OkCupid data reveal common dating truths (and lies)

The case for Cupid
The case for Cupid

Matchmaking data online can be romantic for some, but for others, the algorithms used offer scientific proof that dating stereotypes ring true.

"Working at OkCupid for the last 10 years has made me a more cynical person," joked Christian Rudder, the president and co-founder of the free online dating site, which boasts about 4 million monthly active users. People "do a lot of the same things that they do in real life. They pose and bluff and lie."

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Looking at the difference "between what people will tell you they're up to and what they go and do" is what signaled to Rudder that the information collected from about 30 million online daters' profiles had value beyond matchmaking.

The millions of answers OkCupid users provided to thousands of questions—ranging from family and politics to the importance of daily showers—offered "an awesome data set to dive into," Rudder said.


For instance, by looking at "who's liking who" on OkCupid, Rudder said men indicated the women they find most attractive are in their early 20s.

Age "20 to 50, they all want 20- or 21-year-old women. Guys get older, but they never grow up," Rudder said.

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But when it comes to actual behavior, men tend to send messages on OkCupid to women that are closer to 10 years younger than they are.

This split between public statements and private behavior indicates to Rudder "there's a certain amount of settling or negotiation," when it comes to using technology in the search for love—not unlike traditional dating.

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"Websites are now so connected to people's lives," Rudder said. "Facebook reflects your family and friends, OkCupid embodies how you find love or sex. What people do online isn't all that different than what they do in person."

—By CNBC's Katie Kramer