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The science behind why your online dating advances are being rejected

The i logo The i 11/09/2018 Rhiannon Williams

a person standing in front of a laptop © Provided by Johnston Publishing Ltd Online daters tend to send messages to people more attractive than themselves in an effort to snag a more desirable partner, an in-depth study has found.
Researchers from the University of Michigan and the Santa Fe Institute found the majority of hetrosexual users of a popular dating site sent messages to would-be matches who were on average 25 per cent more attractive than they were.

A user's desirability was determined by an algorithm which analysed how many messages users in four American cities received from fellow desirable users.

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The more messages you receive, the more attractive you are

While most people using the unnamed website during January 2014 based in New York, Boston, Chicago and Seattle received "a handful of messages," a small fraction received far more than average.

Related: Couples Get Comfortable with Each Other This Long into a Relationship (Provided by Buzz60)

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The study's most popular participant, a 30 year-old woman in New York, received 1,504 messages between 1 and 31 January, the equivalent of a message every 30 seconds for the entire month.

"If you are contacted by people who are themselves desirable, then you are presumptively more desirable yourself," the report's authors wrote.

"Messaging potential partners who are more desirable than oneself is not just an occasional act of wishful thinking; it is the norm."

Women's desirability falls off a cliff after age 18, men's grows

a hand holding a cellphone © Provided by Johnston Publishing Ltd Women's desirability typically fell from the age of 18 and continued to decline until 60, while men's desirability peaked round 50 before dropping off, the study found.

The majority of both men and women sent messages to potential mates who ranked as more attractive than themselves. Very few messaged would-be partners who were significantly less desirable.

"I think a common complaint when people use online dating websites is they feel like they never get any replies. This can be dispiriting," said Elizabeth Bruch, sociologist and lead author of the study.

"But even though the response rate is low, our analysis shows that 21 percent of people who engage in this aspirational behaviour do get replies from a mate who is out of their league, so perseverance pays off."

Related: Online dating could be affecting your health—here’s why (Provided by Espresso)

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