The Fordham Marriage Pact Reinvents the Dating Game

The Fordham Marriage Pact involved an algorithm that matched students based on their answers to a series of questions. (Courtesy of Instagram)

The Fordham Marriage Pact involved an algorithm that matched students based on their answers to a series of questions. (Courtesy of Instagram)

Taylor Mascetta, Staff Writer

In the popular “Friends” episode “The One With the Proposal,” Ross and Rachel made a deal to marry each other if they were both still single by the age of 40. In Fordham’s case, the matchmaking algorithm named “The Marriage Pact” arrived to make this “backup spouse” plan a reality for Fordham students.

The student-run organization uses “rigorous academic theory from psychology, market design and computer science” to design their questionnaire, with the intent of finding a student’s perfect match. 

The Fordham Marriage Pact created its Instagram profile on Feb. 5 with a launch announcement on Feb. 8. Over the next six days, Fordham students had the opportunity to fill out a 50-question survey that would help determine their match. The survey closed and released the final matches on Feb. 14, Valentine’s Day.

The Marriage Pact as a whole is a casual, non-binding affair. While the Marriage Pact intends to form relationships, it still encourages those in relationships to participate and find a new friend. In a FAQ posted on their Instagram page, the Marriage Pact stated that “We find that the lighthearted and low-pressure nature of the Marriage Pact makes it comfortable for anybody to participate, no matter their relationship status. In our experience, the algorithm has even matched several existing couples with each other!”

In its survey, the Marriage Pact asks about personal preferences, values and habits within a relationship. The questions asked about political leanings, religious beliefs, racial identities and sexual preferences. The survey also provides the option to choose whether the user wants to match with a man, woman or non-binary individual. Finally, the Marriage Pact provides the participant with a link to the survey to send to their friends or potential partners. Once completed, the algorithm matched one Fordham student with another that gave similar answers. 

Once the match has been made, the Marriage Pact automatically sends each person’s name and Fordham email to the pair. It also notifies each person which categories they matched the most with. After the final email is sent, it is up to the pair to reach out to each other. 

As the COVID-19 pandemic rages on, the Marriage Pact offered a new and exciting way for Fordham students to meet new people in the age of social distancing. Emailing back and forth requires minimal effort, and this offered a new way to forge human connections during isolation.

In the end, 3,322 Fordham students sent in survey responses, so a waitlist inevitably formed, leaving some students without matches. The Marriage Pact’s Instagram announced that more women participated in the survey than men, causing the shortage of matches.

The reaction to the results was mixed. While many students did make some matches, many of those on the waitlist were frustrated about not making a new connection. Others that did make a match found themselves connecting with taken individuals, while others even matched up with an ex. 

Ryan Fahey, FCRH ’23, participated in the Marriage Pact after his friends expressed interest in it. When he received his match, he was thrilled. “You know, I think she may be the one,” he said. “Even though we were only a 59 percent match.”

Whether the participants succeeded in finding a match or not, the Fordham Marriage Pact succeeded in allowing Fordham students to have some fun. The anticipation for the Marriage Pact’s release provided a necessary distraction from the campus shutdown, which also occurred on Valentine’s Day.

“I thought the Marriage Pact was a great idea,” Fahey said. The people I’ve talked to have had a great time with this. Whether you found true love or not, I think people just enjoyed doing it a lot.”

The Fordham Marriage Pact’s Instagram bio, which reads “until next time,” implies that the Marriage Pact will return at some point. Perhaps some matched pairs will rush to book the Fordham University Church —  Fahey already plans to. “I’ve already contacted my match for booking the University Church for our wedding,” he said. “I know there’s a long waitlist, we need to get ahead of the game. I’m still waiting on her response, unfortunately.”