Turns out love is even blinder than we first thought – with new data from dating site RSVP and Queensland University of Technology (QUT) showing that most of us don’t have a clue what we want when we’re hunting for a mate online.
The study looked at 41,000 Australians aged 18 to 80 and revealed that more often than not people initiated or accepted contact from people who didn’t fit their stated criteria of what they were looking for in a match.
“Stating a preference for what you are looking for appears to have little to no bearing on the characteristics of people you actually contact,” says QUT behavioural psychologist Stephen Whyte.
One couple who’d have to agree would be Married At First Sight’s Alene and Simon. Within minutes of meeting each other, 31-year-old nurse Alene had expressed deep concern for her new groom’s lavish fro.
“The physical attraction is not there,” she insisted. “He’s not the type I’d usually go for, I mean physically. I definitely like my men taller and stronger and the hair – I don’t really like it.”
Fast forward a month, after spending more time together (and OK fine, a forced, flattering haircut for Simon) and, well, this:
Last season, Mark and Christie had the same issue, with the bride’s distaste for her new husband obvious from day one. “If he was online, I would have swiped past him,” she announced on her wedding day, having earlier requested a “European”-looking date.
Weeks later the former DJ was seriously considering selling her Sydney-based business and moving to rural Victoria because farmer Mark’s kindness and sense of humour had lassoed her heart. Admittedly this couple didn’t last, but the lesson did.
RSVP reckons it’s fiddled with its algorithm to match you with people you don't know would be good for you – sort of like the Married experts throwing people together who seem wrong on paper but turn out to be fireworks in real life.
That can only be a good thing for singles looking to find love online, says RSVP CEO David Heysen. The pool suddenly got bigger.
So next time you’re trawling a dating site, it might be worth taking a moment to linger over that stranger who doesn't immediately seem like your ‘type’ – whether it’s their job, their height or especially their – entirely fixable – hair.