My Online Dating Profile Is the Worst (and This Study Proves It)

photo: Trunk ArchiveOnline dating is a complex and fickle game of cat and mouse. First comes wink, then comes message, then comes a bunch of back and forth, questions and answers, pros and cons, friends' opinions and then maybe a date. In order to crack the code of what makes a profile more clickable, dating sites have broken down everything from what kind of pictures get the most attention to what time of year is best to find a romantic partner, and now, which personal attributes and characteristics will garner someone the most initial messages, and thus, potential mates (ugh). Online dating site PlentyOfFish looked at data of 81,000 user profiles and 1.8 million messages among American heterosexuals ages 25 to 35 to discover the factors that make singles more or less likely to receive messages. Their results are, well, interesting. POF found that age, religion, alcohol intake, and body build influence whether or not men send messages to romantic prospects. So, in light of the study, let me count the many ways that I would be an undesirable candidate for a date, according to these latest findings, at least. Sigh. 

  • Women between the ages of 25 and 26, receive 14.4% more messages. I’m 24 so I’m just a few months shy of being a prime online dating candidate. I suspect two reasons why 25 and 26 are the most alluring. First, while those under the age of 25 are still focused on their careers, once you reach the age when you’re closer to 30 than 20, marriage and having babies become a greater priority. Therefore, men looking for a serious relationship can assume that these women are ready to walk down the aisle. Second, when older guys are looking for a younger gal, 24 might sound a little too young, while 25 or 26 seems more reasonable. (You know, like someone who is 25 could have a conversation about the crisis in the Middle East, while someone younger would only roll their eyes and change the subject to shopping). And 33, the age that receives the fewest number of messages, well they’re just spinsters, according to PlentyofFish — but things get better at ages 34 and 35, though it's not quite clear why.

  • Women who are Catholic receive 20 percent more messages. I had a bat mitzvah, so count that as another strike against me.  About a quarter of the population identifies themselves as Catholic, and we are still living during a time when many people choose their partners based on religion. Yes, my bubby would love if I settled down with a nice Jewish boy, but that doesn’t mean that I discriminate first dates based on faith.

  • Those who ‘Prefer Not to Say’ if they want children receive 21 percent fewer messages. At this point in life, procreation isn't at the top of my mind. Why does that make me less dateable? I mean, I haven’t even met these anonymous cyberspace people in real life yet and I’m expected to reveal my 10-year plan? That’s bananas. I also don’t want creepers and bots knowing such personal details — my future conception plans are none of their business. 

  • Women who don’t drink receive 24% fewer messages. I’m not saying that I don’t enjoy a casual glass of wine every once in a while, or pop champagne on special occasions, but alcohol and I don’t mix very well and I tend to stay away from the stupid juice. While saying you drink socially is still on the positive-percentage-point side of the spectrum, declining to say, which is how I probably would answer (again, maybe I’m just too cautious when it comes to revealing my personal info to ever become a pro at online dating) sends you into the negative vortex. Sorry, being judged based on my propensity to sling back a couple of margaritas seems absurd.

  • Women who describe themselves as ‘Thin’ receive 41% more messages than the average user. As if being judged based on age, religion, ovaries, and drinking habits wasn’t enough, how you self-describe your body is a factor in message yield as well. Well, no surprise there, actually. Thankfully, electing to declare that I have a thin frame makes up for all of the negative factors I have stacked against me. But what about the people that say “average,” or carrying “a few extra pounds”? First, bravo to you ladies for your honesty, and PlentyOfFish, shame on you for putting out these statistics that make us even more self-conscious. Well, there's always speed dating ...