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Gender And Sexual Orientation Differences In Courtship

Jamie Stroud

Table of contents

Methodology

I spent roughly 1 year on various dating sites and apps interacting with different people under various conditions to observe any differences based on gender and/or sexual orientation. I also documented my real life experiences over several years for comparison.

I was primarily focused on casual sex, and so the sites and apps I used were based on how suitable they seemed for this goal. Many sites had strict rules. For example, sites like eharmony.com, match.com, and zoosk.com and apps like DatingDNA and Skout didn't allow shirtless pictures on profiles. Therefore, they were eliminated as potential tools for research. Some networks/sites/apps simply didn't get much traffic so they were also eliminated as potential tools for research. Furthermore, there were many networks/sites which appeared to be scams as evidenced by charging money and having a large amount of robots. They were also eliminated as potential tools for research.

The sites I found suitable for the majority of my research were okcupid.com and pof.com. Other sites and apps I did extraneous research on include datehookup.com, the casual encounters section of craigslist.com, Blendr, Grindr, and Tinder.

I had my profiles on both sites (okcupid.com and pof.com) practically identical. Unless otherwise noted, these were the sites I ran the majority of my tests on. Also, I tried to make my profile look normal and realistic so there'd be no extraordinary variable that'd throw off all the tests. On a related side note, my height is below average (165 cm) and so all of the statistics related to straight/bi female response ratio might be somewhat lower compared to if I were normal height or taller.

The term "attractive" is used in this article to refer to those that would be rated 7 or higher in sexual attractiveness on a scale of 1-10. While sexual attractiveness is somewhat subjective, there are also universal principles involved in sexual attractiveness, so while it's admitted that there's no perfect process in determining whether someone is attractive or not, the people I refer to as attractive would probably be rated as better than average looking by the majority of people.

The term "open" in this article refers to being the one who sent the first message.

The term "response" refers to a reply to an opener.

The term "IOI" stands for "indicator of interest" which refers to evidence of sexual attraction towards someone (e.g. saying "you're sexy").

All of these tests took place while living in Los Angeles, CA, USA. I kept all search variables the same when looking for matches in order to reduce statistical differences that might be due to different search variables. For example, all searches were set to only seek out those within 25 miles of me and I only messaged individuals I considered attractive. On a side note, it's important to recognize that this location has a much higher gay and bi population than most other cities in America.


gender and sexual orientation differences in courtship
gender and sexual orientation differences in courtship

The Data

Response Ratio

General Findings

*Dating sites can vary a great deal in their gender ratio, but the sites I primarily used have a close to 1/1 male to female ratio. Therefore, a skewed gender ratio is not likely to be the cause for these different response ratios.

Translating To Casual Sex

The chance of getting casual sex was based on a combination of the response ratio and the likelihood of responders desiring casual sex. This varied a fair amount depending on the medium. For example, gay males on okcupid.com were less likely to desire casual sex than gay males on Grindr. To extrapolate, roughly 50% of all males (whether straight, bi, or gay) on okcupid.com would decline casual sex in preference of something more encompassing and they'd rather wait a few dates for sex. On Grindr, however, there were a small minority of users on there strictly for friends, to troll, or other reasons, but roughly 90% were on there for casual sex. This is not a perfect process, but it gives us some rough estimates.


gender and sexual orientation differences in courtship
gender and sexual orientation differences in courtship

Time

When casual sex does occur, it generally gets set-up with a different quantity of texts. On average, roughly 200 texts between straight males and straight females but only about 50 texts between gay males. The sex tends to be set-up for a later wait between straight males and straight females compared to gay males as well. To exemplify this, gay males would be more likely to plan to meet "now" whereas straight males and straight females would be more likely to plan to meet "tomorrow night".

The individual text messages tend to be longer between straight males and straight females compared to gay males. Gay males will often send short, highly efficient texts such as "Pics?" and "Into?". The latter being a short way of asking "What sort of sexual actions do you like?". I tested this out on females and most didn't know what I was asking. Some replied with an answer of what they thought I was asking. Only 2 (of over 20 that responded) knew what I was asking and both claimed they have a lot of gay male friends so that's how they knew.


gender and sexual orientation differences in courtship

Messages Received

Based On Gender And Sexual Orientation

Notes: All of these were measured for a span of 2 weeks (after that time span, openers received tends to decline). Furthermore, these statistics take into account logging in to the site at least once a day. Dating sites are generally programmed to display active users more frequently than inactive users.

*While all genders and sexual orientations deal with trolls and catfishers, gay females seem to have it the worst. According to OKCupid's own research as well as Facebook's, bisexual female profiles are the most common catfishers (but OKCupid is much more efficient at detecting and quickly deleting these profiles than Facebook). (Rudder, 2014, p. 185) Catfishers can have different characteristics and motives, but my experiences online suggests that the second most common characteristic and motive for a bisexual female catfisher is of a gay/bi male that wants to form relationships with straight males. The most common characteristic and motive for a bisexual female catfisher is of a straight/bi male that wants to form relationships with females. Perhaps they're interested in females of any sexual orientation, and it's just that desperation and maybe curiosity inclines them towards gay females. Considering the lack of response that straight males get, this probably wouldn't be surprising. On a related side note, users of the gay female dating app Qrushr estimated that roughly 50% of the users were straight/bi males just catfishing as gay/bi females. That was perhaps a big part of the reason that app quickly retired. On another side note, bisexual females do have a higher sex drive than straight and gay females and it's similarly as high as males, on average, (Stroud, 2014) and so it can be particularly difficult to detect if a bisexual female is a catfisher or actually genuine.

Based On Sexual Attractiveness

Based on OKCupid's own research, the most attractive females receive 28x more messages than the least attractive females and the most attractive males receive 11x more messages than the least attractive males. (Rudder, 2009c) Another interesting finding from their research is that attractive males are actually less likely to get a response when they message unattractive females than when they message attractive females. (Rudder, 2009c)

Based On Other Variables

Based on OKCupid's own research, males of above average height receive, on average, roughly 2-3 times as many openers than males of below average height. This might not be true at 203 cm or above however. Height makes less of a differences for females unless they're 178 cm or taller, in which case they'll receive less openers, on average, than shorter females. (Rudder, 2010b)

Based on OKCupid's own research, financial income can make a difference for both males and females, though much more so for males. In terms of messages received, males who reported making $3 0000 or less a year were consistently in the bottom 20% while males who reported making $10 0000 or more a year were consistently in the top 20%. (Rudder, 2010b)

Responses Versus Profile Views

I used datehookup.com for this test as they let you see who viewed your profile. Of 10 responses I received from females (and were detected to not be bots), 80% (8) viewed my profile. This isn't surprising. Considering how many more messages females get than males, many females probably can't be bothered to take the time to look at all profiles, yet they might still be interested in a conversation with you (your opener and your profile picture are likely to play a role in regards to if she's interested).

Openers

Since straight males have the lowest response ratio of any gender and sexual orientation combination, I tried out a variety of different openers towards straight/bi females to see what differences might arise.


gender and sexual orientation differences in courtship
gender and sexual orientation differences in courtship

In a female's own words why she "shit tests". This was obtained from Guys We Fucked, 2014 February 02, between the 46:15-48:15 mark:



Please keep in mind that this audio exemplifies "shit testing" in the context of a sexual relationship, not in the context of strangers. It's also not rare for males to "shit test" within sexual relationships (whereas it probably is rare for males to do sexual "shit test" with strangers), though it's probably not as common as it is for females. Similars attract (Amodio & Showers, 2005; Penton-Voak, Perrett, & Peirce, 1999), and this type of "shit testing" mostly occurs when an aggressive apathetic partner forms a sexual relationship with a nonaggressive empathetic partner. This incompatibility in personalities will incline the aggressive apathetic partner to "shit test" the nonaggressive empathetic partner in order to instigate conflict and aggressive interactions. The reason females are more likely to do this to males than vice versa is because females generally have more choice over sexual relationships than males. Consider that female-on-male intimate partner violence (IPV) is about equally frequent or slightly more frequent than male-on-female IPV, (Archer, 2000; Mirrlees-Black, 1999), that females are about equally likely or slightly more likely to initiate IPV towards males than vice versa (Carney, Buttell, & Dutton, 2007), and that over 70% of nonreciprocally violent intimate relationships (where one partner is violent to the other partner but that partner is never violent to the other partner) are female-on-male (Whitaker, Haileyesus, Swahn, & Saltzman, 2007), yet about 70% of divorces are initiated by females. (Brinig & Allen, 2000) The fact that males suffer from violence in intimate relationships similarly as much as females yet are so much less likely to leave their relationships suggests that they stay due to lesser choice than females. A female can generally enter a new sexual relationship as soon as she exits one more easily than males, and so males are more likely to endure suffering and incompatibility in their sexual relationships in order to have a better chance of getting their sexual needs met compared to being single.

While it's probably far more rare for males than females to do sexual "shit tests" with strangers, males are probably more likely than females to do what I'll dub "pic tests" for the convenience of comparison. Sometimes males will ask someone to send sexually revealing media through text/email/etcetera (e.g. nude pictures), then either stop sexually pursuing that person or completely cut off contact with that person soon after. However, it's difficult to determine what percentage of these cases are due to lack of sexual attraction to the person after having seen sexually revealing media of him/her, and what percentage of these cases are due to the male just wanting to see if the person will actually send such media (perhaps to satisfy his curiosity drive but not to satisfy his sex drive). My experiences incline me to think the latter scenario occurs in only a minority of cases.


gender and sexual orientation differences in courtship

Onus Of Opening

Of 20 attractive females that were the last to match with me on Tinder, only 3 (15%) opened me. Considering that they were the last to match, it'd seem logical to expect the onus to be on them to open, but it seems regardless of the circumstances, the onus is placed on males to open females.

Lies

Based on OKCupid's own research, both the average male and female lies about their height by +5 cm and about their financial income by +20%. (Rudder, 2010b)

Pickiness

OKCupid's own research found that females are much pickier than males, based on their ratings of profiles. Females are much more likely to rate profiles less than 3 stars and much less likely to rate profiles 3 or more stars than males. (Rudder, 2014, pp. 16-17) This is interesting because American society seems to complain much more about females than males in regards to their image manipulation in media. Many people say that touch-ups in editing make females look unrealistically attractive and that gives males unrealistic expectations, but this data suggests that females have more unrealistic expectations than males.


gender and sexual orientation differences in courtship

Age Preferences

OKCupid's research found that males of any age, on average, prefer females in their early 20's, whereas females in their 20's, on average, prefer males slightly older than them, and females in their 30's and beyond, on average, prefer males slightly younger than them. (Rudder, 2014, pp. 34-35) This suggests that females care less than males about physical appearance, and perhaps more about similarity and social acceptance (considering that those close in age are more likely to have similar hobbies and interests).


gender and sexual orientation differences in courtship
gender and sexual orientation differences in courtship

Height Preferences

As the data shows, if there's any strong height preference, males generally prefer shorter females and females generally prefer taller males. Also of note is that females are much more likely than males to be picky in this regard.

It's interesting how many females say they prefer being with a taller male to feel protected. You'd think athleticism or muscularity would be a better indicator of someone that's able to protect. You might think that females could mean with all else being equal a taller male would make them feel more protected than a shorter male. However, not just from Yancy and Emerson's (2014) study, but also from the thousands of profiles I visited, it was several times more rare for females to note their preference for athletic or muscular males over or in addition to their preference to tall males. Furthermore, even with all things being equal, height would probably not be as important of a factor for feeling protected as athleticism or muscularity would be.

Shorter males, on average, are relatively more powerful than taller males. There has only been a small quantity of competitive power lifters to clean and jerk 3x their own body weight. Of the heights of those individuals I was able to obtain, their average comes to 154 cm. This is about 21 cm shorter than the average male height.

So far, only 1 individual has ever snatched 2.5x his own body weight.

His height is 147 cm, which is about 28 cm shorter than the average male height.

Gymnasts are debatably the most versatile of all athletes in terms of quantity and quality of various fundamental physical skills. The average height of Olympic male gymnasts is about 165 cm. That's about 10 cm shorter than the average male height.

The average height of all professional MMA fighters is 179 cm. The average height of only the champion professional MMA fighters is 177 cm. The champions of MMA are mildly shorter, on average. However, the difference is probably trivial. Absolute strength and skill are probably more important than height.

In general, short males make for good athletes, and good athletes probably make for good protectors from a physical stand point. Furthermore, a short male of equal weight to a tall male, will likely not only be relatively stronger, but absolutely stronger too. In order for the taller individual to have more absolute strength, he will likely need to be heavier too. So if the noted criteria for being a good protector is height, it shouldn't be just to be tall, but to be tall in combination with heavy, or more specifically like I noted before, to be tall in combination with athleticism or muscularity.

This whole discussion of protection, thus far, has been from a physical view point. There's the possibility that many females aren't actually referring to the physical when they speak of protection though. In which case, my whole argument, thus far, would crumble based on the premise it was based on. Taller males, on average, have a higher socioeconomic status than shorter males. (Judge & Cable, 2004) In which case, being tall, in and of itself, would be an indicator of social protection, regardless of other variables such as weight, athleticism, or muscularity.

I've worked many circus gigs in my life. Something interesting I've noticed is how easily a stilt walker can get attention, especially in consideration of the difficulty of different skills. Learning to juggle clubs can take a week just to get confident with the basic cascade pattern. Learning to unicycle can take several weeks just to get confident with basic riding. Learning stilt walking with platform stilts often only takes a day to get confident with. And yet, an audience will often give more attention to a stilt walker not doing anything special than to a juggler or unicycler. In order for a juggler or unicycler to get more attention than a stilt walker, he can't just do the basic cascade pattern or standard back and forth riding, he actually has to have some cool tricks to show. That means even more training time is required. That means several times more effort is required just to compensate for the lack of height. The point of this example is to suggest that perhaps there's something natural about height being attention grabbing in life in general, and to compensate for that you'll likely need other valuable traits. For females, their physical appearance might compensate for a short height due to the average male's higher sex drive. For males, they're less likely to have that compensation ability through physical appearance. This would at least partly explain the greater female pickiness in regards to their height preference in partners.

In regards to Yancy and Emerson's (2014) study showing that about 11% of females note the importance of male height due to them wearing high heels, this is something I also noticed when going through thousands of female profiles on dating sites. I found many females that required males to be at least as tall as they are... when they're in high heels! This subtly suggests that such females value their high heels more than males, or at least more than potential male sex partners.


gender and sexual orientation differences in courtship

Race/Skin Color Preferences

Black people consistently rank lowest in regards to the race/skin color people prefer of their potential sex partners, while white people consistently rank the highest. Generally, people prefer their own race/skin color the most then white people the next most, but black people are exceptional in that their race/skin color preferences vary much more.


gender and sexual orientation differences in courtship
gender and sexual orientation differences in courtship

Unfortunately, not much research has been done on this topic. Explanations thus far have mostly appealed to nurture. For example, some people speculate that white people are promoted in modeling ads the most and black people the least, and so people might be conditioned to find white people more sexually attractive and black people less sexually attractive because of this. However, mainstream media and society work with each other as a two-way process. Why are white people promoted in modeling the most and black people the least? Is that what society originally wants and chooses to promote in mainstream media, or does mainstream media choose to promote that and it conditions society to prefer it over time?


gender and sexual orientation differences in courtship

In general, average faces are more attractive than individual faces, yet exaggerated faces are even more attractive than average faces. (Perrett & Yoshikawa, 1994) An "average face" can be created by getting many pictures of faces and forming a composite, meaning to blend them together using mathematical algorithms. An "exaggerated face" can be made by increasing the shape differences of the composite (average) face.


gender and sexual orientation differences in courtship

People prefer average or somewhat away from the average, but not too away from the average. This seems to be the case not just for faces, but for practically any physical aspect. For example, females might like tall males but not too tall, muscular but not too muscular, etcetera. If that's the case, then how does it apply with race/skin color? Brown/tan skin is average, and either white or black is away from the average. Hypothetically, both could be considered most attractive based on the aforementioned evidence and examples, so it's a conundrum why white is preferred but not black.

Considerations of nature's role in this issue has been severely neglected thus far, but there's a way to obtain evidence for it. Infants stare at attractive faces longer than at unattractive faces. (Langlois et al., 1987) Composite (average) pictures could be made for different raced/skin colored faces, then shown to many different infants to see which faces the infants stare at longest. This study hasn't yet been done, but it might very well provide crucial evidence and raise some important questions for this issue.

Sex Drive Contradictions

Every time I asked a female what her sex drive is like, if she responded to the question, it'd always be to say high, yet most of the time her behavior was in direct contradiction to her statement. Perhaps many females have a different conceptualization of what a high sex drive is than most males do or perhaps they lie about having a high sex drive to seem more appealing. On a side note, I found it more useful to ask how often they like to have sex instead.


gender and sexual orientation differences in courtship

In contrast, many males both inside and outside of the PUA community often claim to downplay their interest in sex when with females they're sexually attracted to. Many claim that, as contradictory as it seems, it generally leads to having sex with females faster.

In a female's own words: "I read somewhere a bit of advice offered to men who are having difficulty with unyielding women. It is suggested that the best approach is to act shy or disinterested in sex, and that will achieve faster results than the traditional pass. I think that whoever wrote this is very smart. And now I don't trust shy men any more either."
(Bengis, 1991, p. 103)

The Friend-Zone

Research already done by me and my colleague Chelsea showed that males and females are similarly as likely to be stressed with being "just friends" with someone that they're sexually attracted to. (Stroud & Stroud, 2014) Then why is it that society speaks so much more often about males being friend-zoned by females than about females being friend-zoned by males? One possibility is that males are less likely to friend-zone females than females are to friend-zone males. Another possibility is that having a lower sex drive would incline you to feel sexual attraction more slowly, thus having more time before being friend-zoned has an effect. Research by others suggests that this might very well be the case. Harrison & Shortall (2011) found that males "fall in love" faster than females. Furthermore, Bleske-Rechek et al. (2012) found that males generally report stronger sexual attraction to female friends than females report towards male friends, and that males tend to overestimate their female friends' sexual attraction to them while females tend to underestimate their male friends' sexual attraction to them.

Such research suggests that males have a vulnerability and females have a safequard when it comes to courtship. If males become sexually attracted more quickly than females do, they might be more prone to feel the pangs of unrequited love and have less time to break away as the feelings develop. In contrast, if females become sexually attracted more slowly than males do, they might be less likely to feel the pangs of unrequited love and have more time to break away as the feelings develop.

Compromise

If a gay male gets a response from another gay male, there's near a 100% chance he can ask sexual questions (with an explanation upfront that he's merely checking for compatibility) and receive answers for them right from the beginning of the conversation, regardless if he's looking for casual sex or a more encompassing relationship.

If a straight male gets a response from a female, there's a roughly 50% chance he can ask sexual questions (with an explanation upfront that he's merely checking for compatibility) and receive answers for them right from the beginning of the conversation, regardless if he's looking for casual sex or a more encompassing relationship (the other 50% will just ignore/block you from that point). Of the 50% that will answer, roughly 50% will only do so with great resistance and difficulty, the other 50% will answer them simply and directly.


gender and sexual orientation differences in courtship
gender and sexual orientation differences in courtship

Comparison To Other Studies

Conclusions

Online courtship parallels real life courtship to a great extent. Working as a gogo dancer primarily at gay night clubs, only 2-6% of females that extensively flirted with me (giving me multiple IOIs, as opposed to just tipping me and/or engaging in small talk) were willing/wanting to have sex with me, even after letting them know that's what I wanted. Less than 1 out of every 20 females that entered the club would flirt with me to this degree. Therefore, the statistics end up quite similar to the success rate with getting casual sex online. It could be debated that females that go to gay night clubs generally have a lower sex drive than females that go to straight night clubs (which is why they might go to gay night clubs, because they don't want flirtation from males). I have less experience working straight night clubs, but I do have some, and I also worked straight parties as a stripper for a year, and from these experiences I seriously doubt the success rate could be anymore than double. In which case, even if 4-12% of females that extensively flirted with me would be willing/wanting to have sex with me, it'd be somewhat higher compared to online, but still low and nowhere near the success rate that gay/bi males and straight/bi females have, though perhaps similar to the success rate that gay females have.

I have the highest success rate with females when training at gymnastics (more than 10% of females give me IOIs at these places). This is perhaps due to the familiarity increases attraction principle (we see each other multiple times if we both frequent the gym), the similarity increases attraction principle (we both have similar hobbies and interests), and perhaps the social quality of having cool gymnastics skills is more appealing than the social quality of having cool pelvic thrusting gogo dancing skills. However, the IOIs here seem more often directed towards a more encompassing relationship rather than just casual sex. As far as can be told from data and from my experiences, all gender and sexual orientation combinations seem to have similar difficulty in forming more encompassing relationships (the difficulty isn't quite the same, but the differences in difficulty at least aren't extreme, on average). The main difference lies in casual sex, this is where gay/bi males and straight/bi females tend to have a much easier time than straight males and gay females do. However, perhaps most straight and gay females don't want/need casual sex and so it doesn't stress them to not get it, but perhaps most straight males do want/need casual sex and it does stress them to not be able to get it, and in turn, perhaps it stresses straight and gay females to have to deal with the frequent sexual invitations from straight/bi males.


gender and sexual orientation differences in courtship

References


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