The Psychology of Online Dating: He Wants and She Is

In the first article in this series (The Psychologists Viewpoint) I outlined the different types of research using personal advertisements, generally printed advertisements published on the ‘lonely hearts’ pages of newspapers and magazines.

You will recall that over the last few years psychologists have collected and analysed thousands of these personal descriptions, and have found patterns and sex differences in what people want from a partner, how people advertise themselves to a prospective partner, and how well they pick up on the sort of things the other sex is looking for. This article looks at this from the perspective of male desires and female self-descriptions; looking at what men have actually said they are looking for in a partner, and how good women are at saying the right things to attract a man. Although this is about male wants it is probably of more use to women, particularly when you are considering the sort of thing to say in the ‘in your own words’ box of your online dating profile.

Firstly we will discuss the features that men particularly seek when describing their ideal partner and how women use their knowledge of this when describing themselves. Secondly we will consider how good women are at this – are there some things that women could say that would make a big difference? Finally we will consider how women can best use this information to hook the interest and get a proper look from men who are browsing through pages and pages of online profiles.

Before you read any further, pause for a moment and ask yourself what men are typically looking for in a female partner. Think of maybe four things and note them down … now read on.

What does the research say?

One of the strongest results to emerge from examining personal advertisements is the sex difference in the importance of attractiveness. Apart from age and sex, attractiveness (beauty, good looks etc.) is the most frequently described characteristic in personal advertisements written by both men and women but a whole range of studies have found that women are much more likely to describe themselves as attractive or using similar terms (handsome, beautiful, good looking etc.) than men are, and men are far more likely to say they are looking for someone who is attractive than women are.

This suggests that not only are men more interested in a partner’s physical attractiveness than women but that women already know and use this information. This is also backed up when you look at other physical descriptions such as hair and eye colour. Women are far more likely to mention their own hair and eye colour than men and men are far more likely to say they are looking for a ‘brown eyed brunette’ (or whatever) than women are. The other physical attribute that stands out is build or weight, often expressed as dress size. Granted there is no simple male equivalent to a woman describing herself as a ‘size 10’ (pretty slim in UK dress sizes) but there are plenty of other words (trim, slender, muscular) that could be used. Even so, men are more likely to describe the size/weight range of the person they are looking for than women, and women are more likely to describe their own size, build or weight than men.

Another important factor that emerges from the research is age. Age is almost always mentioned in advertisements written by both men and women. Usually both the age of the writer and the age range of their preferred partner are specified. There is little difference in whether or not age is mentioned so it looks like it is similarly important to both sexes. However there is a difference when you start looking at the actual numbers. In general, women are looking for someone of similar age to themselves or someone who is older by a few years. It is rare to come across a woman who states she is looking for someone younger. Men are usually looking for someone of a similar age or younger, in some cases considerably younger. This suggests youth is something that is valued by men, and perhaps this ties in with ideas about what is attractive.

Apart from stating their physiological age in years, many women who are (perhaps) re-entering the dating scene a little later in life give a more subjective evaluation of their age, usually saying something that implies youth such as young at heart, youthful, or looks younger. Older men also do this but it is much more common in women’s self-descriptions and women begin to use claims of youthfulness at earlier ages than men.

Overall, then, looking at personal advertisements the biggest difference between men and women is over description of physical characteristics including attractiveness and body size or shape, and specific physical features that may be considered attractive such as eye colour and hair colour. Age ties in with this if we assume a link between youth and attractiveness. Men tend to want younger, sometimes much younger partners while women, particularly older women, tend to describe themselves as being youthful in outlook or directly tie this in with looks by claiming to be young looking for their age.

On a wider level, a number of researchers have remarked that when women describe themselves they tend to emphasise their male-valued, physical traits rather than the traits that they, as women, place value on. It would be easy to argue that women do this because they hold stereotypical, even prejudiced views of men but the strong evidence of a match between how women describe themselves and what men actually say they want indicates women have got it about right. It appears that when women write an advertisement or dating profile, they often do a good job of writing for a male audience and seem to have a pretty clear idea of how best to promote themselves and attract male attention.

How can we use this?

Most of this is unsurprising and you may be thinking that you already knew this. However you now know for sure that this is not just prejudice but is backed up by scientific research. More importantly, this is knowledge you can use to improve your own profile.

Although there is little you can do to change your age, attractiveness and physical features, there is plenty of scope to decide what you emphasise and the kind of language you use. I am not suggesting that you lie, particularly since the whole idea is that you will eventually meet up and overt lying about physical features would do you no good at all. Without lying it is perfectly possible to focus on your best features and try to use the kind of keywords that men are likely to pick up on.

With online dating profiles, photographs are generally a prerequisite to getting responses and given the sex differences in the importance of attractiveness, it’s probably fair to say a good quality photo showing you in your best light is particularly important for women.

Apart from this there are the ‘in your own words’ sections of your profile. If you or others consider you attractive then mention this, don’t worry about the fact that it is already in the form-like section of your profile. If you are slim then mention this. If you are not comfortable with claiming either of these then mention your most attractive features such as your beautiful eyes, lovely auburn hair, attractive personality and/or young outlook. Notice the language I am using: it may seem trivial but adjectives like attractive, beautiful, lovely and young will catch the attention of the men who (on average) are more interested in this sort of thing than women. Men are predisposed towards spotting this kind of thing and even those who claim to be more interested in personality than looks will notice these words. If you feel you can refer to yourself as young and stunningly beautiful with a great figure then do so. If you don’t feel that confident then use more moderate language or qualify these statements (young at heart, considered beautiful by some, attractive figure) and refer to specific features like your hair and eyes. Using key words such as these and mentioning your physical features makes it more likely you will grab his attention and your profile will get more than a brief scan and then move on.

To wrap things up, this article has outlined the results of psychological research into what men say they want in a partner and how women describe themselves. This information has then been used to provide insight into the sort of language that might help a woman’s personal description catch a man’s eye.

The next article in this series, She wants and he is, turns the tables and considers what women say they want from men, how men describe themselves, and how good (or bad) men are at picking up on what women are actually looking for in a partner.

Online Dating – Potential Dangers and Disasters

You’ve just clicked the last box in the long list of procedures to join XYZ online dating service, confident that everything you put in your profile was exactly as you wanted. You double checked, didn’t you?

Oops, you accidentally left in some key information that will make you readily identifiable to all your friends, family and co-workers. Now everybody will know about your absolute sheer desperation to find a partner.

Or worse! You put on your profile a photograph of yourself, half-plastered with alcohol at the last Christmas party, lipstick smeared across your cheeks (I haven’t mentioned any gender here, so whatever pictures you have in your mind are entirely your input).

So, you see. This is a potential minefield…and we haven’t even been out on our first date yet, have we?

But don’t despair or feel that the cat is out of the bag. You can always go back to the profile and change the details/remove the photos/delete your entire account if you are scared enough.

But let’s be serious here for a moment. In the following paragraphs I’m going to go through the three most apparent “dangers” of Internet dating.

The Stalker

Yes, ladies and gentlemen. I will put this horrible creature at the top of the list. We have all heard the horrifying stories that have often ended in tragedy. Even murder. Quite often these terrible events have come after encounters on the more “adult-oriented” sites. Perhaps a threesome has become a deadly game filled with jealousy and hatred, after what seemed to be such a cool idea at the time.

Even on a more mundane level, there are nutters out there who have harassed poor women (and men) to the point of psychological breakdown. Yep, it happens.

But, there are ways to avoid this. These guidelines, by no means a definitive list, are especially relevant for women and may help you in a tricky situation.

  1. Never put direct contact details in a profile. Most dating sites will not allow this anyway, as long as their screening procedures are up to standard.
  2. Make sure your first meetings are in well-patronized areas, like a food-court in a shopping mall, or some other busy place. That way, if the man/woman turns out to be less than what you hoped for, you can blend into the crowd before slipping away.
  3. If you feel nervous, take along someone you know and trust well and have them observe you from a distance. You won’t believe how much more confident this makes some women feel.
  4. Don’t give your phone number to your new online friend until you feel it is safe to do so. When is this? Certainly not after date number one.
  5. This may sound drastic, but keep some form of protection (in addition to condoms!) in your handbag (mace, capsicum spray, a very loud alarm device) in case you find yourself alone and in an intimidating environment. In the same vein, go and get some self-defense lessons – it will keep you fit and desirable as well as give you valuable knowledge about groin attacks and the like!

The Don Juan Crook

These are men, nine times out of ten, and there are more and more stories of these guys emerging every day.

This is where a super-charmer convinces their new date/partner that they are world-famous, super successful and know all the celebrities. For some reason or other, all their funds are tied up in something, and they cannot get their hands on ready cash for day-to-day living, or for some other “sure-fire” investment.

Before you know it. Mr or Mrs Gullible Internet Dater have handed over their bank account details, credit cards, or even packed the rolls of cash into the suitcase before driving Don Juan to the airport and kissing him good-bye as he boards the plane for Rio!

How do you avoid these crooks? It can be difficult for lonely folks, especially widows and widowers (beware the female black spider!), so the best advice here is to enlist a friend or two to give you an absolutely candid appraisal of your new-found Prince/Princess Charming.

The Dishonest Dating Site with Fake Members

This problem had a bit of press in Australia recently. I won’t name the actual site, but the owners were punished by the courts and made to apologize to their members.

Sadly, it can be hard to spot the fake profiles, sometimes answering you via sophisticated software programs, or even by real people paid to pretend they are someone else (backpackers in Australia, for instance).

If you aren’t careful, these pseudo-daters can waste a lot of your valuable time and money.

The best way to avoid being scammed in this way is to ask specific questions that only a real person would know the answers to. For example, ask about current events in your local area. If they can’t or won’t answer, you might be dealing with a robot!

However, in my opinion, Internet dating is a great option in today’s fast-paced world. People are time poor, and lack the freedom to socialize they way it used to be in the “good old days’.

Online daters just need to be alert to the potential dangers, and take the appropriate steps to minimize the damage.

Happy dating!

Your Online Dating Software Must Be Top Notch and Serve the Purpose Intended Well

Online dating business has become one of the most profitable business on the Internet. There are many factors responsible for this success; one of them is online dating software. To have a dynamic business, your online dating software must be top notch and serve the purpose intended well. There are so many kinds of online dating software. On the Internet, you will come across software developers selling their software. This is a good place to start looking, when you wish to start an online dating business. It is vital for you to look at the various features of the software. It will also be helpful to know what you have to gain when you purchase the software. I came across a software that sounded just right for your business. It is called the Hypertext Pre-Processor online dating software which comes with superior qualities that will role your business into action. It is a powerful match making software that will enable you create a dating web site within a few minutes. Because of its online installer, you can create a professional site. It is also possible to customize it using its integrated configuration manager. It comes with a web based graphical reporting system. It also comes with an administration control panel. This way, you will be in a position to view and analyze your business from any location in the world. This will enhance your strategic planning for the business.

On their site, you can view a short demonstration of how the online dating software works. You can also view all the features to ensure you understand what you will be getting from Hypertext Pre-Processor software for online dating. The Hypertext Pre-Processor software requires a one time payment. This way, the money you make from your web site is all yours. Also, when you acquire it, you will get a lifetime of free upgrades of the site. Their support team is only too glad to upgrade and maintain your site. The software is designed in a way that you are able to customize your site for every customer. This will make your site very unique. They have a provision for online advertising using email campaigns and others. The site promotion service will be very vital for your business. They provide it at very affordable prices. The following are some of the generic features for Hypertext Pre-Processor software solution. It comes with a template based design. This means that it can be modified easily by changing the design of the template. It comes with a multi language support. This will ensure that the world is brought together as languages are interpreted. The other features include customization email template, on fly new creation, ad banner management and many others.

The installation of the software is free. This software is bound to transform your new or old business. Do a similar analysis with other kinds of software and decide which deal sounds the best. Consider the price and go for the deal that is fair. They are very affordable and you will have no problem finding the most suitable software.