Argh. As if we needed more proof that online dating and ageism go hand in hand. A new study published recently in the journal Science Advances found that online dating-site users spend most of their time trying to contact people out of their league—and women who are still in their teen years are considered most desirable. Eeewwww!
Researchers reviewed thousands of messages that were exchanged on a major free (unnamed) online-dating service between almost 200,000 straight men and women. The team found that men’s sexual desirability peaks at age 50, but for women, it’s at its highest level at age 18 and falls off from there.
“The steepness of the desirability curve by age for women definitely surprised me, as did the fact that it declined steadily between ages 18 and 65,” said Elizabeth Bruch, an associate professor of sociology at the University of Michigan and co-author of the report. “Other studies have shown that men prefer younger women, but our study laid out starkly the implications of these preferences for market position.”
Online Dating and Ageism: Men “Shoot Their Shot”
What this “desirability curve” boils down to, it seems, is that men who date online are reaching. Like, a lot. And they’re aware of it.
“My philosophy with dating apps is ‘shoot your shot,'” one man told the Huffington Post of his dating app tactics. “You never know what might happen, and I think I can make it work as long as we’ve matched.”
And while the aforementioned study found that online daters across the board tend to attempt to connect with people exactly 25 percent more desirable than they are, males might be skewing those numbers.
“Women are a bit less aspirational than men,” said Elizabeth Bruch—though we’re not sure we’d used the word “aspirational” in the context of trolling the Internet for teenagers.
Let’s hope that the dating apps that are just for people 50 plus begin to normalize this ridiculous situation.
– Janet Siroto