Is Online Dating Different for Men and Women?

a man and a woman showing different reactions to online dating

Do women have it a lot easier than men, and do hot people in general have it the easiest? I know what you might be thinking: yes and yes. It’s hardly the unsolved question of the century.

However, it’s always good to back up hypotheses with facts, and that’s what Jon Millward did with this experiment, posted on his eponymous blog. Millward created 10 fake OKCupid profiles with similar sounding usernames, with the same written profile, personal stats, level of education, etc. The only difference? Each account had a different photo of a man or woman of varying attractiveness.

In online dating, we have the “perception of choice”, but not actual choice itself.

What he discovered isn’t particularly revelatory, but it does echo something I’ve said here repeatedly about online dating – we have the “perception of choice”, but not actual choice itself.

“The expanded horizons offered by online dating don’t equal unrestricted access to a ready and waiting list of beautiful people. Every man and woman online still has criteria that must be met by people who want to date him or her, and every guy and girl is still in direct competition with every other person of their gender… Whereas before a man just needed to be the best looking guy at work to get a date with a colleague, now he needed to be in the top 10% of all men to get a date with one of the women in his city.”

This is the double-edged sword of online dating. You have far more access to singles than ever before. But so does everyone else. Which means that there’s also far more COMPETITION.

Especially when it comes to men trying to write to women. For all the talk about “The End of Men” and how gender roles have been obliterated and women can write to men first, blahblahblah, here’s what ACTUALLY happened after four months:

– The women as a group received over 20 times more messages than the men.

– The two most attractive women received 83% of all messages.

– The two most attractive women probably would have received several thousand more if their inboxes hadn’t have reached maximum capacity.

– It took 2 months, 13 days for the most popular woman’s inbox to fill up. At the current rate it would take the most popular man 2.3 years to fill up his.

And what do men write? Well, you’ve seen this a few times before:

“Most men compliment the attractive women a lot, they make reference to something in the woman’s profile (you would not believe how many times men mentioned the party tricks and ‘Arrow’ the cheetah from the generic profile I wrote), or they ask a general question about travel or something equally boring.”

What SHOULD he write instead? In case it’s not obvious: Demonstrate creativity, intelligence and a great sense of humour

– Be totally different to anything she may have received before
– Be obviously unique and not a cut-and-paste job
– Show that I’ve read her profile and absorbed facts about her
– Not be needy!

I have dedicated an entire volume of my bestselling audio series, Finding the One Online to how to write emails just like this.

Online dating may be a jungle, but it’s a jungle with a LOT of single people, so it’s best to learn how to master the process.

As a woman, your takeaway is that while you may get frustrated at the lack of quality responses, put yourself in a man’s shoes. He has no idea what to write in his first email to you, and he’s competing with hundreds of men for your attention. Be patient, write a better profile, and learn not to get so frustrated with men, and you can enjoy online dating a lot more.

As a man, your takeaway is that the competition is fierce, and thus far, you have not been up to it. Stop blaming Match or women or your city for your failures and learn to market yourself more effectively.

If you’ve been frustrated with your online dating experience, click here and I’ll help you change your tune.

The full study can be seen here.

Join our conversation (297 Comments).
Click Here To Leave Your Comment Below.


  1. 121

    Wow. I tried okcupid after using match and eharmony. The male users are way more attractive on average that the other two sites. Actually, I don’t see any ugly people. It’s also more fun and informative.

    1. 121.1

      We all have our own definition of good looks. I’ve had women ask what kind of car I drive or how much I make. Their beauty fades away.

      1. 121.1.1

        “Their beauty fades away.”

        So does men’s.   What a coincidence that aging affects all humans.

        1. Tim

          Yes. Proven fact that men age better than women as they get older. Not always but for the most part. Look it up if   up and see.

        2. Karl R


          Why don’t you look it up, then post the link if it’s online, or a proper cite if it’s not.

          Try to find something with a scientific basis. I’m not inclined to believe opinion pieces.

        3. GoWiththeFlow


          If men age “better” than women, why does the average man die at a younger age than the average woman?


        4. kath

          Tim Ive been in healthcare for 30 years. There is a lot of variance in individuals. Im really looking forward to reading the scientific evidence documenting that men age better.


      2. 121.1.2

        I’ve read people in general try to size up a person’s wealth/status in the first few seconds of meeting, along with whether they can respect them & trust them. People in online dating come right out and ask about wealth/status, which is probably off putting, but if they don’t ask, they are probably trying to figure it out from your photos.

        Here’s one article for reference based on various sited studies.

        In the first few seconds people try to figure out:

        1) If you’re trustworthy

        2) If you’re high status

        3) If you’re straight or gay

        4) If you’re smart

        5) If you’re promiscuous

        6) If you’re dominant

        7) If you’re successful

        8) If you’re on your way to a promotion/have earning potential

        9) If you’re adventurous


        1. Kath

          Thats an interesting article.

          I think however you can sum up a lot before even meeting by the quality of the online photos .  The majority of guys over 45 have terrible quality photos. This morning I saw a bathroom selfie with a toilet roll as the focal point.

          If a guy presented good quality photos he would outshine 90% of other guys

  2. 122

    After 24 years of marriage: 1989-2013. Online dating is a crap shoot. If person knows their value and confident it shouldn’t be to bad either way. Head games via PC. What a pain.

  3. 123

    I tried online dating for a few months. I’m a tall good looking guy I should be able to find someone decent. I had just finished a summer of biking/hiking so was super fit (1000 mies of biking and weekends rock climbing) kinda fit. I have an Engineering degree and a liberal arts degree.

    So I had a few nice looking pics taken spent many hours writing a nice profile and started looking..

    I would find someone who looks nice, and read their profile. If they had something in common I would send a message. Not just a one word chat but a thoughtfully written message, often I would open with something I read in her profile.

    I would message at least 1 women a night. I did this every day for months, I got very few responses to my messages. Lots of bots and fake profiles. Messages from women who were older than my mother and heavier than my car. A few from single moms with 3 or more children and chit chat with some who only seemed to be online for something to do.

    Very few responses from women I was interested in. One very expensive ($1,000) date with a women who told me she was married and I called it quits.

    Online dating is actually worse that RL dating and RL dating sucks. I’d rather stay home and read a good book.

  4. 124
    Art G

    When I started online dating, I put an honest profile: age 40, PhD, multilingual, active, passionate for movies, etc. I used as much creativity and sense of humor in messaging women. The response-rate was 1/20. Out of 5 responses, only 1 woman continued the conversation. That makes it one conversation over one-hundred messages. I deleted my profile and put a false one: 65, widower, retired after a career in finance, apartment on the Upper East Side of New York, summer house in the Hamptons, kids already grown up with their own families… I had girls in their twenties messaging me after fifteen minutes! Money talks, and that’s the only voice women hear. The rest is bullshit.

    1. 124.1

      No You have the impression “girls”in their 20s contacted you.   They were probably billion scammers ….you threw out the bait and you got bunch of sharks . If they were scammers its possible some were hookers who would prey on an older loney guy

      Websites are now plagued with bots and scammers. They are easy to spot but I notice many men seem to be blind to this when the scammers are hot young women.

      I bet if Evan had reviewed your original profile and pics, he would have had recommendations to present yourself as more  dynamic and improve your response rate


  5. 125

    Online dating for men is extremely challenging! That’s unless you a stud and made of money

  6. 126

    The words “lonely, retired, widower and finance” are bait for scammers.

    You can’t actually believe real women in their 20’s wanted to contact a 65 yo widower – money or not.

  7. 127
    Robbie Scrivener

    Age is nothing but a number. The most important factor is having a good heart followed by a healthy body. I am 45 and look younger now than I did 10 years ago! Most women my age have ruined themselves by smoking, sunbathing and drinking coke! Anyway I digress, if you are a women in her 40s, 50s or even older you will get hit on by guys in their 20s, the same applies for men and women in their 20s. Normally its women 28-40 who are looking to date a guy the same age especially if they have not had children yet. Younger women and older women are not looking to have kids so how they choose a mate differs. Younger women are more free spirited, older women are more experienced although some are looking for security if they do not have that. The takeaway is this, every relationship has an expiration date, attraction is based mainly on personality. People think its looks but trust me as soon as a person opens their mouth they can become unattractive. So forget about age and look inside a persons heart and just enjoy the moment. I have seen guys in their 60s look better than guys in their 30s due to weight lifting and living a healthy lifestyle, I have also seen insanely attractive women in their 60s who gym it. If you want to be physically attractive put the work in! If you smoke do drugs and eat junk you will become physically unattractive.If you want to be insanely attractive, be kind, be genuine, think of others not self, let go of fear, ego and hate. Just relax and live life 🙂

  8. 128

    Living in a rural area my choice is online dating or not dating. Online dating is so bad for men it’s absurd so I gave up on dating entirely 12 years ago, I’m now about to turn 40.

    I’m a tall, very attractive and successful guy and I’ll never date again because iyf the cancer known as online dating.

  9. 129

    Wow! The comments section is….interesting. Can we all just agree men and women have totally different experiences on online dating sites? Why quibble over who has it worse? Both have a rough go of it.
    I’m female, in my early 30’s, thin, employed, no kids. Even my own mother admits I’m not a beauty though….and at 30, I probably aged out of many guys my age’s search parameters. Still, after a week on Bumble I’ve set up three dates with men I’m interested in, have a second date after a successful first lined up, and am chatting with about 10 or so. The one little change that women have to initiate conversation has been really fantastic! No sorting through 500 messages saying ‘hey’ then getting whiny or abusive replies when I don’t respond to all 500. I imagine it’s frustrating to men to see you matched with someone who won’t initiate, but I’d think it does take some of the pressure off to have the female make the first move. It’s been eye-opening to have to initiate and come up with something witty and pertinent to say to a guy I’m interested in, only to watch the 24 hour limit tick down and pass without a response.
    I know I can’t fully experience the frustration you guys feel – but you also don’t understand what we face. Lots of men online are creeps, and feel perfectly entitled to harass and insult us when we don’t immediately respond and agree to meet after three texts back and forth. Your pride over our safety? Come on! I know it’s not every guy… but it is enough guys to be really concerning.

  10. 130

    Sigh. If I had a dollar for every girl that has skipped over my profile, none of them would have skipped over my profile.

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