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I'm writing a story about few foreigners doing a work stint on a small island country, ~500K. The country is quite similar to the western world except dating is mandatory for every single person, with a few exceptions like you are too old, sick, your spouse died recently etc.

The mandatory dating is explained as a local custom and serves as a plot device. The custom stems from local belief that single people are incomplete and they should couple up. However since they have free will to decide singles can't be forced but they must show that they try. Something like the way that trying to find a job shows that you are not too lazy to work and that you really want a job.

My story is about the psychological effects of pressure to couple up. The mood is similar to Lost in translation.

There's a dating app where every citizen has an account, which lists the chronological information about that person. Like pictures from childhood till present year, schools you attended, places you lived, jobs you had etc.

There are three phases that recur one after the other which last 1 month each. First phase men ask women, second phase women ask men (like Bumble), third phase 3rd parties match make users.

I need some idea how should matchmaking work. In real world you might play matchmaker between friends, family or maybe colleagues i.e. people you know quite well. But you can't infer much from profile.

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    $\begingroup$ Hello and welcome to Worldbuilding. Your question is problematic because we are missing quite a lot of information that is needed for us to answer. The biggest things missing are Why is dating mandatory? What is the purpose of this compulsion?. $\endgroup$ – MichaelK Oct 11 '17 at 13:30
  • $\begingroup$ @MichaelK It's a local custom that has been always like that in the country. Everybody must either abide by it or leave the place. Basically the premise of my story is about few foreigners forced to cope with it. $\endgroup$ – Chibi Oct 11 '17 at 13:33
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    $\begingroup$ That did not answer my questions. Why? And what is the purpose? You are going to have a really hard time maintaining any kind of credibility and willing suspension of disbelief if the only reason you mention for this strange custom is to say "It's just because we have always done it this way". $\endgroup$ – MichaelK Oct 11 '17 at 13:37
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    $\begingroup$ This setup sounds enough like Plato's Republic that you probably ought to read it first (or at least Jo Walton's novel based on it, The Just City). $\endgroup$ – Mike Scott Oct 11 '17 at 13:43
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    $\begingroup$ @Chibi It can be a plot device for the sake of the story, but for our sake and ability to answer your question, you have to treat this like a piece of your world with a concrete reason behind it. What part of the culture made this so? How did this custom come about and why is it still followed? That's what we need to be able to help you better. $\endgroup$ – Pleiades Oct 11 '17 at 13:44
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Look into the Orthodox Jewish tradition of Shidduch, which involves professional match makers who assist young adults in finding mates using such factors as character, status level, education and financial resources.

You might also want to look at the Orthodox Jewish view of marriage (specifically in the area of Family Purity) for answers to the issues which are being asked in the comments. Your government's motivations for requiring dating might be parallel those views.

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I hope (dare I hope?) you are writing a romantic comedy. This would not be about how the government's dating app would work but about how the wily foreigners game the system.

You can have the government app match people semi randomly for reasons that seem appropriate for a government - family history of genetic diseases, or similar work history etc. The foreigners hack the code and figure how to insert profile variables that insure that the same man and woman get put together each time. These individuals in the foreigner community are friends anyway and that way they do not need to go on a lot of uncomfortable dates with weirdos.

Of course one such couple falls in love. Another winds up on a date with a local anyway, but one whose profile somehow matches the hack that the foreigns have put in place - how did that happen?

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  • $\begingroup$ Actually it's about the dread of modern dating market meat grinder where you can't just opt out. $\endgroup$ – Chibi Oct 11 '17 at 13:56
  • $\begingroup$ That works too. Same answer. $\endgroup$ – Willk Oct 11 '17 at 15:04
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When you enter the third phase and obviously are incapable of finding a match, you have to answer questions about yourself.

Those questions range from banal characteristics (e.g. your favourite food, music, ...) over your job (field of work, income, work ethics, ...) to your political views (do you oppose/support gay marriage, your views on environment protection, do you believe in public health care, ...)

Whenever someone thinks, a relevant characteristic is not included in the catalogue, it is added. So over the time there have been assembled a lot of questions. Some of them pretty stupid or obscure.

You don't have to answer all the questions, but the more questions you answer, the more determined you appear. You also don't have to answer all questions at once. Most people have already answered some questions over the time and just update them, when something changes. If you're in phase 3, it is considered appropriate, to answer at least an additional question once a week.

While computer algorithms can match, how close two people are in the questions, it is considered a fine art, to study profiles and get "a feeling" for the people behind those questions and guess, when different answers make potential partners more interesting for each other and where similar answers are needed for more sympathy.

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