Average length of dating

A message like that is the online equivalent of a face tattoo. Let’s generate our efficiency table for women: Incredibly enough, the optimal first outreach from a woman to a man is just 50 characters long!

I’m willing to speculate that this graph is telling us that a guy decides whether or not to reply to a woman’s message regardless of what the message actually says, and that the first message’s function is simply to bring her profile to his attention.

If you’re the kind of person who spends a little more time reading a profile and thinking about your message, say, 10 minutes, then the optimal length goes up a few words (to 270 characters), but, still, The shortest messages get almost the best absolute response rate, and the reply rate actually goes down as messages approach extreme length.

For more information, see the latest announcement from the NBER's Business Cycle Dating Committee, dated 9/20/10.

Even on a lively site like Ok Cupid, only about a third (32%) of first messages get any response. In the next several posts here on Ok Trends, we’ll be taking a closer look at messaging and finding some ways to improve your own message response rate. The idea is that this is the ultimate goal of the first message: to start a conversation with someone.

Let’s start with this chart: The y-axis is reply percentage; the x-axis is message length, in characters; and the two lines are as follows. Green is the ratio of messages that get a reply that in turn gets replied to by the original sender.

To our bi and gay readers: we also ran the numbers on same-sex messaging, and though we don’t have nearly as much data for them, those charts are here, along with some discussion.

Though this post talks in detail about the content of people’s messages on Ok Cupid, all messages have been thoroughly anonymized, with sender and recipient data stripped out. The longer messages I give as examples in this post were actually forwarded to us by their annoyed/amused recipients.

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