Tuesday, March 20, 2007

More women visit online dating sites

Trying to find a mate online? New data suggests that it's harder for women than for men.

To wit: eHarmony's visitors are 69 percent women, on Catholic Match it's 72 percent, and on Love-Access.com a whopping 87 percent are of the distaff sex, according to the data firm Hitwise.

The numbers -- which measure traffic, not membership on the specific sites -- cover the week ending Feb. 10. The gender imbalance seems to be more pronounced on sites that offer a premium service for matching people up, such as by requiring users to answer a long list of questions about themselves, says Bill Tancer, Hitwise's general manager of global research. Sites that attract men tend to simply stack photos and profiles on a page for users to pick through, he explains.

As such, the dating powerhouse Match.com had 55 percent women visitors compared with 45 percent men, while Yahoo! personals showed slightly more men than women -- 51 percent versus 49 percent -- according to Hitwise.

"The more money and time involved in signing up to a dating site, the more the site would skew female," Tancer says. "And, the more free pictures were available the more the site would skew male."

He adds: "I think what the data shows us ... is that women use online dating as an actual service for what it was intended." Meanwhile "some male users are using dating sites more just to look at pictures of women."

It was probably too much to hope that the Internet would level the dating field. That said, the numbers could offer some comfort to single women who now have hard proof that, yes, it really is a jungle out there.

eHarmony CEO Greg Waldorf says his site's membership is more balanced than the traffic numbers suggest, though there are "slightly more women than men." He didn't offer specific numbers.

In his view, more women is good. "I think that tends to attract men," he says.

"I think in attracting men, we have to do it different ways than attracting women," he adds. "Whereas women are very attracted to the site based on the privacy and safety features, I think a lot men come for reasons such as they get more responses to their communications."

Love-Deprived Single Mom, Black, 21, Looking For A Nice Black Man Under 40 For Occasional Adult Dating. No Drugs, No Drama.