On-Line Match-ups

online datingValentine’s day week is like no other.  Every newspaper, magazine and web article and every guest on every talk show is filled will some ditty about love or dating or romance.  This year, most notably it was all about on-line dating.  I thought it was just Match and Yahoo with eHarmony and J-Date thrown in. I’m a bit behind the times, having been out of the dating market for quite a while.  With each new dating site, the revised algorithms are closely honing your perfect match.  Maybe too closely.

A lot goes into the “scientific” algorithms that bring a bit of science to online dating.  Many have been surprised at how well you’re matched, at least on a first date.  There’s also something referred to as behavior matching. Considered more accurate, it watches your behavior on a site.  For example, a man says he’s looking for a long-term relationship, but his searching habits show the contrary.

NPR’s Planet Money, This American Life and To The Best of Our Knowledge all had economists, bringing statistics and the principles of economics to love encounters. The overlying message is that if you’re serious about dating and don’t have the time (or inclination) to spend your time in bars hoping for a meaningful “chance” drunken encounter, then online dating is for you. With today’s computer/tablet/mobile app obsessed populous, it’s no wonder this is where the action is headed.  Mobile dating technology even allows forhook-ups on the fly and instant feedback, like thumbs up or down.

Online matchmaking is big business, no doubt. It draws from a huge demographic with 90 million singles in the U.S. alone between 19 and 45. Surprisingly, or not, 40% of frequent users are already married.

Want some more stats?  The site Statistic Brain(2) has a myriad of “who knew” statistics.  What we can draw from them is up for debate.  Here are a few:

The average length of courtship for marriage that met online is 18.5 months, but the for offline marriages, it’s 42 months.  Why, I wonder?

17% percent of marriages in the last year the couples met online and 20% of current committed relationships began online.  (That’s significant.)

Number of questions to fill in on eHarmony:  400.  (Really, 400?)

Percent of women who have sex on the first encounter:  33%.  (I’m praying this stat is skewed due to some sites being specifically forhookups.)

I guess blonds still have more fun.  30% say it’s at the top of their list of attraction.

38% of women prefer “nice guys” and 6% will take any they can get.  24% of men prefer the “hottie”.

Ouch.  A woman’s desirability peaks at 21.  [I’m just reporting.]

By age 48, men have twice as many pursuers as women.  (No doubt.)

OkCupid, launched in 2004, and is the most popular free online dating service with 7 million users.

Coffee Meets Bagel has “gamified” the trend.  After filling out the requisite info, like religion, ethnicity, height, etc., at noon each day, you receive

one match.  You can either Pass or Like.  If there are two Like’s the two are connected by text.  It keeps users from feeling overwhelmed.  How civilized!

For online profiles, statistics on average show that men overstate their income. This makes sense because on average women are attracted to men that make more money.  And wouldn’t you know it, more data shows men are attracted to women who are prettier, leading to the stereotype that men care about looks and women care about money.  Some of the most frustrating comments from online users is the unreliability of the photos, age, income.  Especially the photos.

 I anticipate the online dating trend will continue as the world gets more andmore virtually connected.  In general, it seems like a good thing that more people have increased opportunities to explore more potential partners. But like infidelity with Facebook, online dating will challenge relationships that may already be on the fence, making it easier to “explore” new opportunities.  And, like online pornography, when there’s always the draw of yet of another image, online dating may provide too many choices with more arriving daily.  One could get very picky, when their inbox or the internet is filled with seemingly endless possibilities for romance and some will date more just because they can.

(1) http://www.forbes.com/sites/martinzwilling/2013/03/01/how-many-more-online-dating-sites-do-we-need/

(2) http://www.statisticbrain.com/online-dating-statistics/