Recently a large online dating site, OKCupid, came out and said that they run harmless experiments on the members of their website to find out what works. For example, OkCupid experimented by removing all of the photographs on the website to see what would happen, in a move called Love Is Blind day. In addition to "Love is Blind" day, they have had daters rate each other's photos, and displayed different match percentages, all to see if that affected the amount of responses that people received.
It turns out — all of these things affected their clients' inboxes. For example, "Love is Blind" day resulted in people responding to first messages 44% more often, and those people had deeper conversations and exchanged contact details more quickly.
Here's how to steal their experimental mindset to date better and meet people faster.
Polish and Marketing
If dating is at it's core, marketing, you should be not only making an effort to put your best foot forward, but to determine what your best foot looks like, just like OkCupid does with their experiments. Too many daters believe they should bring their warts on their dates, rationing that they don't want to "be fake" or attract someone based on being someone who they are not. Then when it doesn't work out, they are messaging me looking for coaching to find out why.
Polish is one of the most commonly missing things from people's dating repertoire. But all polish is not exactly whom you are deep down, right? The act of putting on clothes and getting ready for a date is not that different than putting on clothes and getting ready for any other normal day.
Polish is also an attitude, it's acting confident when you're really nervous, listening to their seemingly endless monologue about their dog fluffy when you'd rather not, etc. Polish isn't only appearance and it can make all the difference in attracting someone great and never really understanding why the opposite sex has never tried to beat your door down.
If you were "being authentic" during a normal day, wanting to show the world "the real you," you might as well forget about wearing clothes, right? They are not technically "you?" Of course, in practice, this isn't what people do. You will likely still wear clothes and probably throw in a shower for good measure. Actions like putting on clothes and showering are just part of looking and feeling your best. This grooming behavior naturally extends to dating.
Hacking Your Online Dating Success
Using polish in tandem with an experimental mindset makes it easier to date, gets you better responses from the opposite sex and saves you time. How? Optimization: things like changing your photos, your message content, what you do on the date once you get there can all affect your ultimate success with online dating.
For an offline example, what if you went on a lot of dates and recorded the different response rates between wearing a white shirt vs. a black shirt? What if that little change happened to be significant and all other factors being equal, made the difference between someone calling you after the date or not? It probably wouldn't matter much to you otherwise, so why wouldn't you go with the white shirt? There is no reason to be adverse to a positive change that would increase your success rate when it came to something trivial, but still weirdly, a factor. It might not matter to you what color your shirt is, or what particular outfit you generally wear on first dates, but over a lot of dates (and you should be trying for a lot of dates), it's possible that really anything you habitually do could have an effect on your success rate with the opposite sex.
To use another example, say for one day, you selected 50 people to message for the first time. For the first 25 people, you copied and pasted a general message that you wrote and then only customized that message with their username at the beginning. For the other 25 people, you wrote two short, custom paragraphs with a similar structure — say, two things you noticed on their profile that you both had in common and one fun thing you're doing this weekend. Then when the responses came in, you figured out how many people responded to the form message vs. the custom message and adjusted your behavior accordingly.
Now, I can tell you what I think would occur, but this could vary widely depending on who YOU are, what your pictures look like, what your gender is, etc. You might find that it really doesn't matter what you write and then you could save a lot of thought and energy by just having a stock message. On the opposite end, you might find that the people who you wrote the two paragraphs to responded so positively that you'll never want to slack on message writing again. Either way, finding is information, and information is power. When you make all of these little changes, they add up to better, faster experiences with others that get you closer to meeting the right person.
Magical Benefits of Hacking Your Online Dating
If you go into dating with a lightly scientific mindset, other magical benefits occur. It forces you to consider more dates to see what will happen and it decreases your anxiety. If you are able to think of it all like a big, fun experiment (at the core, our lives are big experiments in what really works, after all) it takes the pressure off. You're free to relax and see what happens rather than getting tripped up by the two dating failure twins, hope and expectation.
Another beneficial part of experimentation is change. When you're committed to just figuring out what works for you, you're no longer stuck in the past, doing the same things over and over that just don't work. I'm not suggesting that you announce loudly to your dates that it's an experiment or anything, just that you adopt a mindset of optimization and continually trying to do it better. Dating is a skill like any other, and to learn a new skill, you practice and determine what works, right? Like OkCupid, we could find out that there's a big difference that we're not going to notice if we're stuck doing the same old things, day after day, wondering why we're still single.
Tell me your thoughts in the comments. If you're struggling with guys disappearing with out a trace, download a free copy of my new book, Why Men Lose Interest.
More online dating advice on YourTango: