A good friend of mine was bitching like a petulant child explaining his frustration with eHarmony. Though I’ve had limited success with my dating website of choice, I suggested that he give it a whirl. For reasons that aren’t really germane to this post, I wrote his dating profile for him, an exercise that I found fascinating for what I learned about our friendship, and as a literary challenge.
I was amazed at how quickly his profile was viewed and he began receiving messages. It was a stark contrast to my initial experience – my views came at a trickle and I didn’t receive an unsolicited message from a woman for several weeks. This differential seemed to underscore the site’s internal analysis of response rates based on demographics.
My friend and I have roughly the same stats when it comes to the searchable categories for the site. He’s a couple of years older, we both have advanced degrees, are roughly the same height, have the same build, share a fondness for adult beverages, are mostly agnostic, lean pretty hard to the progressive political scale, and most people would say we are about equal in the looks department. The one difference? He’s about as white as they come and I am not.
The principle of Occam’s Razor would suggest that difference as the cause, but like most people of color, I wanted to eliminate every other possible cause before making that ugly leap. Perhaps in the year or so that I’ve used the site, I have become more proficient at the style of writing preferred there. Could it be that the pictures were simply more flattering of my friend?
I know that physical attractiveness is an unquantifiable issue but I think that it would be hard to argue that he is Lyle Lovett to my Denzel Washington or I am Flavor Flav to his Brad Pitt.
In a mildly unscientific effort to test this, I created the exact same profile in a different city. I selected Chicago because it is a larger city (creating a seeming advantage for me because of a larger dating pool.) To add to my perceived advantages, I bumped my height to the six feet, two inches the doctor’s promised my younger self I would be. I’ve known my friend for years and I am certain that the pictures of him weren’t the best ones I’ve seen just the ones that I had available. Neither account completed any of the questions so the “Match Percentage” for women to both profiles was zero. Additionally, neither account viewed any profiles during the study period, so there were no pingback views or “You Looked at me so let me look at you” views.
Profile Views in the first 24hours, 48hours, week:
Same Words His Pictures: 36, 63, 212
Same Words My Pictures: 10, 18, 63
Elapsed Time Before Receiving First Message:
Same Words His Pictures: 34 minutes
Same Words My Pictures: more than a week and counting
Number of Messages in the First 24hours, 48hours, week
Same Words His Pictures: 3, 5, 10
Same Words My Pictures: zero, zip, and zilch
Preferences are preferences and I am not drawing any line in the sand conclusions, but I am fatigued by the implication. I’m tired of telling this story because way too many people realize that a story is just a few synonyms away from a fable and then just a few more from a tall-tale. And so it leaves me standing here under the weight of a lived-certainty that nobody believes and bracing for the ridicule of my anger.
This post was only possible because of the editorial assistance of my friend and fellow blogger, franco.Beans. If he isn’t in your blog reader, you need to fix that… like right now.