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. 30 Comments.

  1. I would think the mix of qualities you describe would be quite attractive to women: intellectual, goofy sense of humor, and even the interest in sports. I think you would do best getting a girlfriend or whatever if you simply let them get to know you.”

    Thanks. Yeah I was just bringing up the unfortunate double edge sword of being a “thinker”. It can be attractive and help attracting various girls, but I believe not just me, but other people. Being a thinker can often cause over thinking and being your own worst enemy and getting in the way of taking more chances or instead of going with your gut, you over thinking and make the wrong decision because of second guessing and well, over thinking a situation. It sucks too, because this bi product is what causes me to instead of let things roll of my shoulders, it can create anxiety and stew over something for a while. But yeah, I was saying how it’s funny because, like some people, maybe how they talk and carry the sophisticated,and extensive vocabulary and on and on. Like it’s easy to see or pick up this intellectual aspect, even though to me, some people like that though well educated and intellectual can come off as pretentious to me.

    But only a very few select people very close to me, know that I have this intellectual side or very much so. Many know I’m smart and know there’s depth. But I think it’s surprising for people I know whether friends but not close friends, even extended family and such. For them to know that I have many layers and a lot of deep thinking from me. And like I said, it’s because of how I don’t usually talk about such stuff casually to most people. To put it simply, if we’ll use comedians as an example. For example. John Stewart, like you can see he’s intellectual not just conversation but how he talks and carries himself. So not suprising, whereas, you see fucking Pauley Shore and how he acts, but then found out he was very intellectual and went to literature seminars or something, it would throw you for a loop because of how he acts. I’m nothing like him lol, but just showing how it can be suprising and deceiving with how you can normally be, but another side that others would never expect.

    • Ah, hiding one of your best qualities. You are clearly a very intelligent guy and I always appreciate your questions and the insights that you get. I have a friend to met someone his pretty much a perfect match for her on Maybe you should check it out.

      • Thanks. I don’t think success rate is any better than most sites or apps. Atleast bumble and others, they are free whereas you pay for eharmony and I have some ideas though as I discussed. I do have to say that, dating apps, can have the opposite effect. You can have guys who do fine IRL because they are very sociable and just you know play the numbers game and rejection doesn’t faze them like the guy you said you knew who just took those chances. But even such guys I’ve seen admit, they either got no messages or takes a long time and if they get messages, they don’t get dates. I do believe a lot of it is because I live in a small city. I have to stretch my radius more miles as a result to get a decent number of women’s pictures show up.

        So my thought is that, since many of the women using it are in larger cities, they will usually have a smaller or smaller mile radius for their settings as girls just in general don’t have to look as far for guys, and since since more guys will be on a dating app than women, just from supply and demand. Just like the bar or in general there’s usually more guys. Almost all of the guys they could look through and search by quantity would be in a 15 mile radius for that fact. But even saying that. Those sites or apps even for guys I’ve seen, make them feel like crap, it can make you feel like crap. It’s funny because for some girls, or many use it to window show or ego boost. It seems like more often the apps give more the ego boosts for girls and can do the opposite for guys. Good thing I don’t think too much into it like I used to before, because if I did, I would feel like crap ha. Never had a match since three weeks now.

      • From what I understand men are at a disadvantage on these apps because women can feel so inundated by so many offers. So good luck!

  2. My speculation is fitness classes from gyms but those trendy health clubs that have classes unlike planetfitness or I read co-ed sports leagues are good. Though I need to figure my own team for that, which I played a long time ago. But I think and believe younger women in 20s -early 30 more likely to do that that the interest groups, I don’t know. I’m not that young, but young enough where I prefer being around similar age range. I’m somewhere between 27-33., You have any ideas or suggestions of what younger women are more likely to be involved in?

    • Well, I guess you can go out and explore. I don’t really know where younger women are more likely to hang out. A couple of my friends who married each other met in a hiking club. Maybe take classes at a community college. You could check out both physical education and — since you actually are a bit of a thinker — you could take classes in philosophy, psychology, sociology … And of course women studies!

      • since you actually are a bit of a thinker”

        Thanks. It’s funny because it’s like a doubled edged sword, my thinking, intellectual side. There different things in my experience that girls have liked about me or found attractive, but other than charm and humor, it’s the thinking, intellect aspect of me. It kind of suprised me or I think well maybe surprised some women in the past as far as that side of me and being attracted is because of my personality. I have to warm to a person usually so I’m not really that extroverted, but once I’m like comfortable, I can seem very outgoing and extroverted. But I have goofy sense of humor and love sports, there is a smart ass cocky side with the humor but in a good way, and some wit. But like. I guess some are pleasantly surprised when they see that part, because if you first talk to me, some might not know it or expect that thinking side. Kind of like how say a manly, ultra macho sounding guy, likes writing poetry in his spare time.

        A friend I know has been a bodybuilder or lifting weights and competition and a muscular big dude, but he’s brilliant and very intellectual. A professor and written like top notch novels. But I think it would be surprising for some people initially knowing that because of how we can stereotype based on appearance and how many times muscle guys can be “meat heads”, but yet he is completely the opposite and definitely brains,and cultured and intellectual. But that same thinking side of me has been my burden too, because the anxiety I can get and over thinking things which can hold me back with dating and girls. It’s funny because my best friend who knows me well often tells me to stop over thinking. So I can be my own worst enemy with my thinking too.

      • I would think the mix of qualities you describe would be quite attractive to women: intellectual, goofy sense of humor, and even the interest in sports. I think you would do best getting a girlfriend or whatever if you simply let them get to know you.

  3. So I was thinking, yeah girls like 21 may just be interested in bars or clubs, but I know girls in mid 20s, late 20s or early 30s have to be intersted and involved with things even if they still go to bars. I mean you go to the bar on the weekend or girls typically do and that’s night. That means plenty of hours in the day on their day off to do things. So what the hello do girls in their 20s early 30s get involved with, because what I’ve seen this interest groups and stuff, they seem to consist more of middle aged people or older. You said you guy friend has success with that, but I think your older than men, so most likely you guy friend is…middle aged too right? I’m not going to say my specific age. I’m not young, like college age ha, but I think still relatively young. I’m somewhere in between 27-33 ha. I know girls like older guys so that helps, but I had my bumble age range in setting like 23-32.

    My belief what younger girls are involved with is fitness classes, just at other gyms and I read how co-ed sports leagues as well have or can have guy and girls more often in mid 20s and early 30s compared to interest groups which I’m seeing seem to have older people. My best friend gave me some ideas and told me to talk to his gf as she might have ideas too ha. But I’m not just looking for dates but making friends too, guy or girls. I have friends, but what happens as people get married and have kids and you see less of your friends. :Luckily all my friends aren’t married, but some have kids now or others are working constantly so don’t see often and I still want to socialize and not ready to close shop yet. I think you got to look at it like networking. Making new friends will help so I think such stuff will help too. You broaden your social circle the more people and girls you will meet. You have girls as friend and you will meet their girl friends as well as long as your a good guy which I am. It’s just a matter of figuring where to look and go about it, I don’t know if you have any input as well

    • Bob, can you give me the bullet points on this?

      • -Unfortunately clubs and stuff don’t seem set up for my age range. There’s a site called where you can look online based on your city and see activities and groups based on interest that people can join and meet for. I read about and looked at the pictures from previous events of the people and they are “old”. The youngest people look like in their late 30s and most 40 and older with more near 50 and older So then yoga which I’ve talked about. I work a day at the YMCA, not main job. But unfortunatley from rising prices and stuff, a lot of people have left or younger crew to planet fitness.

        – checked out the yoga classes to see who was in them and nonetheless, I saw some walk out when lifting in nearby weight room and god they were old too lol.

        -Was feeling down, what the heck to younger girls/women join or get involved with?” But my buddy gave me some ideas where another y that is nicer and I think younger crew more there, but most of the classes through the week are when I work. I know young girls mostly may go to bars and clubs if like 21, but I’m not interested in that young anyway. There has to be stuff girls in mid 20s, late 20s early 30s are involved in?

      • The yoga class sounds like a really good idea. Maybe also Pilates.

  4. I just wanted to bring up since this post is about dating and results from a dating site. I think you talked about how tinder works or something before. But some of my friend’s and actually me best friends gf, her girl friends who are fairly young. They’ve been using not tinder but the dating app Bumble. I’ve noticed or read about that Bumble has climbed up in popularity and more girls and women going to that instead of tinder or other ones. And the reason, actually the dating app or idea behind it came from a woman, who is a feminist. She saw the flaws on many dating sites and apps. On many sites or apps, either men can just send messages or if there’s an initial match, men can send matches from there.

    Unfortunatley what can happen is well the player and creeps can ruin it for the good guys and women get bombarded by tons of messages just from a match and may never read one from a decent guy or care and some just end their account. With Bumble, it’s women who initiate and try to equal out the aspect of it. The swiping is like tinder, and people only know who liked their picture or profile is if they like the other’s too to show a mutual match. But from there, the guy can’t message, it’s the girl that has to start the convo or first message and then the guy can after. Some have had some success. I’ve just started trying it. We’ll see, just wanted to see if you knew about that dating app and I thought I’d share that.

    • That does seem like a much more appealing app for women, Since they do get so bombarded. Hope it works.

      I have a guy friend who has been using dating apps and hasn’t had much luck finding someone where there is mutual interest. And then he joined a group where they have mutual interests and is now in a relationship. Maybe you should give that a try too.

      • Yeah, luckily I talked to my friend about my worries. I unfortunately deal with anxiety a lot and can get discouraged with thins easily. But it’s good I talked about things, and further more proof why more guys need to just talk to other people as it can help. I haven’t had success with Bumble yet and haven’t when I tried a dating site a few years ago with no success. I did meet one girl, but I wasn’t into her, but that was it. But a mutual friend met some girls and is in a relationship with a girl he met from Bumble, but it can take awhile unfortunately. But I was feeling hopeless because, I thought hey I’ll look for groups or things to join to meet people and women. There’s something called meet and it’s for people to join based on interests or set up online with dates for activites of each group you can join. I checked something like that out, but unfortunately what I figured and what I saw looking at pictures showing previous events and the people involved. It’s mostly “old” people, sorry. And then it got me depressed, because like I said about trying yoga. I mean I was going to do it t help myself anyway, but it’s not my main job, but I work a day at the ymca and get a free membership.

        But the prices are high or have risen and other stuff (I don’t pay it), but it’s lost a lot of people and especially the younger girls as a result who moved over to planet fitness. So there are some girls, and there are still people there. But majority of people I see in fitness classes are middle aged men and women. And the yoga class, man, maybe because it was gentle yogan, but other yoga one’s didn’t seem any different, but they were all people like my damn parents age ha. I’ don’t mind a mix of people as I would use yoga to help me, but I never liked being in groups all with “old” people.

      • Bob, can you give me the bullet points on this?

  5. 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😀😋

  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. 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.

  8. 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.”

  9. 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.

  10. 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?

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

    a big hug from Herluf.

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