Online Daters are Shallow! And Water Is Wet!

Women who speed date are selected by half the men.
Men who speed date are selected by one-third of the women.

Money quote: “Women were not only pickier than men, but also more realistic about their own appeal in the dating market. Correctly divining that men put a premium on looks, the more attractive women set a higher bar for their partners than less attractive women did. But the men set about the same bar for their partners no matter what they looked like themselves or how successful they were professionally.”

You mean below average men actually think they have a shot at at above average women? Really? Who knew?

But guys aren’t the only ones to be single-minded about their preferences.

Ordinary looking men whose picture is in the median in attractiveness would have to make $143,000 more than a guy in the 90th percentile in order to have the same success. Similarly, a 5′ 6″ man would have to make $183,000 more than a 6’0″ man if he wanted to level the playing field.

Finally, fewer than 1 percent of online daters rated themselves as having “less than average looks”.

Who says that people lack self-esteem?


Join 7 Million Readers

And the thousands of women I've helped find true love. Sign up for weekly updates for help understanding men.

I hate spam as much as you do, therefore I will never sell, rent, or give away your email address.

Join our conversation (17 Comments).
Click Here To Leave Your Comment Below.


  1. 1

    My experience with online dating, perusing ads and meeting or talking with many men supports this. Most (Even quite average or less so) men think quite well of themselves and hit on the most attractive women in droves. (Even if they also had less attractive incomes to help them succeed.) Self- esteem or delusion? Also – what can they lose with an wink or email.

    The more attractive men were more picky (and probably more successful in their searches. They can afford to be especially if income is added to attractiveness. The women seemed more realistic and open to a range of men with varied levels of attractiveness and incomes- though in general looking for a man with more income, I’m not sure they really expect 143-183,000 more . The ones that ‘advertise’ seem more attractive relative to the men – women need to be in a dating market. Reading the study about BMI and proportions, I now understand why so many men seem attracted to me even when I thought myself less worthy (in terms of status, income, or other variables) Men, at least initially, do seem forgiving if a woman just visually turns them on. However for me that did not increase my odds- as I, in line with the study, have been picky (though about more aspects than just looks) In speed dating one generally operates on quick judgements- gut and programmed attractions – of course shallow. To truly assess someone’s potential compatability, and character takes time and experience.

    It is interesting that I found men more comfortable with the quick, brief format to come their conclusion about potential – as so much is based on looks for them. (All admitted they decided in less than 1 minute). Women, especially older women, seemed to want more time to assess a man – to delve deeper than looks for potential longer term dating or relationship. Women do care about looks, as some of these studies show, but not as much as men. So how does this effec the success of any particular online search? I guess the more realistic, attractive and successful two people are the better chance to make a match?

  2. 2

    This article and Alison’s comment I concur with totally! I am so tired of getting winks and mails from men who would rate a 5 on their physical looks at the most and then reading their profiles which say “I only date women in their 30’s and 40’s” (he was 71), “I am athletic with a wrangler jeans build” (he was about 50lbs overweight and 61), “I am very attractive and so expect only women at least a 9 to contact me” (he was 51, balding, bad teeth). And Alison is also so right when she says that many have less than attractive incomes to assist them. I’ve pretty much given up as so many are losers with constant drama in the form of ex-wife sob stories, small children that they have sole custody of, or no sense of humour. It is so sad because they should be looking at the lovely ladies out there who would be interested in them and are an appropriate age rather than chasing what they can’t have and then complaining they don’t get responses.

    Oh, and in case you are wondering, I have a PhD, a great career, 5′ 2″, size 2, in my early 40’s – I joined because I was new to the area and I hoped that I would meet new friends! I get hits by at least 15 new guys A DAY and the above descriptions are a typical cross section not the unusual ones!

    1. 2.1

      Dear, they couldn’t care less about your PhD, trust me. Obviously, people with PhD aren’t aware of exactly everything. Men online have an illusion of closeness with those hot women (just an inch away from the screen) which is why they are deluded about being able to have them (the message is just one click away). Just escapism and fantasy from their lonely and unsuccessful life (in love terms, since a man can be fairly successful professionally and still be lonely). They mostly do not have this illusion/delusion in real life. Same reason why they are escaping to porns, pornography or photo models.

  3. 3

    Hysterically funny! Of course, these online dating guys who are a 2 and rate themselves a 9 would be crushed if they actually met women the old-fashioned way — face to face, and taking a chance to speak to someone.

  4. 4

    Really? Income offsets THAT MUCH for bad looks? Although I participate in online dating, I’m growing ever more disenchanted with it since there seems to be a lack of depth that develops. You meet someone and within the first 5 min you have to sell it right, or you’re gone. I personally, would like to take it slow and hang out a few times before getting into my stats.

    Just for your info, I’m 27, make 100K+, am well educated, well presented (what I do for a living), in good physical shape, 6’1″, have excellent hygiene, and handsome. But I find myself getting rejected by women that I would consider a “4” if we’d met in through other means. And no, it’s not my lack of humility that drives them away. It’s their demand for a “10.5”

    I suspect that both men and women fall prey to this over-bloated self-esteem problem. “2” men, think they’re entitled to have “9” women, and “3” women are offended if an “8.5” like myself approaches them.

    But seeing as there’s not much else I can do to meet my special lady, I’ll be surfing the profiles this evening again :-(

    1. 4.1

      ” And no, it’s not my lack of humility that drives them away.”

      How do you know?


  5. 5

    Josh #4
    Can I have your details?  I know a number of great women who I can introduce you to.  If I was younger, I would not say “no” to you. =o)

  6. 6

    Man, talk about shallow people. I remember a “first call” when some chick says “I don’t want to sound shallow, but what kind of car do you drive.”  And they quickly ask about your vacations too and such. Amazing how you can work this in to a brief call. 

    They should just cut to the chase and ask: “What is your yearly income and how much of it can I obtain?” 

    For all of these “call girls,” no call from me!!! It is sad that their mothers probably taught them to “trade” on “their looks.” And the prettier ones get the highest bidder. And when they lose those looks, they feel worthless and go crazy. 

    As in all of life, I will keep searching for a genuine human being. And hope that all the lost people find each other but not me.  

    1. 6.1

      ‘Man, talk about shallow people. I remember a “first call” when some chick says “I don’t want to sound shallow, but what kind of car do you drive.””

      That’s … more than a little bit tacky.

      All I can do is wonder how you somehow fell into conversation with that woman – or whatever bevy of women like her you’ve chosen to pursue — instead of, perhaps, actively searching out women with much more elegant manners than that in the first place.


  7. 7

    Ya know…I can only speak from my own experience.
    How did the last guy put it? “I’m very comfortable with you. You’re fun, attractive, interesting to talk to, and anyone who wouldn’t be into what you can do in bed is a fool! We have all this stuff in common–we’re friends and i love the work we do together.  But I just don’t feel it romantically.”
    He’s currently dating a girl very much like me, only 10 years younger than we are.
    The fact is, people want what they want and will go for the best they can get. This guy commands the attention of pretty much any woman he wants.
    Is he wealthy? Extra-handsome? Suave? Attentive? Young? No, not particularly. He’s short. He’s kind of goofy. He gets very wrapped up in his own thing and travels a lot so he isn’t around that much. He’s just a guy with a decent income, a passion for making music and a romantic-sounding profession. He isn’t bad looking but he’s no George Clooney.
    But he’s nice, intelligent, funny. he’s genuine. Grounded. I never have to guess with him: he mean what he says and while he’s willing to explore, he knows who he is and he has great boundaries. Moreover, he doesnt have a lot of hangups baggage and he treats women with the same level of respect he treats men. 
    Is it so very surprising that he’s has his pick of women?
    There are so very few single guys their 30’s and 40’s who are even close to decent.
    Most of the ones I meet never made it past the emotional age of 25, are squirrely as hell and dragging a lot of unresolved baggage behind them. The ones brave enough to ask me out are either significantly younger or older than i am. Just not interested in playing fantasy date roulette.
    And online? Pfft.
    I have an online account I set up back when online dating was relatively new. The men in my age group who write are 1) separated 2) polyamorous 3) bored and shopping on the off-chance they can get a hot chat going. Invariably, the ones I write to are invariably 1) involved with someone but keeping their profile up “just in case” or 2) completely not who they portray themselves to be in their profiles.
     If you guys are getting rejected by women you think are “4”s, perhaps it’s because we’ve learned to distrust the information put out online.
    I’m not saying women aren’t just as guilty, but like I said in the beginning–I can only speak for my own experience.

  8. 8

    Some guy who is not even that good looking and who is bald up top said that women should have shoulder length hair and has to be pretty.  What a moron.  I’ve seen really unattractive men rate themselves as very good looking.  You’ve got to be kidding.

  9. 9

    I’ve tried the online dating thing twice. I never kept my profiles up very long, maybe 2 days at the best. I sent messages to tons of women but didn’t get much response. My looks aren’t bad (in fact i get the “You look like Tony Stark!” Compliment way to much). My job is even good. I think that the women on there though are just as shallow as men. Maybe they need time to asses us but I don’t have the time to wait for a women who eventually gets to my email. No time. I still feel that real life interaction is best. Very hard to figure out someone over email only. Too many flakes as well. 

  10. 10

    I am nearly fed up. I read “Marry Him: The Case for Settling for Mr. Good Enough”, which has prompted me to visit EMK’s blog. I am a professionally successful, fit, attractive 38 year old woman. I have outdoorsy interests that appeal to many men in the area where I live. I’d say I am a 7 for my area. With “Marry Him” in mind , I broadened my search range in age, income and height. I have responded to and dated men who I absolutely would have rejected when I was in my early 30s, hotter and less realistic!

    Sadly, the guys who contact me seem to have some sort of issue with women (“chip on the shoulder” syndrome) or show characteristics of being completely socially inept or an “avoidant communicator” early in the process. The guys I contact, the “5s” or “6s” who may be slightly balding or shorter but share interests and state their willingness to date a 38 year old, respond so infrequently that it’s playing hell on my self esteem.

  11. 11
    Joe Reed

    The thing is, dating is shallow – not just internet dating but dating per se. In fact it’s the most shallow form of human behavior imaginable. That’s not to say that one isn’t also looking for deeper characteristics in a potential partner. But what makes a physical relationship a physical relationship – what definitively and primarily distinguishes it from a friendship – is a focus on physical characteristics.

    I’m not saying this is nice, I’m just saying this is how it is. Nature isn’t some liberal fantasy. If you want a non-physical get-to-know-the-real-person-inside kind of love go and try and get God or something.

  12. 12

    Just to relate an experience I had just recently, I had a guy contact me on Meet Me. It’s really a train wreck of a site and I don’t recommend it for dating purposes even though there are a few nice folks to chat with. So this guy was, in my neck of the woods, prolly a 7 or 8. In NYC or LA, I’m sure he couldn’t get the time of day from the female 8-10’s but he’d do alright anywhere else. Knowing that, I was pretty up front about my body type and I made sure to share an unflattering photo. He was very grateful and couldn’t bail fast enough. It was not hurtful at all. And when you take dating for what it is, as Joe says, per above, then things like that cease to bother you. If somebody can’t handle how you look, so what? It’s not your problem unless you want a “high value” person to desire you, then I suppose you have to change if you don’t measure up. But otherwise, who cares? As I said, sometimes I can have fun with it. And Joe is also right about that God thing. You have value as His child. Works for me. :-)

    1. 12.1
      Evan Marc Katz


      You post here a lot but I’m not sure you’ve learned a thing. You made sure to share an unflattering photo? Who DOES that? Only someone intent on the self-fulfilling prophesy of scaring off men to protect herself from letting anyone in. I’m not telling you that you need to lose weight. But you really should lose this holier-than-thou martyr act that glorifies being “low-market-value”. Your self-deprecation is a defense mechanism to prevent anyone from putting you down. It is not, however, flattering, attractive, or even modest. It’s an off-putting lack of confidence – where you blithely dismiss all the people who dismiss you as wrong for you. But the way you conduct yourself, EVERYONE is wrong for you.

      The reason you’re single isn’t because you’re fat. Nor is it because you’re Christian. It’s because you don’t care enough to do anything different than you’re already doing it.

      Which is fine, but it continues to beg the question: what are you doing here if you’re not going to take any advice? You just want to stand on your pedestal and look down at everyone from the unassailable position of being the poor, put-upon martyr? I’m sure you’re a nice person. You may have something valuable to contribute. But at a certain point, you become like the atheist giving religion advice – you’re so far removed from anything resembling successful, confident dating behavior that your words cease to have any meaning.

      Your post above is 100% correct about not worrying about people who don’t want you. But if nobody wants you, I think it behooves you to ask yourself why, instead of wrapping yourself in the fake blanket of self-love and pretending it’s cool. It’s not. You’re basically saying that you’d rather be alone than to make yourself into someone that men would want to date. Okay, then. But why do you post 10 times a day on a site designed specifically to help women improve, adjust, and have success in love?

  13. 13

    You point is crystal clear.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>