The perils of paid-for dating websites

The always interesting OkCupid blog has just posted a damning analysis of its rival dating sites. The thesis is that paid-for dating websites are extremely likely to be a waste of money, due to the ramifications of their business model.

According to them, most profiles on such sites will inherently be held by non-subscribers, who can’t reply to your message. As a result, the average man has a 93% change of ‘flirting into the void’ on Match, and can expect a reply to only 1 in 100 messages, due to the probability of contacting a non-subscriber profile multiplied by the general 30% success rate. OkCupid figure this out using Match and eHarmony’s own numbers, too. As they admit from the outset, free dating websites suffer from the inherent problems of women receiving too many messages and men receiving too few. But less so, given the dead-profiles problem, and at least you’re not paying for it.

Of course, OkCupid are biased and would want you to ignore their rivals. I’m a little skeptical of some stats in the post – being 12.4 times more likely to get married if you’re not on a dating website is a bit odd – and I’ll be interested to see any rebuttal from Match or eHarmony. But it seems to hold together, as far as I can tell. Ouch.

I don’t have any problem with online dating, and know lots of people trying it, and some who’ve had big successes. I’m not on any sites, though, as for the first time in my adult life I’m neither daydreaming about anybody, getting over someone, or actively looking. It’s just not something I’m finding appealing at the moment. I’m just not very good at any of that stuff. Maybe I’ll feel differently at some point, or maybe I’ll happen to meet someone with whom it’s all different, but I’m genuinely perfectly content on my own for the time being. It’s a nice feeling.