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What do we think of when we hear the word Match?


My perfect match!

We've all thought about it, and let’s be honest, possibly devoted significant hours to imagining how life would be with this copy of us in our beloved’s form.  If we just get together, we will have a happily ever after, cos we’ll want all the same things all the time.  The reality is though, that labelling someone or something our perfect match is the first step towards disappointment for many. Why?

How about a sports match? For most, a “real” match should be a nail-biting, on the edge of your seat experience between two teams where you don't know who will win or what will happen. Two teams that play exactly the same way doesn’t sound like a fun night to most.


And then there is The Match… the thing you strike on the edge of a box to light the candle to seduce the person you love while you watch the sport match (hate to tell you this, they probably didn’t notice the candle 😊)


Perhaps not surprising there are many different definitions of Match.


a contest in which people or teams compete against each other in a particular sport.


a person or thing that is equal to another in quality or strength.


a person or thing that resembles or corresponds to another.

"the child's identical twin would be a perfect match for organ donation"


a string that fulfils the specified conditions of a computer search.


a similar or complementary pair.


a person viewed in regard to their eligibility for marriage, especially as regards class or wealth.


And when you look at the synonyms for Match, like harmonise, unified, rival, and duplicate… It all gets very confusing.  It seems there is very little that is consistently the same with the word Match.


Fun fact: set has the most meanings out of all words in the English language. But we’re starting to think that maybe ‘match’ can give it a run for its money…


We hate to say this out loud but perhaps we all have got the word match wrong.

Most people would focus on the sameness - an identical twin. When we’re doing life saving organ transplants, then yes we need the tissue to match in all sorts of ways. But even then, one could argue, you’re not getting the same organ, because this new one is healthy and the other is dying. So they have things in common but they’re still different.


If we extrapolate that logic and go into the real world, then a match is actually more about complementary combinations of factors which lead to a significant useful reaction, than the mirror image of something staring back at you.


I would propose that A.I. magic apps, like Tinder, Hinge, Bumble and the like, are trying to create a different type of “chemical reaction” than a match – like a very small spark, or even just a road bump, rather than a forest fire. A.I. uses knowledge we already have, and formulas that are designed for efficiency, ease, and consistency.  So, its matching capability is similarly simple – physical looks, hobbies, and things we do.  No offense, but AI and self reporting are not good ways of discovering the inner workings of someone’s soul, which seems kind of important for a perfect match – you can’t rely on the prince/princess title to know someone’s goodness.


So let’s go back to the science to better understand a match. The head of a match includes potassium chlorate and sulphur… and glass powder (no idea, just go with it). The way that a match makes fire is not to butt heads with another Potassium Sulphur combination, but the side of the matchbox which has phosphorus (and also some powdered glass… So yes, something in common can be useful, but that’s not what causes the main reaction). It’s this combination of DIFFERENT things that makes fire! I will admit, they do both start with P… but that’s all that they have in common.


The sports match also gives us insights. There’s a reason we love watching Federer play Nadal, or Schumaker drive against Hamilton. They’re so different and that’s what makes it such an interesting game. The best competition occurs when people are equally matched in overall skill – this ensures there is an actual game played, and not just going through the motions, or something that turns into a pity party - but also when they don’t play the same way. It’s the two very different approaches that provide the excitement, challenge and bring out the best in each player/team. It’s less about them being good at what they do, it’s more about how their individuality makes the other react that creates the incredible dynamic.


So, going back to our happily ever after… maybe we just need to slightly reframe what we think a perfect match looks like.


A perfect match won’t be exactly the same as you because that would be boring, and you’d never learn. Instead, a perfect match is someone who ignites a reaction in you that creates something bigger than two separate people. To do that, they need to fill gaps and support you, and also challenge and enrich you – and that is not someone who is the same.


More importantly, to find that match, you actually need to know what you want the reaction to look like i.e. surprise, surprise – what is important to you in your life. Until you work out what things you want to have in your life, “forever”, you can’t pick the person to give you a ‘happily ever after’. Because a match’s potassium phosphorus combination only works if you want fire. And Federer-Nadal is not a short tennis match. So, to find your perfect match, you’re going to need to do the work yourself first.


In the end, any match relies on a few things that are contextual and will change. It is not a hardwired, predestined thing.

  • Do you know what your priorities are – what you need, and what you don’t want?

  • Can you recognise the effect of other people on you and your life?

  • Does the combination of the two of you create the outcomes that make your future look safer, more stable, exciting, simple, full of money… the list goes on – and only you will know which combination of outcomes makes you live Happily Ever After.


So maybe the match is something you can’t work out till you’ve had the reaction and determined what type of fire, oxygen, explosion, compost you need …  In which case, all the swiping left in the world might not make any difference. And you just need to seize opportunities, be open, observe the world around you and yourself, and be clear about what matters… and the perfect match will be the one that makes all of these things easier.


I feel like we’ve said this before… 😉

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