With 26 million daily match-ups worldwide on Tinder alone, the pursuit of being in a relationship can hardly be imagined without dating apps. If you’re struggling to find matches on dating apps and don’t usually land dates, it may be because you’ve raised your bar quite high. A recent study found that a majority of online daters are on a lookout for dates who are at least twenty-five per cent more attractive than they are.
In what may be a good explanation for all the turn downs and unanswered chats, Professor Elizabeth Bruch, who co- authored the study and is a sociologist at the University of Michigan, said, “I think a common complaint when people use online dating websites is that they feel like they never get any replies. This can be dispiriting. But even though the response rate is low, our analysis shows 21 per cent of people who engage in this aspirational behaviour do get replies from a mate who is ‘out of their league’ – so perseverance pays off.”
But how do you really measure these things – what are the variables that can give a number to attractiveness and define ‘out of the league?’ To put our worries to rest, Professor Bruch and his colleagues have developed a formula for the same.
In a first of its kind study, ‘leagues’ or the different classes of desirability – were identified and recognised in online dating platforms in four major US cities. The researchers formulated a ranking algorithm based on the number of messages a person receives and also the type of people (based on the hierarchy of desirability) who send out messages to the users, to rate the users’ attractiveness.
Professor Mark Newman, who co-authored the paper, said, “Rather than relying on guesses about what people find attractive, this approach allows us to define desirability in terms of who is receiving the most attention and from whom.”
The researchers also observed that people behaved differently with different people. Often, the length and number of messages they send to people was based on how attractive the people who they were sending out the messages to were – with longer messages saved for top matches.
While older men came across as more attractive than younger men but only up to the age of 50, the case wasn’t so in the case of women. Women’s attractiveness, according to the study, declined with their age – from 18 to 60.
But Professor Bruch added what really needed to be mentioned – “There can be a lot of difference in terms of who is desirable to whom. Our scores reflect the overall desirability rankings given online dating site users’ diverse preferences. There may be sub-markets in which people who would not necessarily score as high by our measures could still have an awesome and fulfilling dating life. This is also just the first – and perhaps shallowest – phase of courtship.”
If we were to suggest, shed your inhibitions and still go for it if you want to. After all, as Professor Bruch said: “It is the shallowest phase of courtship.”