Online daters message people more desirable than themselves, according to a study

Alice Sholl
·Contributor
Men were a little more ambitious than women [Photo: Pexels]
Men were a little more ambitious than women [Photo: Pexels]

No one wants to hear that they’re persuing someone above their league.

But if you’re an online dater – meaning you use apps like Tinder, or websites like PlentyOfFish – chances are that you’re shooting a little too high.

According to a new study, women and men searching for ‘the one’ online tend to chase potential partners more desirable than themselves.

Researchers looked at data from almost 200,000 users of an unnamed dating website in January 2014 across Seattle, Chicago, Boston and New York.

It’s hard to decide if you really desire someone until you meet them in person [Photo: Pexels]
It’s hard to decide if you really desire someone until you meet them in person [Photo: Pexels]

Each user was ranked by their desirability based on the number of people that initiated contact with them – so this was largely based on their profile quality, not their actual physical selves.

And the results, published in Science Advances, revealed that both men and women tend to try and punch above their weight – especially men.

Men sent messages to women 26% more desirable than themselves, while women tried it with men 23% more desirable.

We all want to find that special someone [Photo: Pexels]
We all want to find that special someone [Photo: Pexels]

The twist here is that unlike men, whose average reply rate is around 17%, women should be shooting higher as their reply rate is more than half.

Unsurprisingly, men tended to initiate conversations more than women, and daters of both genders tended to write longer messages to more desirable candidates.

However Dr Elizabeth Bruch, associate professor in sociology and complex systems at the University of Michigan and co-author of the study, suggested all is not lost for optimists.

She told The Guardian: “Even if the probability of getting a reply when you are messaging a more desirable partner is low, it is not zero.”

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