I’m fascinated by how men and women interact with each other over online dating chat.
I love hearing anecdotes from guys and girls about what supposedly works and what doesn’t. I’ve even written an article or two (how not do text, how to move from online to offline) with examples of how I typically work it.
Being a data driven kinda guy, I got very excited when I stumbled across a Reddit Thread where a woman described using a Python script to download all her OKCupid conversations, Word Cloud them, and analyse commonly used phrases.
I decided to do the same for my own OKCupid account.
Here’s what you need to know for context.
- I created my OKCupid account around the 8th January 2016.
- I have updated my profile 3 times (changing the text entirely) between then and now (1st December 2016).
- I have deleted some messages over the course of the year because my sent items became full.
- All my opening messages contained more than a simple ‘Hi’, ‘Hey’ or derivative. They were all at least a sentence long. And no dick pics.
- For a period of several weeks I sent out template messages to multiple women, because creating individually crafted ones took too long. I later noticed it had a spelling mistake in it.
My OKCupid profile was possibly too tongue-in-cheek and sarcastic for the majority to handle. I went a bit far out to help my profile stand out (it did, a large number of opening messages I got were from women who said it was very different or made them laugh).
I also attempted to display more Lover than Provider characteristics to demonstrate I was (at the time) looking for a more casual type of relationship which could grow into something more substantial if there was a connection. This style of writing may have put off those women wanting something more serious.
- Total conversations: 464
- Conversations started by me: 390
- Conversations started by others: 74
- Single message conversations started by me: 331
- Single message conversations started by others: 32
- Single message conversations: 363
- Multi message conversations: 101
- Longest conversation: 71 messages
*a conversation counts as one or more messages sent or received between myself and one other user. A conversation may just be a message that was never replied to, or a an exchange of multiple messages.
Conversation length frequency
Of 464 conversations had, 101 were two or more messages. And of those, 47% were 2-4 messages long.
Conversation length frequency (excluding single message conversations)
Conversations which did last longer than one message were typically around 2-8 messages long. 5 conversations were 30 messages or over.
This is the number of days between the first and last conversation in a thread. A zero indicates all messaging was done on the same day, 1 indicates there was a day between first and last message, etc.
Again, the chart is skewed towards zero due to the high number of conversations of message length one.
Conversation Days (excluding zero)
Here I’ve removed all conversations which took place on a single day.
A few of my conversations lasted into the tens of days. Generally, this is not an approach I advocate. I recommend you try and set up a date, within a couple of days. The conversations which lasted 16 days or over were typically due to:
- Having difficulty arranging a date to meet (e.g. holidays getting in the way, person abroad, both busy).
- Re-sending an opening message by mistake to someone I had already messages earlier in the year.
Message volume by day
Although my average was 5.5 messages sent per day, I went through periods of high and low activity. One day in May I sent almost 50 messages. Other days I didn’t send any. (Click for larger image).
Frequently used words
Take this one with a pinch of salt. The number of words was too large for the online word cloud generator I used, and as a result not all the words may have been analysed. There was no option to remove stop words or to analyse by phrase.
Still, it’s pretty to look at.
My observations and thoughts
Looking through the data was enlightening.The challenge dating online for women is quality, whilst for men it's getting noticed. Click To Tweet
- Yikes. I can’t believe I’ve sent almost 800 messages and interacted with 465 women this year. Online dating sure does let you rack up the numbers.
- 84% of conversations were started by me.
- I received 74 opening messages in the 11 months (approximately one every 4.5 days), and, how do I put this, they weren’t from the most attractive women. I have heard of some women getting that many in a single day. The dynamics of online dating are such that women are typically flooded with messages (often causing them to close their accounts) and get to pick the best of the bunch, and even the best looking guys typically receive less opening messages than average looking women. The challenge for women online dating is quality selection, the challenge for men is being noticed.
- 10% of opening messages I sent were responded to (meaning approximately 9 in 10 of my opening messages were not answered). For comparison, I responded to 43% of opening messages I received.
- The Sends to date ratio is the most depressing. To get one date I have to send 78 messages! Bear in mind these stats don’t include any messaging outside the app (most of my dates were arranged over Whatsapp). My average message sends within the app from first interaction to date is around 10-15.
- Another key metric might be Interactions to Dates (the number of people I have to interact with before landing a date), which in my case was 47. Think carefully about that. I had to engage with 47 people in order to get a single date. If I spoken to 47 women at a party and asked them all on a date, I suspect I would have better odds.
- In the first few months of online dating I resorted to using templated messages. It required simply too much time to send a unique, hand crafted message to each woman I was interested in. Some of the templates had spelling mistakes in them, which would have lowered my response rate. Would my Sends to date ratio have increased if I didn’t use messages templates? Who knows. Perhaps a bit. But even even if it rose ten fold to 10%, it would still require significant work to get a date.
- I probably could have got another 5 dates if I really pushed things to the max. I wasn’t chasing women all that hard when they didn’t respond to my messages or let the conversation drop. I was typically in a conversation with at least a couple of women, either on OKCupid or the other dating apps I was using, so if one didn’t respond I didn’t feel upset.
What you need to know as a guy
As a man attempting online dating, you should be aware of the following:
- Most of your opening messages will not be responded to (think 90%).
- Women are inundated with messages. Yours must stand out from the crowd.
- If you do use a template message, get the spelling right! It took me weeks to notice a mistake.
- You will get dates, but you need to put the hours in (so make your first date count).
I consider myself to be an average looking guy, with the ability to send a grammatically correct opening message consisting of at least on sentence. My profile pictures aren’t bad, my text could possibly do with a bit of work, but still, I’d like to think I’ve spent more thought on it than the majority of men.
And yet the stats clearly show the reward for the countless hours put into this endeavor were less than satisfactory. A mere 10 dates.
True, some of these dates resulted in mini casual relationships, but I did not find anyone for a deeper and more meaningful relationship.
So am I going to continue on with online dating?
The answer is yes, but much less so in 2017. If I do, I will only pursue people who I am strongly attracted to, rather than settling for those who may not be ideal for me, but I am willing to go on a date with because I get a response from them.
In order words, I will become more selective (read picky). This may reduce my date count even further, but at least I’ll be going on dates with women I really want to meet. And hopefully my send to date ratio will INCREASE, because I put more effort into the messages I do send, and not using any more mass messages.
In the end, building a larger social circle where women naturally come in and out of my life is likely to be a better option. Whilst initially it requires some effort to get going, unlike online dating which can yield results in a few weeks, the long-term pay off is better, and ultimately hanging out with friends AND meeting women at the same time is more rewarding than sitting in front of a screen mindlessly clicking.