Oh, Aphrodite — the ancient Greek goddess best known for being associated with love, beauty, pleasure, passion, and procreation. All of the emotions and characteristics that I’m sure the creators behind The Aphrodite Project aimed to evoke.

Although the idea seems impossible, you might not yet be familiar with the Aphrodite Project. The student-run digital service has amassed more than 570 followers on Instagram, has a dedicated Reddit page, and has been featured in numerous student publications.

But what does the Aphrodite Project actually do? Have any students formed successful relationships after matching? Should you be concerned if you didn’t sign up this year? These are the questions I aimed to answer as I dove deep into the matchmaking abyss. 

Initial launch and logistics

The Aphrodite Project was the brainchild of Aiden Low and Denise Yeo, who started the service as third-year exchange students from the National University of Singapore. At the time, Low studied at the University of Waterloo, while Yeo was at U of T.

Low conceptualized the idea of a matchmaking service after a transgender friend experienced difficulties dating. After hearing his friend’s encounter, Low toyed with the idea of creating a dating service that would be inclusive for members of the LGBTQ+ community.

Low and Yeo’s project was funded by the National University of Singapore’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship Practicum Award. According to Low, the team received $9,000 in funding. In 2019, Low and Dana Lo, a psychology student at the National University of Singapore, completed The Aphrodite Project’s first trial in Singapore. In 2020, the project expanded to the University of Waterlooand U of T.

To participate in the Aphrodite Project, students were asked to take an approximately 20-minute-long survey, which posed questions ranging from thoughts about owning a pet to substance use. The questionnaire also allows users looking for a romantic match to list their “dealbreakers,” which could include religions, ethnicities, or gender identities.

The latter option faced controversy from students after the project’s launch. In the statement “On Inclusion and Hard Decisions,” the Aphrodite Project’s founders explained that these distinctions “do matter for a potential romantic partner” to some participating students. 

The Aphrodite Project used an algorithm built upon the Gale-Shapley algorithm — whose creator was awarded the 2012 Nobel Prize in Economics — to give students a platonic or romantic match from their school. The Aphrodite Project’s founders wrote, “All compatible people — according to gender and other deal-breakers — are matched [so] there are no other two compatible people who would both rather have each other than their current partners.”

The Aphrodite Project aims to match 95 per cent of its respondents. Since its creation, the service has matched more than 58,000 participants, half of which went on a date with their match. Of the participants, 40 per cent started a new relationship or friendship with their match, and one couple got engaged.

Aphrodite Project 2022

The Aphrodite Project 2022 was its creators’ fourth run in North America, and second run in Hong Kong. It included student and alumni participation from 10 postsecondary institutions. In Canada, the project was run at the University of British Columbia, McMaster University, University of Waterloo, Western University, and U of T.

In terms of new features, participants can now choose to have one or two matches. After completing the questionnaire, they can also create a profile to display a photo and personal information. Students are also given the chance to match two friends together, which gives those individuals a one per cent greater chance of being matched in the project’s algorithm, and are also able to block another student by providing their school email address.

This year, more than 13,300 students signed up for the Aphrodite Project. Those participants — including 4,007 U of T students — can look forward to getting their matches on February 13.

2021 U of T Data

According to the data that the Aphrodite Project released on January 24, 4,150 U of T students participated last year. Of the U of T students who participated, 89 per cent were looking for a romantic match and 11 per cent were searching for a platonic one.

Furthermore, 3,420 students were in their first to fourth years of study. Additional participants included 177 students who were in their fifth year or beyond of undergraduate studies, 187 master’s students, 89 PhD students, and 277 alumni.

The vast majority of participants — 3,403 students of the 4,150 U of T students — identified as heterosexual, while 747 identified as LGBTQ+. A total of 2,090 participants identified as cisgender women and 1,998 identified as cisgender men. Only six participants identified as transgender men, five identified as transgender women, and 51 participants identified as nonbinary.