shirtless man flexing muscles to impress online date

Online dating: what’s the goal?

By Steph Haase April 7, 06:00 am
The goal of online dating seems obvious: a new partner. But is good communication or sex appeal more important when finding love online? You may be surprised.

Online dating is booming. People are constantly on Tinder looking for prospective partners, and there are many other online platforms that promise love, happiness and sex. They all aim to hook you up with someone – whether it is for sex or love (or both) depending on where you look.

What’s more important: looks or personality? 

When it comes to looking for a long-term partner, what is more important: finding someone you can talk to, or someone who’s hot and has lots of sex appeal?

Using data of almost 6000 users, researchers looked into answering this question. They also tried to figure out if this changes with age. In short: do younger, middle-aged and older people look for the same things when it comes to online dating?


While many may think online dating is a meat market, where people will choose looks over personality traits, this isn’t what the researchers found. Communication was most valued across all age groups. However, women put a slightly higher importance onto good communication than men did.

Surprisingly, it’s the older ladies who were slightly less interested in communication.

Sexual attraction

You might think that sex appeal was most important to the younger users, right? Well, it turns out that they still think communication is key; just like their older counterparts. Only the very oldest age group – and we are talking about people up to 95 here – valued sex appeal less than younger people.

It’s the middle-aged divorcees who think sexual attraction is most significant in a new partner.

Socially acceptable?

There are a few things the researchers might want to look into for future studies. Did the respondents think it was best choosing communication over sex appeal? Did they think it would reflect badly on them, that they would seem shallow? And, are the people using this particular platform representative for all other online daters?


Source: Menkin, J.A., Robles, T.F., Wiley, J.F. & Gonzaga, G.C. (2016). Online Dating Across the Lifespan: Users' Relationship Goals. Psychology and Aging.

What do you think is more important? Sex appeal or good communication? Let us know below or on Facebook. For questions, head to our forum.

Did you learn something new?

As I was feeling lonely after having a breakup with my girlfriend, I tried finding out the best ways of winning her heart once again. My honest efforts actually helped to melt her heart and we are now planning to get married soon.
Well i broke up with my man some few weeks ago because i found out that he was cheating on me... And there is this guy whom has been in love with me ever since but we just met online, so i made the effort to meet him in person, he seems to be a good man and he wants our to marry me, but i have doubts because we just met online...
Hi Effi, It takes time to develop a relationship and since you just met you may not know enough about each other to enter into such a long term commitment. Perhaps you want to spend a little more time to get to know each other before you make the decision to get married, this article may help as you consider this. We wish you well.
Laura M.
Wed, 06/13/2018 - 07:34 pm
I had a breakup with my boyfriend because we were not sexually compatible. Once, I was alone at home on a hot summer night, and I was feeling bored, so I started looking for someone who can make me feel comfortable in my loneliness. I tried to have on a social media site. It was a soothing experience, and now I interested in having relationship with females.
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