September 07, 2005
If you've read through the reviews on this website, you will have surely noticed that the majority of reviews are pretty negative about online dating. Is it really that bad?
No, it's not so bad. I personally know a couple who met through an online dating service, and they don't seem shy about telling people how they met. Go tell them that online dating services suck and are useless. I'm sure they'd disagree. In fact, with online dating becoming more mainstream, you meet more and more couples who say they met online.
So where does all the animosity come from in the reviews? First of all, the review writing process is biased in favor of people with an axe to grind. It's the person who's really angry who is most motivated to seek out an online dating review site and take the time to write a review. Those whose experiences are positive aren't as motivated to speak out.
What online dating services can do for you is expand the pool of people you can meet beyond your immediate circle of acquaintances and work/social activities. But what it's not likely to do is allow you to date people who wouldn't have been interested in you if you met through more traditional offline methods.
Men without any exceptional qualities get mad because women ten years younger than them don't respond to their emails. And women get mad because they can't find a man closer in age who is six feet or taller and earns six figures. (To understand the problem with that, you need to do a little math. If 25% of men are six feet or taller, and if 10% of men earn six figures, and there's no correlation between the two, then women with both of these requirements have limited themselves to only 2.5% of men. No wonder why they can't meet anyone!)
I believe that our dating expectations have been ruined by Hollywood. We go to the movies or turn on the television, and we see all these beautiful people. Then we expect the people we meet in real life to look that good. Unfortunately less than ten percent of the people we meet in real life look as good as the people in the media.
Expectations for first dates run too high as well. People expect all of their dates to be Hollywood moments like they see in the movies, but on real dates the dinner isn't always perfect, or sometimes the conversation isn't so good, or it feels awkward. This is life and you need to give people a second or third chance.
My advice for men: you need to send emails to women around two years younger than you who don't look like super models, and then you will probably be able to find some dates. And my advice for women: you need to be willing to give a chance to men who are a little shorter and a little poorer and a little less good looking than your ideal.
The majority of the negative reviews are written by men, and this unfortunately reflects the nature of the offline dating world. Dating is harder for men than women because there is a shortage of women. But wait, aren't there an equal number of men and women? Nope. For starters, there are 105 boy babies born for every 100 girl babies. Furthermore, the situation is far worse than that for men in their twenties. Because of poaching of younger women by successful older men, and a slightly greater percent of women than men desiring to take time off from dating, the webmaster estimates that the are probably 120 single men in their twenties for every 100 single women in their twenties. Because of this real world unbalanced ratio, we see that there are around 150 female profiles for every 100 male profiles on online dating services such as Match.com (which is where I tested the theory). This unbalanced ratio, however, is not Match.com's fault. It simply reflects the way things are.
Are the online dating services completely perfect? No, they are out to make money like all businesses, and sometimes they go too far in trying to make a few extra dollars. My biggest complaint about certain online dating services is that they don't tell you who's a member and who isn't. This is obviously very annoying for those services where only members can read emails, because you might wind up wasting a lot of time writing a well thought out email to someone who can't see it.
My next complaint, not quite as big, is that the online dating sites use too much compression on their JPEGs, leaving all of the photos full of JPEG artifacts. This is only compounded by the problem that people seem completely clueless when it comes to cropping and uploading their photos.
However, despite the above problems, online dating services can very useful ways to meet people. Give them a try if you haven't.
August 20, 2005
In Match.com searches of Caucasian women in Manhattan, the following numbers of pages were returned based on self-reported heights:
These results seem to follow the expected normal distribution, with the modal height of 5'5", but there seem to be more results above 5'5" than below, so I call the median self reported height for women at slightly less than 5'5 1/2".
But the results for Caucasian men (using somewhat different search criteria causing more results to come up) bring the following results:
These results do not follow the expected normal distribution. The modal height is 6'0" and then there is a sharp dropoff above 6'0". Either men's heights are not distributed according to the expected laws of statistics, or some men are lying about their heights. I strongly suspect the latter.
Because 6'0" is a magic height number, and often a number that women insist on, men who are 5'11" have an especially strong incentive to add an inch to their height. If the numbers for 5'11" and 6'0" were reversed, the distribution would look better, and tell us that the median self-reported height for men is slightly below 5'11".
But I also suspect that men of all heights are far more likely to make themselves taller, so I think it's appropriate to assume that the actual men's heights are half an inch shorter. This brings us to the conlusion that the actual median height for men is around 5'10 1/2", which affirms what I said in a previous post about men being about 5 inches taller, on average, than women.
August 19, 2005
The other day I saw a short heavyset guy and a short heavyset girl at 49th and Broadway, and this made me think about assortative mating. Assortative mating is a complicated name for the simple concept that couples have more traits in common than likely in random mating. In other words, like pairs up with like.
This is a natural preference that we human beings have, and one needs to be aware of it to succeed in online dating. You will be most likely to get responses to your emails, and second dates from your first dates, if you focus on members of the opposite sex who are like you.
The most important traits are social status, looks, height, body type, age, ethnicity, baggage, and religion. Match up on these characteristics and you will find good dates. Let’s examine each more closely:
Social status: this includes income, education, and your family background. Some of this information can be pretty hard to figure out based on the checkboxes at Match.com. A Bachelor’s degree from the College of Staten Island isn’t in any way comparable to a Bachelor’s degree from Yale, yet they are both identified with the same checkbox. And regarding income, most women don’t list their income. Nevertheless, this is an essentially important component of dating success.
Looks: if you’re ugly don’t expect to hook up with someone super hot looking. Of course, the photos are so bad it’s often hard to tell what people really look like until you meet them. When you meet in person, you may be horrified, or you may be pleasantly surprised.
Height: the average man is five inches taller than the average women. And two inches make a big difference when it comes to height. So if you’re a man of 5'11", getting a woman who’s 5'8" to go out with you might be a difficult challenge. Your luck would be much better going after a woman who’s 5'6".
Body type: you’re best sticking to the same body type as you, even though the desirability of body types differ depending upon your sex. But one interesting point is that many assume that a slender body type is most desirable for women, when actually men like any body type as long as it’s not something like “a few extra pounds” or “large frame.”
Age: men would like to go out with women who are ten years younger, but it’s not going to happen. On the other hand, women who are older than me keep sending me emails, and this doesn’t work either. If you’re a man, you should know that women prefer men who are exactly two years older than them. And if you’re a woman, you should know that men don’t care how much younger you are, but you are wasting your time sending emails to younger men.
Ethnicity: I think this is self-explanatory.
Baggage: if you are divorced with kids, you are best off seeking partners who are also divorced with kids.
Religion: women tend to be somewhat more religious than men, so if you’re a man and an atheist, you need to also match with women who profess a religion but don’t really practice it. (Once I went to an atheist rally and there were ten men there for every woman, and the women weren’t very attractive.)
August 10, 2005
One of the facts of online dating is that there are more men than women online. For example, Match.com recently told ABC News that 59% of their subscribers are men and 41% are women. You can confirm the ratio yourself by doing searches for profiles.
The high male/female ratio of online dating is not the fault of the online dating services, but it reflects the unfortunate realities of the real world. Over a decade ago I recall reading a New York Times article that stated that there were approximately 6 single men in their twenties for every five single women.
How is this possible? Aren't there an approximately equal number of boy and girl babies born each year? The biggest contributor to the skewed ratio is serial polygamy. A man in his twenties marries a woman in her twenties, then in his thirties he divorces her and marries another woman in her twenties, then in his forties he marries another women in her twenties. This happens. I have a friend who's in his fifties and his current wife is in her twenties.
There is also parallel polygamy. I woman I know, when she was in her twenties, knew a guy who had two girlfriends at the same time (neither, of course, knew of the other one's existence). And at the same time he was also hitting on her, trying to bring his harem up to three!
What's going on in the real world is reflected in the virtual world of online dating. In fact, it's skewed worse than in the real world, because online dating sites attract a much greater percentage of people who have trouble finding dates. So not only will there be more men, there will be more undesirable (for whatever reasons) members of both sexes.
Men who use online dating services will initially try to contact the few women they are interested in. But because the desirable women receive more emails than they can respond to, male subscribers eventually figure out that they have to send out massive numbers of emails because the response rate is so low. So we wind up in the situation we're in now. Female subscribers to online dating services receive more emails than they can respond to, and male subscribers send out large numbers of emails and rarely get a response.
Women actually complain about this, but I think they are in a far better situation than men. If you are a man, how do you fix the problem? The answer is that you need to move to Manhattan. There are more single women in Manhattan than men. If you do searches in Match.com for Manhattan, you will find about 50% more female profiles than male profiles. The opposite of the ratio for the rest of the United States.
Living in Manhattan and using Match.com, I've been quite happy with how many women respond to my emails. And being a nerdy IT professional, I'm not a high priority catch for most women. They'd rather be going out with the good looking athletic men. You also get to meet women of a caliber you'd never find in Phoenix, Arizona, like graduates of Harvard and Yale law schools.
August 07, 2005
This is a followup to my last post about the online dating photo. I really wish more people would post full body shots. Everyone posts a head and shoulders shot (or at least something similar, unfortunately so many of the photos violate the basic rules of the last post). I'll see a profile that has well over a dozen photos (Match.com sure lets you post a lot of photos), but none of them really let you see what kind of body the woman posting the photos has.
There are probably two reasons for this:
(1) As explained in the last post, people are lousy photographers and have no idea what they are doing when they are taking photos and then again when they are uploading them.
(2) Women don't want men to see their full body because they don't think they look good. I hope this isnt true, but if it is, my message to women is that most men are not looking for anorexic model figures. As long as you look normal, letting people see the rest of you from the shoulders down will only attract more attention to your profile. Men are really easy to turn on.
August 06, 2005
Match.com urges you to upload a photo with your profile. Your profile allegedly gets "fifteen times more attention" when there’s a photo with it. Match.com helps skew the ratio in favor of photos by making the default search return only profiles with photos. To see the profiles without photos you need to uncheck the box.
Of course, as a guy who likes to look at girls, it’s a fun time just looking at all the pictures that women post even if you know it’s pointless to email them. It’s not surprising that profiles with photos get looked at so often.
But knowing that profiles without photos get much less attention, might it not be a good strategy to go out of your way to contact these people? Your email would be competing with a lot fewer emails and you will be more likely to get a response.
It would be a good strategy were it not for two important caveats. (1) The person who doesn’t post a photo is not as serious about online dating, so there’s a good chance she’s not a paying member and can’t respond to your email. (2) You don’t know what you’re getting. The lack of a photo my be hiding an appearance too horrible to behold. And believe me, you don’t want to show up at your first date and discover that you have to have dinner with a girl who weighs 300 pounds.
As to whether or not you should post a photo, it will only help your chances. The only reason not too is to avoid the stigma associated with online dating. I imagine that some people don’t want to show up at work on Monday morning and find the whole office is looking at that photo you posted to Match.com. But they tell us that the stigma of online dating is going away fast, so your coworkers might even think that you’re cool and hip for using the internet to find dates.
When you do post your photos online, please post some good ones. I am surprised by how many of the photos are so incredibly bad. You’d think with the ubiquity these days of digital cameras and computers, everyone would be able to come up with a pretty decent photo to post. Let’s list the categories of photos I hate:
(1) The blurry photo. Come on, learn to focus the camera.
(2) The tiny photo. Even the cheapest digital camera takes a big photo, why are people uploading these tiny little thumbnail sized files?
(3) Big photo, tiny person. All you see is the background and the person is so tiny you can barely make them out. Learn to crop the photo and learn to zoom in on people when you snap the shutter.
(4) Group shots. These are also very common. I don’t really care what my prospective date’s friends look like. Most of these group shots suffer the problem above, the person I’m interested in looking at is too small or hidden behind other people.
(5) Picture with ex. Do I even have to explain this?
(6) Picture with baby or child. Who’s baby is that? One immediately assumes that the baby belongs to the owner of the profile. Dating women with children isn’t really something most men prefer (unless they have their own), so if you are childless then don’t torpedo your chances at online dating by posting pictures of yourself and your sister's little kid.
I wish I could say that most people post good photos, but unfortunately the opposite is true. The majority of profiles violate the above rules.
August 02, 2005
The first thing that happens after you fill out the first page is that Match.com, asks you to buy a subscription. Before you even have a chance to fill out your profile or look around. You can ignore the plea for money and do other stuff, but so long as you’re not a paying subscriber, Match.com, keeps letting you know that you need to become one. For example, if you want to look at people’s photos, you need to be a paying subscriber to do that. Otherwise all you see is the face shot. Most red blooded American males are going to want to the bodies.
Back in the old days, everything on the internet was free, and online dating was no exception. AOL, for example, offered a free online dating service. Of course, I am the first to admit that giving stuff away for free is a really bad business model. So online dating sites are perfectly entitled to charge for their service.
When dating services first started charging, the model was that you had to pay to be able to email other users, but once the first email was sent you could email back and forth for free. This meant that only the initiator (almost always the man) had to pay for a subscription.
Match.com realized that they could make more money if they made both parties pay. Has this been successful? Yes, they are making lots of money, and even women are paying their way. In fact, I already received an email from a female subscriber, less than a day after I filled out my profile.
If you buy the six month plan, the price isn’t even so bad. Only $78 for six months. You can also go with the one month trial plan which is $30 for a month. A person who is cheap but willing to put forth a lot of effort could just buy one month and work the one month really hard. But I figured that this is going to take a long time, so I signed up for the six month plan. Hey, it’s almost worth the price just to look at the pictures of all the cute online girls.