Australian men get pickier than women as they get older when online dating

Ken Ishii/Getty Images
  • In online dating women of any age are more upfront than men, more likely to state a preference in a man.
  • Women in peak fertility are more picky about the education level of men they prefer.
  • Over 40, men become more picky than women about the education level of their partner.

Researchers have just released the results of a study into the online dating behaviour of more than 41,000 Australians.

While there are no conclusions on the best way to find a life partner, the study published by leading international journal Psychological Science does reveal some interesting behaviours which surface as people get older.

Women under 40 seeking a partner online are more particular than men, especially when it comes to education, according to the study, “Do men and women know what they want? Sex differences in educational preference”, by QUT behavioural economists Dr Stephen Whyte, Dr Ho Fai Chan and Professor Benno Torgler.

But men, once they get over 40 years old, get more picky than women about the education level of their partner.

Women, however, are more upfront than men. Across all age groups (18 to 80) women are more likely than men to state a preference.

And women in peak fertility are more picky about the education level of men they prefer, seeking the same level or higher in a potential mate.

The study is the largest behavioural economic analysis of Australian online dating behaviour, reviewing 219,013 participant contacts by 41,936 members of online dating website RSVP over four months in 2016.

“It’s an amazing way to look at human mating behaviour (internet dating websites like RSVP) because it gives us a really vivid snapshot of such a large and diverse age group (18-80 years) of people in a pretty uniform mate choice setting,” says Dr Whyte.

“Our study highlights some really interesting findings in regards to both the similarities and differences between men and women’s preferences when they are searching for a potential mate.

“We found that women are more specific than men in their preference up until the age of 40, then males become pickier than females from 40 years old onwards.”

The research shows the education level of a potential mate matters more for both men and women in the years of peak fertility (18-30 years), but becomes less and less important as they get older.

“However, for all age groups in our sample, women had a clearly higher minimum standard for the education level they wanted in their mate,” he says.

“Evolution favours women who are highly selective about their mates and in many cultures, women have been shown to use education as an indicator of quality because it is often associated with social status and intelligence — both attributes that are highly sought after.”

An ACCC (Australian Competition and Consumer Commission) report from 2015 reported major industry participants claim membership numbers in Australia of more than 4.6 million, although this figure would include consumers registered on multiple dating sites.

IBISWorld’s 2017 industry report into Dating Services in Australia online dating services have become more appealing as consumers become increasingly time-poor and as Baby Boomers become more tech-savvy.

Industry revenue is predicted to grow by 3% a year over the next five years to reach $178.2 million.

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