online datingJanuary 2nd is apparently the busiest day of the year for online dating, since everyone is heading back to work resolved to procrastinate at their jobs and save themselves from their crippling loneliness. If you want to put your best foot forward and up your chances for the most potential partner interest, you will probably be completely unsurprised that it’s mostly in the profile picture, and a bit to do with how you sell yourself (hide yourself). Oddly enough, it’s not all about conventional beauty this time around, but some bizarre and seemingly pointless factors that will up your desirability. conducted a study of 4,000 people who use online dating, and figured out the key to getting those messages. Let’s break it down:

  • You’ll get a 203% bump in your incoming messages average if your photo has a full body shot, regardless of your gender
  • Women get 60% more messages if their profile pictures were taken indoors
  • Men get 19% more messages if their profile pictures were taken outdoors
  • Selfies get women 4% more messages, and lower men’s incoming average by 8%
  • Man or woman, posing with animals lowers your average by 53% and posing with your friends lowers your average by 42%

I’m particularly interested in this selfie business–it exposes an interesting double standard about 2013’s most talked about photo trend. According to The Daily Mail, “[w]hen a woman takes a selfie it’s fine because it’s considered the norm for them to do that – and get away with it,” but men are considered “narcissistic or vain” for doing the same thing. It’s always fascinating and upsetting to see the other side of how beauty standards affect the genders differently, and how so much devaluing of men lies in any perceived weakness or vanity.

While these profile picture tips seem somewhat arbitrary, the advice for wording your profile is a little unsettling, if not unsurprising.

Here’s an actual quotation from the article:

 The new research by dating site Zoosk comes to the conclusion that while honesty really is the best policy for men, it’s not such a good idea for women to talk about exes and children. They should wait to divulge details later.

To break it down, math-wise:

  • “Divorce” and “separate” up men’s incoming messages by 52%, and mention of their children get a 7% bump
  • Women’s incoming messages reduce by 7% for mentioning the same words

You hear that, ladies? Make sure you hide the fact that you’re damaged goods, but make sure men know how sympathetic and even desirable they are for the same thing.

Both genders should give the illusion of being cultured fitness freaks if they want to get noticed. You should go ahead and mention exercise, reading, and music, since you’ll appear “well rounded.” This is preferable over, say, only mentioning going out drinking with your friends, which to me sounds like a really great time.

And finally, women who are more bold in their responses (bold in this case counts as mentioning a potential date idea, not sending nudie pics, although I bet that wouldn’t hurt) get 73% more replies, but apparently men doing the same thing are perceived as coming on too strong.

Obviously online dating has become a major part of our social culture and a huge presence in modern romance. Studies like this don’t show much about online dating per se, but dating and desirability standards in general. It’s unnerving to see just how both sexes either benefit or are disadvantaged by various social constructs, and regardless of gender, double standards are firmly in place.

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