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Leaning in to our online dating gender roles

How the gender roles we assume tend to play out in online dating, and how to avoid them. 


Beth Cook


Beth Cook is a dating coach and writer. Want advice? Have advice? Send her an email.

According to this study, men overestimate their intelligence, while women underplay theirs.

How does this play out in the world? One example is in the job search process. Men will apply for jobs in which they are lacking many of the stated requirements (skills, previous experience), while women only apply for jobs in which they can fulfill almost all of the requirements.

Men are liberal in their application process and generally oversell themselves; women are conservative and generally undersell themselves. And this doesn’t just happen in the workforce, my friends.

It’s also what goes on in the world of online dating. Men write out-of-their-league women with whom they have nothing in common. Women get tons of meaningless messages from men and wonder, “Is anyone actually reading my profile?”

So I have some gender specific advice for men and women both, to help overcome those tendencies—tendencies that can impact your dating success.


I love that you’re taking the initiative to contact women, but do a little less shooting into the wind. Write targeted messages to women with whom you have something in common. A quality-over -quantity strategy will get you way more dates.

Also, don’t include specific “requirements” in your profile that would turn a woman off (i.e., “must be fit.”). Women will find excuses not to write you, even if they’re in pretty great shape.


Start giving guys a little leeway, especially if they write you a personal message referencing your profile. Just because their profile isn’t a carbon copy of yours doesn’t mean you’re not going to hit it off. Give the guy a chance.

And start writing to men who don’t seem like a 100% match. Maybe you can teach them something about salsa dancing, and they can teach you a thing or two about cooking.

Let’s start breaking out of our gender boxes today! We have nothing to lose and only more dates to gain. As always, happy dating.

Photo by Vanity™Mirror/Flickr 

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