Long hours at work, social engagements, and going to the gym, or at least trying to, can make dating impossible. More and more of us rely on dating sites to meet a potential partner. We create the best online version of ourselves, start swiping right or left, and inevitably slide into the DMs. Eventually, the token creepy message will appear, and we’ll decline (unless we’re desperate), but why are some of us more successful at getting dates than others?
Science suggests it has to do with a difference in gender behaviors.
A recent study published in the journal Social Network Analysis and Mining found men and women approach online dating differently, with men being more aggressive and less aware of their true attractiveness, and women being more self-conscious.
"We found that males like to send a lot of messages to attractive female users, but they don't get a lot of responses," said Shuangfei Zhai, co-author of the study and a doctoral candidate at Binghamton University, in a statement.
Zhai and her colleagues from Binghamton, as well as the University of Massachusetts Lowell and Northeastern University worked to develop a reciprocal recommendation system that resembled Baihe, one of the largest dating sites in China, in order to match people who are mutually interested and likely to communicate with each other.
This is different from traditional user-item recommendations where the goal is to match items, such as books and videos, with a user's interests. Here, the researchers introduced similarity measures: “interest similarity” gauged whether two users send messages to the same users, while “attractiveness similarity” measured whether they received messages from the same users. In the end, the researchers analyzed a reciprocal score that measured the compatibility between a user and each potential dating candidate to find the “perfect match.”
The findings revealed "interesting behavioral difference(s) between male and female users when it comes to looking for potential dates,” wrote the researchers.
When it comes to online dating, men are more focused on their own interests and are oblivious of their attractiveness to potential dates. Meanwhile, women are more conscious of their own attractiveness. They were more likely to evaluate the likelihood of getting a response from a user who they’ve messaged because they were self-conscious, or aware of differences in attractiveness. This led them to have a better chance of getting responses from users than the oblivious men.
The researchers noted men are more rash to send messages to users, and consider only their own interests. Inevitably, this mistake led to fewer responses from women they believed were potential romantic partners. In other words, they overshot.
The difference in gender behaviors in online dating has been noted in numerous studies.
A similar 2012 study suggested that men are more concerned with photos, and perhaps, looks, in online dating. The researchers used a Tobii X1 Light Eye Tracker, which recorded the eye movements of users who were reading online dating profiles from Match.com and eHarmony.com. This helped researchers determine where men and women were actually looking while reading online dating profiles. The findings revealed men spent 65 percent more time looking at the pictures in the profile than women.
Women tend to be more conscious about how the receiving end will interpret their responses than men, according to the Pew Research Center. Thirty percent of women are more likely to consult a friend about their profile, while only 16 percent of men do. This accounts for a total of 22 percent of people with online dating profiles who ask a friend “to help them create or review their profile."
The discrepancy between men and women when it comes to online dating is a combination of evolution, societal expectations, and the environment. We all have the perception of choice in the dating world; it's all about how we use it to find our perfect match, or something close to it.
Source: Xia P, Zhai S, Liu B et al. Design of Reciprocal Recommendation Systems For Online Dating. Social Network Analysis and Mining. 2016.