Oxford University study: online daters chat to 7 matches at a time

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Online dating has revolutionised how singles meet. But with so many options, how many matches does the average dater actually invest their time in at any one time? Rachael Lloyd investigates a new report by Oxford University. 

A new study by Oxford University suggests that singles chat with up to seven people on dating sites at any one time.  This trend applies irrespective of how many matches each individual has to choose from. Singles also send requests to an average of 12 potential matches per week.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the findings also suggest that more attractive people are less likely they are to respond to messages or engage in conversations. This is probably because they possess greater confidence, and assume they can be more selective.

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To establish these numbers, researchers from Oxford University’s Internet Institute analysed 150,000 eharmony profiles in the biggest study into dating trends of its kind.

In line with Dunbar’s number – the theory that there is a limit to the number of individuals with whom we can maintain stable friendships – researchers specifically found that 95% of eharmony users send requests to 12 new people at most per week, and reply to up to seven.

In line with this, researchers also found better-looking singles are 16% less likely to initiate a conversation, and a third less likely to respond to a message than the average person.

Other findings from the Oxford University study – previously published by eharmony – suggest that men are far more looks orientated than women, with most preferring to go for women who rate themselves as an 8/10.

Whereas women are just as likely to communicate with a man who has a self-rated attractiveness level of 5/10 as they are a 10/10.

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These insights clearly show that despite the progressive growth in online dating over the last decade, traditional gender roles persist. Or put more simply – men are more likely to chance it and see if they can win the attentions of a more beautiful woman, regardless of their own looks.

Meanwhile, the number of men starting conversations on eharmony has increased, from 6% in 2008 to 30% in 2018. But when women do make the first move, they receive 15% less communication than men.


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