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Can AI help you fall in love this Valentine’s Day?

AI can assist in composing the perfect opening line or say the right thing to seal a date … but can it help keep the flame alive? These Northeastern experts have their doubts.

Illustration of two people putting a heart shaped puzzle piece together.
There’s AI to help you get more matches and dates on apps, but experts are skeptical AI can help a person build a lasting connection. Illustration by Renee Zhang/Northeastern University

Finding a romantic partner is a mix of luck, effort … and maybe some assistance from ChatGPT.

Artificial intelligence has become ubiquitous and there’s no exception when it comes to dating. There are apps that use AI to find out your type and show you people you’re more likely to find attractive. There’s AI assistants that can generate messages to help get more matches or dates. People are even using AI to create personas of their exes that they can chat with after a relationship ends.

But per popular movies and media, falling in love is a process that should be aided by fate, not technology. Should AI be able to help with falling in love?

“I could see AI being a helpful tool for facilitating conversations, and helping two people find common ground, especially for people who might be a little bit more hesitant to initiate a conversation or encounter,” said Elizabeth Glowacki, an assistant teaching professor in communication and health sciences at Northeastern University. “But personally, I do have concerns about AI and authenticity in some of these interactions.”

Artificial intelligence has played a role in dating, at least for as long as people have been dating online, said Usama Fayyad, executive director of the Institute for Experiential AI at Northeastern University. Many online dating apps and sites use algorithms to match people based on their profiles.

“A crappy algorithm could filter out some candidates,” Fayyad said. “However, when you started getting more and more people online, the numbers started getting bigger. If you rely on random matching, it’s not going to work. … Almost immediately the dating apps were forced to go into AI, primarily driven by the matching problem. … They started employing AI out of necessity.”

But now people can use sites like ChatGPT to compose anything from opening lines to a love poem. There’s even YourMove AI, which claims it can help users get more matches or get more dates.

There is always an element of putting one’s best foot forward when first meeting someone. People choose their most flattering photos in their profile and write curated biographies for their dating profiles. They dress to impress for a first date. Glowacki said creating positive impressions and a good “public persona” are a high priority for people in the early days of courtship.

With this in mind, it’s easy to see how people might turn to something like AI to avoid ruining their shot with someone who excites them as a prospective partner.

“Some of the consequences are that you might lose your true self,” Glowacki said. “Everyone has a unique communication style, and one of the factors that’s really crucial for a good long-term relationship is developing unique interaction patterns with a partner. If you rely too much on AI, you might lose some of that authenticity. It’s also a lot of work to maintain this public persona over time. My concern is that people will get exhausted from doing all that, and their true selves might start to come out and the person that they’re in a relationship with might feel kind of … misled.”

Fayyad, who worked for Yahoo and dealt with the site’s now-defunct online dating feature, said he is more concerned about AI being used to catfish, or trick, people with photos than he is people using it to form machine-fueled connections.

“People are still trying to crack the issue of misrepresentation,” Fayyad said. “Can you make it easier for people to find out more about this potential match? Matching and verification of background information are two areas where AI can have a huge impact in at least giving a level of assurance.”

Where does all this leave people who meet someone online who has a way with words, but then is less suave in person, thanks to their digital assistance? If you found out your beloved is using a computer to compose those texts that made you swoon, not all hope is lost. 

Someone using artificial intelligence in some ways is similar to someone who might read an internet article on how to impress dates, Fayyad said. Relying on assistance could be a sign that they were concerned about making a good first impression.

“It means they care enough to try to use a tool to make their answers better,” Fayyad said. “It shows kind of a level of diligence.”

Whether this is OK for a partner though is a discussion couples need to have, adding a new slew of issues people need to agree on in order to make a relationship work.

“I don’t think it would be a deal breaker, as long as that person is able to communicate in a way that you can respond to,” she added. “If someone’s very much a words of affirmation person … that could be a bigger deal breaker than someone who might have a different love language. Someone who’s more into shared activities or physical affection … that might not be as big of a deal breaker. A lot of it does depend on how the person chooses to communicate, express and receive love.”