Editor's note: CatholicMatch co-founder Mike Lloyd was a driving force behind the creation of a new matching system, which will be launched this spring. He recently fielded my questions about the process.
What was the motivation behind the new matching system?
Our current system of matching is based on the criteria that members input: height, age, location, acceptance of certain Church teachings and so on. It isn't exactly a two-way street. It was the equivalent of going onto Realtor.com and saying I'd like a 2000 or 2001 split-level. "Find me your perfect match."
The approach we're shifting to is personality based - "OK, tell me about yourself" - and then hopefully finding a good house for them. Instead of "this woman matches your search" it will be "this woman looks like a good match."
By making this claim, we'll be introducing members in a more clear-cut, proactive way, giving them permission to get in touch.
And in order to come up with up with solid personality-based questions, you called on a respected Catholic psychologist?
We did. We hired Mark Friedrick, a family counselor who has a private practice in Pennsylvania and is a supervisor of the Behavior Health of a regional health system. Mark devised questions for our new matching system. Having seen a lot of failed relationships and troubled ones and being a devout Catholic, Mark is able to address the origin of common conflicts with great skill.
Mark identified crucial categories that couples do well to agree on, from interests to values and vision along with sexuality and communication. I think our whole staff learned a lot from reviewing these categories.
Members will answer questions about those categories based on a Likert scale: strongly agree, agree, disagree, strongly disagree.
The general structure of the system Mark devised is to factor in three premises: that there are crucial categories to any relationship; that similarities lend to compatibility; and that individualization leads to better matching.
That last one just means we aren't making group assumptions or treating people as types - we're handling this on a case by case basis. Each member will have his or her own match score.
We're talking about a practical method that may reduce 100 people down to three. I think it'll help to narrow the field. And it also gives those matches more visibility so it's easier for them to find each other and make contact.
The new matching system will help members who may be operating on too rigid of criteria and, in doing so, overlooking some great matches.
What do you hope this new matching system will achieve?
We all know how difficult or even awkward it can be to meet and chat with someone who for some reason just doesn't align with you. We hope our new system gives members confidence to start a conversation with someone they were matched with, knowing there was a solid basis for that pairing. It may not lead to a relationship or a marriage, but there is definitely something there, a reason to look into it. If you've been matched, you've got a real foundation to build on.
And ultimately, Mark's work is based on decades of experience, identifying the similarities in couples that present the best opportunity for lasting love. So once a romance is sparked, we hope it'll have a better chance of enduring.
It's interesting that matters of the heart can come down to math.
It is. But at CatholicMatch, unlike other sites, we embrace every tool we have been given: It's not simply math or psychology but faith also plays a significant role. Our matching system factors all that in, drawing on the Catholic faith and sound psychology.
As a record number of singles in the U.S. emerge, it's harder for people to find someone who has similar values and a similar outlook on life, so we're filling a natural gap that's been created.
Do you see this as the logical next step for CatholicMatch?
Yes. We're already known for attracting a high-quality membership pool. Now we'll also become known for taking that membership and pairing them through a high-quality matching system.
So what happens with the former matching system?
Members don't have to worry: We're not eliminating it. We're going to maintain that as a valuable tool - and we're even going to enhance it. But we're going to merge it into our search tool and it will now be part of saved searches. Because that's what it is: searches that provide results based on user-generated criteria, not third-party input. So we're giving it a more accurate name and a better home.
I think members will be grateful to continue using this search tool while also enjoying the benefits of a smart matching system.