Dan ariely on online dating
hen you think about it, the dating market is just like any other market, really: You're "shopping" for a great mate. It requires an "investment" of time and cash, but the "payoff" — love, maybe even a long-term commitment — is priceless.So, it makes sense that economists have analyzed how we meet and match up romantically, and they've come to some surprising (and often counterintuitive) conclusions.
, has studied online daters and found that the traditional method of honing in on people you think you'll like — by height, hair color, salary, hobbies and so on — rarely leads to love.This approach, says Ariely, treats potential dates as "searchable goods," as though they were digital cameras that can be sized up by relatively comparable attributes, like megapixels and memory size.But in reality, if romantic partners could be considered to be "products," they'd be closer to what economists call "experience goods," such as wine, perfume, and art.With wine, for example, "You can read a description — white, red, heavy-bodied — but all the nuances you're not going to get from the description," Ariely explains. The same thing is true for people." The upshot of this information is that when you're surfing profiles online, "don't narrow your search too much," says Ariely.Loosen up on your target age range, or your educational or political preferences.Then, once you meet someone in person, avoid grilling your dates ("So, where did you go to college?
") and just try to "experience" them by poking around a flea market or trying a new ethnic food joint together instead.
That way, you can get a feel for how your date reacts to the world and whether you're truly compatible — which is far more effective than finding someone who's blonde, over six feet tall, earns six figures, or has other qualities found on your ideal-mate checklist.
Ariely has also found that, on average, online daters spend 5.2 hours per week searching profiles and 6.7 hour per week emailing other members — which comes to a total of 12 hours a week screening potential candidates.
Yet they only spent 1.8 hours a week actually meeting people, and Ariely feels this investment of time is all wrong: "Eighty percent of their time needs to be spend people, and 20 percent searching," he emphasizes.
Since face time is the true make-or-break moment with someone, you will save yourself tons of wasted effort by proposing a coffee date sooner rather than later.
This also keeps you from "building up" someone in your mind into a person that he or she isn't, which only sets you up for disappointment later.