The Big Lies People Tell In Online Dating

July 7th, 2010 by Christian Rudder

Nerds. As we all know, the Internet is a great place to pretend to be someone you're not. For instance, here's me in Second Life having a great time:

Anyhow, in many online situations, self-misrepresentation is totally harmless. Like, who cares if your Halo 3 avatar is taller than you are in real life? Or if flickr thinks you're single when you're really married? But in online dating, where the whole goal is to eventually meet other people in person, creating a false impression is a whole different deal.

People do everything they can in their OkCupid profiles to make themselves seem awesome, and surely many of our users genuinely are. But it's very hard for the casual browser to tell truth from fiction. With our behind-the-scenes perspective, we're able to shed some light on some typical claims and the likely realities behind them.

Let's get started.

"I'm 6 feet tall."

REALITY: People are two inches shorter in real life.

This whole post was inspired by an amusing graph we stumbled across while trying to answer the question Do taller guys have more sex? The answer, to a degree, is yes, and I'll expand on that in a little bit. But in this case what was more interesting than the sex was the (supposed) tallness of the guys.

The male heights on OkCupid very nearly follow the expected normal distribution—except the whole thing is shifted to the right of where it should be. You can see it better when we overlay the implied best fit below (pardon the technical language):

Almost universally guys like to add a couple inches. You can also see a more subtle vanity at work: starting at roughly 5' 8", the top of the dotted curve tilts even further rightward. This means that guys as they get closer to six feet round up a bit more than usual, stretching for that coveted psychological benchmark.

When we looked into the data for women, we were surprised to see height exaggeration was just as widespread, though without the lurch towards a benchmark height:

On a somewhat humbling personal note, I just went back and looked at my own profile, and apparently I list myself at 5' 11". Really, I'm a touch under 5' 10". Hmmm.

. . .

As for whether it even makes sense for people to make such an obvious and easily disproved exaggeration, the jury is out. We've found that taller people, up to a point, have more sex:

But as far as messages go, shorter women actually seem to get more attention:

These are the average weekly unsolicited message totals by height; you can think of these as the number of times a person is "hit on" out of the blue each week on OkCupid. a 5' 4" woman gets 60 more contacts each year than a six-footerThe genders are plotted on different scales because of the eternal fact that men almost always make the first move, so women get many more unsolicited messages.

It's plain from these two charts that women six feet or taller are either less attractive to men or are considered too intimidating to message. The data also raises the interesting possibility that these tall women are much more likely to sleep with a man who does approach them. Compare the 6' 0" woman to her 5' 4" counterpart: the taller woman gets hit on about two-thirds as much, yet has had slightly more sex partners.

"I make $100,000 a year."

REALITY: People are 20% poorer than they say they are.

Apparently, an online dater's imagination is the best performing mutual fund of the last 10 years. Here's what people are saying on OkCupid, versus what their incomes should be:

Use the slider to watch as people exaggerate more as they get older. As you can see, people advertise disproportionately high salaries for themselves. Just to pick a symbolic amount, there are consistently 4× the number of people making $100K a year than there should be.

Note that in formulating the "expected" lines for each age we were very careful to adjust for OkCupid's particular demographics: we compared every individual against the average not just by age but by zip code. Here a breakdown by gender of the exaggeration rates:

A woman may earn 76 cents on the dollar for the same work as a man, but she can fabricate, like, 85 cents no problem.

As a public service, we've decided to make our income calculations available. The following widget will calculate the statistically expected income of your potential matches; you give it a gender, an age, and a zip code, and it'll spit out a salary. Then you can confront your dates about exactly how much money they probably do or don't make. Fun!

. . .

We did a little investigating as to whether a person's stated income had any real effect on his or her online dating experience. Unsurprisingly, we found that it matters a lot, particularly for men. This is a by-age messaging distribution:

These bold colors contain a subtle message: if you're a young guy and don't make much money, cool. If you're 23 or older and don't make much money, go die in a fire. It's not hard to see where the incentive to exaggerate comes from.

"Here's a recent pic."

REALITY: The more attractive the picture, the more likely it is to be out-of-date.

The above picture, for example, was over two years old when it was uploaded. How do we know? Most modern cameras append text tags to the jpgs they take. These tags, called EXIF metadata, specify things like the exposure and f-stop settings, gps information if your camera has it, and, of course, the time and date the photo was taken. This is how programs like iPhoto know when (and sometimes where) you've taken your pictures.

Analyzing this stuff, we found that most of the pictures on OkCupid were of recent vintage; site-wide the median photo age at upload was just 92 days. However, hotter photos were much more likely to be outdated than normal ones. Here's a comparison (the age of a picture below is how old it was when it was uploaded to our site):

As you can see, over a third of the hottest photos on the site are a year old or more. And more than twice as many hot photos are over three years old (12%) as average-looking ones (5%), which makes sense because people are more inclined to cling to the pics that make them look their best

Another useful (if somewhat unorthodox) way to take in this graph is to follow the horizontal gridlines. If you trace out from "20%", for example, you can see that 1 in 5 average-looking photos is at least a year old, meanwhile, among the hot photos, nearly 1 in 5 is at least two years old.

It also turns out that older people also upload older photos:

The upshot here is, if you see a good-looking picture of a man over 30, that photo is very likely to be out-of-date. Not to get personal again, but my own OkCupid photo shows a Burberry-dressed 27 year-old, strumming away on his guitar. Meanwhile, I turn 35 in a couple months and am writing this post in the same shorts and tee-shirt I've been wearing for a week. Time waits for no man, unless that man doesn't update his personal information.

"I'm bisexual."

REALITY: 80% of self-identified bisexuals are only interested in one gender.

OkCupid is a gay- and bi-friendly place and it's not our intention here to call into question anyone's sexual identity. But when we looked into messaging trends by sexuality, we were very surprised at what we found. People who describe themselves as bisexual overwhelmingly message either one sex or the other, not both as you might expect. Site-wide, here's how it breaks out:

This suggests that bisexuality is often either a hedge for gay people or a label adopted by straights to appear more sexually adventurous to their (straight) matches. You can actually see these trends in action in the chart below.

Again, this is just the data we've collected. We'd be very interested in our bisexual users' thoughts on this single-sex-messaging phenomenon, so if you'd like to weigh-in please use the comments section. Please note, everybody, that we don’t assume that bis should be “into both genders equally.” We only assume that they should be into both genders at all. The swaths of red and blue that you see in these sexuality charts represent people who message only one gender. The purple areas are people who send any messages, in whatever proportion, to both men and women.

In this chart, throughout the teens and twenties, the male bisexual population is mostly observably gay men. By the mid-thirties, it seems, most of these men are more comfortable self-identifying as gay and have left the bi population. By the end of our chart, 3 of every 4 bi males on OkCupid are observably straight. Meanwhile, the proportion of men who message both women and other men holds fairly steady.

The proportions for women are more consistent over time:

12% of women under 35 on OkCupid (and the internet in general, I'd wager) self-identify as bi. However, as you can see above, only about 1 in 4 of those women is actually into both guys and girls at the same time. I know this will come as a big letdown to the straight male browsing population: three-fourths of your fantasies are, in fact, fantasies of a fantasy. Like bi men, most bi women are, for whatever reason, not observably bi. The primacy of America's most popular threesome, two dudes and an Xbox, is safe.

. . .

In gathering data for this last section on sexuality, we found so much interesting stuff that we're making it the topic of our next post. We'll look at the messaging, searching, and stalking (!) patterns of gay, bi, and straight people and see what else we can learn about the sexual continuum. Until then, no lie: thanks for reading.

842 Responses to “The Big Lies People Tell In Online Dating”

  1. buddy says:

    I find that a lot of people are listing themselves as Athletic and Toned. But when you meet them, it’s very obvious that they haven’t hit the treadmill or broken a sweat from exercise in many years. Before you say you’re this body type, look in the mirror or check your BMI (anything over 25 is considered overweight). Do you workout more than 1 time a week? Maybe you should up it to 2 or 3 times a week. Otherwise, you’re an average body type, at best. Be honest with yourself and with the world – you’ll be a much happier person and you might get a second date.

  2. mywayornoway says:

    I can’t believe half of what anyone says online. I definitely have experienced the inflated height thing. One thing’s for sure though–people always put up their best pics. If you actually meet someone who looks like their picture, hats off to you, you’re a lucky cat. It hasn’t happened for me yet—well, maybe one guy, but that’s about it!

  3. wcswingdancer says:

    Totally agree with medicinewheel – it would be great if you could add the metatag on the photo for the date taken. That at least would help to verify some of the questionable photos.

    I actually laugh at a lot of the photos…..all but one of my photos are within a year, and I have dates on them all…..

    If I date someone who looks nothing like their photo, like medicinewheel, it puts me off. If I found out they were lying, there’s a good chance I will end it right there….Why??? For some the age thing is totally insignificant, but for me, this is an issue first and foremost of honesty. If he lies to me about something like his age (and lies to cover his insecurity around that) – I figure he will lie again – and the next time, it may not be over a “little” thing.

    Really – lying in any way will only get you dates with people who are likely not looking for you…they are looking for the person who you designed in your profile. So liars – don’t blame online dating when things don’t work out – look at yourself and re-paint an honest rendition of who you are, and try that on….

  4. icarus_acoustic says:

    I know I identify as “bisexual” on this site (not in real life, I really dislike that word) but typically tend to talk to men. It’s because I’m also transgender. Most of the girls I come across are straight, and I’m not that convinced they’d be into what I’ve got to offer, physically. Whereas guys will message me (I have not yet been messaged by anyone female), thus relieving the stress of making the first move.

  5. Larry says:

    My photos are not recent, for the same reasons many people mentioned. I am single and not a technophile. However, there is no deception. I am 63 — I do not pretend otherwise. I still look pretty much the same as I did several years ago.

    My real comment is about the penalty of being honest. I don’t get many messages — one or two a year. I also don’t get many responses to the messages I send, maybe 10% (I have not kept a statistical record). (This is still better than any of the pay-dating sites I have used.)

    If one is old, and I am, especially for the rather ageist gay community, gay, and weird, and lives in a remote rural location; being honest is a way to get ignored. I can understand why people distort the truth to appear more desirable. Of course this only works if the person is otherwise charming and actually desirable. It is a way to get your foot in the door. But for me, I don’t see the point. I have accepted the probability I am going to remain single. If I do meet someone, they will not be surprised, so my chances may be better at that stage.

  6. Kati says:

    I identify as bi in life (I don’t remember if I do on the site or not), but recently I’ve been thinking I’m probably a lesbian and on the site I’ve only messaged guys. Clearly, I pretty much embody the act of lying about one’s sexuality. lol

  7. If says:

    I suspect that at least some of the bisexual data comes from two factors: polyamorous, open-relationshio or other non-exclusive bisexual people who have one or more partners of a given gender and are seeking to date people of another gender (this seems particularly likely for the case where one was in a long term relationship at the time of discovering one’s bisexuality); and users who use okcupid purely in a purely reactionary way (i.e. They mostly respond rather than send) and get that skew in who messages them.

  8. Nathan says:

    this gay guy could’ve told you that half the “bi” guys at my school end up admitting they’re gay only after a few years of testing the water by claiming “bi” without actually dating any women at all. heteronormativity just has too many benefits for some people to reject it entirely, even if they just straight up *aren’t.*

  9. jim says:

    hey as fleetwood mac says http://www.trilulilu.ro/colebil/76ea3140fcdad0

    :D

    to be perfectly honest i don’t lye about my height and i usually post recent pictures.
    resorting to such cheap tricks when you plan on meting someone IRL makes you kind of an idiot .
    when i was younger i was particularly vague about how i looked(but didn’t lye) once in an online encounter .i just said i am reasonably tall.[i am 6,2] .the girl was short .when i met her she said to me..i thought you said you we’re tall

    so yeah…be honest about how you look..the rest is up to you and your level of desperation

  10. Myk says:

    Well, I identify as bi, even though I am almost exclusively attracted to women, so that potential partners aren’t completely surprised when they hear that I’ve had a couple of relationships with guys.

  11. Matt C-E says:

    My profile says I’m 5’7″. According to the records from my last doctor’s visit, I’m actually 5’7″. Since alot of people like to add two inches, I’m tempted to move my height to 5’9″. I’m interested to hear what people think about this.

  12. Tim says:

    I hate how my twice-weekly emails from OKC ALWAYS say that “there’s a new OK trends post” when i’ve read this one three times already.

  13. Paul says:

    chris says:
    July 25, 2010 at 6:55 pm
    >>I have to ask: why do you care? If you communicate with a person and find you have common interests & mutual attraction, are you then going to drop him/her because of what the calendar says?

    No, James. I think you’re missing the point. Whether age/income/height is crucial to a good ‘love match’ or if they are superficial details isn’t being debated. She’s going to drop him/her because they lied.

    The problem is when we as consumers SHOP for dates the way we shop for anything else…by filtering based on stats (age, height, weight, income). These numbers are used to determine if our “match” meets our needs or wants; (attractiveness, fitness, active vs. passive lifestyle) BUT the problem eliminating based on this criteria alone isn’t always accurate.

    For example, age elimination is meant to screen out people we would not be attracted to, people who are more OR less active than we are, people we don’t share knowledge and cultural reference with. A birth year doesn’t take account of people with great genes or healthy living that look many years younger than they are. A birthdate doesn’t indicate how that person spends their free time…staying home reading and crossword, playing pick-up games of volleyball or catching a new band.

    I have lied about my age before…by a year saying I was 39 instead of 40 because of the less than accurate/less than fair ‘filter’ people put up to screen for suitors. Since my birthdate is used an indicator for other traits {common interests, energy-vitality level, dating-sexual experience) and those traits in the profile are true, I have merely rejected your filter criteria. Would women want men to require knowing your dress size and weight on your profile so they could screen you out by a small marginal difference,,,say 135 lbs vs 125 lbs or a single dress size?

    The lie over specific numbers versus the essence of what a number is supposed to indicate becomes irrelevant. Especially if people are ‘honest’ they get filtered out to the point of not getting responses; people under those circumstances would rather be rejected for the lie than not be given a chance at all.

  14. bob says:

    RE Height, number of partners, ect.
    OK, I’m a HONEST short, overweight, balding,healthy white guy, employed full time, with insurance, cash,credit, equity,paid retirement plan,cars, kids, play sports and have had lots more that the average number of sex partners regardless of height.
    Let the others lie-I’m the boring truth!
    or should I get a tattoo?
    naaaaaa!

  15. tmptin says:

    For me, the fact someone puts a pic up that doesn’t reflect how the person even remotely looks now is equal to a lie. If the lies start in the beginning, there is a good likelihood they will continue in the future. Not a good way to begin a relationship.

    If I enjoy talking to someone on the phone and I agree to meet them, I at least want to recognize the person. I’ve had men who put up pictures that were 70 pounds thinner than their current weight, but at least I could figure out who they were when I met them in person. But when a guy puts up a picture 20 years younger, 70 to 100 pounds lighter, with a full head of black hair, I wouldn’t even begin to pull him out of a lineup.

    Of course I put up pics that feature me at my best, even though I don’t take very good pictures. But I don’t put up pics that don’t look like me, and I’m currently 30 pounds lighter than my profile pics. If there is a surprise, it’s the right kind of surpise.

  16. barbarellasteve says:

    I’m still figuring out the online dating scene. The bi- straight issue is not a problem for me. What IS a problem is that I’ve had a few dates so far and none of them seemed related at all to their internet personae. I was into the 70s singles bar scene in NYC and this is like that but blind — because you are not even seeing what you’re getting — you have to trust in someone’s words only. And you can say ANYTHING online. And post pics that do not really show you well. Or even are NOT you (that has happened to me about 6 times — phishing scammers from Nigeria type of thing). So I’ve become extremely wary lately. I don’t give out any real information until I’ve truly established for myself the validity of the person’s claims. I’ve even joined PeopleFinders.com to look up people I have reason to suspect of shenanigans. Hateful. But there it is. I’ve met one lover online — and that was through Twitter — not a dating site, sorry to say.

  17. Jesse says:

    There have been at least several high quality posts in this blog. You have some very interesting data. When you apply good science, you can draw interesting conclusions. This post, however, is disappointing, and lacking in science. There are a number of possible explanations for differences between your data and the data you are presenting as truthful. The term selection bias goes unmentioned. Instead, the blog proclaims in big letters that users are lying.

    Users are right to criticize your very limited options for gender, sexuality, and even relationship statuses. Those options matter more to people who are bisexual. By not having those options, you discourage many potential matches for bi users from even joining the site. That’s bad for your site and your data.

    Less sensationalism, more truth, please. :)

  18. Jakkar says:

    I love you, okCupid =D

    <3

  19. Boradis says:

    Every time I read this sort of thing I’m reminded that women don’t value personality or character when dating any more than men do. Most people, regardless of gender or orientation, assess potential new partners in mere moments and never alter their view.

    If all sex was casual that wouldn’t be too terrible, as there are plenty of people out there who are enlightened and (I believe) tend to put more thought into sex. But first assessments are also the basis for lasting relationships, and humanity can and should be better than that. What, are we no smarter than parakeets?

    At least the fad for breast implants faded over the last decade due in part to many men becoming disenchanted with them. Wouldn’t it be nice if we all continued to mature in a similar fashion?

  20. fattyboombalatty says:

    I don’t this this goes under the “lies” post so much, maybe this is a comment I should have made to the My Best Face post, but maybe also related here.

    I know weight isn’t something you ask for in any kind of stats. It’s generally something you can see in pictures, as long as those pictures (as you mention above) aren’t really outdated.

    I’m wondering if you, o gods of amazing geeky number-crunching, could figure out some sort of statistical correlation between fatness and attractiveness rating in photos, and messages/conversations. I mean, I don’t think I’ll be surprised (I’m a fat chick), but I would be interested in having my chances actually quantified. There’s the off chance I’ll be pleasantly surprised (probably not), but am just more interested in getting the realistic, even if painful, picture of how I might measure up.

    This kind of goes with the My Best Face piece, which I tried a few times. As a relatively young-ish lady (29), I noticed that almost all of the photos I was paired up with were of older ladies–older and also on the fat side. Which made me think that your My Best Face function must have some way of analyzing what pictures look similar to each other, so that only similar folks get compared. Which in one way makes sense to me–trying to compare uglifruit to uglifruit, right–but in another way doesn’t. I don’t want to know how well I stack up against ladies who look just like me, especially if they’re older because then I just tend to win on youth. I want to know how far at the bottom I am with ladies of my age, who, as shown in a previous OK Trends post, are already trending towards the bottom.

    Anyway. Great blog, great Twitter feed, you guys are generally awesome.

  21. Evin says:

    Regarding bisexual self-identification and gender preference: I am bisexual, but I’ve only had boyfriends. I’m interested in dating women, but there isn’t anybody in the picture at the moment, while I am committed to a male. Occasionally, I will message someone who piques my interest (who is female) but it is rare. It’s based on my history, comfort, and whims.

  22. emesskay says:

    I am listed as bisexual because I am. I don’t have hazy experiences at bars trying to impress guys by kissing some girl and I’m not considering it or looking for an experiment. I don’t like listing myself as bi because it attracts a lot of scummy guys and very very few women. Lesbians are much less interested in women who are bi, and rightly so, since it’s too often that the bisexual in question is just looking to experiment or impress their bf or whatever it is kids do these days ( ;-) ). Knowing this, I list myself as bi because it’s true. I’m far more interested in guys who are also bi than in straight guys because they are less like than straight guys to be fantasizing. They usually end up phenomenally intimidated by a girl’s attraction to women when they find out it’s real and not just a game for the guy’s benefit. Regarding this apparently popular notion that *queer* can refer to straight guys into kinky sex who have no attraction to speak of to other men in the absence of women, I say BOO, and I say it loudly and repeatedly. Queer can mean a lot of things, and I do like the term and identify with it a lot, but that is not one of the things it means, and it would be abusive to use it as such. Of course some people are more attracted to one gender or the other, or for different reasons and in different ways, and I would love to see some qualifiers to accompany the question of sexuality.
    As for lying about your age, height, and income … get a grip. How long do you think someone will continue to bother with you once they’ve ascertained that you were lying about these blatantly observable truths? And why would you try to trap someone like that?

  23. Sean says:

    I’ve been with 3 women from various sites who have confessed about exaggerating their height. All by 2″. And yes, it’s very frustrating with the bi people who are only looking for a particular gender. I just filter out bi girls entirely because of it.

    I’m surprised people feel the need to lie about height. And that people lie about their income. I’ve never paid attention to that stuff on a profile. I mean, it’s hard enough finding someone who doesnt make you run the other way.

    I have a feeling LA has it’s own set of twisted OKC statistics.

  24. rahul says:

    Wow! Look at the clear correlation between income and number of messages guys get, if you earn 100K or more you all almost sure of getting messages :D and if you are 20K or less you are almost sure of not getting any :D ( that explains my failure here )

  25. Jeffthethird says:

    I agree with the idea that more people say that they are bisexual on these online dating sites than actually are. at least for men (i think you’re only gay or bisexual if you’re willing to receive, because men will put their penis in just about any hole).

    The height thing is understandable in my opinion. I am 5.4 in my profile and 5.4 in real life, I see no reason to lie, since I am actually looking for a relationship, but most women don’t want to date someone that is my height (usually shorter than them). Shorter women get a lot more attention, because they make men feel a bit more masculine and dominant as opposed to someone taller that may emasculate them.

    well, that was my 2 cents, thank you for listening to my opinion.

  26. Kevin says:

    I’m not going to read 440 comments to see if someone else has said this, but: your comparison group for height should really be, “U.S. citizens with demographics similar to our users.” I have no doubt that OkCupid users are higher socioeconomic status than the general population, and growing up richer means growing up taller because of nutrition. It’s possible the exaggeration is not as great as you think.

  27. Fr. says:

    Christian, any chance you could make the data publicly available in CSV format? Could be a great teaching tool (not kidding, it looks like excellent data for teaching introductory stats to sociologists! normal distribution, histograms, deciles, crosstabs, linear regression…). Feel free to email if you need more info.

  28. Gen says:

    I agree that the statistics on bisexual people don’t mean a thing other than sometimes people have certain preferences or they’re just looking for something specific. For example, I’m a bi woman but even though I’m just as physically attracted to women as I am to men, I’m not interested in a relationship with a woman. It’s as simple as that. I actually said that I’m straight on my profile to keep from getting any woman’s hopes up.

  29. SJ says:

    Wow. I was thoroughly enjoying this article until I went back and tried your age/income slider. It stops at 54. I’m older than that. Thanks a lot.

  30. mangoyumyum says:

    I am a 6ft tall female and I can definetley vouch for the fact that my height intimidates people.

  31. chrysalisalis says:

    “I’m Bisexual”

    Actually I’m pan-sexual, meaning that I believe there are more than just two genders, and I can be attracted to people of any gender or sex(ual) identity.

    However, I’m annoyed with the OkTrends article “The Big Lies People Tell in Online Dating” because it is convinced that because a person identifies with being bisexual and mostly messages only one sex, they are therefore lying. I for one, have probably been lumped into this “Liar” category because I have checked the “female” box and most often message other people who have also checked the “female” box.

    Here a a few problems with OKC’s logic:

    1. When choosing your gender on the website there are only 2 options: male or female.
    Some people don’t feel they belong in either category, some people feel they could change between these categories on any given day, and some people have changed the way they identify from the way society has labeled them at birth. Maybe sites like OK Cupid could change the way the male OR female identifying is structured and be even more friendly to the way many people chose to identify today, instead of just being “bisexual and gay friendly” as they state in this article.

    2. I’m Pan-sexual. This means I may chose to message and date a person who identifies as a female, but who was born a male; or date someone who was born a male and now is female; or doesn’t identify as either of these options; or is unsure; etc. etc…

    3. I’m Polyamorous. I have a long time male partner and we live together. I also date other people and so does my partner. We are both very happy with this and very supportive of each other and all of our collective relationships. Since I tend to be dating more female identifying people lately this leads me to be messaging mostly “females”. Obviously, this does not mean I’m gay, or that I’m using the bisexual label to appear more “wild” or “sexually deviant” and attract more men. OKC seem to think this may be so according to this article though.

    So that’s my input… Take it or leave it, but I’m glad to offer my own take on the reason why 80% of people on this site label themselves as bisexual and then message mostly one sex. I’m sure there are plenty more valid reasons that others have expressed in these comments, but I’ll let you weed them out.

    Hopefully the information you gather can make this dating/friendship site even better than it already is. I for one am extremely happy with this site’s ability to support alternative relationship models such as Polyamory.

  32. Z says:

    Hopefully the information you gather can make this dating/friendship site even better than it already is. I hope in the future OKC can create more/better identity labels for it’s users that are more congruent with modern society (if labels can be good at all). I’d also love this site to be even better at supporting alternative relationship models such as Polyamory, but I’ll leave this comment to another posting.

  33. ttiggerness says:

    Re: Bisexual Statistics: I identify as bi and have gone through phases (lasting years) of dating primarily one gender or the other. I see my sexuality as fluid and act on my interests at the current time. I think it would be dishonest to represent myself as lesbian or straight, even if I am having a preference for one gender at the time. There are too many lesbians that have a problem with bisexuality and too many heterosexuals who have a problem with homosexuality in any form…my status of bi should weed them out. It seems the status attracts a lot of poly people, who I’m sure know bi and poly are not the same thing, but since poly is not an option to select, search for bi people. It would be nice to provide this indication (perhaps in the “looking for” section?) to make their searches easier.

  34. me says:

    Fact: Lesbians don’t like bi girls.

  35. G. says:

    I’m a woman, bisexual and polyamorous. I don’t have any trouble meeting men offline and am already dating several so I joined OK Cupid only to meet women, and this is stated in my profile. I only browse women’s profiles, so of the users I’ve initiated contact with, 100% would be women. But of messages I send out, about 60% would be to men because about 90% of the people who message me are men and I reply to at least some of them (usually just to say, politely, I’m not interested in hanging out just as friends, but thank you anyway). If I didn’t initiate contact (only replied to messages) I could easily have gone months with only sending messages to men. If I only initiated contact it would’ve been the other way around.

    None of this proves I’m lying about being bisexual. OK Cupid doesn’t represent the entire sexual/romantic life of any of its users (ie, I’m getting plenty off-site, thank you very much).

  36. Bill009 says:

    This makes me feel less alone. And this is what I say, give or take, when women (never men!) ask me about being bi:

    Bi is as varied as straight or gay. So…
    I debated whether to say bi or not in the profile since I have had 3 marriages of 8, 9 and 14 years and have never lived with another man. On the other hand, I have loved a couple of men i was very close to, and felt comfortable doing so. I don’t have feelings of aversion with either sex in that sense but I do have a preference.
    I had a phase when I had more casual sex with other men (in the mistaken belief that it was a form of sexual freedom or liberation). I realized it served me very badly—it did not lead to intimate relationships, which I treasure– and I put an end to that (and made sure I had not gotten any STDs with 3 tests over a year which all came back negative). I haven’t dated any men on cupid and don’t think it likely I will since I am more on the hetero side of the Kinsey scale than the gay side and need more time and effort to feel a deep emotional connection with another man; I find it more natural with women but don’t find it utterly unnatural with men, as some do. I have a male mentor for my study of tantra but that is not something that I puruse for sexual reasons and we talk about its application to the business of living life and acting honorably, in relation to our inner, true selves, much more than anything else.
    But I don’t want to appear to be straight and get into a relationship and then disclose something that would have prevented the relation from starting in the first place. It feels deceptive, although I know a lot of people hide a lot of things that they fear may turn off others.
    I also think of how the Tiger Woodses and John Edwardses are just the tip of a huge, semi-culturally sanctioned, long-standing tradition of straight men who have affairs or mistresses despite their apparently upstanding family life. Despite the enormous amount of cheating, there seems to be a presumption of monogamy with straight men that is not as strong for other orientations. I think bi men can be completely ethical and honest in their relationships, as easily as straight or gay men, where similar stereotypes sometimes come up. Honesty, avoiding secrecy, upholding respect and integrity all come to mind as crucial components of an intimate relationship.
    I sometimes think the bi label appears to describe someone who needs to have relationships with both sexes, perhaps at the same time, to feel fulfilled. I don’t think that’s true, for me at least (that would probably be the polyamory label and that seems a world pretty heavily populated with straight folk, but not exclusively, of course).
    I don’t think straight implies a need to be monogamous, either, as the sex scandal people make clear. That’s why I value honesty and truthfulness a lot; I want relationships that are clear and mutally agreed to and where there is an equal degree of commitment but also an honesty and openness about sexual identity, even if not every aspect of it is in play in every relationship. It would be like the more kinky sort of things that are possible: they may be within someone’s repertoire but foregoing them may well occur for the sake of a relationship that matters more than a particular activity.
    I hope this helps provide more sense of what the term means to me and of what I value in relationships.

  37. ? says:

    Mistake in the article. The text says “Do taller guys have more sex? The answer, to a degree, is yes” but the chart shows number of partners rather than amount of sex.

  38. Alex Larsorhans says:

    The term “bisexual” bothers me… Girls who openly claim (want the world to know) that they are bisexual only do so to get more attention from men– because they know that all men have this girl-on-girl fantasy. I think the guys who claim to be bisexual, but only message/date women are straight guys looking to experiment with anal. I’m not wrong.

  39. justtopointout says:

    I have no idea if I’m repeating something that’s been said in any of the 1100 other comments here, but I’d like to clarify to all the commenting bisexuals justifying their messaging tendencies that the data presented in this article clearly states that even if you mostly message one sex, if you have ever messaged the other sex even ONCE, then your data registers as messaging both sexes.

    While a discussion of messaging tendencies may be in order, in the context of the data in this article it is fairly irrelevant. A bisexual who’s messaged 150 women and 1 man would still be in this data as messaging both sexes.

  40. lauralouloo says:

    Dealing with the observably straight but self identified Bi thing…

    I definitely fall into that category, but I actually changed my profile to just straight because I got so many messages from couples wanting threesomes despite an explicit request not to be contacted by people in relationships. Then I stopped getting contacted by women, and women who were contacted by me did not respond. I also actually have a preference for men for various reasons.

    On a theoretical level, I believe that almost all women and a significant portion of men are capable of forming a sexual bond with both sexes but either choose heterosexuality consciously, or sort of default into it because it’s the societal norm. I think a lot of modern, sexually open people share this belief and acknowledge it in their sexual identity and behavior… but for whatever reason, they still have a strong preference for one gender or the other.

    Just my 2 cents. :)

  41. CantusFirmus says:

    I’m a straight guy who mostly dates, messages, and is messaged by bi women. (And yes, the women I date who claim to be bi, for the most part, really are.) I attribute this partially to being raised by a bi mom, because of the affect on my communication style, and partially on demographics (pagan, polyamorous.)

    I do find a lot of profiles of women who already have a male primary and are only looking for other women, which would explain some of the numbers you’re seeing. I have also dated some women who have strong physical attraction to other women but don’t wan’t to date them. (Sex: yes, romantic compatibility: no.)

    What I would like to see on this site, that would really help out people in the various alternative sexuality categories is:

    1. An “other” category for gender, so that people who do not identify as purely male or female have an option that makes sense, and so that people who are or are not open to other gender variations can set their preferences correctly.

    2. An “interested in” box that is separate from sexual preference, and includes all three gender categories, so that bi/pansexuale people can specify what they are currently in the market for.

    3. A checkbox for “polyamorous”, and one for “willing to date someone in an open relationship”, and both of those need to be available as search criteria. I currently spend about half of my time on OKC just trying to assess those two pieces of information.

  42. frequency says:

    Messages received for unreported users? what about showing data for users who did not report their height or income? I don’t report my income on OKCupid, its over 100k and I don’t want that to be a reason a woman messages me. I’m curious to see how much that effects messages when no income is listed.

  43. Sedimentary says:

    Who you’re attracted to and who you actually want to date aren’t the same thing. I sometimes, say, find people 15 years my junior attractive, but that doesn’t mean I want to date them. I’ve been attracted to both men and women; I just have no interest in dating men right now. But I’m not going to list myself as gay, no matter how sick I get of guys messaging me, because dishonesty strikes me as a really bad way to start a relationship.

  44. Born In a Cave says:

    So what do you have to do to convince anyone that you’re the goddamn height you say you are? Do I need to upload a PDF of my physical that says I’m only five-nine? Should the pictures have the little date thing in the corner so some girl will be convinced it’s less than a year old? Jesus.

  45. Rachel says:

    Won’t you please analyze age lies?
    I suspect there are an undue number of, say 39-year olds, and a dearth of 40-year olds

  46. Paul says:

    Jeez, apparently I need to go change my profile and say that I’m 6’3″, shave a few years off, and increase my income 20 grand.

  47. Holly Paige says:

    I’m not surprised at the amount of tweaking people create for online dating. The goal is to make yourself the most attractive you can. Now married, when I was dating online, I actually used recent photos, my correct height (5’9″), my correct weight (140 lbs) and people were surprised when they met me that “you look like you’re photos.” Of course, they never did!

    On the bi-sexual note, I am openly bi but only go online to seek out other bi women. This is because I am happily married to a man, with an open relationship for me to explore my bisexuality with other women only. So, yes, I only message women, but that doesn’t mean I am not bi, it means I am not seeking any male interest. I believe a lot of women like me to find other women because it’s hard to find that any other way.

  48. Tia says:

    Like Holly Paige, I use real information. Having dated a photographer into early 2010, I will probably keep using his photos until I have any comparable ones.

    As for my “bisexualism” as my uncle once called it, I’m genuinely right in the middle of whatever scale you choose. Although really, the vagina is so much more interesting than the penis. They just both work me in different ways. I respond to both men and women here, though my match settings for finding people look only for women. This is because there are plenty of straight men in my normal life, and far fewer queer girls. Also, since I’ve met several awesome friends on this site, I’m likely to respond to interesting people even if I’m not planning on fucking them.

  49. Sharen4u says:

    This doesn’t have to do with the research mentioned.
    I actually prefer a shorter man since I’m a shorter woman of 5’3″. I get discouraged because most of the men are 5’11 to 6’4″. Guess I don’t fit the norm. I’ve given up trying to find a man who is 5’5″ and under 6 ft so will have to setttle for 6 footers, if they are telling the truth. But, I won’t go past 6′ as its just too awkward walking beside a man of that height. Also, trying to dance or hug is uncomfortable. Looking up at the trees or at his face and getting a stiff neck is a nuisance.

  50. Riva Cohran says:

    How much is too much tattooing. I used to drive a cab and tourists would comment on how nice people are and how many tats they had. I hadn’t thought about it until then but, Portlander’s do seem to get tats just to have them. I guess more ink = more better. Personally I don’t think should get a tattoo of a turtle just because they went to Cancun on vacation. I think the tat should have more meaning. It is, however, good for business. Anyone have a differing idea. I’d be glad to hear it.