When LSA sophomore Michaela Nam took the Michigan Marriage Pact survey last year in her dorm with friends, she was intrigued by the pairing algorithm claiming to find your “perfect match” on campus. This semester, she immediately jumped at the opportunity to join the team and help connect students.
While there may be an expectation for students to meet their significant others in college, the pact’s website boasts itself as the perfect backup plan for those that don’t find their soulmate. Stanford University sophomore Melinda Gong is currently a project manager for the Michigan Marriage Pact and said it originated with one crazy idea for a class project five years ago.
“He wanted to solve this crazy problem of decision paralysis within the dating market, and then that blew up,” Gong said.
The marriage pact has spread to nearly 60 other universities over the past five years. Nam, marketing and development team member for the MMP, said the purpose of the MMP is to help people find their perfect match.
“We’re on a campus with thousands of people, many of whom we’ll never meet,” Nam said. “By asking questions targeting our meaningful and deep-set values, we can pinpoint people with similar principles and bring them together. It’s just a fun and unique way to meet new people.”
LSA sophomore Robert Dedvukaj took the questionnaire for the first time this year after receiving the link from a friend in a group chat. He said he is curious to see how his results turn out since he is not specifically looking to find a future partner.
“I wasn’t aware in years past that this was a thing,” Dedvukaj said. “I just did it for fun to be honest. I don’t really care if I get a match or not … You get to see where your values lie, but if anything, it would just be a fun waste of time to distract myself.”
To make the MMP as inclusive as possible for those looking for friendship connections, the questionnaire asks how single or taken you are on a scale of one to seven. Gong explained the difference between the types of matches from the MMP as opposed to other online dating apps.
With other apps, Gong said, there is a decision paralysis that leaves someone faced with many possible options rather than being paired with one match.
“With dating apps like Tinder and Bumble, they are saturated with so many good matches to choose from, and so the Marriage Pact mission just kind of simplifies that by providing participants with their best and most optimal match,” Gong said. “For example, there is a question at the end asking how taken or how single are you, so people in relationships can also take the marriage pact because they’ll get someone else who’s in a relationship.”
This year, the MMP is led by a new entity within the nationwide Marriage Pact brand, since it was previously organized by Michigan students who have since graduated. As a result of this, Nam said the team has been able to expand and tweak the questionnaire to make it more user-friendly and provide more accurate pairings.
“The people that initially started Michigan Marriage Pact graduated, and the original founders of the Marriage Pact had recently copyrighted the brand, so we merged and created a new entity that works with the Marriage Pact as a whole,” Nam said. “Our team is definitely bigger as a result. I get to work with the founder and a team outside Michigan. That’s been really exciting because the team is amazing, and I’ve learned so much throughout this process.”
The questionnaire’s algorithm matches people mainly based on questions about their values, according to Gong. In order to keep the pact as engaging as possible for students that take it each year, the team adds variety to the questionnaire each year. This year, the MMP had 50 questions.
“The most important information that is actually used in the matching process is the values information, so that lies at the core of the algorithm,” Gong said.“That’s the questions that really make self-introspection possible. As you’re taking a questionnaire it kind of feels like a personality test. Those kinds of deep questions pay tribute to the values that we match people on, so it’s those deep core values and fundamentally who you are as a person with a match who shares similar values to you.”
Gong said she has never worked on a project as fun as the MMP, and she genuinely doesn’t feel like she’s working because she enjoys her job. She said one of the most fun aspects of working on the questionnaire is hearing stories of people getting matched with their significant others or their ex-partners.
“Taking a marriage pact itself is a social experience because it is a campus tradition right now at Michigan, so once you take it you talk about it with your friends and it becomes a social phenomenon that disseminates amongst friends,” Gong said. “There is also the experience of getting your match. We want to make it as inclusive as possible, so you could get a friend to match and meet up with them in-person and it could turn into a year-long relationship.”
Gong said statistics show that 3% to 4% of the matches led to long-term relationships, according to data from the past two MMPs.
After taking the survey, Dedvukaj said the questions asked were generally predictable, but was surprised by the number of questions regarding drug use.
“There’s a lot of questions about drugs, which I thought was kind of interesting,” Dedvukaj said. “Besides that, everything was pretty much generic, like what you would expect from someone if you were marrying them. It wasn’t too off-putting or outrageous. I’m curious to see how they even came up with these specific questions and to see what the results will look like.”
Looking ahead, Gong said she is optimistic that the number of participants this year will greatly surpass those from previous years.
“We’re definitely on track to reach further than last year’s participants,” Gong said. “This year we are aiming for 1 million matches (nationwide), and so far, we have 100,000 matches with 200,000 people. I think every year (this number) will definitely increase.”
Daily Staff Reporter Kaitlyn Luckoff can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.