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Science

Study: Online Dating Makes People "Picky" and "Unrealistic" 630

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the i-really-love-computers-like-really-really-like dept.
New submitter garthsundem writes with this tale of digital love: "A newly published meta-analysis of over 400 studies of online dating (PDF) shows both its popularity (second only to meeting through friends) and its impact. More online daters report seeking a 'soulmate' online, and do so by searching through the wealth of available profiles. Unfortunately soul-searchers focus on faults, both in viewing profiles and then also once dating in person, leading to quick exits when relationships inevitably get complicated."
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Study: Online Dating Makes People "Picky" and "Unrealistic"

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 08, 2012 @09:03AM (#38965925)

    Life is series of compromises. Online or not, there is certain group out there who thinks they
    need (worse, deserve) "soul mate". Good thing with physical world is, these people will be
    notorious in the town, friends circle and lose any chance of meeting decent folks.
    But in Online world, they have luxury of keeping going through profiles and waste their
    money, time and other peoples time. How else these "dating sites" make money ?

  • It's unrealistic (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 08, 2012 @09:10AM (#38966009)

    I can think of a couple reasons why this happens. As a male who spent a few years online dating myself, and seeing both sides of the fence.

    Guys terribly outnumber women on these sites. Women get many many many requests, and it's pretty much pick of the litter for them. Even if they don't get picky, they get jaded due to the idiots trying anything to get a woman interested. It's akin to trying to find an email from your family while sifting through endless penis enlargement emails.

    There's always someone better looking or more interesting out there and dating sites make these people known to you .Be it through contact with them or the mere presence of their profile online. It's almost a carrot and stick game. It's so much easier to stop seeing someone who doesn't completely interest you when there are other potential mates out there.

  • Theory (Score:5, Interesting)

    by TheSpoom (715771) <slashdot@NOSpAM.uberm00.net> on Wednesday February 08, 2012 @09:11AM (#38966027) Homepage Journal

    My theory is that since online dating has a lower barrier to entry, it attracts people who wouldn't otherwise be "ready" to find their soulmate. It's like PHP; it can be a powerful tool, but because it's easy there's a lot of crap code out there.

    Disclaimer: Met my wife and soulmate on OkCupid. :^)

  • Giant virtual bar (Score:4, Interesting)

    by crowemojo (841007) on Wednesday February 08, 2012 @09:17AM (#38966097)
    In my experience, the most popular dating sites (listed as type 1 in the article, like OKCupid and Match) are like giant bars. The women are hounded from all directions by men, and the men seem to have to fight to distinguish themselves. Every good friend I know that is female and on one of these sites is constantly bombarded and things quickly devolve into shallow initial impressions. I'm willing to bet most relationships started at bars are often shaky when things get real as well.
  • by DigiShaman (671371) on Wednesday February 08, 2012 @09:17AM (#38966113) Homepage

    Hah! So true.

    On a serious note, I know several people in real life that have used eHarmony before. Most of them ended up getting married after their first or second date using the service and shortly after a year or so of meeting each other for the first time. That tells me two things. First, eHarmony has got the system down to a science with regards to their list of questions they ask members to take. Second, (and most important) members of eHarmony are already taking a serious and mature attitude with regards to finding a mate for life. When two people make it a serious effort to make a relationship work, I'm not surprised that eHarmony has what I think is the best success rate of them all.

  • by JoeMerchant (803320) on Wednesday February 08, 2012 @09:21AM (#38966153)

    And yet, there is no evidence that people are any happier.

    Happiness is a differential function, it doesn't matter what you have in absolute terms, only relative.

    So, if everybody is suddenly 1000% better off, happiness returns to baseline within a year or so, even while the improvement remains.

    I think this, more than anything, explains Moore's law. Technological progress is often made in quantum leaps, but rather than delivering these leaps to the world, companies choose a slow steady increase - the engineering departments say it's safer that way, but marketing knows that they can sell far more widgets if they improve them a little at a time, making customers happy every time they get an improvement, instead of delivering all the improvements at once, making customers a little more happy once, but then complacent or even dissatisfied with the apparent lack of improvement.

  • by bryanp (160522) on Wednesday February 08, 2012 @09:28AM (#38966251)

    If you want a hook-up, go to match or similar (free) websites

    If you want to find a girl you might marry go to eharmony

    YMMV. I met my wife on a free site after getting diddly for results on a pay site.

    We did get a pretty good laugh when after meeting online we discovered out that we have the same employer and I'm her network administrator. Coincidence is a bizarre thing. (It's a big employer - we work in different buildings a couple of blocks apart, so we'd never met)

  • by Mr_Silver (213637) on Wednesday February 08, 2012 @09:31AM (#38966283)

    An interesting article originally posted by OKCupid (until they were bought and it was pulled down) explaining why you should never pay for online dating:

    http://interestingreads.posterous.com/why-you-should-never-pay-for-online-dating-ok [posterous.com]

    Worth a read.

  • by holmedog (1130941) on Wednesday February 08, 2012 @09:34AM (#38966321)

    I realize you're joking, but let me throw some anecdotal evidence around.

    I got divorced 2 years ago. A few months after that I decided I would try the dating scene. Hooked up a few times at the bar, went on some dates with friends-of-friends, the works. Decided to try online dating, because my life is busy and I thought it would increase my chances of finding someone who had free time similar to mine (weekdays, not weekends):

    eHarmony: Too expensive. I can go to the bar for what I would spend to meet someone on there. I did fill out the free profile.
    eVow: 3 dates from here, 2 ended in sex on the first night. "Long-term" my ass
    plentyoffish: 4 dates from here - 2 ended in sex on the first night. 2 lasted 6+months (including my current girlfriend)
    facebook: 3 dates - all ended in sex within the first week

    I'm hardly a "playboy" at 215lbs 6'1 and an average build. But, I have to think you are right that the people on the "cheap" sites are looking for hookups and not investing in long term.

  • by vlm (69642) on Wednesday February 08, 2012 @09:36AM (#38966353)

    then you need to expand your social circles somewhat. That doesn't mean doing masculine or effeminate things if you don't want to

    Why the heck not? That is so wrong advice. You die when you stop learning. If you're not comfortable with your own orientation such that you can try the "wrong thing" once in awhile, get that all figured that out before trying to add another person to the mix.

    I used to troll scrapbooking stores and fabric stores and crafty stores and ask hot chicks without wedding rings for help picking out a gift for my mom (or sister, or aunt, or grannie, you get the idea). Supermarkets and "gift stores" too. I'd get teased by some coworkers about being seen going to "chick stores" because they were not sure of their own masculinity (I was sure, so I had no problem doing this kind of stuff), to which I'd respond with something brilliantly witty like "F you I'm getting some" (ah the intelligence and wit of youth...). Married over ten years to a scrapbooker chick now.

    Also, aside from getting any, its interesting to try new stuff. I have no interest in using a sewing machine as a lifestyle or hobby, but I'm glad I tried it once. Those things are amazing little mechanical precision jewels. Sewing two pieces of fabric together didn't make my nads fall off, anymore than a chick playing a video game automatically grows chest hair.

  • Re:Study shows... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by elrous0 (869638) * on Wednesday February 08, 2012 @09:36AM (#38966355)

    Match.com was busted for actually sending their employees on dates with clients, and all online dating sites are are chock-full of fake profiles generated by the staff and/or spammers who will throw a bone every now and then for the sake of realism.

    The reality is that it's almost impossible for these sites to maintain anything like a 50/50 female/male ratio without somehow gaming the system. Go to any real world dating event and you'll find something similar. Women are recruited, offered free admission, etc. just to get enough of them to show up--while guys are lined up around the block.

    It's a sad statement about a larger reality in society, there are always more desperate men than women. The good looking, rich, charismatic guys tend to juggle multiple women while the dumpy guys often get zilch. Meanwhile, the women are holding out for (and fighting over) Prince Charming (i.e. the good-looking, rich, charismatic guy) and all-too-often ignoring the nice but not-so-princely peasants.

    Not saying the same thing doesn't happen the other way around sometimes too (guys will often focus way too much attention on physical attributes, to their detriment). But it still usually results in more desperate men than women.

  • Re:Picky (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ShieldW0lf (601553) on Wednesday February 08, 2012 @09:41AM (#38966413) Journal

    Human brains lose plasticity as they age. The longer we wait to pair off, the less we are able to adapt to our mate, and them to us.

    Human lives have chapters in them, like a story, and everything has to happen in its proper time. If you fuck with that timing, like we have by driving people to stay single till later in life so they can pursue education and career, you fuck the person up. Forever.

    It's just like all those studies that show teenagers are much more vulnerable to drug addiction than mature adults. Pheremones are the drugs kids are supposed to get addicted to.

  • Re:Study shows... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by AmiMoJo (196126) <[ten.3dlrow] [ta] [ojom]> on Wednesday February 08, 2012 @09:52AM (#38966597) Homepage

    That would be true if it were not for most dating sites having a 20:1 or worse ratio of men to women. For true equality look at the gay dating scene.

  • Re:Study shows... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 08, 2012 @10:13AM (#38966885)

    2. It changes a lot when you're over 30. Women realize there's no such thing as Prince Charming and it's time to settle for someone who treats them well and isn't going to leave.

    Unfortunate what also happens is that those men become bitter. When you get spurned for so long you become used to being on your own, and you also see 'women settling' for what it really is.

  • by ShavedOrangutan (1930630) on Wednesday February 08, 2012 @10:14AM (#38966899)
    If I looked at 10 profiles sent to me by Match/Yahoo/Whatever, one or two seemed like someone I'd actually enjoy talking to. That's probably about average out in the real world. If I looked at 10 profiles on eHarmony, 7 or 8 seemed like someone I'd actually enjoy talking to. So their survey does a pretty good job of increasing the odds.
  • It's true... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Sir_Eptishous (873977) on Wednesday February 08, 2012 @10:15AM (#38966913) Homepage
    I can speak from experience on this topic. It appears to me that women are generally more picky, less realistic and more willing to hold out for their vision of what a perfect "match" is. I noticed this first when I read the profiles. I was immediately taken aback at the smarmy, fakeness of their self descriptions. I instantly picked up on the fact that most of them had some kind of "profile enhancement" done by the service, whether it was Match or whoever... The words and phrases used in the profiles were all similar, and sounded almost like a Mission Statement from some generic corporate marketing focus group.
  • Advice for women (Score:5, Interesting)

    by gurps_npc (621217) on Wednesday February 08, 2012 @10:29AM (#38967091) Homepage
    The simplest, best, way for a woman to use an online dating service is to NEVER respond to emails.

    Instead she should initiate contact herself.

    This way she:

    1. Eliminates any douchebag that doesn't let a women initiate contact.

    2. Ignores all the douchebags emailing everyone.

    3. Is less likely to be fooled by someone customizing their email to her profile.

    Note, this only works because other women are not emailing men. Everyone wants to be pursued - even the woman that call themselves dominant. But that idea simply works BADLY online. Too many men doing the pursuing.

    It also takes a woman smart enough to realize that emailing a guy doesn't make her overly aggressive. Hell, even if you are a kinky submissive on an "adult" web site you can still email a guy in a submissive way. It's about what you say, not who wrote first.

  • Re:Study shows... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 08, 2012 @10:44AM (#38967287)

    I did just the opposite on dating sites (one of which gave me a free membership, so might as well use it.)

    I had my occupation IT related, and I kept getting gold diggers.

    So, I changed it to "actor at a renaissance faire", something I do for a hobby as it gets me outdoors.

    The result: More interesting bites on the line. The ones looking for a sugar daddy go elsewhere.

  • by SmallFurryCreature (593017) on Wednesday February 08, 2012 @10:44AM (#38967293) Journal

    It is no doubt sexist but girls who reach puberty are very attractive to a large age range of men. Boys of the same age, only to Catholic priests. For women, it is looks that count. For men, it is success, power, confidence. Not saying that all women are gold diggers only after a wallet but confidence is something you gain overtime, with success, with power, with age. And when you couldn't get a 18yr old at 18, why would you date that girl who is now 40 when she has been used up and now desperate when with your status gain, you can get a nice young girl?

    Dating sites reflect this. I have worked on two and the database clearly showed that the women tended to be more experienced (read: many failed relationships) and fed up with it and now trying to find something more longterm. Generally these women show little self-awareness of why they are this situation, 30 something with just as many boyfriends and nothing permanent.

    Men are slightly more realistic but to negative. A lot of 30yr old men who now feel they have power/money to pretend to be confident are really hateful to women who they believe are now only interested because of their cash.

    When these two groups meet, mis-communication is rife, a lot of men are simply not prepared to accept that a women their own age has more experience, they don't want second hand goods or even 30th hand goods. The women on the other hand don't quite get why men they turned down for years are not falling over themselves like all the guys that came before. They don't see that the guys they had before were only there for the sex and nothing else.

    The men might not have much experience with relationships but neither do the women. Being used as a booty call is after all not a relationship. The only thing these women are good at is failed relationships. Think of it like this: If you try a race circuit a thousand time and crash everytime at the first corner you are NOT more experienced at racing at that circuit then someone who never even been there. It is a complex concept but an essential one if you want to understand the dating scene. A one-night stand when he never calls again does NOT teach you how to make a relationship work. In fact, if that is your history for the last decade, it seems likely you will never learn.

    A lot of people approach online-dating and other dating aids with this screwed up mind set, men who hate all women because they never had the guts so ask them out, girls who been used all their life thinking it is the fault of men that none of them saw how wonderful a person she really is, people with expectation that just don't exist in this world.

    Real romances? Try this, do a poll among married couples for valentine gifts and on a dating site. The results might be very different, the married couples are realistic, the dating site will have stuff that even Spielberg couldn't make up.

    It is true after all, normal people don't need dating sites. That does NOT mean you will only find freaks on dating sites. It means if you are using one, you are a freak. Accept this, take a long hard look in the mirror and ask yourself: "What is wrong with me that I have to use this". It is not wrong to use dating sites but if you think you are perfect when you have to use one... you are in for a disappointment.

  • Re:Study shows... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by elrous0 (869638) * on Wednesday February 08, 2012 @10:53AM (#38967431)

    Yes there are more women over 30yrs old looking and easy. But they usually come with baggage, divorces and kids.

    I would like to *strongly* echo that point--OH MY GOD, DO THEY COME WITH BAGGAGE! Expect to spend years listening to her complain about every disastrous relationship in her past, each of which she will unfairly take out on you. You get to deal with her kids (who hate you), her ex-husband (who is jealous of you, doesn't want you around his kids, doesn't pay his child support on time, and shows up drunk/high to randomly cause trouble), her old boyfriends (who all seem to be drug dealers and ex-cons, and all of whom want to hook up with her again), that one batshit-crazy girl she dated during her lesbian phase (who's even crazier than her old boyfriends), her family (none of whom she gets along with, and all of whom seem to hate you), the ghost of every guy who she WISHES she had married but didn't/couldn't, and about a metric ton of other unresolved shit (including some uncle touching her hoo-ha in 5th grade, which she blames for every subsequent problem in her life).

  • Re:Study shows... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 08, 2012 @11:05AM (#38967613)

    It changes a lot when you're over 30. Women realize there's no such thing as Prince Charming and it's time to settle for someone who treats them well and isn't going to leave.

    Unfortunate what also happens is that those men become bitter. When you get spurned for so long you become used to being on your own, and you also see 'women settling' for what it really is.

    This.

    I last had a date in the 90s. I was lonely for the first year or two after, bitter for the next four or five years, and finally got over it.

    Now that I'm in my 40s, I've actually been asked out on a date once or twice, and I've turned them down. There's no bitterness; it's simply no longer something I want to do. I've got a reasonably-fulfilling career in tech; I get up, play with computers for a few hours, come home, and flip a coin deciding whether to (a) cook something (and crack open a bottle of something) nice and spend the rest of the evening evening vegging out reading Slashdot, Reddit, and Fark, (b) tinker on programming and/or modding projects, or (c) play Skyrim. Sex? If the urge for sex strikes, there's an entire Internet full of pr0n out there, and then I can get back to whatever it was I was doing. I'm content in my lifestyle, and when every waking hour is filled spending something I do want to do, and I realized that when push comes to shove, there's simply no room in my life for a relationship.

    In the same way as the woman who settled for a good guy who'd be content to take care of her and help her raise the family, men can "settle" too. Sour grapes? Sure, there's a little bit of that. But on a risk-reward basis, I'm grateful that the human palate adjusts.

  • by SleazyRidr (1563649) on Wednesday February 08, 2012 @11:35AM (#38968027)

    OKCupid did a page about that a little while ago ( I can't find it to link to right now...) Basically, because there are so many fake profiles, guys end up sending a lot of messages that will never get answered. Since so few of them get answered they end up sending more and more messages, and putting less and less thought into each one. Girls on the site then login in to find 100 messages all saying "hey, you're pretty", and decide to quit the site, leading to even more profiles that will never answer your messages.

  • by wienerschnizzel (1409447) on Wednesday February 08, 2012 @11:40AM (#38968089)

    For men, it is success, power, confidence. Not saying that all women are gold diggers only after a wallet but confidence is something you gain overtime, with success, with power, with age.

    Surprised to see that many opinions of this kind modded up here.

    First of all - there is a lot of traits that women find attractive besides raw confidence or power. Here's a little list of them:
    humorous/ witty
    creative
    adventurous
    artistic
    mysterious
    classy
    original
    social
    entertaining
    inspiring
    charismatic

    There is also another way to put it:

    Anything but boring and predictable!

    Of course, the problem is that the 'not boring and not predictable' group has a high ratio of older (successful) men and jerks in it. But that's not women's fault.

  • Re:Study shows... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 08, 2012 @01:22PM (#38969673)

    That hardly makes what I wrote a load of crap. I agree with you actually. Show me a woman in her 30s who'd accept me and I'd see not her but the woman she was when she was in her 20s...and when I was in my 20s too. Then I'd realise that same person who is being nice to you *now*...well...I'd remember how they would have behaved to me in the past. It's called being bitter and I'm sure I'm not the only man who feels this way.

    It would be like ripping your boss a new one in an exit interview when you leave your job, but then having to ask him for your job back three months later. Guess what? He's not going to take you back. He'll remember what you said. It's not going to be "Remember when I said your company sucked? Well I think you guys are just awesome now! Now will you give me a job please?". Same thing with women. They shouldn't be surprised when the guys they scorned aren't JUST THRILLED when they try and come back once the best years of their life are gone.

  • by JoeMerchant (803320) on Wednesday February 08, 2012 @01:38PM (#38969981)

    "Happiness is a differential function."

    Wow, that may be the most plainly wrong statement I've ever read about such a nebulous and subjective concept.

    Take a working couple with 2 kids, living in a 1600 square foot house in a modest neighborhood.

    Give the man a 100K/year raise, no additional hours at the office required - wait 5 years.

    Wife becomes stay at home mom, free to pursue her interests. Move to a 4500 sqft McMansion in that better subdivision across the street. New cars, no debt, free to travel and purchase whatever they desire (within reason) at will.

    How long before the wife is actually less happy because she has time to contemplate all that is wrong with life, her life in particular?

    I lived in this "Stay at home mom land" outside Houston, TX for a couple of years. Sure, they look happier than slum dwellers, they certainly have no right to complain, and yet, complain they do - often more than their less fortunate counterparts. And, it's not just surface problems, they really, genuinely lack happiness - some of them give lots of money to psychologists to try to figure it out, the ones that get SSRIs generally do improve their mood, if not their actual circumstances.

    YMMV, these types of general statements do not apply to 100% of any population, but in my observation, the trend is there and clear.

    Also interesting is the bathtub curve relating wealth to suicide, suicide rates increase significantly at both ends of the wealth spectrum - what do both ends of the wealth spectrum have in common? A lot of free time on their hands, for one.

  • Re:Only on slashdot (Score:4, Interesting)

    by geminidomino (614729) on Wednesday February 08, 2012 @02:05PM (#38970431) Journal

    I agree with you that this can be a very bad idea, but for the exact OPPOSITE reason. The last girl I dated (for just over year) had one of the sweetest little girls I'd ever met.

    They love to remind you that "when you date the mom, you date the kids." What they don't remind you is that "When the mom's drama queen bullshit leads to you breaking up with her, you're breaking up with the kid, too."

    I couldn't provide an airborne copulation at a ventrally-mobile toroid whether or not I ever saw the mom again, but two years later I still miss the kid.

  • Re:It's true... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Spugglefink (1041680) on Wednesday February 08, 2012 @03:16PM (#38971405)

    There is NO shortage of women out there who would be more than happy to be with you. You probably just don't think they're attractive enough, so your own expectations are 50% of the problem.

    Truer words were never spoken. What it comes down to for me is women fall into two categories: attractive, and accessible to me.

    I ended up marrying an unattractive one, who turned out to be an excellent wife and mother, but it has been difficult over the years to choke down the fact that I've never really found her appealing. I'm not sure if guys are better off to lower their expectations or not. It will get you laid, but is it worth it?

    Maybe.

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