Monday, February 11, 2013

Singles in America

Creating a dating site isn't as simple as some code and a few algorithms. Or, at least, it shouldn't be - and gets it.

For the past three years, Match has been studying the behaviors and attitudes of Singles in America. In 2012, with the help of Dr. Helen Fisher, Biological Anthropologist, Match surveyed over 5,000 single men and women (and over 1,000 married people), asking them 200+ questions about love, sex, dating, and relationships.

Dr. Fisher studies love - how we define it, how it's affected by our personality and gender differences, and (perhaps most important to a dating site) - why we fall in love with one person, versus another. Dr. Fisher presented the findings during a livestream event - for the full recording, click here.

A lot of very interesting data was presented. Overall, I think the most meaningful take-away for a late-thirties single gal (like me) is this:
  • We value our own happiness more than pleasing others
90% of singles valued humor, respect, and trust as must-haves in a relationship. This is different from the past, when common religious, ethnic, and cultural backgrounds were the top priority. Dr. Fisher attributes this to a shift from a desire to please parents, friends, and/or society, to finding true self-fulfillment.

According to the study, two-thirds of men and women in their twenties and thirties still want marriage. Why? According to Dr. Fisher, this is because those are prime reproductive years, and those singles are focused on starting a family. In fact, 27% of men and women said they would form a committed relationship with someone to whom they were not attracted, if they had other desirable qualities.

How many of us (I'll count myself in the group) made a choice to get married young because we thought it was what we were supposed to do? That was the list - go to college, get a job, find a husband, buy a house, have a child. In that order. If you were very ambitious you might take a break to form a career - but you still had a schedule to keep, so you could have kids in your thirties. 

Anthropologically speaking, it makes sense. That is the best way to choose a father for your kids. But is it the best way to choose a mate? I actually know women who chose their husband based on his earning potential, how well he fit in with their family, and how good he was with kids - versus how compatible, or attracted, they were as a couple. They're very satisfied as mothers - but as women, they're miserable.

In this way, I think finding love the second time around works out better. Those of us who are not driven by a biological clock are just as concerned with sex and romance - but are looking for a partner for ourselves, not a parent for our (current/future/imaginary) children.

I find this encouraging. Maybe after all these years, I'm bound to get it right! 

So, we're looking for self-fulfillment and a satisfying relationship. Parenting skills are not a top priority. So what is? 
  • Communication is key in a fulfilling and satisfying relationship (duh)
48% women and 38% men google dates beforehand. Dr. Fisher says this is normal; that it is the natural tendency of the human brain to want as much information as possible. Before Google, we asked friends, coworkers, family about our potential date. 

Dr. Fisher also commented that 48% of men consider this "stalking." It can be attributed to a gender difference - women crave transparency. They want to know everything about their guy - and it's important to them there be no secrets in the relationship. Dr. Fisher said this is a shift in feminine attitude - one or two generations ago, women did not have control over what information was shared. Now they demand everything be shared.

However, they prefer you share it with them, and only them, while on a date. 60% of all men and women surveyed agree that texting on a date is rude.

Both men and women listed grammar as the thing they notice second (the first - teeth). Told ya so... time to rewrite those profiles, and start proof-reading your emails. 
  • Sex is a key value in a fulfilling relationship (BIG duh)
Over 40% of those surveyed said they would not date a virgin - including 1/3 men. What used to be a core value has been replaced with a desire to find someone who can give you satisfaction and fulfillment. 

Friends with benefits is a growing trend - 47% of those surveyed have had an FWB relationship in the past year. Dr. Fisher recognizes this as a new stage in the courtship process - while we slow down commitment, but speed up the sex. 

Interestingly, 45% of those surveyed said they've had an FWB relationship that turned into a committed relationship. Dr. Fisher said this makes sense, since sexual stimulation triggers the brain to release dopamine, which causes feelings of love.
"There's no such thing as casual sex, unless you're so drunk you don't remember."
  • Speaking of sex...and this being the communication age...and women wanting to share....
Men and women both sext - either photo or erotic text. Why? When it comes to the desire for love, we overlook being careful. We want to put our best foot forward, and show what we've got.

An important point to consider, ladies... 42% of the men who said they've received sexts said they shared them with three or more people. So, if you're asking him to share, you may want to be very specific about what and with whom.

The bottom line....

I'm We're (we being single Americans) are looking for communication, passion, trust, respect, honesty, and fun. We want a partner; someone we can be with forever. So if so many of us want the same thing, why is it so hard to find?

Women find intimacy from face-to-face conversation. Women equate words with intimacy. We want open, upfront communication.

Men, on the other hand, don't talk to their friends. Men are more visual (which, by the way, means they fall in love more quickly). Men, find intimacy in sharing activities - usually side by side. A man can feel intimate even without words.
"And there's the problem."
Well, that explains it.


  **This post was sponsored by I received compensation for sharing the info and links.**

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