(non)Adventures in vanilla dating

Despite my best efforts, I have not yet lined up any more dates other than my last.

And by ‘best efforts’, I mean ‘I invited men who I thought were even marginally interesting to go out with me’. That number is not high, but it’s more than zero and is a huge departure from my normal process where I won’t meet anyone until I genuinely and absolutely think there is real potential. Dating immersion, yo!

When I suggested a meeting to one, he balked and it turns out that the app I’m using showed me as being closer to him than I am: I’m actually too far away for him to be interested in anything more than something casual. Okay then.

With another we exchanged a few (very) light notes, I asked him what he was looking for and added that if we were aligned we could perhaps meet this week: *crickets*.

And so it goes.

Since I’m not actually, you know, getting any DATES out of this, I thought I’d indulge in some analysis of what’s happening in my inbox.

Ooh, look, graph porn!

Below is what my inbox looks like by age group: 70% of my mail is from men 10 or more years younger than me, only 2% from men older.

As a public service to the older ladies out there, while I can’t vouch for the quality, if you are into casual hookups with REALLY young eager things, it seems that you’re in luck. They are swarming my inbox with ridiculous minimal-word emails.

I find the breakdown quite curious.

Most of the really young ones are clearly just after casual sex (and some rather politely ask outright if I’m interested in a casual hookup with a younger man), so if that’s your thing, it’s pretty much on tap (I’m going to add the caveat here that I’ve not actually taken up any of these offers, so have no opinion on whether these eager young things are all talk or not).

As for the lack of men over 45 (that is ‘around my age’), either there just aren’t as many on the dating site overall or I think it’s pretty likely that many of them have filtered me out of searches by age because they are looking for younger women.

I was curious to see the breakdown of number of messages by word length (1 & 6 word messages are popular), and also whether there was a correlation between the length of messages and the sender’s age (there wasn’t). Despite the fact that 16+ words looks like the biggest category, overall it’s about 25% and only a couple of those have been thoughtful conversation starters that referenced anything that I put out there (unsurprisingly, my first vanilla date was with one of those).

[click to see larger version]



This is the number of words broken down by age in graphical form. I’ll admit that I’d have expected (and hoped) to see a pretty clear trend that showed that as they got older, they were better at using their words. But nope. It seems to be a pretty random spread.

After talking about introductory emails, I’ll add that I have initiated some contacts also based on great profiles and appealing pictures. Not a lot because honestly, most profiles scream ‘I’M FUCKING DULL, I LIKE BEER AND SPORT AND MY MATES, HAVE A BIT O’ THIS ACTION LADIEEZZZ LOL’. None of those I have contacted have gone anywhere past a few back and forths. It’s not all one sided, you know.

On a different note, I’m going to add this because I find it both interesting and a little depressing:

On the vanilla site, at worst, I get a lot of dull emails that consist of less than ten words.

On the BDSM site, I get a lot of those also, but I also get men telling me explicitly and in gross detail what I should do to them (let me be clear that I don’t get a lot of those, but I’m talking about the WORST I get).

I think that because vanilla men are just dealing with ‘a woman’ on a dating site, they know how to behave because hell, they do that all day every day out in the world. Because submissive men are dealing with ‘a Domme’, some of them have carefully smoothed an impenetrable layer of ‘not a real human woman’ on top and therefore think that normal socially acceptable behaviour no longer applies.

In short: my vanilla dating inbox is a lot less unpleasant than my BDSM one. Sad, but true.


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  1. Wow! So interesting… thanks for sharing.

    I am quite surprised too that as we get older we don’t necessarily produce longer or more thoughtful messages. I think it also happens the other way around, as I can’t find any correlation in that sense either in the messages I receive from women.

    I wonder if those patterns we can see in your nicely presented data would depend on the geographic place. I guess we could find some differences between a big city or a smaller one, or between countries.

    We might not find what we would like to find in dating sites, but they are somehow quite ilustrative of human behaviour :)

    1. It IS interesting isn’t it?

      And I suspect it would differ wildly based on a whole bunch of factors. Who knows: If I put different pictures up or changed a few words in my profile, my results might be entirely different.


  2. My experience of using vanilla sites is pretty similar to yours, although as someone early twenties I did get my fair share of guys 10-15+ years my senior, so they are definitely out there. HOWEVER, they dropped off immensely once I moved past being 21-22. So… I’m sure you can draw your own conclusions there.

    Oddly though I tend to get gross sexual messages on both kink and non kink sites, however on places like okcupid they tend to be a lot more brief. I’ve also found the picture I use on okcupid changes the type of messages I get, even though they were all essentially head/upper torso shots, ones that were considered more “innocent” got different responses to ones that the men themselves called “intimidating”. It wasn’t an across the board thing (set off some types but not others etc), so I’d really like to be able to go back and compare the data for that myself.

    1. Oh, I can draw some super creepy conclusions from your experience :(.

      I do think I’m protected from the gross sexual messages on vanilla sites by my age. Even the young ones who just want to hook up are polite enough. I absolutely expect that young women get a whole bunch of horribleness that I don’t get which is both entirely predictable and equally depressing.

      I’m curious what the difference in messages was with the intimidating vs innocent photos.


      1. I recently saw a study indicating that in areas (cities and colleges) where there were substantially more men than women, women had more dates and committed relationships and in areas where there were substantially more women then men, women had far fewer dates and far more random, one time, sexual hook ups.

        The researchers’ conclusion was that men generally preferred random hook ups and that women preferred traditional courting and relationships. I know, tons of unanswered questions and besides, only an idiot would form an opinion based on some internet quoting research without so much as a link, but I do find it interesting and think it comports with certain cliches, societal norms and pop evolutionary biology theories (is so a thing cuz…I say so).

        One might argue men only begun to worry about monogamy when royal lineage became a concern. (I know, tons of historical examples to contradict that theory too).

        Anyway, fun stuff to read, though we all root for your romantic partner.

  3. The other day I got an initial message on Collarspace. It was a couple paragraphs and, on the face of it, pretty thoughtful and detailed. But it was word-for-word identical to a message the same guy sent me 10 months ago and was filled with the Angst of the Cross Dresser ™.

    I took some time replying, explaining the pitfalls of form letters, and giving him what I thought were helpful ideas for his search. The response? *crickets*

    1. Ha! Sometimes I also send a helpful reply if I think they are sincere, but misguided.

      If I get a ‘thank you’, I am beyond delighted. Some of them genuinely don’t ‘get it’ and are thankful for the help.

      Mostly I get nothing back. I still consider it A Good Thing though. I hope you do also.


  4. This is not quite on topic, but whatever.

    Do you think a Dom-Sub dynamic could work within a platonic friendship? There’s no intention to have sex and it’s not about scene play, basically just doing friend stuff but both know that one friend calls the shots.

    I was thinking about this for two reasons:

    1) it’s one of the challenges being a dom/sub that it’s difficult to explore outside of an intimate context and it might be one of the reasons guys get a bit bonkers when trying to initiate with a dom.

    2) I find many of the things I like about the dom/sub dynamic are more social then erotic–it’s a relief to sometimes have relationships with clearly defined rules. I could just imagine so many friendships bing simplified if they were dom/sub.

    I can also see potential problems…

    1. Absolutely it can work. There are plenty of D/s relationships that aren’t romantic or sexual.

      Having said that: finding someone who is compatible in that way is actually not much easier than finding romantic compatibility.

      But sure: it’s absolutely possible.


  5. I love your graphs!

    That is the first time I’ve ever posted a comment which required no thought.

    Graphs! Yay! Humans are such weird creatures and I’m continuously fascinated by the things they do/don’t for whatever bunch of reasons they come up with

  6. Thanks for the graph porn. My first thought on seeing the pie chart was to wonder if it was similar to the age distribution of the site itself–that is, if you were getting messages from a random sample of men. My second thought was–do your own age filters allow for men over five years older than yourself? If not, you’re “cutting off one tail” of the distribution, which skews it downward.

    As for message word length, that’s incredible! I can’t begin to imagine what a 20 word intro message would be like…are these guys writing from a cellphone in their cars, waiting for the light to change? (I’m at 109 words already.)

    It’s sad about the kink site though…I would have thought you’d get much higher quality than that. Though you’re not really “looking” there, it’s more of a “passive” thing (I think.)

    1. My interested age range is 31-55, so it does skew towards the younger, but about 38% of respondents have been below my lower range. I do think that mature men are probably more respectful of the upper range, but it still leaves a 10 year range in the 45+ group.

      When I compare it with a kink site, I mean collarspace, which is a kinky dating site, so I’m as ‘active’ there as I am on the vanilla dating site.


  7. Wow, if you don’t get any dates soon you’ll soon be lost into the abyss of more and more explicit graph porn.

    Also, I know how to make that horizontal bar graph appear in 3D. You’ll really have to beg for it though.

  8. Graph porn!

    *controls heavy breathing with great effort*

    But… how did seven one-word messages originate from individuals with eight different ages?

    That and ambiguity about which ages are repeated made it hard to recreate the data set in its entirety but, in complete fairness to the questionable age-old wisdom that with age comes wisdom, cursory analysis seems to show there *is* a slight (albeit statistically insignificant, p-value: 0.27) positive correlation of word count to age.

    In a linear fit, each year alive adds a very impressive 0.05 words to these clever intros.* Given the model, it seems a simple solution is just to attract more 189 year olds to ensure most missives fall into the much coveted 16-plus-word club.

    *Confidence interval of parameter fit intentionally omitted because, well, it provides little confidence of comfort in my coming caducity.

    1. “But… how did seven one-word messages originate from individuals with eight different ages?”

      Ha! Human error, of course. And for the record, it’s now 9 from 9.

      “it seems a simple solution is just to attract more 189 year olds to ensure most missives fall into the much coveted 16-plus-word club.”

      Thank you for your valuable analysis. I think next time I shall just send you the raw data to do something useful with it so I get this kind of practical advice.

      I shall immediately do a search for 189 year olds and see how that goes.


    2. PS To add to your heavy breathing, I have now re-organised and automated everything on that spreadsheet to remove the ‘human error’ factor from it. Doing this incredibly dorky thing made me happy *laugh*.


  9. God, I love you, Ferns. This is so on point it’s not even funny! Yes to everything you’ve said 100%.

    I don’t hold it against men for sending generic messages, either, because it’s exhausting at some point to come up with original content. Either they’ve reached their limit and can’t do it anymore, don’t care enough to try, are simply incapable or some combination of the 3.

    I rarely message men first because why? I have 100s messaging me, but when I do I certainly take my time to craft something original and – hopefully – engaging. It definitely dose NOT guarantee anything either.

    Dating is a lot of work, but it’s interesting to me the differences you’re finding between vanilla and submissive men. It’s not unlike the difference between vanilla men on a dating site and those I find on a hookup site.

    I’m living your updates and this new journey of yours. I’ll drink some bubbles for you tonight!! xx Hy

    1. Ha! Thanks Hy (for the love and the bubbles!)

      I do search for men and email if I find one I like, but it’s rare. The last one dropped off after a few back and forths.

      And yes it, IS a lot of work: I don’t even really know why, but I find it mentally draining even though mostly I’m just *ignoring messages*. It makes NO sense.


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