Secret of online dating

The authors do not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and have disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond the academic appointment above.

The Conversation UK receives funding from Hefce, Hefcw, SAGE, SFC, RCUK, The Nuffield Foundation, The Ogden Trust, The Royal Society, The Wellcome Trust, Esmée Fairbairn Foundation and The Alliance for Useful Evidence, as well as sixty five university members.

View the full list If it seems as if everyone you know is online dating, you’re not alone.

In the UK, 9.1m people have used an online dating site and one in every five new committed relationships starts online.

With more users, comes greater demand for these sites to match the right people together.

But it seems as if hooking you up with the right person is less about what you say you want and more about how you, or others like you, behave online.

To gain a little insight into what makes people tick when they look for romance online, we’ve studied the behaviour of 200,000 people on Baihe.com, a dating site in China that has more than 60m registered users.

We found that people are in many ways predictable in their dating habits but they also often bend their own rules.

To make good matches, sites need to look at this rule bending when making recommendations.

When a user creates a new account on a dating site, they may specify what kind of partner they are looking for.

A user might say they are looking for someone in their early 20s with at least a bachelor degree and a certain minimum monthly income.

They don’t actually stick as rigorously to their preferences as they might have thought they would though.

While they are more likely to respond to first contact from someone who matches their original wish list, we found that 70% of the messages sent by women and 55% of those sent by men were to communicate with people who did no meet their original criteria.

Women, it seems, are more flexible than men about matching people to their criteria.