An oddly fascinating new study is sending ripples of terrified "WTFs?!" throughout the ENTIRE Internet dating community. (OK, not so much on the ripples of terror, but it IS making people -- like me, a longtime frustrated OKCupid-er -- mutter an annoyed "whaaa?" as we swear again, for the 416th time, to stay off that hellhole pickup joint for the rest of our ever-loving days.)
The study, commissioned by addiction and recovery website Recovery.org, found that women who say they cheat get the most messages on free hipster playground (AKA dating site) OKCupid.
Um ... ugh. To reach these unsavory conclusions, Recovery.org created 40 false profiles (20 for women, 20 for men) with pictures of real people. They were divided into varying groups based on what they were supposedly looking for out of a relationship (i.e. there was a "Brazen Cheats" group, a "Sincerely Single" group, a "Recently Taken" group, etc.).
Their locations were set to the five cities that supposedly contain the most unfaithful partners (nice touch there, guys). Oh, and in case you were wondering, all of you jerks in Oklahoma City, Austin, Houston, Miami and Washington, D.C. (my hometown!) are also RAGING HUSSIES.
Each faux profile featured the usual extraneous bullsh*t about hobbies and jobs and boring old personality traits, but the 10 female "Brazen Cheats" also incorporated careful hints at a willingness to, uh, stray. Here's an example from one of their profiles: "My profile lists me as single but I'm not going to lie to you, I AM in a relationship right now. I'm here because I want to meet someone new but I don't want my current partner to know about it."
After one week, the female "Brazen Cheats" got more messages (366) than any of the other groups. I told you -- WTF? An example of the types of messages the lady-cheats received? "You are the most striking woman I have laid eyes on in years. Let me know if I can fill any holes in your relationship for you."
AGHGHGHGHGGH and I run screaming away from the computer now.
The men's fake profiles received far fewer messages overall, but the 10 male "Brazen Cheats" still got more notes than any of the other categories (44 as opposed to 18 in “The Recently Taken,” 5 in “The Sincerely Singles” and 6 in “The Married Maybes”). BUT of the 44 messages the male Cheats received, more than 80 percent "were insults or inquiries into whether the 'I don't want my partner to know' thing was really true."
The question is … WHY? Why would someone of either gender be more attracted to unfaithful partners? It just seems so ... pointless. The experiment's creators chalk up the study's results to the usual, tired "men are looking for sex, women are looking for love" party line, saying, “I think a large part of why there was such a difference between the men’s and women’s numbers has something to do with the most common reasons men and women are on dating sites, many more men that women are on them just for sex.”
I don't know if I really buy that, though -- not just because it plays into blargh-y gender stereotypes, but because I know plenty of women who've used Internet dating sites to find straight-up anonymous hookups without all the tedious "getting to know you / I'm looking for something real" pretense.
The findings don't totally shock me, though, when I compare them to the overall trajectory of my own OKC dating experience. I've been riding the Internet-dating roller coaster off and on since, like, 1999 (!), but my OKCupid encounters have been especially frustrating in some ways. Maybe it's partly that OKC is free -- that means the site attracts, like, 8 gazillion people.
Sadly, quantity and quality aren't synonymous, and it seems like the majority of dudes I've encountered on OKC have been bottom-feeding Peter Pan types who never want to grow up, and who CERTAINLY aren't looking for relationships or ... anything, really. Most of the guys I've found on San Francisco OKC seemed like they were there to shop (exchange the petite blond for the quirky brunette? no prob!) and play (yay it's a playground!!1). Which is fine, except that I'm not really looking for playmates anymore. (No interest in the monkey bars, thanks!)
Anyway, interesting study. Thoughts?