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Looking for Valentine’s Day plans? Algorithms could be the answer

Red letters spelling out “Happy Valentine’s Day” sits against a wood-paneled wall.
Regina Roberts / The Daily Princetonian

Given an average Princeton student’s numerous classes and extracurricular activities, it may be difficult to naturally find “the one.” However, Valentine’s Day at Princeton has brought a resurgence of matching systems that use algorithms to help participants find a partner or a new friend. 

The Marriage Pact algorithm, based upon the concept of agreeing to marry someone in the future if both parties are still single, offers itself as a backup plan if participants do not find a conventional romance. The website has a standard set of questions that are used to match participants with the hopes of helping them form their own marriage pact. Princeton is just one of the 86 schools across the country that has Marriage Pact, and it has been a campus Valentine’s Day staple for the past couple of years. 


This year, almost 2,000 people signed up to receive a match. The website boasts that it can tell you “your most compatible marital backup plan on your campus, down to the percent.” Marriage Pact utilizes questions formulated by relationship psychologists in order to make matches. While the specific algorithm is not publicized, Simone Kirkevold ’26, one of the organizers of Princeton Marriage Pact, says that it is the “secret sauce” distinguishing Marriage Pact from other matching systems. 

Kirkevold credits the intentionality behind Marriage Pact’s questions for determining successful matches. “Something that is so cute with Marriage Pact is that a lot of times people will actually enter a relationship with the person they’re matched with. I think a couple thousand of those relationships [across participating schools] have gone on to be over a year long,” she said.

Marriage Pact is not the only matching algorithm that wants to bring people together for Valentine’s Day. Datamatch also helps people find matches, both romantic and platonic. Unlike Marriage Pact, which features more serious questions, Datamatch takes a more light-hearted approach, asking people questions like, “What is your campus nightmare?”. 

Datamatch participants receive ten matches, distinguishing its system from Marriage Patch. Liv Bobby ’26, who runs Princeton Datamatch, believes that having several matches creates a better user experience. “It can be discouraging if you get one match, and you’re like ‘I have no idea who this is, or I’m never gonna meet this person.’ But when you have ten chances to make a new friend or meet a partner, it’s a lot more encouraging and a lot more exciting,” she said.

Because Datamatch was originally created at Harvard, Bobby does not know how the algorithm functions, but she does believe the matches are accurate. “I found that last year, it matched me with someone who I was already really good friends with, which, to me, shows that it works,” she said. 

Another unique feature of the system is “Crush Roulette,” where participants can match themselves with someone or match a friend with someone to tilt the scales. This feature means their final matches can be slightly influenced, allowing participants to connect with someone they may have already crossed paths with.


At the time of writing, Datamatch has about 1,500 participants. Allison Jiang ’26, who used Datamatch last year, knew she wanted to participate again this year after experiencing how the algorithm can pay off. “I ended up meeting with a friend match, and we are still hanging out today,” she said.

Although it has seen some success, Bobby wants to continue to grow the impact of Datamatch after the matching process. “One of my goals for the next two years that I am here is to get more local sponsors to sponsor dates for people that end up actually meeting up with their matches,” she said. 

Kirkevold is also enthusiastic about Marriage Pact’s impact beyond its initial release of matches. “Here at Princeton, one of my favorite stories is about my friend who graduated last year. She got matched up with one of her best friends, and then they actually made a marriage pact,” she said. 

Both Marriage Pact and Datamatch drum up excitement around campus during Valentine’s Day as participants discuss potential matches. Even for those who do not find their ideal match through the algorithms, Kirkevold believes that the systems serve a purpose on campus. “At Princeton, I think it’s just a good way to form a community,” she said. “One of the big things that we were focusing on at Marriage Pact is just getting it out there and getting people to talk about it, because it’s a fun thing to talk about.”

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Regina Roberts is an associate editor for The Prospect and contributing staffer for the Podcast section at the ‘Prince.’

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