OC Weekly DataLab researchers were recently asked to conduct a study of online dating. We were specifically asked to determine the impact of allusions to sexual congress on responses to online personal ads.
To that end, we created three different female profiles: a young, attractive professional; a physically repulsive and dangerous, unemployed ex-con; and a single
mother of three who devoted her time to charity work. Only the first two hinted at the possibility of sexual congress.
Our hypothesis: male respondents would ignore all other data and focus on even the vaguest suggestion of sex. Furthermore, we expected that men would use extraneous data as a road map, as it were, and parrot whatever buzzwords, phrases and stances they believed were necessary to procure sex.
Below are the results, including excerpts of the raw data. We report those excerpted replies exactly as they were sent—including misspellings, bad grammar and poor (sometimes nonexistent) punctuation.
(Note: the two project researchers say the whole exercise made them feel "dirty.")
"April" served as the study's control. She is a woman of high moral standards and impeccable social commitments. Though sex was never mentioned in her personal ad, phrases such as "old-fashioned values," "God-fearing" and "Touched By an Angel" hint strongly that she would be unlikely to engage in sex any time soon, perhaps not until after marriage. And maybe not even then. Here is the online personal ad we created for April:
A Heart As Big As Texas
Category: Women Seeking Men
Hi! I'm a DCWF [divorced Christian white female], 39 years old, looking for a LTR [long-term relationship] with a gentleman who subscribes to the same traditional values as me. I'm attractive, warm and caring, with three incredible kids aged 13, 9 and 7. I love cooking, occasionally going out to movies, long walks at the beach or just cuddling up at home watching Touched By an Angel. I also spend a lot of time doing charity work like volunteering at soup kitchens and caring for AIDS patients. Basically, I'm looking for a high-quality man willing to spend a lot of high-quality time with me. He should be responsible and respectful with good old-fashioned values. He should also be God-fearing and child-loving. And he should understand that I spend a lot of time with my children. Children are the future—perhaps even our future.
Total responses: 8
Requests for photographs of April: 1
Photographs of respondents sent to April: 3
References to being a "citizen of the world": 1
References to a pet dog soon to be put down: 1
Those who claimed to love kids: 6
Those who claimed to have kids: 3
Those claiming to know "how to treat a lady": 3
Responses from Ohio: 1
Responses from Texas: 1
Respondents to April wrote long, detailed pieces about themselves, including dating and marriage histories, bits about children, and former wives with tied tubes. Clearly sex was not on their minds. Instead, most seemed to talk about themselves, their dreams and their needs with—if we may use a bit of conjecture—the unmistakable feeling that April ought to be grateful for their response:
"If you have ever said to yourself over and over again that you can't find a decent man to spend your time with that treats you good, even tempered and who doesn't hit, then look no more."
"I haven't dated in six and a half years and have been celabit all of them."
"You must be an animal lover partic-
ularly dogs because I have two. Although, one is 16 and on her way to being put down."
"I want to open my own bagel/coffee shop real soon (within the next year or so). I love bagels."
"I have no children no alimony, but love kids. I just married a woman who had her tubes tied and wanted me to pay for a reversal."
"I was just reviewing what I sent to you in the wee hours this morning, and I realize that it may sound like I am currently married. I am not. I have been divorced for 11 months. When I said below that "I just married a woman . . .", I was referring to having married a woman past tense."
"I guess I'm looking for a lady that wants me but doesn't exactly have to have me if that makes any sense."
"Brandi" is our nearest approximation to society's ideal woman. She tells very little about herself except that she works a lot and is physically fit. She hints at sex with the headline "Can You Keep Up With Me?" and the phrase "He listens to me and knows how to please me." She works in public relations and has blond hair and a slim figure.
Can You Keep Up With Me?
Occupation: public relations
Category: Women Seeking Men
Hi there! I'm an active, energetic, typical, Southern California beach girl who works way too much and is tired of meeting the same old guys in bars. I love running, surfing and long walks on the beach (who doesn't?). My ideal guy is a tall, fit professional. He listens to me and knows how to please me. A sense of humor is a must! If this interests you, I'd love to hear from you.