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The dating game is an imperfect market: you may dazzle your date with your wit and mega-watt smile only to never hear from them again.Or you may look forward to meeting a match from a dating site all week, only to find that, although your date portrayed himself accurately online, you’re disappointed when you meet him offline.Gathering data from more than 400 speed date matches, researchers found that male daters placed a far greater emphasis on appearance than female daters did.In contrast, intelligence ratings were more than twice as important in predicting women’s choices as men’s.However, the importance of a woman’s appearance varied significantly depending on how the date came about.

These experiments also revealed gender differences among daters, the caveat being, of course, that these dates were all of 4-minutes long.

We thought we’d examine the theories put forward by economists as to how dating work, and then compare that to the reality.

Hopefully, we can illuminate some reasons why first dates go so wrong, so often—and maybe bring about a few more second dates in the process.

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After the pleasantries are exchanged and the drinks are ordered, after the conversation moves from jobs to tastes in music to viral You Tube videos, after the awkward fumbling for the check, the walk to the curb, the stilted hug-turned-air-kiss-turned-forehead bump, after the goodbyes—every first date leaves one nagging question: Will you ever hear from them again?

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