Dating Lessons From OkCupid

Ok, Cupid

Ok, Cupid

by Lisa Wade, PhD @ Sociological Images

Dating site OKCupid did an analysis of 500,000 inquiry messages to determine what keywords correlate most strongly with getting a reply.  It has some great lessons about dating and some counter-stereotypical news about what heterosexual women want from men.

This first graph shows that mentioning someone’s level of attractiveness decreased the likelihood of getting a response (for both men and women), though men were more likely to mention looks.  But general compliments about one’s profile increased the likelihood of getting a response (the middle line is the average number of responses, the green bars signify an increase in the number of responses, and the red bars a decrease):


A good lesson in operationalization: “pretty” is used in two ways in our culture, so when they made sure to differentiate between pretty (meaning “sort of”) and pretty (meaning “attractive”), you can see clearly the way that commenting on looks decreases the recipients’ interest:

So, in contrast to stereotypes, many women cannot be flattered into a date (though the figure above includes men and women, I’m assuming most people being called “pretty” are female).

Further, the site found that when men sent messages, female recipients preferred humility to bold self-confidence.  The words below all increased the chances of a woman responding to a man’s inquiry:

Instead of bravado and flattery, women appear to actually like men who take an interest in them.  They respond positively to phrases that indicate that a guy actually read their profile and is interested in the content of their person:

The lesson: Treat a woman (on the OK Cupid dating site) like a human being and she will respond positively.

And to answer the question, “What do women want?”  As my dear friend David Landsberg would say: “Everything!

Reposted with permission from Sociological Images.

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About BroadBlogs

I have a Ph.D. from UCLA in sociology (emphasis: gender, social psych). I currently teach sociology and women's studies at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, CA. I have also lectured at San Jose State. And I have blogged for Feminispire, Ms. Magazine, The Good Men Project and Daily Kos. Also been picked up by The Alternet.

Posted on July 27, 2015, in psychology, relationships, sex and sexuality, women and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 14 Comments.

  1. Interesting post. To my friend thank you for visiting my blog have a nice new week

    a big hug from Herluf.

  2. I would agree with this. I have been on and off internet dating for years, I always found if anyone started right off commenting on my appearance it came off as a bit creepy.

    • I’ve never done the online dating thing but when I read this and put myself in the place of women doing OkCupid, I could totally see it.

    • “I always found if anyone started right off commenting on my appearance it came off as a bit creepy.”

      That damn “creepy” word….Just what is it with women today where anything out of the ordinary that men do (or ordinary for that matter) is deemed creepy?

      What if we men went around and tossed the “crazy” word at women the way “creepy” is tossed at us men?

  3. Be it dating or relationships, the key is to remain true and that would draw positive responses of both genders. The data presented is interesting, Georgia…

    • I imagine that actually caring about the person and not just how they look would make the potential relationship seem like it had more Potential for authenticity. Also having more potential for being deeper and less superficial.

  4. It’s not hard to miss the irony that for some it takes a study to get that treating a woman like a human being is the way to go. Then again, I can understand, in this culture of objectification how approaching someone from the surface can be construed by both sides as the way “in.”

  5. This is interesting – or I guess I should say “awesome”. Data is always great to get a glimpse of what might be happening, but any good statistician (and even not so great ones like myself) can pretty much twist data to match any agenda. Being authentic, nothing better. Cheers Georgia and wish you a great week.

    • I’m glad you thought it was awesome. But I don’t know why anyone would twist this data to match an agenda. It’s OkCupid’s data and I don’t know what agenda of theirs this would help. And it does make sense to me — how I would respond to these sorts of comments.

  6. Maybe some guy’s need to hear this or know this, but this seems obvious. Women don’t want to feel like nothing but their looks and body matters and a man irl or online can look like a creep if he comes off strong or about her looks, especially if it’s a woman he’s just met or talked to.

    But while guys should take interest in what the woman writes about herself on her profile for online dating and not be cocky and more humble and it probably would increase the chance of her replying to him. I still think it doesn’t mean much. It’s just a reply and while a woman will respond more likely to that than a compliment on her looks, I don’t know how much if a difference it makes as far as her continuing to write back to the guy, being interested in him and meeting him out to date. I don’t think more wost women are actually interested in meeting a man or dating on onlike dating sites and I think a majority are either on for the ego boost from the attention if they need it because they aren’t feeling great or recently broke up, etc. Or to basically window shop.

  7. Have missed many posts of yours! I am busy plAnning my wedding and travelling a lot. Nice post. Less cheesy lines and more sensible talks would increase a woman’s interest in you. And yes, all a woman wants is Some part of Everything😀😋

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