OKCupid is Wrong

I started reading OKCupid's blog about a month ago, when their post hit the front page of Reddit. I don't use the site, but their combination of romance and statistics was intriguing. A new post just came out, and I was procrastinating hard enough to think a little about it. In their post, they argued that men between 22 and 30 should be looking at women 30 and older. They first provided data about what their users say they want, then provided reasons why women of that age are better matches.

There is, however, a flaw in their argument. Their basic error is this: women 30 and older don't want to date men between 22 and 30.

I took a closer look at their graphs, and extracted out the numbers. This is the graph I got:

If this looks slightly different from the graphs on OKCupid's post, that's because it is. Here, I flipped the female match preferences graph along the y=x axis. Therefore, if you're female, you start on the y-axis, and read across to get the average match preference.

Now, on to why OKCupid is wrong. If you look at their "zone of greatness", they marked out this area:

You see the problem: the average person in this area don't want to date others in this area. The blog post was written for men, so their bound might be ignored. The bound for women, however, shouldn't be. And this graph shows that, even if men were willing to date women in that age range, chances are the women won't reciprocate.

In other words, even with the other reasons that women above 30 are great fun, it turns out that they are simply not interested in men between 22 and 30.

What, then, should men (and women) be looking for? Look at the graph below:

Overlooking my horrible circling skills, these are the areas where there is a mismatch between men's preferences and women's preferences. Whereever women's preferences are taller than the men's (or men's preferences wider than the women's), there is an opportunity. Because men accept women of such a wide age ranger, any women who is willing to date someone slightly outside the average range (shown in pink) has an advantage. Comparatively, there are much fewer places where women are interested and men are not (shown in green).

Based on this graph, you can see what age you will have the least competition, but still are still relatively desirable.

One last thing: xkcd should be updated to reflect this data.

Disclaimer: Obviously, I am not affiliated with OKCupid. If any OKCupid staff reads this, and finds my graphs objectionable, please let me know.


  1. Awesome analysis. You're totally right

  2. Anonymous19/2/10 10:59

    Not that this is really means anything, but when I was on there, (as a 26 year old male,) I had quite a few 30+ women initiate contact with me. Maybe I am just too sexy for my own good though =\.

  3. Interesting analysis. I did something similar a while ago that gave pretty much the same results, so it's nice to see that it's a universal truth:


    Scroll down to the 'compatibility chart' at the bottom.

  4. Hi Mark,

    I left this on your post as well. I was wondering whether I could look at your data? In particular, I’m interested in the standard deviation of the limits.


    PS. for your data, within 20 <= m,f <= 50, the optimal age difference is the male being 2.90 years older than the female, +- 1.66 years (so the range is the male being 0.72 to 4.03 years older).