December 29, 2003

Statistically Speaking

I was talking with a friend who studies statistics. He was interested in the probabilities in online dating. He believes in online dating, at least from a financial/success rate point of view. Going to a bar incurs costs, he points out: travel costs, drink costs, health costs (if there's second hand smoke). He believes that you're better off joining a moderately priced site and sending out shitloads of emails.

I told him that I've joined a bunch of sites but I haven't really sent out what could be called a shitload of emails. He scoffed - "that's the same as if you went to a bar and sat in the middle of the room waiting for someone to talk with you." That may be the case, or maybe I'll run into someone on the way to the bathroom. Maybe I like a little serendipity in my online dating.

We both agreed that often, it's hard to meet women in the real world. When we go out to eat or see a film, we're usually with friends which impedes our mack, as they say.

He pointed out that you can do a search for someone within 0 miles of your zipcode, and end up finding someone who lives in your apartment complex. And isn't that the perfect booty call?

Finally, he left me with a link to Solve Dating, quantitative analysis of online dating. As he says, it's interesting, but depressing. Statistically speaking the odds are against you ever finding a "soul mate" if that's what you seek. Either way, things like the "selectiveness cost" are fascinating geek browsing:

Selectiveness Cost
The more selective you are, the more it will cost you to find your soulmate. I have constructed a Soulmate Calculator on the web site. Depending on how selective you are, it will estimate how many singles you need to meet to find your soulmate and how much your search financial cost will be. The calculator uses the latest statistics from the U.S. Census and the National Center for Health Statistics.

Below is a table of advertising rates using different methods of finding people.

Type Description Cost/People($) % that are Single % that are the Opposite Sex Cost to Meet 1 Opposite-Sexed Single Person ($) Cost to Meet 1,000 Opposite-Sexed Single ($)
Bar A few drinks $20 per 500 people 90 50 0.09 89
Club Cover charge and drinks $30 per 500 people 90 50 0.13 133
Television 30 sec prime-time spot $17.78 per 1,000 people 50 50 0.07 71
Newspaper full page black and white ad $12.77 per 1,000 people 50 50 0.05 51
Magazine 1 color page $2.34 per 1,000 people 50 50 0.01 9
Radio top 100 markets, 60 sec. drive-time ad $8.61 per 1,000 people 50 50 0.03 34
Billboard weekly 30 sheet posters size $2.05 per 1,000 people 50 50 0.01 8 top online dating service $150 a year per 650,000 people 100 50 0.0005 0.46

Source: Various Advertisement Associations

Posted by Justin at December 29, 2003 04:05 PM | TrackBack


I have explored this issue on my blog. In the Scene & Heard section, I interview, Nicole, a member of, who is seriously on a soulmate finding mission. Recently, I have posted about standards (Watch What You Wish For) and the higher they are the less likely it seems you will become "attached". I have pretty high standards. Not for casual dating/sex, but for making a life long commitment to a man. I have seen people (mostly woman, sorry to say) really compromise themselves just to be in a relationship, only to have messy breakups shortly there after.

Posted by: Liz at January 9, 2004 04:11 PM
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