Denise had a problem.
She’d been doing fairly well on Match.com. She hadn’t met anyone she really liked yet, but she’d gone out on a few decent dates. Mostly with guys in their 40s, which she didn’t mind, as she was about to turn 40 herself.
The day after her birthday, she logged into Match.com to check her messages. A 55-year-old guy had messaged her. And one who looked his age to boot.
He wasn’t the first. She started getting messages from guys in their 50s and sometimes even guys in their 60s. She only heard from a guy her own age if she messaged him first.
You know what happened. It was the algorithm.
When you set up your profile in an online dating site, you tell the site what kind of match you’re looking for. Straightaway, you’re asked what age range would be acceptable to you.
After turning 40, Denise was in a whole different bracket. She was no longer showing up as a match for men who wanted to date women in their 20s and 30s.
Christian Rudder is the co-founder of OkCupid and author of the book Dataclysm. After processing huge amounts of data from the online dating site, he found that age bias is real. Men, no matter their age, prefer women in their early twenties. Women, on the other hand, prefer men their own age.
Rudder explains: “A man, as he gets older, searches for relatively younger and younger women. Meanwhile his upper acceptable limit hovers only a token amount above his own age.”
That’s the bad news. But there’s good news:
Offline, that distinction almost disappears.
Sixty percent of married couples are either the same age or within a few years of each other’s age.
Only a small minority of men are much, much older than their wives.
So, while online dating algorithms encourage age bias, in the REAL world couples are falling in love with their peers.
Men may like the look of twenty-year-olds, but they’re mostly marrying women their own age or just a few years younger.
That piece of news helped Denise feel better, but it didn’t change the fact that Match.com was now pairing her up with fifty-year-olds. She wanted to date a guy her own age.
Here’s what I recommended to her:Continue reading