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But women’s desirability starts high at age 18 and falls throughout their lifespan.“I mean, everybody knows—and as a sociologist, it’s been shown—that older women have a harder time in the dating market.But I hadn’t expected to see their desirability drop off from the time they’re 18 to the time they’re 65,” Bruch told me.“But I was also surprised to see how flat men’s desirability was over the age distribution,” she said. Especially in New York.”- New York is a men’s market, at least according to this particular study.They may have stumbled upon this strategy through trial and error because “in all four cities, men experience slightly lower reply rates when they write more positively worded messages.”- Almost no one messages users desirable than they are.Most people seem to know their position on the hierarchy because they most contact people who rank the same.The team had to analyze both first messages and first replies, because, well, men usually make the first move.“A defining feature of heterosexual online dating is that, in the vast majority of cases, it is men who establish the first contact—more than 80 percent of first messages are from men in our data set,” the study says.“The most common behavior for both men and women is to contact members of the opposite sex who on average have roughly the same ranking as themselves,” Bruch and her colleagues write.
But people do not seem universally locked into them—and they can occasionally find success escaping from theirs.
The key, Bruch said, is that “persistence pays off.”“Reply rates [to the average message] are between zero percent and 10 percent,” she told me.
Her advice: People should note those extremely low reply rates and send out more greetings.
“There’s so much folk wisdom about dating and courtship, and very little scientific evidence,” she told me recently.
“My research comes out of realizing that with these large-scale data sets, we can shed light on a lot of these old dating aphorisms.” Bruch and her colleagues analyzed thousands of messages exchanged on a “popular, free online-dating service” between more than 186,000 straight men and women.“The greater choice set pays dividends to people who are willing to be persistent in trying to find a mate.”Of the study as a whole, he said: “I think its conclusions are robust and its methodologies are sound.”Yet what also emerges from the data is a far more depressing idea of “leagues” than many joking friends would suppose.