While categories such as "through friends", "in a bar", and "at school/work" were either declining or holding steady, one category has exploded in the last decade: "met online".According to these stats, 20 percent of heterosexual couples sampled, and nearly 70 percent of same-sex couples met this way and its growth shows no signs of abating.But is dating online that different from the traditional methods on a psychological level?
While these sites vary in terms of features and cost, the basic setup is the same each time: you create a profile, upload a picture and then send out messages to those who seem your type.
As a rule of thumb, women are inundated with messages and replies, while men barely get any, as demonstrated by a fascinating experiment involving dummy accounts on OKCupid here.
In summary, over four months with identical profile content the subjectively most attractive female avatar had maxed out "her" inbox with 528 messages, while the most handsome male account had received just 38.[pullquote source="Keep Inline]All but the most basic online dating sites include some kind of algorithm to try and partner customers up with someone they'll hit it off with, with varying degrees of scientific hype behind their advertising copy.
The notion that "opposites attract" is completely bulldozed over, for the quite legitimate fear of inundating each dater with people they will absolutely despise.
All of this can be traced back to payment: a need to get your money's worth, and a fear of wasting it by getting banned.
Still, the more serious nature isn't for everyone.
As one online dater put it, when I asked about her experience on Match.com: "It was a lot of people looking for their wife and/or trophy person.
So yeah, there were doctors and lawyers on there, but in a way their messages were inherently more creepy than what I get on OKCupid."Ah, the creepy messages.
A recent paper from the Association of Psychological Science was pretty clear that there's little evidence for any matching algorithm's scientific merit ("no compelling evidence supports matching sites" claims that mathematical algorithms work"), but the OKCupid users I spoke to generally seemed to believe there was something in it -- even if it was just filtering out their polar opposites.