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Is Love Blind? Online Dating and the Deceptive Art of Attraction

Is Love Blind? Online Dating and the Deceptive Art of Attraction

Recently, I came across an article about how a top online dating site was hiding its less attractive members from its good-looking ones through complex algorithms and codes. At first, I was shocked to think that some potential daters could be getting the short end of the stick. Or were they? Do users even care that they wouldn’t be able to access all the members of a dating site? Is there a difference of opinion between a site’s self-described (S-D) attractive users vs. its less attractive ones?

With these research questions in mind, I used SurveyMonkey Audience to survey about 300 current online daters. I predicted that the S-D (more attractive) users would, on average, not care if they were seeing a more selective offering of profiles, while the so-called less attractive users would take offense.

But what makes up an online dating site’s bread and butter? Do the majority of users prefer to be seen by everyone or is a more selective process preferable? Considering that many online dating sites are a paid service, I predicted that most users would definitely want to see the entire pool of eligible suitors.

So what’s the verdict?

Here’s what I found:

  • Interestingly enough, 16% of online daters surveyed described themselves as less attractive than the average Joe and 33% cared a great deal if their online dating site hid less attractive users from them.
  • As expected, of the 29% of online daters that described themselves as more attractive than average, a large percentage (36%) indicated they would not care if less attractive users were hidden from them in their searches.

So, do these self-identified attractive people use online dating differently than the average Joe? How long do they typically date and how many people do they find attractive?

  • 37% of the S-D hotties have been in a relationship for one year or more with someone they met online compared to 33% of S-D less attractive people who say the longest relationship they’ve been in was on the shorter end: 1 to 6 months.
  • 60% of the S-D hotties find only 1 to 2 out of every 10 people attractive on the dating site they use the most while 47% of S-D less attractive people find 3 to 5 out of every 10 attractive.
  • Those S-D hotties typically initiated a conversation (through a message or online “wink” for example) 41% of the time while their S-D less attractive counterparts did 49% of the time. There was a bigger difference among gender however: 50% of S-D “hot” men reach out to initiate a conversation all or most of the time while only 23% of S-D “hot” women do

How is the industry of online dating faring overall?

  • Most online daters have been a member of 2 to 3 dating sites: Plenty of Fish and OkCupid were the top sites in the survey.
  • OkCupid was most popular among S-D hotties while Plenty of Fish was most popular among S-D less attractive users.
  • 76% of all online daters have gone on an in-person date with someone they met online.













Using an open-ended question, I asked respondents why they chose a specific site to register with and used our text analysis feature to surface the most commonly occurring responses. The top three results were 1) Profiles 2) Matches, and 3) Meet(ing):












In sum, my research found that close to two times the number of online dating site users considered themselves more attractive than their potential online dating counterparts. Among them, the largest majority indicated they would not be offended if they were to find out that their online dating site was hiding less attractive users from them. In contrast, while they may be less in overall numbers, those that described themselves as less attractive than average would be greatly offended if they found out that their dating site was hiding less attractive users from them.

It seems possible that the dating site using this practice relied on the fact that the majority of its users would not mind that they were choosing their potential mates for them. Turns out, they were right!

But what about “love is blind” and rooting for the underdog? Although I can’t prove for sure whether or not any online dating sites are still using this practice, the hopeless romantic in me would like to think that everyone has a fair chance of potentially being picked in the online dating pool…or at least the choice of who gets to be in that pool!

Image courtesy of BigStock Photo 

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2 thoughts on “Is Love Blind? Online Dating and the Deceptive Art of Attraction

  1. I Love your articles guys keep it up.

    1. Kayte K says:

      Thank you! We appreciate it. :)

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