The Statistics of Shidduchim: An Updated Case Study in Futility

Back in 2011 I wote a post called “The Statistics of Shidduchim – A Case Study In Futility” in which I tried to quantify my experience in the Jewish dating world. I personally don’t keep a log of all the times I’ve been set up or how dates have gone, but I do have a an account on a website which does just that (more or less).

Since I’m approaching my 5-Year Aliyahversary, I thought I’d take a look and see if anything changed in Israel.

Methods

The basis for my calculations is the website Saw You At Sinai. Users post profiles, but unlike most dating sites, users do not search for themselves. Rather, matchmakers search on the behalf of users, who then have the option to accept or decline.

I cannot quantify the quality of the suggestions. Some suggestions may be perfect on paper, but I’ll decline because I already know them or we previously dated, while other suggestions completely disregard what I wrote in my profile. Quality also varies for acceptances. Sometimes I’ve accepted people about whom I was not enthused, but felt it was worthwhile to give it a shot. On the other hand, one of the acceptances led to the only serious relationship I had from the site. Again, none of the numbers here account for quality.

Also, due to some quirks in the website, there’s some margin of error I don’t know how to calculate exactly. For example, women have the right to decide who gets the match first: the man, the woman, or both simultaneously.1 If the woman opts to receive the match first, I won’t have a record of that suggestion.

Without further ado, here are the numbers:

Updated Data

YearSuggestedAcceptedFirst DatesEst. % AcceptedEst. % ReciprocatedEst. % 1st Date From Suggestion
20147610513.15%50%6.57%
20158414716.66%50%8.33%
201655529.09%40%3.63%
20177415220.27%13.33%2.7%
20189219520.65%26.31%5.43%
201932830.2537.5%9.37%

Here’s how the totals break down over the five years since I made aliyah:

  • 413 Suggestions
  • 71 Accepted / 17.19% of all suggestions
  • 28 First Dates / 6.79% of all suggestions

The reason why focus on first dates is because, realistically, that’s the best anyone can hope for a matchmaker. All a matchmaker can do is try to set up two people who otherwise might not have met, but the rest is up to the individuals. 

Furthermore, acceptance of the match does not guarentee a first date. On several occasions, I found the women changed their minds for one reason or another. This is why I focused on first dates, not mutual acceptances.

Finally, a third option aside from accept and decline is “timed out” where a match doesn’t respond either way within an alloted time period, usually 4-10 days. I’ve encounted this 16 times out of 71 I accepted which is about 22.53% of the time.

Basically, it’s kind of like a rejection, only ruder. 

Findings

So how do things compare from the 2011 post? I find overall it’s been more or less the same with slight improvements in certain areas, less so in others. This is just my experience and other people’s mileage may vary.

But I also think it’s worthwhile explaining why I bother doing this at all. Around 2013-2014 when I was still at my shul, a congregant told me that the 2011 post made its way around Goldman Sachs because the analysts appreciated that someone at least tried to quantify the experience. I think others may find it useful when it comes to evaluating effectiveness. I’ve found people have many opinions about dating, but putting it in numbers can help give a more concrete perspective.

Does this mean SYAS is a bad site? That’s a much harder question to answer. As of this writing, SYAS is responsible for 1639 matches of 3278 people. For those who found their spouses via SYAS that’s a wonderful experience. But to really test the effectiveness of the site, we’d need to know how many of their total members found someone off of the site, and perhaps weigh the amount of time on the site it took to do so.

A few months ago, a matchmaker reached out because she thought the 2011 post was too critical and negative. Her concern was that someone would read that post and decide not to join the site, thereby potentially missing out on finding someone.

I think there’s some truth to that argument, but I think it also comes very close to FOMO marketing. It is clearly possible to find someone off of SYAS, but it is equally possible (perhaps even probable) to spend a great deal of time and money with nothing to show for it. This isn’t necessarilly a function of SYAS specifically, but I think it’s inherently part of the difficulties in dating. Sites can help, but there’s a lot more to relationships.

Obviously everyone’s experiences on or off websites will vary. I’m not going to give any suggestions or advice other than people should try things out and stick with what works for them. At the same time, those who have a vested interest in one avenue or another should at least take the time to figure out if it really works, and if it doesn’t, think about what might be able to be done to improve.

Notes

  1. Both can’t have it first otherwise there would be a deadlock.

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