OKCupid founder Christian Rudder recently updated the ever-popular OKTrends blog with new information about how we date online. In a series of experiments gathered from its HUGE user base, Rudder discovered that users were actually much more shallow than anticipated.
We decided to go through some of the best insights from the blog to destroy some delusions online daters may have about their chances of finding love online. (Sorry!)
1. “Online dating goes beyond looks to help people meet someone with similar interests.”
This is only partially true. It turns out we care WAY more about someone’s photos rather than if they like the same TV shows as us.
On “Love is Blind” day, OKCupid decided to turn off profile photos for a few hours in honour of launching a blind dating app. Interestingly, people responded to first messages 44 per cent more often, the conversations lasted longer and contact details were exchanged more quickly. However, once the photos were restored, a large portion of those conversations melted away. “It was like we’d turned on the bright lights at the bar at midnight,” wrote Rudder.
So yeah, we’re just as shallow online as we are in real life. A good selfie really is worth a thousand words!
2. “Algorithms help pick better matches for me than I ever could!”
Rudder says that the algorithm OKCupid uses is a strong indicator of relationship potential, but it turns out that the power of suggestion matters more to online daters than actual compatibility. OKCupid decide to test its algorithm by taking bad matches — pairs who scored 30 per cent or less for compatibility with one another — and displayed a high match percentage to them instead. These faux-matches ended up messaging each other longer than average, meaning the power of suggestion can persuade users more than a robust personality test.
3. “I need to answer a million questions about myself so that the computer will give me my husband/wife.”
You may not need to spend hours trolling profiles and deciding how you feel about politics, sex and love to find your match made in digital heaven after all. Rudder and his team analyzed data from couples who deleted their OKCupid accounts once they met someone they wanted to be exclusive with from the website. Out of these couples, Rudder’s team discovered that 32 per cent of these successful couples agreed on three simple questions:
A. Do you like horror movies?
B. Have you ever traveled around another country alone?
C. Wouldn’t it be fun to chuck it all and go live on a sailboat?
Users thought that questions about god, sex and smoking were most likely to predict future relationship success, but it really only matters if you both want to travel the world and crap your pants in movie theatres. Or, you both really hate those things. Who actually liked Saw, right?
4. “I need flattering photos to date online…and I don’t have any.”
We’ve all cropped a chubby arm out of a photo, or selected a selfie that caught our “good side” for our online profiles. However, when Rudder’s team looked at which women get the most messages, it turns out that cute girls (women who are generally rated highly by all men) get less messages than girls who are considered unattractive by some guys, but hot by others (women who have mixed ratings).
Rudder’s theory is that when men think a cute woman is in demand, they are less likely to message her, assuming they will have a lot of competition. When men see a woman they think other men won’t be universally interested in (ex: she’s got an “alternative” look) they are more likely to write to her.
So, if you’re afraid someone may find your mole unattractive, or your tattoos too alternative, go ahead and play it up. You may get less messages overall, but the ones you do receive will at least be from people interested in the real you, flaws and all.
5. “I think online dating is all about tricking strangers into hooking up with you.”
Isn’t that what meeting people in real life is about too? All kidding aside, the median reported sex partners for all OKCupid users — this include straight or gay men and women — is six. Which, really isn’t that high as an average when we’re told by the media that “dating is dead” thanks to “hook-up” apps like Tinder and Grindr.
Considering eHarmony has suggested that near half of all couples will meet online within the next two decades, dating websites are still viable places to meet a partner. But — much like real life — it’s got challenges and obstacles. Starting with your looks…