“Many won’t have the time or energy to look at some of the applications” Kanoria notes, “or they may not respond because there are just so many.” The time it takes to review potential matches — whether as simple as swiping through a few photos or as time consuming as going out on a few dates — also means that by the time an online dater finds a serious prospect, that prospect may have already found someone else.
With no way to know if these individuals are still interested and available, users can spend days or weeks waiting for a reply that will never come.
After all, what’s the point of looking online for someone to go out with on a Saturday night if the only way to find them is to spend all of Friday night wading through a sea of less-than-inspiring prospects?
Online, matching markets are facilitated by a variety of platforms, including not only dating sites but also accommodation and transit services, like Air B&B and Uber, and job boards, the focus of Kanoria’s study.
The low application cost that these platforms facilitate—that is, the ease with which a user on Ok Cupid or can fire off messages to a few dozen prospects—makes them particularly prone to congestion.
These prospects—the ones that got away—are one of the largest sources of inefficiency in dynamic matching markets, and the one that Kanoria and his colleagues’ model best addresses.
For some, the benefit gained from finding a match may be outweighed by the costs of searching through the applications in the first place.
The problem, according to Yash Kanoria, might be that online daters are simply drowning in options.From an economic perspective, daters can be seen as participants in what’s known as a dynamic matching market — an arrangement in which buyers and sellers each enter and leave the market at different times looking for a potential match.In particularly crowded markets, suitors have an incentive to send out as many messages as possible, with negative repercussions for every other potential match.Every time a dater sends a message to another user they increase their odds of eventually winning a date with someone—after all, you can’t strike out all the time.Nearly 40 percent of all single-and-looking adults are now dating online according to the Pew Research Center.
But only 23% of online daters have found a spouse or long-term partner.