Odds Of Meeting Someone Online: How Picky Can You Be?

If you are a middle aged, post divorce dater, you may be wondering “What are the odds of meeting someone online and how picky you can be?”.  If you are like me, you may only know a few single men your age. The only single men I knew were from work; 2 were my employees and off limits and the other was someone I could not imagine dating. I felt that online dating was the only way to go.

One of the things I felt after separation was that I would never love again.  This apparently is a normal stage of post divorce/separation according to the book I read in my divorce support group.  I also had been told by my therapist that finding the odds of something bad happening, i.e. never meeting anyone, would help me allay my fears.

I was trained as a scientist for many years and had studied statistics.  I knew that the more qualities that I would select for in a mate the lower would be my chances of meeting someone.  Your criteria will vary but I will use my example to give you an idea of how to go about calculating the odds of meeting someone online.

First I looked up the population in my metro area.  It is 3 million. I know that about half of those are men. This is a rough calculation so using 50% instead of say 48% for someone my age, which may be more accurate, is fine.

My next big challenge is my height. I am tall for a woman so half of all men are shorter than me.  For every guy who doesn’t mind a woman who is an inch or two taller than him there is a guy who wants a woman a foot shorter so I just used 50%.  The ideal, I read, is for a woman to date a man who is 5% taller than them or for a man vice versa.  Here is a height chart for men and women so you can see percents if your preferred height range is narrow.

Another challenge for me was my body type. I am very stocky and plus sized. I read in a book that 10% of all men prefer this type.  I think in general you could put 15% unless you are a popular type, for example a size 6 blonde who is 5’4″ or so. Then it might be a little higher.  If you use my body type number calculation (1/87th) than you would have to do about 1.1%. Since 65% of women are plus sized and someone is in a relationship with most of them, you could use 65% instead.

As far as matching personalities, I used 15%.  This was based on matching Myers Briggs types which I plan to talk about in another article.

Next for me was intelligence. I have a high IQ supposedly, 1 in 1000, and my college genetics professor claimed that people mate within 10 IQ points of each other. According to this IQ percentile and rarity chart that would  allow me to only marry 0.7% of the population!   I think that is a little too narrow, so I just put 20% of people would be in a range of intelligence that would not be uncomfortable for either of us.  I use college graduates as a short cut but I do date men who have no degree if they show signs of intelligence in their profile, profession and early contact, especially since college graduation rates for middle aged people are much lower than for younger people.  If you have an average IQ of 100 than using plus or minus 10 IQ points gives you a whopping 80% of the population.

I figure in middle age, only about 10% of people are truly single i.e. actively looking for someone to go out with. The stats say 30% but I think many of those are co-habitating or in a serious relationship.  If you are in your early 20s it probably is a lot closer to 100%.

Another factor is the age range you are willing (and realistically able) to date in. I prefer to only date plus or minus 7 years from my own age.  I feel older or younger than that and I lose commonality of experience.  So that reduces the potential dating pool as well.

These are just my qualifications. I know men that only want a certain size of woman, women with only one color hair or women with breast size of a D or larger, for example. You can do research online to find the odds of finding these by typing in something like “percent women breast size” and you will find a chart (AA cup: 2%, A cup: 15%, B cup: 44%, C cup: 28%, D cup: 10%, and DD cup: 1%.). Looking in images rather than search often helps as well.

Some other criteria I used for my mate selection was that they had to be straight (my husband realized he was gay so this is a big one for me!) and I had to be attracted to their body type and face as well.  I read that 90% of men are straight and I did a rough count online of photos of guys I would be willing to date and got 15%.  I also want someone who is not neurotic. Neurotic people tend to get divorced so, unless they do work with a therapist post-divorce, I feel that half of them are still unmarriagable. This is reflected in the 65% failure rate of second marriages and 75% failure rate of third marriages, in my opinion. That leaves 25% of the ever-married population with 3 divorces. Roughly 15% of people never marry by middle age.

Odds of meeting someone online calculation

Here are my calculations using a spreadsheet:

Odds of meeting someone online

Odds of meeting someone online

To do the calculation, on the second line I multiplied the number above, 3 million, by 50% (0.5) to get 1,500,000. The next line I multiplied the number above, 1.5 million, by 90% (0.9) to get 1.35 million and so on.

So there are only 3 men in my area that meet these criteria. Maybe that is pessimistic but at least it is not less than 1.  Some things may overlap, like maybe college educated men are larger than non and they tend to like bigger women and not be as neurotic. If so the calculations are overly harsh.

If you keep adding criteria and it ends up below 1 then you may want to re-prioritize your criteria and delete some until it gets to greater than 1.  Good luck to all of us!!



Here is a funny article on Slate that talks about creating priority lists for dating.


update Dec. 2014

I have increased my estimate of “too neurotic” to 80%.

update April 2015

I realized mass not height was more important for me in my attraction. I personally like men who are 200# and up which is 25% of men according to a men’s weight chart.


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2 Responses to “Odds Of Meeting Someone Online: How Picky Can You Be?

  • Kitty
    5 years ago

    Great statistical analysis! I am medium height and back into my ideal weight, but I think you could trade some things around and still come up with the same numbers for me. I’m a Unitarian Universalist in a town full of Christians. I’m a liberal, and half the town is conservative. I’ve got three degrees, and so intellect is important to me. My preferred Myers-Briggs type is the same as my own–ENFJ. They are only 2-3 percent of any population anyway. Also, the women outnumber the men in this part of the country. Wow! Come to think of it, my number may even be less than three. On the one hand, that’s depressing. On the other hand, it makes me not feel so bad about myself for not finding anyone. Moreover, the thing about statistics is that they aren’t guarantees. When I was twenty-five, I had a type of cancer that you’d be more likely to win the lottery than having. That really sucked, but, fortunately, it was one of the “good” cancers. It didn’t spread or return. But in any case, I was not safe from the statistic. And that can work in the other direction as well. It just takes one stroke of amazing luck, right? Hugs to you!

  • Kitty
    5 years ago

    PS, I did an approximation using your formula, my city’s population, and some of my own criteria. I did not plug everything in because I was unsure about some numbers. I took a guess that only ten percent were religiously compatible and that half were not conservative. I came up with four.

    I did not plug in mental stability because I was really unsure about the number, and I also figure that everyone has some kind of baggage if they are over forty and single–it’s just a matter of whether my baggage meshes with theirs and whether they are working on theirs and whether we can work on it together and heal together. So I wasn’t sure how to approximate the number that was no-go (Borderline P disorder, Narcissistic P disorder, Schizophrenic, etc.).

    I did not plug in the number to which I am attracted for a couple of reasons. First, I’m not sure what percent that really is because I have found that sometimes I find men more attractive irl than in their photos. Second, I figured that a lot of the personality traits that I find unattractive were manifesting in the bad photos anyway. So much of attractiveness is expression and styling for me.

    Four may also be high since I also want a writer or creative type, and I don’t want a Vegan–once you have liberal ENFJ in the mix–the guy can turn out to be a vegetarian or Vegan or something else extreme. Then again, at the point that you have an educated, liberal ENFJ man, there are also good odds that he could be a creative type.

    Okay, let’s don’t limit ourselves to online dating. Hit the bars. Hit meetup groups. Join. Get involved. Wallpaper the world with your business card, chica! Hugs!