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You feel the room shrink, your heart rate quicken, your face go red: You’re crushing on this stranger, Wait a second, you counter: Do dating “leagues” even exist? But you’re not alone in trying to escape yours: “Three-quarters, or more, of people are dating aspirationally,” she says.
At this point, Elizabeth Bruch, a professor of sociology at the University of Michigan, crashes in to your thought process (and this news article). And according to a new study, users of online-dating sites spend most of their time trying to contact people “out of their league.”In fact, most online-dating users tend to message people more desirable than they are. She’s spent the past few years studying how people make decisions and pursue partners on online-dating sites, using exclusive data from the dating sites themselves.
The key, Bruch said, is that “persistence pays off.”“Reply rates [to the average message] are between zero percent and 10 percent,” she told me.
Her advice: People should note those extremely low reply rates and send out more greetings.
Michael Rosenfeld, a professor of sociology at Stanford University who was not connected to this study, agreed that persistence was a good strategy.
“The idea that persistence pays off makes sense to me, as the online-dating world has a wider choice set of potential mates to choose from,” he told me in an email.
The team had to analyze both first messages and first replies, because, well, men usually make the first move.
“A defining feature of heterosexual online dating is that, in the vast majority of cases, it is men who establish the first contact—more than 80 percent of first messages are from men in our data set,” the study says.
But I hadn’t expected to see their desirability drop off from the time they’re 18 to the time they’re 65,” Bruch told me.“But I was also surprised to see how flat men’s desirability was over the age distribution,” she said. Especially in New York.”- New York is a men’s market, at least according to this particular study.
They looked only at four metro areas—New York, Boston, Chicago, and Seattle—and only at messages from January 2014. Your specific desirability rank would have been generated by two figures: whether other desirable people contacted you, and whether other desirable people responded when you contacted them.