Bruch and Newman divided online dating into four distinct age cohorts (or what it calls “submarkets”): people in their early 20s, in their late 20s, in their late 30s, and 40 and older. Three-quarters of all online conversations or reciprocal messaging occurred between men and women in the same age group. In fact, the median age difference between men and women who started up online conversations was one year and seven months. Across the four cities and all submarkets, more than 40 percent of online daters did try to connect with others outside their age group, though with far less likelihood of having their messages returned.
^ "Speed dating all about looks and not personality". China Daily. 2008-11-13. Retrieved 2010-12-09. ... Researchers found that in smaller groups, people trade off different qualities in prospective mates – physical attractiveness for intelligence. But faced with too much choice, however, they resort to crude approaches such as choosing solely on looks.
While people tend to date others close to their own age, it's possible for older men to date younger women. In many countries, the older-man-younger-woman arrangement is seen as permissible, sometimes with benefits. It's looked on more positively in the U.S. than in China; older men are described as more knowledgeable sexually and intellectually, supportive, skilled in the ways of women, and financially more secure so there's "no more going Dutch." In China, older men with younger women are more likely to be described as "weird uncles" rather than "silver foxes." One Beijing professor reportedly advised his male students to delay dating:
^ Jason Fell (August 9, 2011). "Wingman Businesses Cash in on Men's Dating Dilemmas". Entrepreneur. Retrieved 2010-10-25. Donovan says he has collected information on more than 500 businesses worldwide that offer dating coach services -- with almost 350 of those operating in the U.S. And the number of these businesses has surged since 2005, following Neil Strauss' New York Times bestselling book The Game.
In 2017 Darlene Daggett, QVC's president for U.S. commerce from 2002 to 2007, filed a lawsuit against matchmaking agency Kelleher International. The company, owned by Amber Kelleher-Andrews agreed to settle within hours of Daggett filing the lawsuit. Neither talked about the case, citing a non-disclosure agreement, but Daggett's lawsuit gives plenty of detail about her grievances with the California-based company. 'Due to her senior level position in a local firm, [she] felt that social dating sites did not provide her with the degree of screening and privacy she was looking for,' the lawsuit states. She opted in for the company's most expensive plan, the $150,000 CEO level, which guaranteed her matches from around the world and the personal attention of Kelleher-Andrews. But Daggett says she did not get what she paid for. Instead, she suffered brief romantic entanglements with increasingly disastrous men.
Humans have been compared to other species in terms of sexual behavior. Neurobiologist Robert Sapolsky constructed a reproductive spectrum with opposite poles being tournament species, in which males compete fiercely for reproductive privileges with females, and pair bond arrangements, in which a male and female will bond for life. According to Sapolsky, humans are somewhat in the middle of this spectrum, in the sense that humans form pair bonds, but there is the possibility of cheating or changing partners. These species-particular behavior patterns provide a context for aspects of human reproduction, including dating. However, one particularity of the human species is that pair bonds are often formed without necessarily having the intention of reproduction. In modern times, emphasis on the institution of marriage, generally described as a male-female bond, has obscured pair bonds formed by same-sex and transgender couples, and that many heterosexual couples also bond for life without offspring, or that often pairs that do have offspring separate. Thus, the concept of marriage is changing widely in many countries.