Online dating has saturated us with choice, enabling them to actively seek out those who correspond with even our most niche desires.
However, when it comes to preferences in the game of love, it seems that what women want is far more specific than even a Mel Gibson noughties flick can determine.
According to an Australian study of more than 41,000 dating site users, women under 40 are more particular when seeking a partner online than men, who become more picky with age.
The study, published in Psychological Science,saw researchers at Australia’s Queensland University of Technology look at users of all ages, from 18 to 80.
They found notable differences between specifications made by men and women looking for love online, with women more likely to stipulate educational preferences when they are a certain age.
Lead author Dr Stephen Whyte and his team of behavioural economists analysed the dating behaviour of 41,936 members on the website RSVP for four months in 2016, examining more than 215,000 exchanges between participants.
The study showed that women are more specific about what they’re looking for between the ages of 18 and 30, their peak fertility years.
Between these ages, women were found to be looking for partners with either the same level of education as themselves or higher.
Meanwhile, men were found to be less likely to be as particular until they’re over the age of 40, at which age they were shown to become pickier than women.
“Evolution favours women who are highly selective about their mates and in many cultures, women have been shown to use education as an indicator of quality because it is often associated with social status and intelligence — both attributes that are highly sought after,” explained Whyte.
“Previous online dating research has demonstrated similar or higher women’s preference for education level in a mate but as our data encompasses a range of ages between 18 and 80, we are able to comprehensively show how those preferences change across the reproductive life cycle.”
The study comes just one year after Whyte and his team published their initial findings in the journal Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, claiming that in spite of the differences in preference between men and women, online dating culture has actually made people less picky overall when it comes to finding a partner, with users eschewing specific “check-lists” of criteria in favour of settling for those who they feel have a sufficient amount of qualities they desire.