Survey of Love

By Jocelyn Geboy in Miscellaneous on Aug 21, 2007 10:00PM

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Don't worry, this isn't a post about Flavor of Love, Age of Love or Rock of Love. But we will look at two recent surveys surrounding the nature of love, romance and relationships.

First up is a survey done at Northwestern University that seems really out of whack. The findings of the authors say that people tend to overestimate the pain surrounding a breakup. However we don't think that "on average a group of 26 Northwestern freshman students significantly overestimated the pain they would feel after a relationship breakup" means anything. They said that 26 out of 69 (seriously?) people broke up during the period. So, we're supposed to deduce something from 26 people's experience with breakup? Interesting, but nothing about that does a real conclusive study make. Not to mention, the author of the Sun-Times article references Michael Bolton as a go-to for love songs. Hasn't that been over for at least 10 years (and left to 35+-year-olds)?

However, there is one quote that gives us hope and seems utterly impractical at the same time. One of the authors of the study, Eli Finkel says, "Love without fear, throw yourself into a relationship, throw caution to the wind ... the breakup-related dangers of being in love are much less severe than we think they are." This of course, doesn't take into consideration people with addictions (of any type) and people who are mentally ill/unstable. We can never think of the tragic death of Jim Ellison without thinking, "If only you could have hung in there and remembered that this, too, shall pass."

From breakups to beginnings ....

The next survey was conducted by founder and CEO of OkCupid, Sam Yagan, as a way to look at people's experiences/preferences on a first date. When we looked at some of the answers, we were surprised. Nearly 40% of people drink nothing on a first date? Being former boozehounds ourselves, we can't imagine. First dates can be hellish on their own, but completely without "social lubrication?" Yipes. It was interesting to see that it seems more acceptable to ask the impolite question "Do you have an STD?" (21%) than it is to ask "How much money do you have/make?" (5.6%). Cause after all is said and done, some things you just can't pay for — like a clean crotch. Body odor is the number one no-no with 44% of people ringing in. Seriously? Is that something we even need to discuss? Unfortunately, the people we know who have serious B.O. aren't really aware of it, so then what?

Lastly, and most puzzling were the options given to people as a favorite first-date activity — movies, picnics, mini golf, concert/sporting event, wine tasting, massages for two, and hang gliding. The first five are normal and make sense. But massages for two? That's stuff we only see on "Blind Date." And who goes hang gliding on their first date? We're curious why anyone would ask these questions.

In Colbert Report fashion, here's a mini-interview with the guy who did ask all those questions, Sam Yagan.

Chicagoist: What spurred you to create this survey?

Sam Yagan: OkCupid.com is the leading free online dating site in the US . As the founder and CEO, I spend a lot of time thinking about our users and how we can help them build successful relationships. It occurred to me that online dating sites don’t do a good job of bridging the gap from online conversations to that all-important first-meeting. I want OkCupid.com to innovate in bridging this gap, and I thought that asking 5,000 of our users about how they think about first dates could help inspire us.

C: How did you come up with the questions?

SY: I wish I could claim any kind of scientific process, but the questions came from my curiosity. As I thought about how OkCupid.com could be more helpful to its users in transitioning online relationships offline, many questions came to mind. I wanted to know what made first dates successful. I wanted to know how people think about approaching first dates and what they hoped to learn in a first date.

C: Were the responses noted people's impromptu answers, or were these the options given to them?

SY: All of the questions were multiple choice.

C: Were men and women split evenly?

SY: The survey was answered by slightly more women (53%) than men (47%). [The survey says that 600 people from Chicago responded.]

C: Where did you get your survey respondents? Was it a random sample or ...??

SY: They were a random sample of OkCupid.com users.

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C: What do you feel this shows, if anything? Are you trying to collate the results for a specific report/project? Were you surprised at any of the results?

SY: I think a lot of the findings were interesting. I was surprised that 70% of people expect first dates to last more than 2 hours. I was surprised that 40% of people don’t drink on a first date. I was surprised that only 6% of people said that attractiveness was the most important factor in the success of a first date.

C: Is there a percentage of error?

SY: Not really; I wouldn’t want to make this sound more scientific than it was intended to be.

C: Do you have any professional background in relationships/dating?

SY: No, I’m a math major from Chicago . So, while I might lack the psychology degree of a shrink, I take a highly analytical approach to understanding problems and coming up with solutions.

C: Are you single or otherwise engaged?

SY: I am happily married – so I must know something about dating! I’ve got a beautiful picture taken on my wedding day in front of Buckingham Fountain right here on my desk!

C: How many first dates have you been on? Any stick? Where is your favorite Chicago place to take someone on a date?

SY: I like pretty casual first dates. My wife and I had our first date at Gino’s East pizza. If I were going on a first date right now, I’d probably go to Twist.

"Mom and Dad's First Date" by BehindTheScenes2006
"First Date" by Seluma