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Online Dating By The Numbers And What They Say About Us

November 16th, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

On Sunday, The New York Times had a great article about how more and more online dating sites are extracting information from the profiles of members to study “attraction, trust, deception — even the role of race and politics in romance.”

For years, scientists have relied on U.S. Census Data to gauge how and why people come together, and fall in love, but in the study the Times cites, over 1 million dating profiles were researched, and overall, major dating sites like and received more than 593 million visits in the United States last month. What this means is now more than ever online dating profiles are probably the best way to learn why and how we fall for one another. ““As more and more of life happens online, it’s less and less the case that online is a vacuum,” Andrew T. Fiore, a professor at Facebook told the Times. “It is life.”

So it is, Andrew. The rest of the article had some very interesting facts, which I couldn’t help but reassess here. Keep in mind, what all this data means is essentially in some form or another, the way we behave online is a lot similar to the way we engage each other in real life. Here are some of those numbers and my thoughts.


81: Percentage of people who misrepresent their height, weight or age in profiles.

8.5: Number of pounds thinner women say they are versus their real life weight

2: Number of pounds thinner men say they are versus their real life weight

.5: Number of inches a man gives himself in height

The Times says: Scholars say a certain amount of fibbing is socially acceptable — even necessary — to compete in the online dating culture…research shows that lying is partly a result of tension between the desire to be truthful and the desire to put one’s best face forward. So profiles often describe an idealized self; one with qualities they intend to develop (i.e., “I scuba dive”) or things they once had (i.e., a job). Some daters bend the truth to fit into a wider range of search parameters; others unintentionally misrepresent their personalities because self-knowledge is imperfect.”

Jozen says: This is why I don’t go to online dating sites for any action. It’s a cesspool (81 percent!? ) of people who either don’t want to admit their overweight and under-height or don’t believe they are out of ignorance of self. A good question after the weight question for a woman would be, “Do you own a scale?” If she says no, she is 8.5 pounds heavier than she says she is. For a man, after the height question, “Do you like to play basketball?” If he says no, you guessed it, he’s probably a half-inch shorter than he says he is, and also likely to be shorter than you might think.


80: Percentage of white members who reached out to other white members on a major dating site.

3: Percentage of white members who reached out to black members.

10: Number of times more likely blacks would contact whites than whites were to contact blacks.

The Times says: [University of California, Berkeley psychology professor Gerald A.] Mendelsohn, set out to study relationship formation, not ethnicity. Yet along the way he found that white more than black, women more than men, and old more than young prefer a same-race partner.

Jozen Says: Duh! Because statistically black women are more single than women of other ethnicities, I always thought encouraging black women to date outside of their race was a somewhat flawed piece of advice or at least, a tad bit misdirected. I don’t see this piece of advised being stressed on other ethnicities, specifically non-black men. I have said this before, white men, Asian men, Hispanic men need to also be told to date outside their race, and be encouraged to date black women. This is not for the sake of charity, this is for the sake of getting rid of the sad double standard found in relationship talk. Why is only one group of people being told to date outside of their race, especially when other groups aren’t being encouraged to do the same and statistically don’t do the same?


18: Number of months old a woman’s profile picture is on a dating site, on average.

6: Number of months old a man’s profile picture is on a dating site, on average.

The Times says: People were most honest about their age…probably because they can claim ignorance about weight and height. Even so, in a different study, profile photographs [were embellished].

Jozen says: It should be a requirement for every member of every major dating site to update their photo every three months. If they don’t, their profile is taken down and will not go back up until they supplement their profile with a new photo. Problem solved. Another thing we should all be aware of, and I wish the Times would have done some research on this, is the various types of profile photographs taken and what they mean. Here’s a list:

The same people who lie about their weight also take pictures from the neck up.

The same people who lie about their height, take group shots with people who are their height, children who are shorter than them, or standing on a couch with the couch hidden.

Women who take pictures in the club only care about looking good between the hours of 11 p.m. and 2 a.m.

Men who take their own profile picture have less friends than men whose profile picture was taken by someone else.

There is a 50 percent chance the person who took the great photo of the guy you’re interested in messaging, was snapped by his current girlfriend. It’s her favorite too.

Click here to read the entire New York Times article, “Love Lies And What They Learned”

  • GreenPhoenix09

    “There is a 50 percent chance the person who took the great photo of the guy you’re interested in messaging, was snapped by his current girlfriend. Its her favorite too.” – Very true statement.  Online dating is a whole other game, my friend. However, it seems a lot of people (I know) have found success from dating online. I wonder what those real statistics are?

  • Kat Webb

    I’ve done Match, eHarmony, OKCupid, even met some people from Blackplanet. I’ve done all this because the people I meet in real life have proven to be not great for dating.

    BP: I know, I know, but the only person I ever loved who also loved me back was from BP and we were together for 18 months. BUT, it also is where I met my other 18 month relationship, with the worst dude on the face of the planet, so you never know.

    eHarmony: I tend toward the brothers, and this site had the LEAST selection in that arena. Even though it claims everyone who goes on there gets married, I had the least success with this site.

    Match: With one guy I met on here, we fought ALL THE TIME. Not playful banter, but literal ARGUMENTS that would make me want to punch him in the face. We’re still Facebook friends, though, LOL. Another guy would only go out with me on weeknights. When I called him on this, he stopped calling. I’m pretty positive he just had a chick.

    OKCupid: DEFINITELY the best SELECTION of ATTRACTIVE brothers. BUT, like most online dating sites have been corrupted, so has OKC. It is basically just a hookup site. I was hit on by all types of dudes, but they all had a shared focus.

    In summation, I’ve deactivated all my online dating accounts, LOL. I joined a Meetup group. It’s fun, but no dating as of yet. Hey, fun ain’t bad. 🙂

  • maxfab

    You basically summed up my feeling about online dating when you called it a cesspool.

    However, I do find it interesting that the stats show that white people are very very unlikely to contact Black members; just because one of the (great many) reasons I and virtually every Black woman I know shun those sites is that whenever we go on them we are deluged by messages from white men who “love” Black women. Must be a Canadian thing. 

  • AlesiaMichelle

    Real Talk, I actually met some pretty cool people online… I met more weirdos. But the good guys outweighed the bad, so I’m glad I did it. I wouldn’t have met those guys had it not been for the web so overall it was worth it…

    But it should be a last resort… lol

  • Bettertobesinglenowadays

    nowadays it’s NOT important to be attached as single life is the best to live. Who needs love from others when there’s love for travel. No human being is worth having a relationship. Too many expectations. Best thing to do is Stay Single, this way there is no worries as to finding love.

  • Miss White

    Do you own a scale? = Douche = No date

    I can see a man wanting to know what you look like…for real for real…but that’s pushing it. I’ve never done it but I actually know people with success stories. Actual marriages. I say don’t knock it til you try it. You could find your husssssband *in my Sandra from 227 voice*

  • Bettertobesinglenowadays

    Nowadays, it’s just safer to STAY SINGLE  – no worries, no obligations, no expectations overall FREEDOM and INDEPENDENCE

  • Christina

    I completely agree with the interracial dating statement. All of my white male friends (and I have quite a few since the company I used to life guard for was 95% white and I worked there 5 years) told me that my sister and I were the prettiest black girls they know. Yes, I do consider myself pretty but I know plenty of females just as pretty if not prettier. When I began to bring my friends from high school around, they’d say to me in awe “wow they’re so pretty” as if that was odd. Many of the same white males who told me that I was the only black female they’d been attracted to now found themselves attracted to my black female friends as well. 
    However, although they were attracted to them and would try to make moves on them at parties and even at work, they never wanted to actually date them. One of my friends even told me “I think black girls are hot and I’d gladly have sex with them, but I’d never date them seriously.” Although our beauty may be ignored by many but the bigger issue is that the ones that realize our beauty still don’t find us good enough to date. That’s the real issue if you ask me. 
    Since before this nation was formed, white men have been attracted to beautiful black women. The just remained in denial that that was what it was… beauty. Being from a family where my great great grandfather was a white slave owner is proof of that. My freckles… my aunt with her straight hair and white skin… the girl in my class with the blue eyes… they always knew the beauty was there or else I wouldn’t be here. They just… ignored it. We can’t date outside our race if they don’t want to date us… you are absolutely right. Sorry if I seemed to be ranting. (I can’t speak on other races though because I don’t know very many of them. Plus being at Howard any of them that I might know tend to like us black women, that’s pretty much all there is to date here. lol) 

  • Twocents4u

    Jozen comes across as a threat to women based on what he has been posting lately. If he continues to come across as a threat to women, he’s likely to be single  for the rest of his life. He should be careful as to what he post on the internet. 

  • Guest

    what it comes down to, the ones we choose to date depends on our upbringing.

  • JP Stunner

    Apparently I’m doing it wrong cause I was honest on my profile + I’m a black woman.  Oh well, if I have to fibbed to get someone interested than I rather not.  

    The only thing I withheld was my height because got so  tired of hearing the same 10 short jokes.  The only thing you need to know is that I’m short.  Do the math yourself.

    Side note: Guys on said dating sites.  You are not the first nor be the last person to think of that short joke.  You will be on the other hand no longer getting my attention.  

  • Samuel Christian23

    Wow thanks so much, very useful post.