When Barkley Dai ’20 decided to pilot his Three Day Relationship program last semester, he wanted to answer one simple question: are Yalies really afraid of commitment?
The program — co-organized this semester by Dai, Elliot Britton ’22, Jason Chen ’20, Cormac Slade Byrd ’20, Mark Torres ’20, Shunhe Wang ’20 and Huahao Zhou ’21 — invited students to fill out a survey asking for information, including sexual orientation and preferred date location. It also requested answers to more open-ended questions about what respondents look for in the personality of a potential match. The organizers then used an algorithm to match up applicants who seemed compatible. Over the course of three nonconsecutive days this month, participants had the option to abandon their relationship, become friends with their match or commit to their match as their significant other.
“Last April, when I was just having a random lunch with my friends, we were trying to discuss how hard it is to find a relationship at Yale because … [it seems] Yale students are really afraid of commitment,” Dai said. “Asking them to go on dates seemed to be a really big thing to ask, so eventually, we decided to see if we could run a program that [would make] people commit to a certain period of time. My hypothesis was that, even for two people who don’t really think that they can come together … if they would be willing to find similarities among each other, then maybe [they] can develop into a potential relationship.”
The three dates took place on Nov. 9, 16 and 17. Dai said that about 50 couples decided to go on all three dates, finishing out the program with their match. While the team “could see [the program] happen next semester,” they are working on turning the project into a more “serious idea” with the intention of reaching even more students.
This semester, over 790 undergraduate and graduate students signed up for a relationship, and the team paired more than 350 couples. This figure represents a significant uptick in interest from last semester, when 190 students signed up for the first iteration of the program.
Britton described the program as “handling kind of the dirty side of dating,” adding that once respondents were paired, they would receive an email with their match’s contact information and suggestions for date locations and activities. Pairs that elected to go on dates were eligible to receive discounts — including up to three dollars of reimbursement and buy one, get one free offers through partnerships with three local businesses — Koffee?, Ashley’s Ice Cream and Vivi Bubble Tea.
Dai added that the program provided suggested activities for matches to complete on their dates as a way to get to know each other. These suggestions ranged from sharing the story behind a childhood photograph to answering a selection of 12 questions from the New York Times’ “The 36 Questions That Lead to Love.”
“We sent a survey last semester after [the three days] just to try to get people’s idea of what they want to do and what kind of organizing makes conversations,” Dai said. “Last semester, people said that those 12 questions were a good place to start a conversation, so we just kept that as a big part of the system.”
According to Dai, last semester the Three Day Relationship organizers hand-matched almost 30 couples. But he said they based the pairings mainly on shared interests, resulting in a “rough matching” compared to this year’s system. Due to the much higher volume of responses this semester, Chen developed an algorithm to assist in the process. The algorithm analyzed each respondent’s answers to the survey questions and compared their responses to the pool of possible matches. They then assigned possible matches based on a score assessing the similarity of their responses. Higher scores yielded the official pairings.
Still, Jack Sullivan ’23 told the News that he thought the group “had a bad matching algorithm altogether” because he was “nothing like the person” he matched with. Though Sullivan decided not to pursue a relationship with his match, he said that he enjoyed getting out of his comfort zone and meeting someone he “wouldn’t normally meet.”
Nina Grig ’23 said that while she liked the idea of the Three Day Relationship, she found it too difficult for students, herself included, to fit predetermined dates into their schedules.
“I think it’s an exciting concept. I mean, you wonder about who you’re going to get matched to, and it’s just fun to see it almost as a game,” she said. “I think it would be really fun if you got your match … in an envelope. And when you had time you would open your envelope and meet your person.”
Britton said that the organizers made changes to the program this semester to help prevent relationships from ending prematurely. These alterations included elongating the time between dates. Last year, matches went on dates over three consecutive days, but this year the organizers spread the relationship over two weekends.
Survey respondents were also able to opt into blind dates, according to Britton. If both partners selected the blind date option, once they were paired they only received their match’s phone number. He said that the purpose of the blind option was to prevent matches from making assumptions based on their partner’s social media presence.
“[We hypothesized that] the matching kind of ended when people saw on social media who their matches were,” he said. “They might look at the Facebook of their match and say ‘Okay, I see this person, I know everything about them, so it’s not even worth going on the date.’ But with blind dating the only thing you know about the person is their phone number. So that doesn’t mean, necessarily, that it’s going to end online, which is, I think, kind of an unfortunate facet of dating nowadays.”
Organizers of the Three Day Relationship raised funds largely by way of their Cross Campus succulent sale.
Audrey Steinkamp | firstname.lastname@example.org
Annie Radillo | email@example.com