Do Men Really Outnumber Women on Dating Sites?

If you dip your toes into the online dating pool, you may get the following impression:

“On the average dating site, men outnumber women by a large margin.”

Anecdotal evidence would support that first impression but dating site demographics data tell a different story.

Anectdotal Evidence

Based on anecdotes from users of mainstream dating sites:

  • women receive 10 to 20 messages a day (with some getting 100 or more)
  • men receive 1 response for every 20 to 50 messages sent (!)

This may give the impression that men outnumber women.

Why are women flooded with email? Why do men get so few responses?

Plausible explanations include:

  • gender ratio (men outnumber women)
  • aggressive “alpha mails” (men who send an email to dozens of women every day)
  • players (men who try to juggle several women at a time)
  • women who feel that men should always initiate contact
  • dating site restrictions (women in free trial can receive messages but must buy subscription to respond)
  • dating sites do not delete inactive profiles abandoned by women

Let’s examine gender ratio further using third-party demographic data.

Demographic Data

Quantcast is a media measurement service that calculates and publishes website audience metrics, including demographics. It is a free, third-party service that provides reports on millions of websites. We use Quantcast demographic data throughout GiveYourHandaBreak.com.

Today, we will study the 115 dating sites listed on our Dating Site Gender Distribution page. These sites cover a broad spectrum of categories including general, ethnic, niche, wealthy and 100% free dating sites.

First, let’s look at the gender ratio extremes (maximum and minimum). What dating site has the highest man:woman ratio? What site has the lowest?

Dating Site % Male % Female Men/Woman Women/Man
Source: Quantcast
TheAtlasphere.com 84% 16% 5.25 0.19
AnimalAttraction.com 22% 78% 0.28 3.55

This gives us a range of 62%. That’s quite a spread but we need to keep in mind that these are both niche sites with relatively low traffic. If you compare Million Club Dating Sites (visited by more than 1 million people per month) the range drops to about 20%.

Now let’s look at the average gender ratio of all dating sites. As you know, average alone can be misleading.

Let’s say we put 10 people into a room. One of them is Bill Gates. The other nine are office workers who put cover letters on TPS reports. What is the average net worth of everybody in the room? Bill Gates’ net worth for 2008 is $58 billion. The average net worth would be $5.8 billion, even though 9 of the 10 people have a net worth of $100,000 or less.

To get a more accurate picture we need to look at:

  • mean (average of all values)
  • median (middle value when sorted from lowest to highest)
  • mode (most common value)

The table below shows the mean, median and mode for all 115 dating sites:

Statistic % Male % Female
Mean 52% 48%
Median 54% 46%
Mode 55% 45%

The above table only takes into consideration the percent male and percent female for each dating site, not the number of people who visit every month. Some dating sites get visited by 8 million people/month and others only 2,500 people/month. To get a better estimate, we need to factor in the traffic.

Compete triangulates multiple data sources, including ISP, Panel & Toolbar to estimate U.S. traffic. It is a free service that provides traffic information such as unique visitors per month.

We decided to combine Compete.com unique visitor data and Quantcast.com demographics data to estimate the number of U.S. men and women that visit each of the 115 dating sites.

Men Outnumber Women?

Taking people/month into consideration:

Statistic % Male % Female
Mean 50.3% 49.7%
Median 53.6% 46.4%
Mode N/A N/A

According to Quantcast data:

The internet average is about 50% male and 50% female.

Based on our rough estimates, for online dating as a whole:

  • men do not outnumber women by a significant margin
  • online dating average gender distribution ≈ internet average gender distribution

One can also say that for mainstream dating sites:

  • men outnumber women by a slight margin
  • this margin is not big enough to justify the poor response rates men reported

The poor reponse rates are probably due to one or more of the factors mentioned above. On paid (subscription based) dating sites, site policies may account for most non-responders:

  • failure to delete inactive profiles (in order to pad membership numbers)
  • communication restrictions (free trial members must buy subscription to respond)

Of course, most paid dating sites will not tell you if the profile you are trying to contact is inactive or a free trial member that cannot respond.

On low-traffic and niche dating sites:

  • gender ratios vary greatly (some as high as 5:1)

It is for this reason that you should check our Dating Site Gender Distribution page to see if gender odds are working for or against you on niche dating sites.

Related Page:
Dating Site Gender Distribution (http://www.giveyourhandabreak.com/gender/)

Related Site:
Gender Odds: Dating Site Gender Ratios (http://www.genderodds.com/)

Sources:
Demographics by Quantcast (http://www.quantcast.com/)
Web Stats by Compete Site Analytics (http://siteanalytics.compete.com/)

Internal Resources:
TheAtlasphere.com Review (http://www.giveyourhandabreak.com/sites/theatlasphere/)
AnimalAttraction.com Review (http://www.giveyourhandabreak.com/sites/animalattraction/)
Million Club Dating Sites (http://www.giveyourhandabreak.com/million/)

External Resources:
TheAtlasphere.com Website (http://theatlasphere.com/)
AnimalAttraction.com Website (http://animalattraction.com/)
How Quantcast Works (http://www.quantcast.com/docs/how-quantcast-works)
Compete Metric Descriptions – Unique Visitors (http://www.compete.com/help/q5)

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Comment (1)

  1. Evan wrote::

    I feel sorry for the guy that got 1 response for every 50 messages sent. As if logging into a dating site to find love didn’t do enough damage to his self-esteem.

    Friday, October 3, 2008 at 12:28 pm #
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