The Single Men of America
As the end of the pandemic comes into view, one thing’s for sure: we’re about to enter one of the great bull markets in dating history. After more than a year of being cooped up - swiping but rarely meeting - single people of America are ready to cut loose.
With this in mind, and Valentine’s Day around the corner, we decided it’s time to do a broad analysis of single men, to see what’s on offer.
We put our thumbs to the test and swiped through more than 3,500 Tinder profiles of men living in the 31 biggest cities in America. We focused our attention on the main profile picture, compiling insights into more than a dozen characteristics, including smiles, facial hair, attire, body, selfies, pets, kids and cars.
We certainly found a wide range of types of men, from conventions like “clean-cut and well-dressed” to eccentricities like “living in a car with his dog.” And if anyone’s interested, there’s a guy posing with a gun, a kid and a beer in Jacksonville. Still single as far as we know.
Here are the national numbers, like them or not:
Naturally, we looked at facial hair first. Sixty-one percent of men have some sort of facial hair, while 39 percent are clean-shaven. We take a liberal view of what constitutes facial hair. Everything from a couple days of chin stubble to a middle school mustache is considered, so to further clarify, we categorize facial hair as “heavy” or “light.” To meet the “heavy” standard, it has to be full coverage, something you could run your fingers through; something that would benefit from premium beard oil.
For both men and women, a great smile goes a long way. That doesn’t mean every guy’s picture needs to show off a big goofy grin, but women say a smile makes a guy look approachable and trustworthy. Overall, it was a near-even split: 51 percent of men smile in their main picture, 49 percent don’t.
Since a lot of people on dating apps make snap judgments and swipe based on the first picture alone, it makes sense to show yourself off. Generally, people appreciate seeing a little more than a neck and face. Unfortunately, men are hiding more often than not: 53 percent do not clearly show their body in their main picture.
As for attire, long story short, America has gone casual. We were shocked by how many men don’t bother to put on more than a t-shirt and sweatpants. But that said, if done right, those can look fly. So we judged less on the type of clothing and more on perceived effort. We put men in one of three categories: formal, casual and slob.
The final consideration among our fundamentals was selfies. Yes, it’s convenient. And you can privately work all day to get it just right. But to our eyes, there’s just something more substantial about a picture taken by another person. In this case, it was another near-even split: 47 percent of men used selfies and 53 percent did not.
In addition to the fundamentals, we picked up on some other noteworthy trends as we made our way across the country. Many of these are already notorious elements in dating app culture, but we figured it would help to put numbers to some of them.
Nine percent of men use a selfie taken in their car, nine percent use a selfie taken in the mirror and five percent go shirtless. Four percent pose with a dog, three percent are lost in a group, two percent pose with a car or motorcycle, and one percent pose with a kid. Beyond that, cats, guns and fish feature in less than one percent of profiles.
Here’s a look at some of the data in individual cities. First, we look at the top performers, cities with the most “Total Packages” (which is a lower bar than you’d think).
We tip our caps to Denver, Washington, D.C., and New York for putting forth some seriously eligible bachelors. For those interested, we offer below a more detailed view of different types of “Total Packages,” with variations on facial hair, attire and pets.
To be fair, in addition to “Total Packages,” we also had to look at the uglier side of men’s dating profiles, seizing upon a creature we call the “Swipe Left Sh*tshow.” This is a guy who basically takes a straight-faced selfie on his couch in an old t-shirt and calls it a day. Kudos to Chicago and Minneapolis for being totally free of this particular menace.
Finally, we created a Wall of Fame and Wall of Shame based on ten of the most notable characteristics from these pictures. Each lists the top ten contenders or offenders in each category.
Between December 18 - 31, 2020, we analyzed the first profile pictures of 3,100 heterosexual or bisexual men between the ages of 24 - 35, living in one of 31 American cities. For each city, a sample of at least 100 men was used.
This analysis was completed using a premium Tinder account with no history and a verified profile. In order to not bias our analysis towards certain characteristics, we exclusively swiped left on all 3,100 profiles.
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