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‘In the US there was a far greater acceptance,’ says Oatley.
‘But in the UK it really wasn’t anything you could admit to until the bubble made the internet a more acceptable place to be for professional people.
They were tech-aware and working hard and had less time. With the big brand names, like Match, the mission was love.
It made sense.’ Of course, early adopters weren’t all socially inept geeks (a demographic, by the way, that has had a radical rebrand in the last 20 years, pretty much inheriting the earth and everything on it). Hope, and curiosity, springs eternal – maybe the web could cast the net wide enough to find The One. But sites like Nerve in New York offered a different kind of classified, advertising all kinds of casual and filthy sex: this was a prototype of ‘the hook-up’.
Unlike the hook-up, ‘The One’ is a sweet and nice idea, and this is what e Harmony promised to find – if you paid them money and answered 400 questions.
Started by an evangelical Christian in 2000, ‘it was the first to dig deeper, with richer psychometric profiling and the promise of a special sauce – an algorithm that judged who was right or wrong for you’, says Thombre.
At Wallflower* we understand that compatibility really counts, especially in the bedroom. No more indiscriminate data-dump or frenzied swiping. Then, if you made it to a first date and were British, you drank a lot of alcohol and had sex.
Wallflower’s unique, design-focused digital card system and the powerful analytics of our carefully coded, AI-enhanced love-bots (not to mention the lustrous illustrations by Klaus Haapaniemi), bring together only those with perfectly attuned interior lives. Finding sex, love or both used to require a degree of human endeavour; it required actually going out and meeting people.
There were no smart algorithms designed to pair the compatible, there was just a bigger pool to pick from.It did well in the US but plateaued in the more secular UK, where the religious overtones smacked of patriarchal judgement.‘At Match we did something similar, but we didn’t say there was a formula and we didn’t come with a religious agenda. “You can moan at it all you want, but the moment you say to a guy ‘you have to f***ing pay for my time’ you’re saying this relationship isn’t equal.” He went on: “If I went on a date with someone who never offered to pay, I wouldn’t be dating them.“And maybe proportionately what you can do is less than what he can do.