You’re Probably Passing Up Your Soulmate, And You Don’t Even Know It

A friend forwarded me an article about looks on the dating site OkCupid.com. It blew my mind.

Okay, maybe it didn’t blow my mind, but it did validate everything that I’ve ever said about online dating. I’m going to do my best to summarize– and explain what you can learn from it. According to this article…

1) Men have a very fair assessment of women’s overall attractiveness. This doesn’t mean that they’re not shallow (they are), but rather, that they are consistent and reasonable in terms of “rating” women’s looks.

Like in a normal bell curve, 5% of the women were found to be the least attractive and 5% were found to be the most attractive, with most women falling in the middle 90%.

It’s women, not men, who have unrealistic standards for the “average” member of the opposite sex.

2) Women, on the other hand, rate 80% of men as below average.

Let me repeat: It’s women, not men, who have unrealistic standards for the “average” member of the opposite sex.

After coaching women for many years, I already suspected this, but this was a stark realization when you see just how few men you even find to be average looking.

3) This doesn’t let men off the hook at all. OkCupid reports that the most attractive women still receive 5X more email than average women and 28X more email than unattractive women. Literally 2/3 of male messages go to the best looking 1/3 of women.

As OkCupid observed, the medical term for this is “male pattern madness”.

4) Women engage in similar behavioral patterns, just not as extreme. The most attractive men get 11X more than unattractive men.

To sum up, women find most men ugly, but write to them anyway. Men find most women reasonably attractive but spend their time writing only to the hottest ones.
Yep, that sounds about right.

As for how this affects YOUR online dating experience?

• The average female sender gets a 30% reply rate from the most attractive males.
• The average male sender gets a 27% reply rate from the most attractive females.

In other words, if you’re getting 1 out of 3 people writing back to you, you’re doing okay.

A huge problem with online dating is that we have an unrealistic set of expectations about how things work.

Similarly…

• The most attractive men get a 53% reply rate.
• The most attractive women get a 66% reply rate.

Once again, proving that attractive women are at the top of the online dating totem pole.

So, what do you DO with all this information?

First of all, count your blessings that you UNDERSTAND this. A huge problem with online dating is that we have an unrealistic set of expectations about how things work.

If you’re writing to a very attractive person, you now know you’re competing with everyone else on the website. You can’t be too disappointed when you don’t get a reply.

Next, you could say to yourself, “Hmm…if all the other women are writing to the top 5%, that means those men in the 50-90th percentile are comparatively being neglected.”

Thus, you’re going to have a lot more success writing to the proverbial “6’s” and “7s” than the “10’s”.

Finally, you’ll see that since you can’t force people to write to you (since most men and women are chasing younger, more attractive people), ALL you can do is open up to others and improve the way you interact on your dating site.

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Comments:

  1. 1
    A-L

    A few things.  Looking at the pictures of their highly-rated and average males and females, I think I realized part of the problem.  Could it be that the responders to their questionnaires were rather young, and that’s why the “hottest” guys appear 18-20 while OK Cupid’s employees who look to be at least mid-20s were even considered semi-decent?  I thought the employees were far better looking than their high quality users.  Just a thought.  Though I’d also be curious if they had more stratified data (like having people rate people who are similar in age or in the age range that the person is willing to date, or by race, education level, etc.).

    That being said, I do think women have unrealistic expectations about men’s appearance.  I can think of a couple instances off the top of my head.  Both men are balding, but professionals, super nice, intelligent, thoughtful, in good shape, and fun to hang around.  I happened to e-mail one (we’re now married).  I haven’t seen the other’s profile (he’s a friend from church) but, really?  Women are overlooking such fabulous men because of their hair follicles?  

    1. 1.1
      Yul Savalas

      Yes, women do reject men because of  hair follicles. I have four sisters so at any family reunion situation I get to hear, (whether I want to or not), their difficulties in love and family (real and imagined). All have been married at least once and two are now single again so “man talk” is rampant. I know that they have no problems attracting men – in fact that might be part of the problem. They’ve always had their pick and they discuss men like items on a grocery list. Anyway when I started to go bald they made fun of me and made comments like, “good thing you are already married”. When I asked for a serious answer they said that all other measures of success and appeal being equal, (education, job, fitness level) they would always rate a bald(ing) man as less desireable.  I point all of this out simply to illustrate that women and men are equal in their capacity for shallowness. A more kind assessment might be that people are entitled to their preferences without explanation.

      1. 1.1.1
        SparklingEmerald

        Yul @ 1.1.
        If women are so rejecting of bald men, why are men shaving their heads ?   I have no problem with bald men.  If I am not attracted to a bald man, his baldness has nothing to do with it.
        Sorry if I sound “bitter”, but the last 2 men I was extremely attracted to were both bald and had shaved heads.  When things looked like they could get sexual, and I put the brakes on in order to get to know them better, they both opted out of getting to know me better.  At least they were gentlemen, and decided to dump me without humping me, rather than pretend to be a potential boyfriend, so they could get sex, and then “change their mind”.   So I am not angry at these men because when I was honest with them, they were honest with me.  But it is disappointing, to once again,  reach another dead end.  So I am just not buying into this notion that bald men have it harder than men with hair.  I know a lot of bald men who are considered very sexy.  In fact, one of the bald men where I work, I would say that more than half the women in the office have an office crush on him.  (including me) He is well built, and has the moves and the voice, and he is HOT !    He is however happily married, so me, and every other woman in the office have to limit our feelings to our fantasy life.  If his marriage ever doesn’t work out, I have a feeling that this man, who  is as bald as an egg, is going to create a feeding frenzy at the office !
         
        I must admit, that men with huge all over the face bushy long beards are a real turn off to ME.  (Think Santa Clause, Willy Nelson, Duck Dynasty, etc)  However, I know some women who consider this to be a real turn ON.  So I would never tell a man that his facial hair is a turn off, I would just say, if pressed, that “We’re not a match”.  I’m ok with a well trimmed moustache or goatee, or even a full beard, if it isn’t down to his knees, but that “cousin it” look from the Adams Family just turns me right off.  
        OK, maybe I am turning down a GREAT relationship partner, because of a brillo face, and maybe it is so shallow of me, and yadda, yadda, yadda, but I just can’t get past that physical turn off, and it would be WRONG for tell someone to shave their face.  For me to try and become attracted to a man with a Santa Clause beard would be like most men trying to get past a very overweight woman.
         
        Personally, if I have a physical characteristic that a man doesn’t find attractive  (too thick waisted, small busted, redhair, too short) or whatever, I would rather a guy move on.  I really don’t understand short men, bald men, railing against women if we just aren’t honestly attracted to that characteristic, because there ARE women who would not reject a man over his height or hair follicles.  Men AND women are both entitled to their preferences without explanation.
        No one should have to “explain” their physical preferences in a relationship partner anyway.  Any more than we should have to explain our food preferences, or why we prefer the color purple over the color orange.
         
        I for one would die of humiliation, if I was in a relationship with a man and discovered that something about my physical appearance was something he had to “get past” or “learn to be attracted to”.   I would rather a man love my looks and and what’s in my mind and heart from the start, instead of being the girl “he gave a chance” to, and finally settled on.

  2. 2
    Lisa M.

    I read this study about 2 weeks ago.  I have always known that women were just as visual as men.  We always have been.  Although, there has been centuries of attempts in socializing us to ignore our natural tendency to be the visual creatures we are. 

    The study kind of hit home for me because I remember when I was OLD (in which I am planning to try again soon). I was often guilty of rejecting most of the men who contacted me based on their looks alone (I’ll admit that I do this offline as well).  And yes, I was one of those women who only contacted the best looking guys on the site knowing I was competing with many other women for his attention. The crazy thing that I was so commitment phobic at the time that when they would reply  I would freak out and sabotage it somehow out of fear that they could get me to commit. I think that people who have unrealistic expectations for who they are seeking out romantically may have some issues with commit. Or they are just not ready to forge a relationship with anyone. In my case, a few years ago if I had met the guy who possessed every quality I was looking in a man (in terms of looks, personality and social status) showed up, I would have ran in the other direction out of fear.
     
     
     I know that fixating on looks alone isn’t the best strategy for finding a mate but if someone doesn’t appeal to me physically from the start in some way it’s hard for me to want to know them in a romantic way.  I’m just being honest here.  I may still have some growing up to do in this.  But don’t get me wrong I am quite realistic about the kind of guy can attract.  On one particular dating site, you have the option of having your pictures evaluated by other members, where you are rated on a scale of 1-10 in terms of looks.  I thought what to heck — let them rate me.  And as I remembered, my average rating was a 9, according to the others members.  Now, I have always been aware of where I rate on the 1-10 scale, so I have always been really picky about men’s looks in which I ‘ll admit has done me a bit of a disservice over the years.  But I feel like if I can’t date someone on my attractiveness level (another 9) I just won’t be happy with him.  There it is I said it.
     

    1. 2.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      @Lisa: And by restricting yourself to other “9′s” (who are often arrogant, narcissistic, players looking for younger women), you have all but sealed your fate.

      Thanks for sharing what so many other women are too embarrassed to say. It’s valuable.

  3. 3
    Selena

    I’m surprised that the women surveyed find 80% of the men on the site below average. Are these men particularly unattractive or is there some new higher standard for average? Maybe it has something to do with the men’s pictures – they look average in person, but submit below average pic’s?

    Ageing I’ve found is a great leveler. I haven’t found that many men over 40 “attractive”. Even fewer over 50. The ones I find “unattractive” are the guys missing teeth and the old hippies with long, thin grey hair tied back in a ponytail. All the rest look “average” to me. This is okay though because it’s where the “grow on you” part comes in. When you can no longer evaluate foremost on looks, you get better about evaluating on character. :)

    1. 3.1
      Sondra

      Just because OKCupid owners say this is what the results mean, doesn’t mean that this is true. Many women commented on their original article about how their process for “judging” was not based solely on looks. The guys, being guys I guess, just assumed that they were. Many of us rate guys based on their likely matching with us individually. The reason women do that is because if we rate a guy highly, and we’re remotely attractive, he WILL contact us. So many of us reserve the highest ratings for the men we both find attractive AND find likely to be a match for us. Do you think most people are rating to be as accurate as possible for the OKCupid algorithm to collect correct data, or is it more likely that most women are thinking in terms of the best strategy for themselves? If you both rate each other similarly high, you’ll be sent a notification – if you’re both sent the notification, the guy will contact you. I find it baffling that no one sees this obvious fact in discussing this. 

  4. 4
    Cecilia

    @Selena – yes – many men I have found are “lazy” about submitting attractive pics! One guy I actually dated had a photo that made him look a like a rather unsavoury inmate but the fact that I actually did go on a date with him was down to his engaging email and telephone personality/manner

  5. 5
    Goldie

    Agree with Selena and Cecilia, I had the same thought as I was reading the article – maybe 80% of men on dating sites really do come across as unattractive, because of the photos they submit (basically, most guys post whatever the cat dragged in – squinting against the sun, zombie hands on their shoulders because they’d cut someone out of the picture, etc etc)? Recently, a guy wanted to meet me in person that I was very reluctant to go on a date with, because in his picture he looked – I kid you not – like a serial killer. It was a close up of a really dark, angry face, corners of his mouth turned down. The guy seriously looked like he was dismembering someone at the moment his picture was taken. In the end, I chose to meet at a crowded place on an early Saturday afternoon… and the guy looked nothing like his picture. Last I checked, he still has this scary photo on his profile. Guess guys don’t care as much as we do.
     
    I agree, a statement like “women rate 80% of all men as below average-looking” shows women as pretty brainless – dumb chicks cannot even divide 100 by 2 without getting an 80 – so on the surface, it is easy to laugh off. But I have no problem believing that 80% of dating-site male photos really do look worse than an average male does in real life. Of course, the take-away for me is not to put much trust into profile photos, rather than “only email the 10% that managed to look well in their pictures” – now that is silly.

  6. 6
    Lisa M.

    @Evan
     
    I’m often surprised that most of what I write even gets published here. Thanks for allowing me to share.
     
    Although, I may be not be speaking for all women, I know that most (not all but most) women think and feel this way.  And yes, most of us are too embarrassed admits these things publicly.  Thank god for the interwebs.
     
    I really should rethink the only dating 9′s thing.  That’s going to be difficult.
     
    I really need help, don’t I?
     

  7. 7
    Flower White

    Sigh. I deleted my OK Cupid account… saving up for Evan’s services :)

  8. 8
    nathan

    It’s true that a lot of men aren’t very smart with their profile photos. Which just adds to the issues already being discussed.

  9. 9
    david

    I read — and have read — A LOT of women’s profiles — and most women seem to be describing — in terms of looks — the SAME guy — a very George Clooney / Jon Hamm type guy — 6 feet plus, head of hair (no matter what age), athletic, handsome (“I want to feel goosebumps when he walks into a room” etc.).

    I live on the Westside of LA and I rarely, rarely see any guys who come close to that type — I just came back from NYC and didn’t see any guys who looked like that…. I went to Woodland Hills and there was only ONE guy I saw at a two hour outdoor concert who didn’t look like Shrek — and he was maybe an “8″…. I think that all these women want the same three guys…

    When I write to women in my “look range” (cute quirky girls, cute plain Janes — I, myself, fluctuate btwn a 7.2 and an 8.1), my odds are about the same if I write to a “8 to an 9″)

  10. 10
    sharon

    The top echelon of men don’t really need / use on line dating. The distribution is skewed to begin with.

  11. 11
    lux aeterna

    You don’t have to publish this, it’s just for info: Your ‘like’ button doesn’t work on my Mac running Firefox.

  12. 12
    Christina

    I think this problem is far worse in online dating than in other situations. In “real life,” we might admire the 9 or 10 but probably would never approach them, while online, everyone seems to think they have a shot.
    After a short time online dating, I quickly got over evaluating guys based on their photos, because they ALWAYS looked so much better in person. Besides, even though I need to be attracted to my mate, I also realize that the attraction won’t be based just on looks; I’ve gotta have the whole package!
    So, in my world, average-looking guys who seem intelligent and show themselves to have the important qualities like loyalty and integrity quickly become a 10. But then, I’m old, and have never been particularly superficial, so probably not representative of anything.

  13. 13
    Angie

    Evan, I have my own theory about why this is (and I had read this okcupid blog post before).

    If you give someone 4 or 5 stars, it sends them an email saying “Someone finds you attractive, play quickmatch” and it flashes up a bunch of users for you to rate.  If I want the guy’s attention, I will give him 4 stars but if I think he is an attractive guy, but he is… too young/old or has clearly expressed different goals, then I will only give him 3 stars.  Even if he has 5 star looks.

    I don’t think I am the only female I know to do this, as I have heard friends say the same.

  14. 14
    Ruby

    I feel I’ve had more issues with men not looking as good as their photos, then with my own pickiness. When this happens, usually it’s because the photos are 10-15 years old, or the man has gained quite a bit of weight sine the photo was taken. And i agree with the poster who said that many of the most attractive and eligible men I’ve known don’t really use online dating. 

  15. 15
    Trenia

    I see what this post is getting at, but looks are so incredibly subjective, especially when you add in factors like race/ethnicity, height, etc… Secondly, I don’t believe that men’s ratings of women are “fair”. Fair according to who’s standards? It reminds of me of that bogus story about black women’s level of attractiveness that was recently posted on the Psychology Today website. The article was so offensive and off base that they took it down within 24 hours of posting it.

    Trying to date and match yourself with someone according to a likert scale just seems arbitrary to me, just because one woman think’s a man is a “10″ doesn’t mean I’m going to think so. I think it’s good to approach a cross-section of men, even the ones who you don’t think are your type because someone might surprise you.

  16. 16
    SS

    I didn’t have much success initially with OLD for this exact reason… looking too hard at the pictures. I agree with all of those who say that most men on OLD sites usually have terrible pictures, and often look a lot better in person. I think women are more likely to put their best photos on the sites, and sometimes even go and get a professional or semi-professional picture taken… while men rarely take a professional photo for anything unless it’s work-related!
     
    I dropped my need to find super-duper attractive types when I got back out there… as long as he was physically attractive to ME, that was all that mattered, and I knew from experience that a lot of other factors could play into my overall estimation of attractiveness.
     
    Everyone who meets my husband say he’s totally not my usual type. And it’s true, he’s not… but seeing that my usual type never exactly worked out for long-term relationships, why then was I so ready to cling to that?
     
    I never got into OKCupid though. I think that site has TOO many little tests and ratings that make it more likely that you’ll pass on a potential Mr. or Miss Right.

  17. 17
    MilkyMae

    Online dating is an alternate reality where a great catch is just an email away.  You can filter prospective suitors by religion, race, education, looks, and profession while praying that members who make the cut are not so selective.   You can write two sentences because that’s all most websites require.  You can join a website without paying or you can mollify a concerned parent by accepting a gift membership. Your search can yield dozens of singles and you can ignore the thousands who were filtered out.  If you are an educated professional in the urban northeast, you can ignore the demographics.  Awesome singles who live hundreds of miles away become potential partners at the exclusion of blah singles who live five miles away.  You can “date” without leaving the house.   If you are unsuccessful, you can just lower lower your standards a smidgen because the frustrated masses want “above average”.

  18. 18
    JerseyGirl

    Well, I’ve personally been out with all types of guys, tall, short, fat, balding, thin. atheltic…yada yada yada…I am attracted to a wide range of guys for different reasons. I have also rejected tall, short, fat, balding, thin, athetlic guys. I personally think men have a more scewed view of women and their looks. And if a guy doesn’t have the super hot Maxim model woman he thinks he deserves, you can bet your butt he will spend the rest of his life with his sweet normal regular girl and lusting after the super hot Maxim model girl he thinks he deserves until the day he dies. Depressing but true. So if you are a regular attractive girl that isn’t super hot, you’re pretty much screwed either way.

  19. 19
    Ruby

    Trenia #15

    I also noticed that in the photo examples posted in the article, no one was over 30, and there were no people of color.

    And it seems somewhat paradoxical to me that if men have such “realistic” and “fair” standards for women’s attractiveness, they are mostly contacting only the most attractive women.

  20. 20
    Ms Maz

    Maybe something’s just wrong with me? Generally speaking, if someone is interested in me and seems to have enough in common with me (in terms of future plans, beliefs, morals, et al), I’ll go out with him. I’ve never turned someone down for a date unless the guy made me feel uncomfortable, initially (and maybe that wasn’t fair of me, I’ll admit).

    None of the guys I’ve dated look anything like one another, as I’m not so much interested in a “look” or a “type” as I am who they are. A lot of my girlfriends will wonder why I’m with a guy because they’ll think he is “ugly” or “unattractive” or “not in my league.” But a guy’s looks haven’t ever been the top attribute I seek when searching for a partner.

    I’m more of the girl next door type, so I’d rather be with a good hearted, fun loving, respectful caring man — and if he happens to be a 9 or 10, whatever. I’m not all that pressed. My boyfriend and I are kind of an odd looking couple by “conventional standards.” I am tall and thin, he is shorter and chubby — people compare him to Zach Galifianakis in terms of looks. But he’s the best boyfriend I’ve ever had and he makes me laugh constantly and treats me well. Because of those reasons, he’s sexy to me.  Isn’t that all that matters? I love him to bits and I wouldn’t trade him for anything in the world. Not George Clooney, Brad Pitt, or whoever is popular these days. I’ve kind of stopped caring about what media influences are telling me is “hot.”

    Maybe that’s part of the problem with people’s expectations in a partner’s looks (media influences, I mean)?

  21. 21
    nathan

    There are definitely positives to online dating, and it’s one avenue to take on the search. However, I do think that the almost endless options, the one click away aspect, and the ability to sit in your own living room and come up with a million fantasies about people you’ve never met seems to exaggerate issues like looks.
    Christina’s point about many folks not approaching the 9 or 10 in real life is totally true. It’s easier to approach someone like that online, sitting in your living room, where any rejection comes in the form of an e-mail a day or two or three later.
    Just as it is easier to reject those who look “average” online with a single click, whereas if you met the same person at a coffee shop and started talking with them, you might find it much harder to say no. You might even be attracted to  them. It’s less black and white in real life.

  22. 22
    Ellen

    Okcupid is really the only dating website I use right now.

    I am somewhat typical of women on this website & in the article above with one exception- I DO write to average Joes if there is something in their face/eyes that grabs me, I find attractive AND their profile is a killer in terms of intelligence/articulate/humor/what have you. I try like HELL to focus on guys my age (50s), but in the end write to the guys in their 40s. And last year, the year before, dated even younger here and there (2 cougar sites).

    Why? Guys my age, few of them, have taken good care of their faces/bodies/spirit. Too many just look bad (esp. after age 53 or so) and/or are very controlling/manipulative/walking wounded. Or MERELY sexist/ageist given their generation I guess.

    Now I’m walking wounded also (aren’t we all?), but I don’t PUNISH men for what my ex did or my last steady did. I am mature, I can put it in perspective. What I do do is bitch about it to my girlfriends and maybe my new date a little (my version of MY riot act I guess), but try to keep my mouth shut as much as possible after that…It’s like a little salvo I shoot off early in the relationship that most men ignore anyway I’ve found! :(

    Too many men my age seem to have the attitude “By God this woman isn’t going to  ___, ____, ____ like my first ex, my second ex, the last woman I dated did (feel free to fill in the blanks anyway you choose).

    Re looks: Recently I started dating against type- a 9 years younger, formerly obese man who scored very similarly to me on okcupid (you are asked to answer up to 200 questions! so it’s similar to eHarmony maybe). OMG people! He’s such a sweet soul and treats me like a princess. He is also smart, funny, articulate, and an alpha male (which makes me weak in the knees). So I’m in heaven right now.

    Should have done this a long time ago (date against type), but what happened with me was I got spoiled sorta dating younger, dating the “dashing”, good looking men ’cause I could I guess. I mean I got this email from okcupid telling me they would now send me better looking matches ’cause I scored high, looks-wise, by men rating women on their site.

    I also got in the habit of dating good looking men for the simple reason my ex wasn’t good looking///So I have my reasons…..I am not usually, typically shallow- at all.

    So I am like the typical powerful, “silver fox” male who, because he typically dates younger, trophy women, becomes addicted to them. A man’s career/salary matter less to me ’cause I’m like many women on here: smart, independent, good job….

    But now I am breaking that pattern and dependency I think. As one  online friend put it a while back “The good looking ones are practiced at loving and leaving”. So true.

    Maybe what folks should do is read the profile first, then examine the photos. And always go with your intuition. I almost didn’t contact my current honey ’cause his pics were a bit goofy & cocky, but my deepest intuition said “Go for it”, so I did.

    Finally, for the first time in two years I feel safe with this man, don’t feel nervous about the progression of the romance or my part in it much. It’s flowing without too much effort on my part which is NICE.

    1. 22.1
      jessica

      I could not agree with you more. I am an attractive woman in her 50s and I have the same complaint that the men go downhill after 53. They are not only ugly and I mean ugly because they do not take care of themselves but also as you noted angry and miserable. I have not only found this on the dating sites but in real life, men cannot move on after rejection. And yes, they take it out on any decent kind woman who comes along. Sometimes it is very noticeable and sometimes not so–I wasted 7 years with a man who treated me more like a mistress than a well respected talented successful woman and mother.He lied to me about so many things that were important and would have influenced my breaking up with him. And he feels absolutely no guilt over it probably putting all women in the same basket as his exes (yes exes) I am so discouraged. I feel there is not any man decent over the age of 53 to meet. And I have had over 300 emails in the first 3 weeks and get an average of 6 new ones a day. But because of all the lying going on behind their profiles, I cannot sort or filter on anything consistent. Tomorrow is the last meeting. I am ending the dating sites again. I am happy living life independently. It just isn’t in the cards for me. Just too many broken and lazy men out there who I am not going to waste my valuable time interviewing.

      1. 22.1.1
        jessica

        Just to explain the comment on so many emails, I know that woman get a lot no matter what they look like. So I am not bragging, just that I have had many men, all , ages, bald, fat, (never thin), only the young ones have nice athletic body types. (under 50). I have tried to overlook the horrible pictures in search of the well written profile and how he converses with me before a meeting. But I meet, and they are never what they said in their profiles even, let alone their body type or pictures. It’s like they are not even the same person. How many females (daughters, sisters) are helping the men with their profiles? And when I do meet for a drink, which I pay my share, the man actually thinks he has the right to invade my space and lunge in for the first Kiss. Why would I kiss someone who I just talked to for at most 2 hours? The majority of all shape and sized men have remarked on their profile, there ” has to be chemistry” Then they use it as an excuse to find out if there is any chemistry on the first date by touching me. Done with it. Looks have nothing to do with being a gentleman.

      2. 22.1.2
        DaveInLA

        “I could not agree with you more. I am an attractive woman in her 50s and I have the same complaint that the men go downhill after 53.”
        Jessica — what do you think most women look like after 40? 

  23. 23
    nomdegeurre

    Angie #14

    The problem with your theory is that 3 Stars qualifies as above average.  Women rated 80% of men BELOW 2.5 stars.  There is no getting around the fact that women on OKcupid are extremely harsh in judging men’s appearance.

    1. 23.1
      Sondra

      Or they just are lazy and if they don’t want to talk to the guy they give them a one or two star. By the way, if they have a premium membership, they can see if you gave them a three star too and you figure that out quickly even if you don’t have one yourself because as soon as you rate them three stars, they contact you. 

  24. 24
    Maeve

    a) Thanks to intense socialization beginning at birth and continuing throughout life, women spend a lot–A LOT–more time, effort and money making themselves attractive to men, a situation that most men feel perfectly entitled to, thus leading to today’s world where a 55-year-old sloth with a beer gut living in a trailer sends messages to beautiful young 28-year-old women with a graduate degree. In other words, hang on for it, *most men are less attractive than most women.* It does not make intuitively bad sense to me to find that most women rate most men as relatively less attractive in the world we live in.
     
    b) let’s evaluate the methodology of the OKC article … oh, wait, we can’t, because it doesn’t give us the methodology. What exactly was the question posed to their participants? Was it based on the ratings in their website? That would be odd, because people rate profiles, not photos, on OKC. So did they do a special study and ask people to rate photos separately? In which case, were they asked to rate based on their own hypothetical “average” or just asked to give a number based on how attractive they found them personally? Huh. We don’t know. All right: what about their assumption that in a “realistic” world assessments of attractiveness should follow a bell curve?
    Anyone?
    Look up “Sturgeon’s Law”: 95% of anything is crap. This is applied to everything from the quality of science fiction books (original interpretation) to pop music to politics to science to experiments–there are all kinds of fields, from trivial to profound, with skewed distributions and the vast majority of entrants *legitimately* rating well below the mean. This doesn’t make science fiction readers, music fans, political afficianados or scientists morons, and it doesn’t make women crazy.
    Is there any particular reason, other than the male ego, why women’s assessments of men’s attractiveness should not follow a long-tail distribution pattern, when so much else in the world does? Especially when apparently it does not alter their actual dating behaviour anything like the supposedly mathematically “fairer” men’s?
     
    c) Evolutionary Psychology: Tons of scientific data over decades covering millions of years of behaviour not only for our own species, but for our closest primate relatives, shows this to be a consistent and perfectly rational strategy on part of both men and women: men (and other male primates) are less discriminating because the consequences of a bad choice don’t last long and aren’t serious. You get the wrong girl/chimp knocked up, you run away, she’s on her own. Every guy wants the hottest one because she’s presumably most fertile, healthiest, and most likely to successfully raise an infant to adulthood. The vast majority of males will not succeed in this, but are perfectly happy to settle for someone far less attractive (or several someones) if they seem like reasonable biological bets. Women, thanks to the investment not only of pregnancy but child-rearing, are vastly choosier–a single act can result in pregnancy and then we live with it for 18 years, whereas a guy can theoretically spawn 365 kids in a single year, none of which he necessarily needs to contribute to (anthropological studies show, contrary to pop assumption, that the average man in a hunger-gatherer society contributed about 10% or less of any one kill to his existing children or the women he had fathered them with–most of it went to higher-status males or other fertile females).
     
    So where does this leave us? With a mildly interesting, two-year-old OKC study of questionable methodology and quality reporting on how millions of years of human evolution have not yet been trumped by modern cultural ideals of romantic love as a lifelong partnership between “soulmates” with no regard for the physical characteristics that traditionally resulted in successful reproduction; however the internet is allowing a larger field for these forces to play out, with predictable results.

    1. 24.1
      Ld

      This is an insightful and data-driven post, so unusual for online comments….thank you and I completely agree, yet also know that our unconscious estimations of reproductive benefit and likely fittestness are more complicated than physical symmetry/size/strength/health.  Personally I have fallen for men for a wide variety of reasons: attractiveness, confidence, humor, sexiness, kindness, intelligence, spiritual depth, it all depends on the package!
      And we really need an online dating site that is scratch n sniff ;) because the same sort of attraction research in human females shows the little known fact that the vast majority of the variance in attraction patterns can best be explained by the particular way a man smells. When a woman’s hormones change in pregnancy, her attraction to her mate also changes because the smells she is attracted to change…..fortunately her hormone/odor attraction goes back to normal after the birth :)
       
       

  25. 25
    Sheyna

    Women may be harsh…I had an experience recently that illustrated this. I got a nice, brief e-mail from a guy with terrible pictures. You could barely see him in fact, it looked like they were taken in the dark. So I didn’t reply, I know..rude, right? Yes, c’est la vie.
    Weeks later, I went to a party and met a friend of the hostess. We flirted a little, I thought he was very cute but I left early because I felt creepy flirting with a guy my friend may or may not have been dating. She introduced him as her friend, so I wasn’t given many clues.
    A week or so later he emailed me on the dating site to say he had finally figured out where he knew me from and we’ve been out a couple of times. You’d think that would have taught me a lesson but it’s still difficult to get around some of the bad pictures.
    I know everyone thinks they look good but dang some people my age (35!) look like they’ve been through the wringer. Since digital cameras were introduced, I think every woman grabbed one and started practicing being photographed, men apparently did not, they could learn a bit about flattering lighting, good angles…attractive clothing…

    1. 25.1
      TheForgottenOne

      @ Sheyna #25
      You make a good point about men not having very flattering photos in their online profile.  The challenge that I have had and suspect most men have is that, quite frankly, we don’t have people following us around taking pictures in our most natural and engaging environments.  Maybe this is different for women but if I’m out having a good time with friends or at the park walking my dog I don’t say to myself ‘Hey, this would make good picture to post online’ and immediately stop the next stranger I come upon and ask them to take my picture.  So the online pictures rarely pose a true representation of who the person is in real life. 

  26. 26
    Lisa M.

    Ellen, good for you.

    I think OLD is the best route for me because offline I rarely get approached and when I do, he’s a jerk with one thing on his mind.  With OLD there were more men approaching me for dates and they weren’t all jerks and players.  I have never approached a guy offline in my life but when I was online I made the first move a few times.  I just couldn’t stand it when they would show up after misrepresenting themselves in their profiles looks-wise.

    So, I agree with Christina as well.  It seems that people find it easier approach others online.

  27. 27
    Zaq

    Most of my posts have been mentioning this like forever !
    Its not the only study done that confirms this.

    Women agree on who the most attractive men are, but not the rest, skewing the average score downwards. On one of the other studies of on line dating it was clear that the women were ONLY responding to the most attractive.
    Lisa will no doubt agree with this

    Men however approached the women in direct proportion to how attractive they were. Average women WERE therefore contacted, just not as much as the most beautiful women. If 2/3 the messages are going to a 1/3 of the women, that sounds perfectly reasonable doesnt it.

    Lets be realistic, the bottom 20% of the women are probably not in the game, but in any event are better off than the bottom 50% of the men !

    1. 27.1
      Jenn

      “Average women WERE therefore contacted, just not as much as the most beautiful women. If 2/3 the messages are going to a 1/3 of the women, that sounds perfectly reasonable doesnt it.”
      No, it does not because that suggests that the average-looking men who are busy fervently contacting the hottest women on the site while simultaneously ignoring other less-than-hot females, are deluding themselves into thinking they are worthy of getting the 10s. How that is at all reasonable, I don’t know. As an average-looking woman who does not expect GQ models to contact me, I’d really love it if guys could get their heads out of the clouds. You are not going to land that Maxim model, no matter how hard you try. Try putting as much effort into landing the girl-next-door-types and you might find you have much better luck (not to mention a more realistic sense of your true market value).

  28. 28
    Zaq

    Also to reiterate a point I’ve made before. A normal distribution curve shows that women are NOT being judged against some arbitrary media standard of beauty, but only against other “normal” women.

  29. 29
    Angie

    @24 – nomdegeurre
     
    Actually, this is confusing b/c I just looked on OKCupid now, and you can’t give someone a zero, so I don’t know how people can score less than “1″, unless OKCupid has made changes since this blog post.
     
    I just logged back on, saw a pic of a guy who was really good looking, I clicked on his profile… I had given him 3 stars.  Haha, then I reread his profile.  Yup…. good looking, but no interest.
     
    I agree with #25 Maeve.  We (at least women) are rating profiles.  Men are probably more likely to just rate looks.

  30. 30
    Zaq

    Maeve@25

    Well its not just this study, but many others that are all saying the same thing. If the studies were coming up with CONFLICTING results then you would have some right to challenge the study.

    In any event you are aware that evolutionary psychology also seems to explain the observed behaviour of women in mating choice. However to my mind there is a problem. Women want the alpha male to get the best genes, but he is unlikely to stay around to look after the family. This has led some researchers to speculate that womens strategy was to find a beta male to support her and cheat on him ! You have rightly brought attention to the fact that the best hunters present the kill to the tribe, not to their offspring, which I guess is why women are attracted to men with status.

    Clearly none of this works well in a monogamous society. So where does that leave us ? OLD cannot work for men, if women continue to follow this strategy.

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