Young people are turning to ChatGPT for dating advice. We put it to the test

Young people are turning to ChatGPT for dating advice. We put it to the test

ChatGPT has provided troves of information to millions of people around the world – but how does it go with matters of the heart?

Specialised artificial intelligence dating advice app Meeno surveyed over 500 Australians aged 18-34 and found that more than 86 per cent had turned to ChatGPT or Google for dating and relationship advice, with 25 per cent specifically naming ChatGPT as their source of advice.

Men were almost three times more likely to use the AI than women, with 15 per cent of female participants using ChatGPT, compared to 41 per cent of men, the study also found. 

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“We found that less than half of young people feel ‘very comfortable’ being vulnerable about interpersonal issues with even their best friend, with only 1 in 10 people feeling comfortable opening up to their wider friendship group,” Renate Nyborg, founder and CEO of Meeno, told 9news.com.au.

Professor of computer science and leader of the University of Sydney’s Human Centred Technology Research Cluster, Judy Kay, said people can learn to use tools like ChatGPT to help them think through ideas about relationships and dating, but noted that these tools do not understand the complexities of the human experience.

“Tools like ChatGPT answer your questions based on large language models built by analysing huge collections of documents,” Kay said.

“That is a long way from understanding relationships, it is on a completely different level.

“You could write a prompt asking for ideas about how to tackle your problem, then ask more questions to get different perspectives, that could help you think things through.”

Kay also said it’s important to learn how to use these tools well.

“Writing good prompts makes a huge difference,” she said.

“Do it well and you might be able to find creative ways to think about things.”

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Men’s dating and relationship coach and co-founder of Dating for Love, Joe Oppenheimer, said he wasn’t surprised by the study’s results.

“Young men would reach out to private sources of relationship advice, or seemingly private sources because, on face value, it can seem like it has lower social risk,” Oppenheimer said.

“Men are less likely to share their feelings and ask these kinds of vulnerable questions.

“Using ChatGPT can seem like you’re avoiding that social risk, but of course, the trade-off is what is the quality advice you are getting?

“You need advice based around your specific context and goals, that’s what Google and ChatGPT are not going to give you.”

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We asked ChatGPT for dating advice. How did it do?

9news.com.au asked ChatGPT three questions based on common dating scenarios and showed them to a dating expert. Here’s how it fared.

Question:  I am having problems with my boyfriend, I feel like he doesn’t prioritise me, do you have any advice?

What ChatGPT said:

“I’m sorry to hear that you’re going through a rough patch with your boyfriend. Communication is key in any relationship, so it might be helpful to have an open and honest conversation with him about how you’re feeling.

“Express your concerns and let him know why you feel like you’re not being prioritised. It’s possible he may not realise the impact of his actions on you.

“Listen to his perspective as well and try to understand where he’s coming from. Sometimes, there may be misunderstandings or differences in priorities that can be resolved through communication and compromise.

“Additionally, it’s important to take care of yourself and prioritise your own wellbeing. Make sure you’re not neglecting your own needs and happiness in the relationship.

“If after communicating your concerns things don’t improve or you feel like your needs aren’t being met, it might be worth reevaluating the relationship and considering if it’s truly fulfilling for you.”

What the expert said:

“While this advice seems generally positive and harmless, it’s actually not very useful for someone in a nuanced situation like this,” Oppenheimer said.

“A relationship coach might start by asking to clarify what it means to ‘feel like you’re not being prioritised,’ as this could mean any number of things, eg no contact for days versus missing him when he’s at work.

“It could turn out to be a very simple fix, or something that represents a deep unmet requirement.

“Opening up tough conversations can be a minefield and create more conflict in the relationship without a good foundation of communication skills.

“There are many other specific elements that might matter, too, such as: What is the level of commitment in the relationship? What is the shared expectation around spending time together? How functional is the relationship?”

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Question:  I have a crush on a girl, how do I ask her out?

What ChatGPT said:

“Asking someone out can feel nerve-wracking, but here are some tips to help you approach the situation:

“Build rapport: Try to engage in conversations with her during class or any other shared activities. Find common interests or topics to talk about to build a connection.

“Gauge her interest: Pay attention to her body language and how she responds to your conversations. If she seems receptive and engaged, it might be a good sign that she’s interested in getting to know you better.

“Be confident: Confidence is attractive, so when you feel ready, approach her with confidence and a positive attitude.

“Be straightforward: When you feel the time is right, simply ask her if she’d like to grab coffee, see a movie, or do something else together outside of class. Keep it simple and casual.

“Respect her response: Regardless of her answer, whether it’s a yes or a no, be respectful of her decision. If she says yes, great! If she declines, gracefully accept her response and continue to treat her with kindness and respect.

“Remember, rejection is a normal part of dating, and it doesn’t necessarily reflect on you as a person. Stay positive and keep putting yourself out there. Good luck”

What the expert said:

“This advice will be the kind of thing you’ve heard before, based on the scripts of men’s magazines and pick-up artists. But for many guys, this advice is not actionable,” Oppenheimer said.  

“For example, what does it mean to ‘be confident’? Many single men know that confidence is attractive but have no concrete ways to build it. 

“What’s missing from this feel-good advice is a way for men to actually build confidence – which is ultimately based upon competence, which is in turn achieved through a critical mass of experience.

“So in this case, perhaps it’s more useful for guys like this to have a strategy for making the most of experiences for low-stakes interactions with women.

“A lot of guys have difficulty accurately gauging interest – how can they learn this? 

“The classic pick-up mantra ‘rejection is a normal part of dating’ is partly true, but it dismisses the fact that there may be specific reasons someone is facing persistent rejection, including their overall presentation, communication skills and detachment.”

“Again ChatGPT gives generic advice that may be useful for no one in particular.”

Question: I’m thinking about ending my long-term relationship, what should I do?

What ChatGPT said:

“Ending a long-term relationship is a significant decision and it’s important to approach it with care and thoughtfulness. Here are some steps to consider:

“Reflect on your reasons: Take some time to think about why you’re considering ending the relationship. Are there specific issues or problems that have been unresolved? Are there fundamental differences that make you incompatible?

“Communicate openly: Once you’ve clarified your own feelings, it’s important to have an open and honest conversation with your partner. Choose a time and place where you both can talk without interruptions, and express your thoughts and feelings calmly and respectfully. Be prepared for their reactions and emotions, and try to listen to their perspective as well.

“Consider counselling: If you’re unsure about whether to end the relationship or if you feel like there’s still hope for reconciliation, couples counselling can be a helpful option. A therapist can provide guidance and support as you work through your issues together.

“Plan for the practicalities: Ending a long-term relationship often involves practical considerations such as living arrangements, finances, and shared belongings. Make sure to plan ahead and think about how you’ll handle these aspects of the breakup.

“Take care of yourself: Ending a relationship can be emotionally challenging, so make sure to prioritise self-care during this time. Lean on friends and family for support, engage in activities that bring you joy, and consider seeking therapy or counselling to help you process your feelings.

“Ultimately, ending a long-term relationship is a deeply personal decision and there’s no one-size-fits-all answer. Trust yourself to make the choice that’s best for your well-being and happiness in the long run.”

What the expert said:

“This is the best of the three ChatGPT responses – it doesn’t pretend to know everything, but advises to consider counselling,” Oppenheimer said.

“At least ChatGPT is advising people to seek qualified support, and not pretending to be a counsellor (yet), although I expect we are about to witness an explosion in coaching/therapy AI applications.

“Again the relationship advice is general and there is no specific context.”

While ChatGPT can help people navigate thought processes and different perspectives, experts suggest speaking to someone in person for more specific advice.

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