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?

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  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.

    2. 2.2

      The thing you may not realize is even an average looking woman gets more messages than a guy who looks like Ryan Reynolds. Because even though it’s online women are too big of cowards to actually put themselves out there. So while it must be such a pain for you to delete all those emails, most guys are clearing out the cobwebs and fake responses from their inboxes, just finished sending their 20th message that day, and wondering if there are actually any real women on the site.

      So if you don’t like the cross section of guys emailing you, maybe you should send out more than your usual 1 message a week, actually read a few profiles, and stop complaining that so many guys are giving you the time of day.

  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.

    1. 13.1

      Star, I just read yours end Evan’s posts.  I’ve seen you mention your weight before, so this is obviously an issue.  OK, hear me out.  Even many women I know who are overweight, but have a very very beautiful face, don’t like to date men who are overweight.  They have enough guys asking for dates, who are in better shape than the overweight.  Of course some of them overvalue themselves, but that’s not the point.  The point is that being overweight is not an asset in dating, even for men.  I think you are well aware of that.  You are hear because you do want a relationship.  What healthy minded woman doesn’t want a loving relationship?  Contrary to those who say otherwise, we really do need a man, and yes, men need a woman.  The question is, what are you going to do about it?  I think you want to do something about it, but you are afraid to.  You are afraid to fail.  That is a debilitating phobia that many people have, and most don’t know it.
      You need a plan. 
      First, get a log book, and use each page as a day.  The first several pages will just before your weight and each line will be a day.  Weigh yourself each morning.  Make it the same every day.  Do your typical morning routine, and then weigh yourself, before you eat.  The only thing you want to take in is a bottle, or cup of water as soon as you get up.  It must be the same amount each day so it doesn’t affect your weight measurements.
      Then join a walking club, and any other low impact aerobic group you can find.  Get out of the house and stay out of the house as much as you can.  The more you are out of the house doing activities, the less you eat, and the more calories you burn.
      Next, go online and find the Atkins Phase 1 food list.  Then go to your cabinets and refrigerator and remove anything not on the list.  You can donate it to a food charity.  Do not buy anything that is ready to eat unless it is on that approved food list, such as celery.  What this does is make it hard to eat out of boredom.  You will have to prepare actual meals when you want to eat.  Follow that first phase very closely.  If you are getting a lot of physical exercise, you can cheat on the total amount of carbs just a little.
      For the first week, you will deal with intense cravings.  Drink water first.  If you are still hungry, eat some meat.  That is what it says to do.  That is why it incorrectly gets the label of the meat diet.  If you are still hungry, get out of the house.  Go for a walk, or go to the store and just walk around.  Go to a friend who agrees to support you by not offering you food when you come over.  Only water.  Before long, your weight will start declining, and your energy will go up.  Also your cravings and food addictions will be gone.  Just keep at it.  And if you fall off the wagon, just get right back on.  That is why you weigh yourself.  So you know you didn’t gain all the weight back.  This is not a license to cheat.
      Your extra weight isn’t big bones, or a slow metabolism, or genes.  It is simply taking in too many calories, especially carbs.  It is your present way in which you conduct your day to day life.  It is your lifestyle.  The good news is that unlike the typical excuses, this something you can alter, beginning today.
      The first phase of the Atkins gives it a bad name as the meat diet because you are not addicted to it like carbs.  So you can eat as much as you want to get through 1st phase.  I think they recommend about a week to 2 weeks, but I know somebody who toughed out 6 weeks and lost a lot of weight, without losing muscles.
      When you get to the 4th phase which is the lifetime maintenance phase, you are eating 40% carbs, 30% protein and 30% fat.  That’s a well rounded diet.  It will also be primarily a healthy selection of food.  
      Good luck sweety!  Start tomorrow.  Don’t put it off for a single day.

  14. 14

    I’ve been on dating sites for a year now, and I’ve landed one date with a fellow music fan. The hang-out was quite awkward, she brought me home to her parents house right away and we just sat there on her bed. I thought it was boring not to mention weird, plus we had little in common she sparked up a joint right away and I don’t smoke. Other than this one hang-out, I haven’t had a single bite. I’ve become online “friends” with 3 women, but they are constantly cancelling plans. Other than those 3, I’ve messaged many women, and I’ve certainly researched my special interests and put more than a dumb smile and hello into the e-mail. Lots of times I will get a “viewed profile” but nothing more. Also, I am not attracted to what we will call “modern conventional hotness” (not using the term beauty) I am attracted to pretty, cute and quirky/different looking but, of course, healthy and hygienic women. Now, in all honesty, I actually look good myself and I’m tall, plus I don’t have a gut or anything, I’m athletic enough to be thin but not grossly so. I am wondering if it’s perhaps that I have long hair and a beard, that I like heavy-metal, that perhaps this site just doesn’t work; or that Odin forbid, this site just doesn’t work well for people like me who don’t “fit the mold” so to speak. I am thoroughly disenchanted and I seriously think that people, girls and guys, are just too shallow to make any real progress. I’ll still be online though. 

    1. 14.1
      Karmic Equation

      I think you might find this article interesting:
      Even though it’s from a girl’s perspective, I think it’s applicable to men. “Traditional-looking” men would probably be more popular on dating sites, just like a “traditional-looking” woman would be.
      If you have a neatly-trimmed beard, that would qualify as traditional. If you’re headed in the Grizzly Adams direction, then that would be more “fetishist”, imo. Long hair is definitely not traditional. I personally don’t like men with long hair. Fabio was the exception. lol
      So, if you want more success in online dating, you might want to consider trimming up your beard and hair and do like women do and have pix of yourself in a variety of outfits: suit, t-shirt and jeans, maybe even a fun one in a Halloween costume (would show your sense of humor), maybe something active too, like taking a hike, going to the beach, etc.
      You can always grow your hair and beard back once you’re in a relationship. Most women don’t mind men changing gradually to something “un”-traditional, once she falls in love with him. But before making any type of commitment to a girl you might want to put some feelers out about how she feels about long hair on a guy. Maybe you can compromise and have “longish” (but not long) hair.
      Just a thought.

      1. 14.1.1

        Thanks for answering! 

        I totally get what you’re saying. Unfortunately for my dating life, I’m stubborn in that if you don’t like my hair then it’s just not going to work out. It’s a large part of what you could call my “faith” as I keep the old Norse gods. You’ve outlined some pretty great and simple “rules” for online dating success and I can’t thank you enough for your timely reply :) 

    2. 14.2

      @Adam: good luck to you!  I think you will probably meet your match… but as Evan might say, the more “deal breakers” you have, the longer it’ll probably take.  So, a woman who you’ll like and who’ll like you and who won’t be put off by your unusual hair (who might even be drawn to it) exists, no doubt, but she might require a while to find.  It sounds like you’re aware of this trade-off and if the time comes that you become impatient, you’ll make a trip to the barber… which would make you appealing to a larger segment of the women online.

  15. 15

    From my time on dating sites these are a few things I’ve learned.

    1. Guys, stop sending creep messages.
    I know you signed up for the 6 month package deal,
    you’re on month 4 and nobody is biting. You’re pissed, you feel like you’re
    wasting your time and money, but don’t do it. 

    2. Ladies, ask yourself  why am I here.
    The guys on dating sites don’t want a Facebook friend. We aren’t here to
    make donations to your self esteem bank. If you find yourself
    only coming in to empty your inbox, while smiling at all the guys who
    desire you, please show us more respect than that.

    3. Guys, don’t take pictures with your shirts off.

    4. Ladies don’t take pictures with duck, sparrow, or any other kind of “face” but your own.

    5. Guys who are 30 and above. Congrats, the game just got harder.
     You better have a career with a fat pay check, and want marriage and kids within the next
    5 years cause I guarantee that’s what women your age want.

    6. Ladies stop putting in your profile that you’re looking for a “man and not a boy”
    We hate that.
    7. Guys stop copy pasting intro messages.

    8. Ladies please actually read our profile.

    9. Guys don’t be afraid to message a 10 the worse she can do is say no.

    10. Ladies don’t be afraid to message… Men. The worst we can do is say no. 

  16. 16
    Terry P

    After being told that women like men who are talented and funny-forget it. Well on POF anyway.

    I’m intelligent, (he said carefully…dont want to sound pseudo..) and sing semi pro at pubs/clubs/weddings.

    I write songs, play guitar drums and bass and also write short stories.

    Big fan of comedy.

    5’11 and 180 pounds. Did this get me anywhere?  Nope-here is my goodbye message to POF-

    ”After 6 years and getting N O W H E R E I’ve got to go. I’ve contacted probably nearly a hundred women on here-and have only chatted for a while until I get questions that are basically financial assessments. My opinion of women has altered since being on here. It looks like you really are a shallow lot.
    It appears I’m not anyones ‘Type’. ”

    So there you have it. Shallow as Hal….

    I’m shaving my head and getting ugly tattoos…..

    God knows what that even is-Ok I’m not big hairy and muscular but-I’ve got a brain most men would kill for and talent to boot.

    Ahh what the hell..Bye POF

    1. 16.1
      Karmic Equation

      But are you “cute”? That’s just as important as $.

      In fact, it’s safe to say, if you’re cute, women may overlook your lack of money.

      If you have money, women may overlook your lack of looks.

      If you have neither, then yes, as a man, you’re screwed (and not in the way you wanna be).

      But look at it from a woman’s perspective.

      If she’s avg to very good looking, she’ll get dates.

      If she’s below average looking, her having money won’t get her any dates. She has to promise sex. And then all she gets is sex, not relationships.

      Men have it better in OLD than women. If they can get dates, they can get relationships.

    2. 16.2

      You contacted only about 100 women in 6 years? I contacted over 300 in one year and got nowhere. I think you should have contacted more women. I’m not saying to contact women you’re really not into, but in 6 years, that was the most women you found attractive or interesting enough to contact?

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