Cupid is getting a little bit of help this year from Perfect Match, an online survey dedicated to matching Cornell students with a romantic partner for Valentine’s Day. As of Feb. 9, there are 2,610 participants awaiting their results, which come out at 6 p.m. on Feb. 13.
Inspired by a similar but less sophisticated survey at his high school, Jamal Hashim ’22 created the site in 2019 during his freshman year. He said he didn’t expect the site to become a booming success, but he wanted to connect students with each other.
“A big goal is [for] people [to] just start talking to their matches and getting people to reach out,” Hashim said.
Thanks to student responses and the input of his team, Hashim said the site is improving every year. The Perfect Match team collects feedback after each year’s round and sends potential survey questions to students for evaluation before publishing the year’s survey. This year, Hashim is focusing on improving the matchmaking algorithm while preserving the site’s core features such as the survey format.
Hashim said that most of the complaints from last year’s survey were that people felt their matches were too similar. This year, the group is making an effort towards creating matches of different types of people.
Alice Lidman ’25 said she appreciates the possibility of meeting someone different from herself.
“I’m definitely more on the introverted side, and I always tell my friends that I would like my boyfriend to be more outgoing than me,” Lidman said.
When Lidman took the survey initially, she did it with her friends for fun without expecting to meet someone, but she said she is open to taking a match seriously if she likes who she gets.
After seeing it in her sorority group chat, Kristen Ikle ’24 also took the survey with her friends. Though she said she’s excited to see her results, she said she would not meet up with her matches.
Like Lidman and Ikle, Natalie Rosenberg ’24 filled out Perfect Match with her friends in hopes of finding someone with whom to meet up. Together, Rosenberg and her friends helped each other write their bios and answer questions like “How would your ideal wingperson describe you?”
Perfect Match has also become a social phenomenon with its own presence on campus as a dating option. Rosenberg said she took the survey because she saw others taking it and prefered it to using a dating app.
Some people — such as Emma Cerrato ’24, who said she just got out of a relationship and isn’t currently looking for a new one — are only looking for friendship through the survey.
“I think literally the worst case scenario [is that] I just don’t interact with the person, and it was fun and harmless,” Cerrato said. “Best case scenario: I make a new friend.”
But friend-seekers like Cerrato are in the minority. A few years ago, Hashim created a website specifically for platonic connections called Fall Friendships, but it wasn’t a success.
Because some students take the survey just for fun while others are looking for a long-lasting connection, the algorithm of Perfect Match filters students according to their level of interest.
“If they’re just taking it for fun, they’ll get matched with other people who are just taking it for fun, and the people who are really looking to reach out will get more matches suited to them and get more matches who are willing to connect,” Hashim said.
Perfect Match may be a new February tradition for some on campus, but Cerrato said that, compared to a similar matchmaking platform at the University of Michigan, she felt that Perfect Match doesn’t have enough exposure. Cerrato completed the survey, but she said she doesn’t know anyone else who did the same.
Hashim said that the site has seen less exposure in 2022 due to classes going online for the first two weeks of the spring semester.
“This year it’s been a little bit harder to market,” Hashim said. “Launch is usually when most of the hype is generated, and this year classes were on Zoom. No one was really on campus.”
Still, since its founding, Hashim said that Perfect Match’s success rates have gone up.
“We’ve had a bunch of people who say that they have either started dating the person they were matched with or are still going on dates and talking with who they got matched with,” Hashim said.
Attracting students of all demographics, grades and majors, Perfect Match is becoming a small Cornell tradition after running for four consecutive years, with plans to continue.