Online Dating: What Works and What Doesn’t.
Are They Lying?
Is online dating worth it? We have found research that reveals who uses online dating apps and dating sites and why. We have found which online dating strategies work for men and women. We have also found what people lie and tell the truth about.
The internet is a modern-day utopia for many people. For a single person, online dating can seem like an easy way to get into the dating pool and meet someone. Internet dating in itself is not something new. There are studies out there that show about three-quarters (76%) of people have used a dating app or dating site to meet someone.
Other studies show the rate is as low as one-third of people with internet access have used online dating.
But, are we to believe the success rates or the horror stories?
Online dating companies tell us that it’s simple, easy, and true love bliss is just a click away. On the other side, we hear that sites are full of cheaters, perverts, and liars.
The real truth is out there. The question is where is it?
Many of our clients would like to try online dating. But, how can we in good conscience recommend online dating without letting them know what to expect, or how to succeed?
Fortunately, we have uncovered and combined, enough research to give our clients an idea of what is really taking place in the online dating world.
Here are ten insights into online dating based on real research.
1. Not All Online Daters Are Losers
Contrary to the stereotype, there’s little evidence that online dating is the last resort of social misfits or weirdos.
In fact, quite the reverse.
You might be thinking that online daters are weirdoes, social misfits, or those using online as a last resort. There is little evidence to support these ideas.
In the past couple of years, online dating has become increasingly popular as people look for more social interactions outside of work and family life.
Studies show people who use online dating tend to have high self-esteem, high sociable personalities, and low dating anxiety. There is very little evidence to support that people who use online dating services cannot meet someone in real life.
Most online daters view dating sites as another way to meet new people.
Reasons People Use Online Dating Sites
The list of reasons and motivations as to why someone chooses the idea of starting an online dating profile varies from person to person. Some studies have shown online dating is a go-to solution to a significant event that has caused some emotional pain.
This could be a break-up or divorce or a way to connect to someone who shares similar experiences beyond the casual friendships or potential partner options they currently have. Researchers have found that the motivations for most people choosing online dating are more social-based than individual.
People are not choosing dating apps because they are shy. Most online daters have found they have limited hours to meet anyone new, they have moved to a new location, they are curious or know other users of a dating app.
2. Online Daters Only Lie A Little Bit
The majority of people (94%) who have an online dating profile say their profiles do not contain any lies. Thankfully psychologists and researchers are suspicious of these statements.
Researchers studied a group of people who set up their online dating profiles. They measured their heights and weights and double-checked their ages against driver’s licenses.
The research revealed that nine out of ten participants lied about at least one of the attributes the researchers measured. The lies in the profiles were rather small though.
Not All Dating Site Profiles Are Fake Profiles
The most frequent lie told in the online profile was a person’s weight. The compared data versus the actual weight of the person showed a five percent difference.
The majority of people told the truth about their age and height. The researchers found that 1.5% of people had lied about their actual age. When it came to a person’s height, 1.1% of participants had lied.
When broken down, male users tended to say they were taller while female users said they weighed less.
Most people who use dating websites want to meet someone in person. They know that any big lie they include in their profile will be caught eventually. So, the lies they include in their profile would be difficult to detect in person. Or at least easily explained away.
3. Online Dating Photos
With today’s computer photo editing systems we can no longer say that the camera never lies. You can find a free version or free trials of other apps to edit photos on the internet.
Certain websites can do all the editing and enhancing for you with a single click.
Some of the top dating sites and matchmaking services have a dating advice blog that give in-depth advice on how to take a good profile photo. A few dating websites will limit that advice behind premium services or a paid subscription.
Lighting, angles, and applied filters can change the perception of how someone sees another person’s attractiveness level. The best dating sites will not match a person to other users without at least one photo in their profile.
To prevent fake profiles the best dating sites will have some type of photo verification system included. Whether it is a free dating site or a paid membership dating service, look for this verification service.
Most online dating sites will recommend about six photos be used. Selecting that many photos can make for a lengthy sign-up process for even a free dating app.
People know that choosing the right profile photo does make a difference in the online dating world. Researchers know this as well. So, researchers did their own photo verification and compared the real photo to the photo used on the online dating site.
The overall evidence shows that most users were not lying a whole lot in their selected photos.
Around four percent of men and five percent of women had real photos that were slightly less attractive. The overall differences between the real and self-enhanced photos were very small.
4. What Is The Best Dating Profile Photo?
We have found research that gives a clue into which type of profile photo gets the most attention. This data comes from one of the top online dating sites that went through its database and analyzed over 7,000 profile photos. The analysis found:
- Men got high response rates when they did not smile and looked away from the camera. Men should also avoid flirtatious expressions.
- Women should use flirtatious expressions and look directly at the camera.
The analysis compared the length of online conversations with people with these types of photographs. They also compared what the person in the photograph was doing. The longest conversations, in descending order, include the person:
- Doing something interesting
- With an animal
- In an interesting location
In descending order the photos that had short conversations or ended abruptly included the person:
- In bed
- Having fun with friends
- Drinking or smoking
The thing to remember is that each of these areas is made by the other persons association to what is seen in the photo. There is no definitive way to comprehensively measure why the conversations were long or short.
5. Online Dating Versus Real Life Dating
The top 10 most popular dating sites or dating app have a diverse population of 529.2 million monthly visitors (2020 Statistics). Even with this wide selection of people, online daters still prefer to choose someone who has similar interests.
When looking at traditional meetings that happen face-to-face versus online in this aspect, there is no difference between the two.
Researchers found people were choosing someone based on similarity when they examined 65,000 people who use an online dating site.
The average person on a dating app or online dating sites is seeking a person who is similar to themselves.
According to the research most users of online dating platforms are looking for a perfect match or meaningful connection and a long-term relationship from other members (49%). The numbers show that around 23% of users are those looking for casual dating or a casual hookup and not serious relationships.
Of the online dating services member dating pool, 17% of other members claim to want to cheat on their significant other.
Dating sites and apps are responding to this demand of narrower demographics. There are over 1,500 different dating sites or dating apps to choose from.
Some of the dating sites or dating apps are highly specialized towards one demographic. These include sports fans, highly religious or Christian community, interracial, sexual orientation, particular medical conditions, age, or lifestyle.
Today you can find dating platforms or a dating website catering to just about any demographic. If you can think of it, there are online dating services catering to it.
6. Online Dating And Diversity
As we pointed out the online dating world is very diverse. One study set out to examine just how diverse it is. The researchers surveyed over 2,600 married couples from Australia, Spain, and the United Kingdom.
The researchers found that the sample group had a larger gap in education and age when compared to couples who met in more traditional ways.
This finding suggests that internet dating, by nature, encourages more diverse matches by introducing different types of people.
People who have never met otherwise are entering long-term relationships and getting married.
The Current Dating Site Status
We looked at dating sites and dating apps and broke down some numbers.
Here are the top five countries using dating sites:
- United States
- United Kingdom
When looking at paid membership we find the most used dating app or dating sites are:
Of the dating service companies in the list, three belong to one company. Match Group owns around 21 dating sites. Through different partnerships with other dating websites services Match Group has the total companies go up another 24 dating site or dating app brands.
Some of the dating site brands owned by Match Group include:
- PlentyOfFish (POF)
- Hawaya (an Egyptian dating site formally named Harmonica)
Hinge users also fall under the same company. The dating app was fully acquired in February 2019. Ship is one of Match Groups’ newly developed dating apps that allows your mutual friends to select your perfect match.
Most dating sites owned by Match Group are geared for those looking for a serious relationship or long-term relationship and have some kind of personality test included. Match Group as a whole is taking strides to create a dating site for the best dating experience.
Other dating sites geared towards casual dating like adult friend finder are owned by FriendFinderNetworks (FFN). FFN primarily operates casual dating sites with free dating initial offers. While the more adult-oriented sites are FFNs best dating site revenue performers, they do target other niches.
One of the other online dating sites FFN operates is for Christian singles looking for long-term relationships. The site is run by Global Alpabet, Inc. with FFN as its parent company.
49% of people who use dating apps or sites are looking for an exclusive relationship partner. 39% (global market) of online daters say they have gotten married or entered a long-term committed relationship (12% for the U.S. market).
7. Breaking The Ice On Dating Sites
Sending that first message to someone and getting a response is a hit-or-miss scenario.
One dating site took a look at half a million of their member’s first contacts and the response rates.
The data showed that 45 percent of women’s initial messages to men were answered. Men’s initial messages to women were answered only 30 percent of the time.
What is more interesting is that initial messages that lead to a conversation go even lower for women versus men. While women get a higher response rate only 20 percent of the responses lead to a conversation. Meanwhile, 30 percent of responses lead to a conversation for men.
Research into the low response rate showed that many of the accounts had been abandoned. The accounts had not been canceled, but the person was no longer active on the site.
Longer introduction messages did nothing for women. Men only got a very small response bump in response rate.
The takeaway from this is research is to keep the initial message short. Don’t write an essay thinking it will help in response rates. Say hi and let the other person check your profile.
8. Being Attractive In Online Dating
Speaking of dating profiles, you need to be a bit crafty in setting one up.
Researchers found that both men and women have a better impression of someone if the profile is more emotionally intense.
Evidence found that using “loaded language” or “emotionally charged” words in a dating profile made better impressions for both women and men.
Include words in your profile such as; Wonderful, passion, faithful, terrific, crave. These are only examples. But, including these types of words can lead to higher responses.
The study also took a look at the self-disclosure factor.
The results of attractiveness and self-disclosure were mixed. However, the majority of people who received higher responses had low levels of self-disclosure in their profiles.
So, when coming up with your profile try using emotional words while not revealing everything about yourself in one go.
9. Meeting Face-To-Face
Not everyone who uses an online dating service wants to meet someone in person. However, most people do want to meet people face-to-face.
Researchers surveyed a group of over 750 people. After the initial message, it took an average of five weeks of conversation before fifty-one percent had met face-to-face.
Most people who use online dating treat meeting in person as a final screening process. Two primary questions are nearly universal:
Is the person they are meeting who they say they are?
If they are, is there any chemistry?
It is only after these questions are answered that the two people can move forward in getting to know each other.
10. Check-Box Relationships
Even with all the positive research about online dating, we cannot discount the averse and unsatisfying aspects.
Researchers have found that people can spend as much as seven times longer sending messages and screening profiles than on real dates.
One of the problems is that the very nature of how online dating sites and dating apps are set up brings about a way of consumerist thinking. Like shopping for an item on any other website or app.
This has brought about a new term called ‘relationshopping.’ This is where people tend to think of choosing a new partner as more like choosing a shirt from a catalog.
The sites themselves encourage this thought process by placing a match percentage on a profile photo.
The underlying criticism is not in the idea of online dating but in the technology of the compatibility matching system and limits of the personality test currently available to online dating platforms.
Researchers into online dating argue that the idea that romantic relationships that feel like they are reduced to check-boxes will change as more experience-based methods are employed.
Does Online Dating Work?
The final verdict to the question of whether online dating really works or not cannot be answered at this time. There is very limited data available and much of the research only examines heterosexual people versus other sexual orientation.
The most recent research available did find that 39 percent of people who use online dating sites entered into a serious relationship or made meaningful connections.
The latest research study into marriages where people first met online across the top countries that use online dating.
- Spain 5%
- UK 6%
- Australia 9%
- USA 19%
When the data is broken down into age groups, the numbers go higher for younger people:
- In the US, 42 percent of couples between 26 and 35 first met online.
- In the UK, 21 percent of married couples between 19 and 25 first met online.
Is A Dating App Or Online Dating Worth It?
The research and statistics show that online dating is working for some if you are looking for a long-term relationship.
Some people will find relationship shopping and idealized self-selling to be off-putting. Others will avoid online dating because of the horror stories they have heard.
Others will find they become frustrated and enthusiasm drained because of low response rates.
However, some will have success. The research into online dating shows that most people are relatively honest and looking for meaningful relationships.
The Future Of Online Dating
Some of the things you can expect to see on the dating site in the future is a kind of virtual universe. Even a free dating site will have some kind of limited virtual experience in a free version.
The best dating site for those looking for a serious relationship will have the option to virtually meet in a meta-verse for the first few dates. Your first date can take place in virtual reality at a choice of different virtual locations.
While you see a person’s online avatar you will be able to hear their real voice and carry on real conversations. You would be able to select different locations and interact more on virtual dates than just over video.
These may not be the best dating experiences, but they would be a far cry to building serious relationships than a text-only first date offered by other dating apps today.
Our Research Sources: