Online dating has always turned me off, but I didn’t know whether it was an ignorant bias or one grounded in fact. After recently concluding a ten-week study, I now have my answer. I also have data showing a disturbing double standard.
Before learning the truth, I first had to set up my profile on one of the free dating web sites. In a spirit of open-minded curiosity I tried to answer all the match questions honestly. I was even starting to have fun with them. That is, until my daughter asked, “Mom, you know those never end, don’t you?”
No, I didn’t know that. By the time I did, I had answered 259 of them. I decided that was plenty, so I proceeded with the next phase – setting my search parameters.
I didn’t filter based on appearance, personality or ethnicity, since those have nothing to do with a person’s character. However, I did narrow the search to single men within 5 years of my age who don’t smoke or use drugs. Once that was all set, I took a deep breath and hit the SEARCH button.
At first, it was entertaining reading what the men had written about themselves. Some were more eloquent than others, some were classier, and a few told blatant lies just to be hilariously sarcastic. However, amidst all of that, the disturbing truth of a double standard began to emerge.
It was so disturbing, in fact, that I decided to turn the whole thing into a scientific investigation. I wanted to know how prevalent the double standards were. Was it just the men in my neck of the woods or was it all men everywhere?
To simplify the math, I gathered data from the top 100 matches within 250 miles of my location. Although 71% of the matches lived in my home state of Oregon, men from Washington, California and Nevada were also included. In addition. a wide range of religious beliefs were represented in this sample. Among those specified were Agnostic, Atheist, Buddhist, Christian, Catholic and Jewish.
In order to eliminate any subjective bias, I loaded all the data into an Excel spreadsheet and used formulas to calculate the results. Of course, I wasn’t surprised when my suspicions were confirmed. What did surprise me, however, was just how rampant the double standards were.
Out of this pool of available men, 97% of them were not willing to date a woman who was just as many years older than them as they were younger. As an example, my top match was a 57 year old man looking for a woman age 46 – 55. What makes this a double standard is that this gentleman was expecting a woman to do something that he wasn’t willing to do himself. Namely, date someone older than themselves.
Take a closer look at the data if you dare:
73% of the men will date a woman 15+ years younger, but only 1% will date a woman 15+ years older.
85% of the men will date a woman 10 years younger, but only 9% will date a woman 10 years older.
98% of the men will date a woman 5 years younger, but only 34% will date a woman 5 years older.
The question these statistics raise for me is this… are these men single because of their double standards, or do these men reflect a wider cultural norm? Either way, I have satisfied my curiosity regarding online dating. What may have started out as an ignorant bias is now a very informed bias, and one that compels me to delete my profile immediately.
But first, to the fella who asked, “Wi u date me?”
I’d like to say… “Sorry, boy. Girls have standards, too!”
Happy Valentine’s Day!