New Research Suggests Online Dating Websites Don’t Lead To Healthier Relationships

Couples who meet online don’t tend to be any happier with their love lives than those who meet in traditional offline settings. That’s the conclusion of a new research report by LoveLearnings, where the authors sorted through various research studies in an attempt to find out whether internet dating produces healthier, happier, and more committed romantic relationships.

For those who have used dating websites like PlentyOfFish or Match.com in the past, this may come as no surprise, since finding and meeting your soulmate on one of these websites can quickly begin to seem like an unrealistic objective. But many sites, such as eHarmony, claim to offer “matchmaking algorithms” that are “scientifically designed” pair you off with compatible singles based on a variety of attributes and qualities.

As it turns out, those surveys and matchmaking algorithms don’t stand up well when put under the microscope. “To date, there is no compelling evidence that any online dating matching algorithm actually works,” says Eli Finkel, professor of social psychology at Northwestern University and one of the researchers cited in the report.

Another problem with online dating as a whole? Too much choice.

As counterintuitive as it may seem at first, the researchers suggest that online dating offers so much choice in potential partners that it can actually be detrimental to overall outcomes. This is often referred to as “tyranny of choice.” The problem is that, when humans are offered a variety of choice, they tend to have more difficulty choosing the best option. “When there is something better out there, you can’t help trying to find it,” says Nick Puamgarten, quoted in the new research paper. “You fall prey to the tyranny of choice-the idea that people, when faced with too many options, find it harder to make a selection.”

Other downsides of online dating include price (depending on the website, price ranges from free to $100+ per month), dishonest users who create fake profiles, and a host of privacy issues.

It’s not all bad news, though: the study does recognize that internet dating websites offer a new and less intimidating place to meet singles of the opposite sex (especially sites that charge a monthly subscription fee, which acts as a natural filter against less committed folks). For those who hate the nightclub scene, or who simply aren’t able to meet other singles by traditional offline means, online dating makes a lot of sense.

Most relationship experts acknowledge the benefits offered by internet dating websites, and see them as a useful tool for some people. However, as outlined in the recent research, meeting someone online doesn’t make it any more likely that you’ll fall in love and live happily ever after.

Look For Love: Online Dating Made Easy

Have you ever given a thought to using online dating to look for love? Did you realize that many of the best online dating services offer better options now, than they ever did before? Has the bar scene gotten old, quickly? If you want to look for love, and you want to have an astonishingly large pool of potential dates to choose from, look no further than online dating to get meet the man of your dreams.

How to Choose An Online Dating Service

Choosing an online dating service that is right for you is now easier than it ever was before. To begin with, there are many top quality services out there, and all of them have something special to offer their members. Many offer free trial periods so you can test out the special features they offer and see whether their site is the best place for you to look for love. If you don’t like it, you can move on to the next.

Many sites cater to specific demographics. If you ascribe to a certain set of religious beliefs, or if you like certain sports or even if you love certain pets, you can find a dating site that has been set up just for those people like you who want to look for love among people who want the same things.

Other sites are set up to allow you to seek a mate from people with the best possible educational backgrounds, and some even cater to people who make a certain amount of money annually. No matter who you are, or what you are looking for, you can definitely find the kind of dating site that will give you the greatest potential of finding the perfect mate.

How To Build Your Online Dating Profile

When you build an online dating profile, you may feel tempted to make yourself out in the best light possible. Although this might seem like a good idea, rest assured that if you tell any lies as you look for love, your potential dates will find out, and you’ll be back at square one.

The best way to go about building your profile is this:

Know What You Are Looking For – Be sure to use positive terms to describe what you are looking for, and what you want. You are here to look for love, not to complain about past relationships or go into detail about the worst date you’ve ever been on.

Tell The World Who You Are – Let the people who will be looking at your profile see the real, true you. This will give you the best chance at finding a compatible partner you can be happy with! Don’t make things up. You are who you are, and that’s great!

Be Open To Meeting A Variety Of People – As you look for love online, keep in mind that the best possible match for you might not look exactly like the person you are envisioning. Looks might seem important, but remember – they fade over time. Allow yourself to be open about who you are willing to meet and date – you might just discover that the guy with the big ears, who others have passed over, is an amazing partner.

The Psychology of Online Dating: She Wants and He is

In the first article in this series (The Psychologists Viewpoint) I outlined how psychologists have investigated attraction and dating preferences by looking at the contents of personal advertisement and online dating profiles.

The second article (He Wants and She is) described the sort of things men say they are looking for in a partner. In this article we turns things on their head and consider what women have said they want in a partner as well as how men describe themselves and whether this matches women’s desires.

Before we begin, please spend a few moments and think of about four general things that you think women are typically looking for in a partner … now let’s see what scientific research has revealed.

What does the research say?

When looking at sex differences in what’s sought from a partner, two factors stand head and shoulders above the rest and are reported so often in the research literature that it would be remarkable if any researcher failed to find these results. In the previous article we discussed the fact that men are far more interested in a partner’s attractiveness than women are. The thing that women look for but men don’t is wealth.

In fact it is only a small minority of women who directly say they are looking for someone rich and we need to take a slightly broader view of what constitutes wealth or at least financial stability. Some of the phrases encountered do refer directly to wealth (e.g. ‘rich’ and ‘financially secure’) but in many cases women will say they are looking for a partner who has specific assets (e.g. ‘own house’) or employment (e.g. ‘business type’, ‘professional’ or even just ‘working’). Alternatively, the thing mentioned might be a personal attribute that, while it could be viewed as sought for its own sake, implies an aptitude or capacity to earn now or in the future (e.g. ‘ambitious’, ‘intelligent’ or ‘college educated’).

Taking money, assets, employment and aptitudes separately, in each case women are more likely to say they are looking for a partner with these characteristics than men are. When taken as an overall category of features implying wealth or the capacity to earn, research has consistently shown women are more interested in a partner having these features than men. For example, in 2003 I presented some results to colleagues based on my collection of nearly 5000 advertisements. Within this set of data, women were six times more likely than men to mention one of the above as a desirable characteristic in a partner.

Men seem to be fully aware of what women are looking for as they are consistently more likely than women to mention that they are financially secure, well educated, or have personal qualities that might be expected to lead to wealth or security. Often this is done directly through a bald mention of personal assets such as ‘own house and car’ (a phrase used so frequently it is often abbreviated to ‘OHAC’) or men may be more subtle and include something in their description that implies wealth such as ‘hobbies include good restaurants, opera, sailing and regular holidays overseas.’

Male interest in attractiveness and female interest in wealth are both pretty clear cut. You will recall the other things men wanted in a partner were also physical features of one kind or another. Women’s desires, however, are not as simple as this. Apart from wealth (or at least financial stability/promise) there are three other factors that women are just as interested in and just as likely to mention when seeking a partner.

The first of these is a difficult concept to pin down as different researchers view it in different ways depending on how phrases are grouped together. For example, if we consider phrases such as ‘expressive’, ‘sensitive’ and ‘open’ as referring to something different to phrases such as ‘warm’, ‘loving’ and ‘romantic’ then both our ‘expressiveness’ and our ‘warmth’ categories will have relatively smaller numbers of adverts than a general category containing all these phrases. Where researchers do group these together and look for what might be called positive emotional characteristics as a single category, then women are just as interested in finding a partner like this as they are in a partner’s wealth and resources. Men are also pretty interested in finding someone who they describe using phrases of this type but not as interested as women are. However men are certainly aware of women’s desires in this area as they are considerably more likely than women to describe themselves as having these female-valued emotional characteristics.

Another characteristic that men often lay claim to, and women often seek, is identified by phrases such as ‘honest’, ‘genuine’, ‘faithful’ and ‘committed’. If we take these phrases as indicating the desire for a partner who is open to having an ongoing relationship and who is not going to mess you around, then this is something women are also as interested in as wealth and emotionality.

The last female-valued attribute I want to mention is physical and is the only physical attribute that women seek more often than men do. It is height.

Whether a specific height is mentioned or whether it is simply the use of the adjective ‘taller’ when describing a partner, women are far more interested in a man’s height than men are in a woman’s, and they almost invariably want men who are tall, or at least taller than they are themselves. This result has been found in numerous studies of personal advertisement and was borne out again recently in a novel study of speed dating events. Researchers at the University of Essex looked at the characteristics of men who were more or less successful at getting invitations to follow-up dates at speed dating events. They found the men who were most successful at any particular event were usually among the tallest present.

Men seem to be aware of this female preference as they are far more likely to mention their height than women. This may be an assertion that they are ‘tall’ or they may give an actual height. However in my sample of personal advertisements, the average male height (where it is mentioned) is 5 feet 10 inches. This is significantly taller than the average adult male height in the UK population so either these men were inflating their heights or only the taller men mentioned it.

In summary, based on extensive research looking at what women say they want in a partner, the four main characteristics that emerge are wealth (or at least financial security), positive emotional characteristics (such a warmth, openness and sensitivity), someone who is honest and open to forming an ongoing relationship, and height.

How can we use this?

In the previous article I used this subheading as an opportunity to advise women on how they can present themselves to attract initial male attention. In this article I am not going to do this as I think the research above speaks for itself, and I want to explore briefly the moral dilemma I had about writing these articles, particularly this one. It is to do with deception.

There is no doubt that deception is widely used when seeking a date. From a psychological perspective, women’s use of makeup, hair dye and body shaping knickers are actually forms of deception that are specifically targeted at the physical features that men are interested in. Now I am not asserting a moral position here as these forms of deception are widespread and socially acceptable, not to mention (in the case of makeup) visually detectable. I more want to make the point that although they may not usually be viewed this way, they are in fact methods used by women to deceive men about their male-valued characteristics.

Given the above, we should also expect men will use deception to make themselves more attractive to women. Furthermore, deception is most likely to involve exactly the things that women seek in a partner. Unfortunately these are intangibles such as personality characteristics that cannot be immediately observed, leaving men much greater scope to lie.

If you are a man who is genuinely sensitive, financially stable, and looking for a real relationship then please do mention this in your personal advertisement as you will probably get a better response, but also bear in mind that many others will be (perhaps falsely) emphasising these features so don’t expect women to take any such claims at face value. Women looking for someone like this will and indeed should take the time to get to know someone. It is well known that women prefer to develop relationships slowly and given what I have said above, this is not only understandable but could also be viewed as another way to test a man’s character. If he really is sensitive and committed then a slow start to a relationship should not be a problem.

The next article takes some of the results mentioned in this and the previous article and uses these to explore theories of attraction. This may sound a bit dry but the main aim of the article is to introduce you to a current psychological theory of attraction that you can use to assess your own value in the ‘mating market’.