For this edition’s article, I wanted to stick to the data. At Stern, Business Analytics is a specialization that “deals with the use of data and mathematical and statistical models as a means for aiding the decision process in all of the functional areas of business.” Wow, that is a mouthful, and not in a good way. The MBA1s are spearheading an effort to start a BADAAS Club (Business and Data Analytics at Stern). I appreciate the pun even though I am a damsel in distress! There is data everywhere but not a date in sight.
A light bulb went off. Why don’t I analyze the collective brainpower of Stern MBAs to figure out what my peers think about relationships? Given this information, I can see how my perspective matches up to my peers. I created a survey on Survey Monkey – a service that is free as long as you have no more than 10 questions and 100 respondents (Note: I had to close the survey, so thank you if you wanted to help but were not able to!). I posted the survey on Facebook in the 2014 and 2015 class pages (Population ~800). I also added a qualifier question to ensure all respondents were MBA students. I asked questions that I hoped would reveal some interesting differences (they did!).
Are you currently enrolled in an MBA program?
Please indicate your age [brackets of five years]
What is your gender?
What is your current relationship status?
What do you consider a long-term relationship?
When was your most recent long-term (according to your definition) relationship?
If you are unemployed and your date is unemployed, who do you think should pay for a first date?
Example: two MBA students...?
Have you tried online dating? If so, please check all choices that apply
If you indicated that you have dated through online sites, what have been your results?
How do you communicate with romantic interests?
The majority of respondents (82%) were between 26 to 30 years old and the male/female split was 52/48. Based off of this information, I’m going to say I had a representative sample of the average Stern Student. No, I will not bring back terminology from Statistics. The reason is because I do not want to terrify you and I do not remember. In order to uncover some interesting McNuggets (I love Okun), I sorted the responses by gender. I was curious to see if there were any significant differences between the men and women of Stern. I found three key differences which I’m going to broadly assume apply to the entire full-time Stern class. Please note these are all my own assumptions, guesstimations and attempts to entertain you. I am not a scientist and I do not play one on TV. So take my musings with a grain of salt and a shot of tequila.
Insight 1: Compared to Women, Men are 2x More Likely to Think 3 Months is Long-Term Relationship
I found this data point incredibly thought provoking. I typically perceive women (including myself) as more desiring to define a relationship. However, women may not consider a relationship long-term unless it has passed a significant threshold: Nearly 50% of women think a year is needed for a relationship to be considered long-term. Even though a smaller percent of both men and women agree that 3 months is not a long amount of time, men were 2x as likely to consider 3 months as long-term. When I thought about it, the responses by gender made sense. Men are (generally) less likely to define a relationship, but when they do, they are faster to consider a relationship a long-term relationship than a woman. In my experience, if a man is in an exclusive relationship with the same person for 3 months, he may perceive it as being more serious than the woman. This could also be due to the fact that women have higher hurdles for what they consider long-term vs. “just” dating. Bringing back Beyoncé, if he doesn’t “put a ring on it,” maybe it isn’t long term? The longest relationship I have had was about 9 months; I would consider this long-term. I’ve dated many people for weeks or months; I feel that if a relationship is not working in the initial stages, it is likely not going to work in the later stages. Personally, a long-term relationship would be 6 months or more, which falls in with the majority of the respondents. The next insight is pretty telling as well…
Insight 2: Compared to Women, 2x the Number of Men had their last Long-Term Relationship 5 Years ago…but More than 2x the Number of Women have Never had a Long-Term Relationship
Based on several informal conversations I’ve had with the single men of Stern, it seems like many of their last long-term relationships were from undergrad. Based on the average age of respondents, this assumption is not ridiculous. College provides the perfect situation for relationship building. For most people, it is their first experience living independently. With so much freedom and socializing, college students can easily mix and mingle with potential partners. Once graduation comes and full-time jobs are secured, many relationships can fall apart due to distance or other factors (likely loss of interest). Without the built-in opportunities to meet people, many college graduates need to figure out how to date. Although they were in relationships in college, most of these were the result of “hooking up” that became exclusive and eventually a relationship. In the real-world, how do you meet and talk to people if not after “Kegs and Eggs” Tailgating or during house parties? Survey respondents shared that texting (95%) and calling (80%) were the dominant communication methods with romantic interests (Question 10). Popular write-in answers were Snapchat, FaceTime and Skype; we thrive off of visual images and these strategies can help bridge physical distances. Also, Snapchat is temporary…unless the recipient takes a screenshot. Oops. Many people do still practice the hooking-up to relationship strategy post-college. Others, however, try to assimilate to the new norms of adulthood. Potential ways of meeting people include introductions through friends-of-friends (The “Six Degrees” strategy), shared interests (fitness, drinking at bars…), or online dating. If you’re hesitant to dip your toe into online dating, 33% of respondents have tried online dating and 1 Sternie has married someone she met online!
When looking at Sternies that have never had a long-term relationship, I was surprised that women outnumbered men 2 to 1. This was completely contrary to what I had expected to find. I thought that more women would be in long-term relationships now and certainly more would have had at least one long-term relationship. Given the population, what could be driving this pattern? As I mentioned, I’ve had one long-term relationship. The reason I have only had one? If I reflect back on the relationships that had potential but never achieved long-term status, there is a consistent theme. Drumroll please…all of these relationships failed due to significant differences in values. Is that too vague? To drill down further, for me it has always been differences in career aspirations. If there is a significant gap between my personal goals and my partner’s, I have found that the relationship will not work. It is sad to think, but from the female perspective, this issue can be further compounded if the woman is incredibly goal-oriented and the man is not. I cannot speak for all women or men and I am certainly not trying to, but I have found this to be true with several female friends at Stern as well. I’m curious to hear your perspectives as this is a polarizing topic. As always, I await your tweets (@personalitini)! In full disclosure, this data could be skewed as well because women tend to define long-term relationships after a longer period of time than men. Onto the last (and most interesting) nugget of information,
Insight 3: Women are More Progressive with Paying for First Dates than Men
Isn’t this chart fascinating? The 0% tells a pretty compelling story, doesn’t it? Based on the survey, men do not feel that a woman should offer to pay. Additionally, women feel that whoever asks the other on the date should pay, at a rate nearly 2x higher than men. Roughly the same amount of men and women felt that the bill should be split – how poetic! What do you think these responses say about Stern men? There seems to be a strong shout-out to chivalry. Even if he doesn’t have a current source of income, the Stern man still wants to pay for the first date.
A Take Away From Online Dating
As I mentioned, one-third of the respondents have tried online dating. From this sub-set of survey takers, I’ve listed the top five most popular online dating sites (from the choices I provided). There were also some fun write-in services as well. (Note: Percentages exceed 100% due to the selection of multiple dating services.)
Plenty of Fish: 12%
Coffee Meets Bagel (service where you get one match a day at noon…Nooner?)
Cupidtino (I had to look it up, but it is a “Mac-Inspired” dating site for Apple fans!)
Given the subject matter of this column, I’m sure there are opinions! I love writing this column and I hope you enjoy reading it. I spend time thinking of topics that will interest you – if you have an idea, please let me know. Why don’t we take this interaction a step further and start a dialogue? Please Tweet me (@personalitini) and The Oppy (@SternOppy) to continue this conversation. What has your dating experience been? #datinganalytics
Until next time,