What You Don’t Know About Online Dating (Ep. 154 Rebroadcast)

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(Photo: Sara Alfred)

(Photo: Sara Alfred)

This week’s Freakonomics Radio episode is a rebroadcast of the episode “What You Don’t Know About Online Dating” (You can subscribe to the podcast at iTunes or elsewhere, get the RSS feed, or listen via the media player above. You can also read the transcript, which includes credits for the music you’ll hear in the episode.)

The episode is, for the most part, an economist’s guide to dating online. (Yes, we know: sexy!) You’ll hear tips on building the perfect dating profile, and choosing the right site (a “thick market,” like Match.com, or “thin,” like GlutenfreeSingles.com?). You’ll learn what you should lie about, and what you shouldn’t. Also, you’ll learn just how awful a person you can be and, if you’re attractive enough, still reel in the dates.

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The economist spoke well but in the end I don't think his actual advice was any better than a very good friend might provide: "Dude, enough with the drinking references" Added to which it seems that the young man involved didn't actually change his profile much. The fact that the change in the photographs received so much comment is a slightly depressing reality check to the whole thing. Plus the general encouragement to strategically lie seemed a little off.


Good on them, yeah. I can understand why you have to strategically lie in the immensely competitive dating sites scenario. You simply can not get any attention if you are only trying to show it like it is. You have to polish things up and sometimes make up some stuff


I was dissapointed that they didn't do any comparisons of the difference between being a male on an on-line dating site and being a female on one. I was on OK-cupid for awhile and ended up having to take my profile down. Within a few minutes of logging on, I'd get 3 or 4 19-somethings (and I'm in my fifties) messaging me asking me to meet up with them (for sex). And, I'd get emails from men who never seemed to want to meet (me, I figure let's meet right away and get to know each other better that way)... and the emails from the men... well, after a few back and forth's they'd end up throwing in a request for money. So, it was a scam all the time.

At the same time, I have a male friend who found his current lady on OK-Cupid. I was so shocked by this, we compared experiences in detail and his was totally different than mine.

There was even a post that went around facebook for awhile that talked about a Man who had been challenged by a woman friend to pretend to be a woman on OK-cupid... he did... and had the same experience I had on there. Couldn't take it and took the profile down very quickly.

So, there's this big difference in how you are treated by the others on the site depending on your sex and I would have liked to see that talked about.

I would have also have liked to see some sort of study of how much of the information they gain by all of the questions on that and other sites are then sold to whom. I've seen brief mention of that happening and oddly found some of my info by just doing a casual internet search. But, I would like to have something that talked about that more in depth.



I agree with the comment above that this program was clearly aimed at helping men do better at online dating, perhaps there is nothing that can be done once you are female and over a certain age (35?). I'm a 50 year old woman who scrubs up quite well and have put a lot of effort into creating an honest and positive profile on match.com. In order to "check out the competition" I created a really bland 50 year old male profile with no photo and only a headline statement "looking for a soulmate". My male shadow will soon overtake me on being marked as a favourite even though he has obviously made zero effort!

I also thought it was strange that this program was rebroadcast so long after Valentine's day. Anyone who tried online dating for any length of time knows that the sites are busiest between in winter. You can feel people fleeing from online dating after Valentine's day and a quick google will bring up some graphs showing this effect.

The only good thing about online dating for older women is that it is so tedious that it forces you to go out and meet real people in real life.



I doubt though that a 50 years old woman would have so much difficulty on a dating site. Generally I have seen older women get way more requests than they can handle. Maybe you are not on the right site, but if you are, you will be ok. Just make sure that your profile picture is attractive lol


This isn't so much a comment on the content of the podcast as much as a general comment about online dating, which I have found to be less than desirable. I was prompted to post a comment upon hearing that men are less concerned about a woman's education than other attributes. I had a different experience. I have an advanced degree and teach mathematics at an institution of higher education and am painfully honest about everything. When I made my first account on a dating site, I put my education and work information on the page as well as my interest in mathematics and puzzles as a pastime. Needless to say, I got NO responses. As an experiment I removed any information related to education or mathematics and started to receive messages. This was enough to make me run from online dating. Clearly, men who appreciate an intelligent woman are not perusing dating sites for a compatible friend/ date.



This reminds me of an episode of Sex and the City in which the Miranda character is at a speed-dating event. With the first few men, she is honest about her work as a partner at a law firm. The men appear bored. She decides to change her story and says that she's a stewardess and all of a sudden she gets a lot of interest.


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Tyler Rauch

Will you hire me?

BS Economics from Western Washington Univ.


They can't all be winners, but I think this was among the most pointless episodes Freakonomics has ever done. Every bit of advice was incredibly obvious. Put up a flattering picture, wow, who would have thought of that.