Dating sites look to unlock love’s lost links

If you look online for case studies into the behaviour of singles looking for love online, you will find a plethora of information on the subject. It would seem that everyone in the media, tabloid to social, is conducting their own Freudian research into what makes us tick when we approach someone on a dating site, how far we will go to betray our own true nature to get people to approach us and why, when the online world of matchmaking offers potential partners of so many varied cultures and backgrounds, as a species we tend to “stick to [our] own kind”.

The New York Times – in my humble opinion, having now written dozens of articles about online dating, based in hub central of the matchmaking world – has recently conducted a study on the studies conducted thus far. In a 1,600+ word piece, so concise it could be presented as a thesis on the subject of dating online, the NYT researchers have combined the results and produced an overview of the personalities and traits that categorise your typical online dating site member.

Some of the results are what you would expect in any walk of life when two people are hoping to attract each other – fibbing about their age, casually losing a few pounds when the situation merits or claiming to be a leading automotive distribution magnate when, in truth, they own a second-hand car dealership in Guildford.

the results were like opening Pandora’s box

Many of the other findings though, considering the enlightened age in which we are supposed to live, are nothing short of shocking. In the UK, we tend to wear our hearts on our sleeves when it comes to political bias – simply red, true blue, mellow yellow or going green. Across the pond, however, your alignment to your favoured member of congress can be as closely guarded a secret as the last time you went to the gynaecologist or had to take a trip to the clinic to be privately pubicly deloused.

Another trait that stood out like a banana in a bowl of cherries was how much people of race went for people with the same coloured skin. Whether there remains a deep-seated racist streak or a genuine fear of the unknown that people feel they are not allowed to show in public remains a mystery but what is fact is that, when dating site members choose their ‘match who [they] would most like to see results of’, a huge majority will only enter values for their own race.

Over the course of this week, we will drill down into each of the sectors highlighted in the study, what it means for UK dating (as much testing was carried out stateside) and, moreover, what the results mean for the average single, looking for love on line.