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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.
“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.
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.
It found that—insofar as dating “leagues” are not different tiers of hotness, but a single ascending hierarchy of desirability—then they do seem to exist in the data.
But people do not seem universally locked into them—and they can occasionally find success escaping from theirs.
Michael Rosenfeld, a professor of sociology at Stanford University who was not connected to this study, agreed that persistence was a good strategy.