A woman learns about dating by posing as a man


I frequently write about big data analytics. While that seems to be far afield from the topics I cover here, they do sometimes intersect, as in discussions of John Gottman's analytics of relationships and dating data. While some people claim good experiences with online dating, others found it a waste of time at best and an invitation to miserable encounters at worst.
One woman got so tired of hitting her head against the wall in attempting to find someone through JDate, that she decided to find out what really is going on in those algorithms that claim to match people up harmoniously. To do that, she went undercover as a man -- actually as ten men.
In Hacking the Hyperlinked Heart, Amy Webb recounts both her own history with online dating as a woman and what she learned when she set up ten different male profiles and interacted with 96 women in the guise of a man online:
While JDate doesn't publicly release its algorithms, at the time of my experiment I observed that the more popular profiles come up higher in search results, allowing one to get a quick-and-dirty ranking of who's hot (or not). I quickly realized that the popular women seemed to know something I didn't; they were clearly attracting the sort of smart, attractive professionals who had been ignoring my profile. Being hypercompetitive, I wasn't about to let some bubblegum-popping blonde steal the neurotic Jewish doctor of my mother's dreams.
What did I discover? Popular profiles used aspirational language (like "I want to travel" or "a big ambition of mine is…"), kept descriptions short and generic and lied about various physical characteristics (though not the ones you think). Their style was easygoing, youthful and spontaneous. I'd never once referred to myself in writing as "fun" or as a "girl." But it was easy to see that I had been far too stuffy and professional in my presenting myself (I'd gotten lazy and cribbed from my résumé)
.So much for the what not to do. What should you do then?
  • KISS: keep it short and sweet. She suggests no more than 500 words. Describe enough to pique interest, but don't ramble on.
  • Show only up to a point. She finds 3 photos in the gallery suffices. Five or more is overkill.
  • Interests and activities are fine, but avoid ones that are not self-explanatory or that can backfire. She illustrates with her own experience: "'I have a black belt in aikido.' (I actually do, and I put it on my profile at one point, which prompted some men to challenge me to a fight on the first date, which was as horrible and awkward as it sounds.)"
  • Humor can come off the wrong way; better to sound straight than sarcastic.
  • For faster responses, use Instant Messaging rather than email.
And here we come to two pieces of advice that I would never tell you myself. So take it from Amy, if you like, and not from me:
Women: Don't mention work, especially if your job is difficult to explain. You may have the most amazing career on the planet, but it can inadvertently intimidate someone looking at your profile. I realize this sounds horribly regressive, but during my experiment I found that women were attracted to men with high-profile careers, while the majority of men were turned off by powerful women.
• Women with curly hair are at a distinct disadvantage online. I have no idea whether men prefer blondes, but I can say definitively that most men prefer women with healthy, long, straight hair. If you have curls and feel comfortable (and look good) straightening your hair, give that a try.
Well, at least she didn't advise cosmetic surgery. I don't agree that curls are inherently less attractive than straight hair, though they are considered more markedly Jewish. (seehttp://www.jweekly.com/article/full/8293/on-jewish-hair-how-i-won-the-battle-but-lost-the-war/ and my discussion of the "straightening syndrome"  BTW the curls that illustrate http://www.examiner.com/review/got-curls-get-this-book are my daughter's; she gets compliments on her hair all the time.)
Back to Amy's story: she integrated all that she learned about popularity in online dating to create her own (woman's) "super profile." She found 60 fish on this hook, and went with the one she ended up marrying. Oh, and she wrote a whole book on this called "Data, A Love Story: How I Gamed Online Dating to Meet My Match," to be published Jan. 31 by Dutton..


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