their mission to promote relaxed approaches and attitudes toward dating.
In the absence of possible romantic meet-cutes with a stranger at the Pavement Coffeehouse on Commonwealth Avenue, these matchmaking services are a good attempt at a substitute and help build back a sense of community.
They offer an alternative to people who may not enjoy the fast-paced, judgmental environment of dating apps while still creating a space for casual dating and absolving the pressure to find “The One.”
The BU Marriage Pact may not be an actual binding union, but it does let you to connect with someone whose values supposedly align with yours. And if it does lead to a marriage pact later down the road, well, that’s just an added bonus.