The key to success in online dating? Asking questions and getting that number fast

The key to success in online dating? Asking questions and getting that number fast

Tens of millions are now matched up on dating apps every day across the world, giving many hope that they’ll soon find love. But what behaviours lead to success online? File picture: iStock

Asking plenty of questions, being patient and getting your crush's number sooner rather than later are the top tips for success in online dating, a new study at UCD has found.

According to Associate Professor of Sociology at University College Dublin, Taha Yasseri, dating apps are having “big consequences” for our dating habits.

“There’s not much stigma around dating today like there used to be,” he said. Since mobile dating apps flooded onto the market in 2012, introducing a widely-labelled “gamification” of dating online, love has never been the same. 

More than a third of couples in long-term relationships in the US have met online and that’s thought to be increasing. One group particularly active online are same-sex couples, and research suggests two-thirds in the US met through dating apps.

Tens of millions are now matched up on dating apps every day across the world, giving many hope that they’ll soon find love. But what behaviours lead to success online?

Prof. Yasseri secured a deal with one of the three largest online dating companies in the market on the condition he keeps the companies' identities confidential. Across two million conversations, he analysed 19 million messages on the platform between 400,000 men and women.

To find out how to achieve success online, Prof. Yasseri measured the exchange of phone numbers within the app. He found that about 20% of conversations lead to success and most numbers are exchanged after just 20 messages.

He said:

In a bar, you wouldn’t give out your number after 20 sentences exchanged, so it’s a very quick interaction.

There are not many numbers exchanged after 100 or so messages, so to improve chances of success it should be exchanged earlier, he said. If you’re still chatting after then, there is a slim chance of getting anywhere.

Another good indicator is asking questions. If a woman simply asks a question, there is already a 19% better chance of success. Only 1% of successful interactions don’t contain a question, so getting to know the other person is important.

Having a friend in common also increases your chance of success, and knowing how small Ireland is, that can’t be too difficult, he said.

You’re also not alone if you haven’t received a response to your messages. 50% of all conversations are one-directional, meaning half of messages don’t receive a response.

The research shows people respond to first messages on average after 2.4 days and Prof. Yasseri advised people to “take your time, be patient and don’t rush”.

Perhaps unsurprisingly for those who have used dating apps, 83% of conversations are initiated by men and this figure has steadily increased over time.

“For women, getting a match online isn’t difficult,” he said. “Almost every profile they like, the man has already liked them.” But for men, it’s a “numbers game” where success is unlikely without large amounts of liking other profiles.

However, men remain more likely to be responded to as just 42% of initial messages sent by women receive a response.

“The way that dating apps allow us to reach out to more diverse potential sexual partners and life partners I think has significant effects”, he said, adding it could help Irish people meet partners outside of their social circles as Ireland can be quite closely connected. 

Interracial relationships have increased in recent years alongside the rise of online dating, he said. “Online dating is helping us to keep a higher level of diversity in our genetic pool and that is a good thing for evolution.”

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