If you’re having a tough time in the online dating world, don’t fret: it’s likely things will start looking up for you. You just have to wait for other people’s standards to start plummeting.
That’s right—according to an online dating study from Peng Xia at the University of Massachusetts, Lowell, most online dating users aren’t as picky about their prerequisites for a romantic partner as they may first appear. Researchers have found that with the exception of age and location, people’s actual dating preferences tend to deviate far from the ones stated on their profile.
To determine the behavior of online dating site users, the UMass research team analyzed data associated with 200,000 profiles on the Chinese dating site baihe.com, which has more than 60 million registered users. They determined that males tend to say they’re looking for younger partners on their profiles, while females place more of an emphasis on education level and socioeconomic parties.
When it came to the people users actually messaged, however, Xia found that “a fairly large fraction of messages are sent to or replied to users whose attributes do not match the sender or receiver’s stated preferences.” In other words, if you’re a bald, male smoker and you’d like to contact a woman who says she’s only interested in hairy non-smokers, go ahead and send that message anyway, because she may actually respond.
Xia also notes that women in particular were more likely to deviate from the preferences stated on their profiles, especially when it came to attributes like height, education, and income level. The only exceptions, Xia reports, are age and geographical location. In this regard, both men and women’s choices in potential partners accurately reflected their stated preferences.