is the author of “Dataclysm” and a co-founder of OkCupid.
Merienda upon a time, online daters were mocked spil lonely losers, or worse. Not anymore. Today, at least 40 million Americans are looking for love on the Web. But that doesn’t mean wij know what we’re doing. Like lovemaking, love and attraction, online dating is an object of fascination and confusion. Some commentators credit it with helping singles feel more secure and certain, while others blame it for “ruining romance,” “killing commitment” and contributing to the rise of the hook-up culture. Spil the head of OkCupid, I worked diligently to untangle many of the misconceptions about finding love on the Internet. But some persist, here are the most common.
1 . Studs aren’t interested te women te their 30s (or, Heer forbid, their 40s).
The raw gegevens is unquestionable. While women generally choose boys around their own age, guys are most attracted to 20-year-olds, period. That’s why the Daily Mail calls straight women overheen 45 the “plankton generation” — at the bottom of the romantic food chain. Time tv-programma editors found the notion of guys dating women ter their 30s so baffling that they invited 15 experts to explain the phenomenon.
But spil I learned at OkCupid, dudes don’t necessarily end up dating youthfull women, even if they think they’re gorgeous. Guys on the webpagina tend to message women closer to their own age, very few dudes overheen 30 actually reach out to 20-year-old women. And while it’s true that being older and single means you face a “thin” romantic market, both on the Web and off, the sheer scale of online dating mitigates this. After all, the best way to ritme long odds is to take lots of chances, and even for older users, dating sites provide millions of romantic options.
Two . Online dating is to blame for our hook-up culture.
It’s an all-too-common trope: Online dating has made casual hook-up effortless but relationships hard. One somewhat hysterical Vanity Fair article recently claimed that sites like Tinder have brought on a “dating apocalypse,” with youthful studs and women meeting online, getting together for hookup, then never talking again. The Guardian warns that thesis sites have created a “throwaway dating culture.”
This is stupid. People have always sought out casual hook-up — flings are key plot points te “Pride and Prejudice” (1813) and “The Fires of Autumn” (1942). One sociologist found that college-age students are having no more hook-up today than they were ter 1988. Te fact, online dating has made it lighter for those seeking long-term commitments to find each other. Experts say that one-third of latest marriages ter the United States commenced online. Those couples tend to be more satisfied, too, research suggests.
Three . Everyone lies online.
This assumption is so prevalent that MTV has an entire showcase, “Catfish,” faithful to investigating whether people te online relationships are signifying themselves honestly to their vrouwen. Te one extreme example of an online lie, Notre Lady football starlet Manti Te’o wasgoed tricked a few years ago into virtually dating a woman who never existed.
But while it’s tempting to trim off a duo of pounds or add a duo of inches, studies vertoning that online dating profiles are, fundamentally, fairly fair. Gwendolyn Seidman, writing te Psychology Today, explains it well: “Online daters realize that while, on the one arm, they want to make the best possible impression te their profile, on the other mitt, if they do want to pursue an offline relationship, they can’t start it with outright falsehoods that will quickly be exposed for what they are.”
That’s not to say every profile is the gospel truth, of course. People do exaggerate, just spil they do te person. OkCupid has found, for example, that boys and women more or less uniformly add two inches to their height. Ter any human interaction, there will always be some amount of posturing. But online dating isn’t especially endeble to our collective weakness for self-flattering fibs.
Four . Online dating is dangerous.
Grim stories abound. Te 2010, Boston’s “Craigslist killer” wasgoed charged with murdering a woman he had met online (he zometeen committed suicide ter jail). Te 2013, Mary Kay Beckman sued Match.com for $Ten million after a man she met on the webpagina came to hier Samenvoeging Vegas huis with a knife and an intent to kill.
But despite the occasional bad press, the numbers suggest that online dating is very safe. OkCupid creates something like 30,000 very first dates every day, and complaints about dangerous meetings are utterly zonderling. I reminisce only a handful ter my 12 years at the company. Albeit there are no comprehensive numbers, executives with other sites report similarly low levels of manhandle. Additionally, dating sites have taken steps to react to concerns. Match.com, for example, now checks its users against the National Lovemaking Offender Registry and deletes the profiles of anyone found on the list.
Online dating permits people to browse vrouwen from their own homes. Compare that with meetings at caf or parties, where people might be a few drinks ter when the flirting starts (studies display that drank use increases the risk of sexual attack). Also, people almost universally pick public places for their initial online dates: coffee shops, restaurants and the like. It’s very deliberate — after all, you’re looking for a playmate through an interface — and that creates a safer environment.
Five . Photos are the best way to tell whether you’ll be attracted to someone.
It seems evident, right? This premise is so well-worn that sites like Tinder, Hinge and Coffee Meets Bagel suggest little information about users beyond a collection of pictures and a two-line profile. “Online services enable a downright Seinfeld-ian level of superficial nitpickiness,” one Fortune article lamented. They’ve “given rise to a pick-and-choose shopping behavior that prioritizes looks more than everzwijn before.”
Te reality, how someone looks te a duo of pictures is no indicator of whether you’ll be attracted to them. That point wasgoed driven huis for mij during a puny publicity stunt OkCupid ran to promote a vensterluik dating app, wij called it Love Is Vensterluik Day. The premise wasgoed elementary: For a day, wij liquidated all the profile pictures on the webpagina. Users howled — webpagina traffic dropped more than 80 procent that day. But those who stuck around had much deeper and more productive conversations than regular. Replies to messages came swift, and dates were set up more quickly. Wij eyed the same thing among people who used our vensterluik dating app. A person’s attraction had no correlation with how well a date went. All te all, OkCupid worked better with no pictures.
The catch, of course, wasgoed that, without pictures to keep users blessed, OkCupid would go out of business. So wij turned the photos back on, providing people the dating practice they wished: superficial, skin-deep and most likely worse.
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