Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Supply and Demand of Dating 20 somethings

 The dynamics of online dating are totally different for men and women.  In February 2005, long before the Craigslist killer, I proved this to a skeptical friend by doing an experiment on Craigslist.  This is old news, but I might as well share it with someone other than my original interlocutor. 

I wrote an ad for myself with no photo attached in the "men seeking women" section.   Here is the ad, entitled "Renaissance Intellectual Seeks Counterpart."

"I was raised by wolverines since the age of 3 (OK, that's a lie, but they might have done a better job than some real parents). I have been a part time instructor at a college, but I'm starting a PhD program in political science. I'll do whatever it takes to become a college professor: juggling, flame throwing,etc. I like Epicurean delights, cheating death with extensive exercise, hitting the road for some serious soul searching, and sipping a cafe latte while reading a book by Milton Friedman (I can't help it - I was raised by insensitive wolverines). I'll be happy to send a pic if you send me yours. I have light brown hair, thin but toned build, and blue eyes."

In one week, I received 6 responses from women.  None of the responses were interesting to me, and half of them had spelling or grammar errors that were deal breakers.

After the week was over, I took the same ad and posted it in "women seeking men."  Again, the ad had no photo.  I received 43 responses in the next 24 hours, and 83 over the next seven days.  If you ever reply to a woman's post (on Craigslist or any personals website where you email as many as you want for the price of one), that's what's you're up against.

I've heard women complaining that men send them pictures of their anatomy or request big breasts in their responses. Old (sometimes married) men with no chance send them pics. I received much higher quality responses. If the pics and self-descriptions were semi-accurate, most of the responses I got were from successful, polite men.  One guy looked like a Calvin Klein model. A few of them were bald.

The most interesting responses were:

"Interesting profile, I too was raised by wolves however, and after sever years of hearing about the 3 little pigs and the little girl riding through the Hood I decided to abandon that part. I'll start slow with just a small picture and If I hear from you I'll continue. I have a big one too,Picture I mean.. stop that . lol"

"The wolverine understands strength, understands power, understands endurance, respects the alpha male. The alpha male controls the pack because even if all beta males would attack him at the same time, he would always kill at least one other before being killed. The female with the greatest wisdom, greatest endurance, leads by action or inaction, chooses the which pack’s alpha to follow, holds the ultimate power of the wolverine. Therefore, alpha must be not just strong, but wise and kind to keep her. This alpha is sick, reads craigslist instead of Faulkner, loses meaning of symphonic clause sentences when writhing in intestine pain. No doubt I would have lost the pack for the week, been killed by the betas."

"What do you think? Could two people reading Milton Friedman and Leo Tolstoy be compatible?"

"I dont think i have ever met a woman who was raised by wolves but you sound like one of the more normal cl women who happens to also be raised by wolves."

"Epicureanism? Cheating death? Hitting the road? Very nice. Milton Friedman? A little troubling but the 'insensitive wolverines' joke makes it seem less troubling."

"While I was not raised by wolverines myself (which has left me with a lifelong complex) I was born in IN next to Michigan (home of the Wolverines) and my twin brother and I were almost named Romulus and Remus (who were raised by wolves, as you know) but then my Dad relented at the last minute. It's too bad that is not a joke. I mean, could I make up something like that?"

"as a greek am an antiquity intellectual.. perhaps we can communicate ;) ?"
- This was the entire message. What a scholar!

There are far more men seeking women than women seeking men for this age bracket - not surprising.  What I think it proves, though, is that women should be more understanding of men who have a mostly generic personal ad response and send it out to a lot of women.  If a woman only dates 6 of the 83 responses she receives from her ad, a man's odds are not very good if he puts all of his eggs in one basket or even a dozen baskets.  If women only have relationships with one in 6 dates, that means that men have to write 83 unique  responses to a 83 different personal ads.

The ratios are ostensibly even at popular bars and clubs,  but men nearly always would like to meet women there, while many women go just to dance, hang out with their female friends, and be seen.  Additionally, the lights are dim and the noise is high, so it is difficult to accurately assess how they really look and talk at such places.

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