A woman walks into a bar…and doesn’t meet the love of her life. Internet dating hasn’t just changed the landscape of our meet-cutes, but what we expect from our partners. New research from the Oxford Internet Institute (OII) shows that in the last decade e-dating has changed not only how but who people date.
Income, religion, health and education might once have been the hill a relationship would die on, but in the 10 years since OII started tracking eharmony’s users things have moved on. The study followed 150,000 profiles to see if old cliche’s about gender and identity had any weight in modern dating culture. We might like to think that the digital world has opened doors to meeting people outside of our comfort zone but OII found that in many cases traditional habits die hard.
Before, women would be more selective about partners - excluding people based on age or social strata, for instance. Physical appearance, though still important to men, has become less of a make or break for women too. The report said it, ‘falls in line with existing feminist and evolutionary theories of mate selection that argue men care more about physical appearance’.
Harking back to old tactics, men are more open to striking up a conversation (up from six to 29 per cent since OII started tracking), while women are becoming less likely. Though 30 per cent still think income is important, this isn’t the case for majority possibly because of a drive for pay parity across genders.
‘Factors including levels of income and religious orientation are all now less important in the overall search for a partner’, Taha Yasseri, professor of Computational Social Science at the OII, told news. ‘However, this increased openness hasn’t yet scaled up on a societal level, with marked gender inequalities, physical attractiveness and male-led communication still apparent’.
With the lessening of standards, a certain confidence has swept the dating landscape. A study by the University of Michigan and the Santa Fe Institute showed heterosexual users of a popular dating site were more likely to direct message someone 25 per cent more attractive than themselves. The study judged each would-be daters desirability based on how many messages they received. Sadly, the same study showed that attractiveness stagnated or steadily dropped off for women over 18, while men peaked at desirability at around 50-years-old.
As if you needed it, this is just proof that our innocent swiping right will have a fundamental impact on the future longterm matches we make.