Peacock's Dating Service


In much of the animal kingdom, mating involves the males putting on a display, and the females choosing the male they like, and the male pretty much always going off with the female who chooses him, certainly for a short interlude but also for a child-raising length of time.

In our closest relatives, the chimp and bonobo, there is extreme female promiscuity, with various theories as to why. In chimps, there is an alpha male but females will mate secretly with lessers. Bonobos do it with any other bonobo, any time, any place.

Humans have developed a system where more often the female worries most about display, though males certainly also do it. In most cultures, the male then selects the female he finds most attractive. The female then also decides if she wants that male or will wait for a better one.

The most dramatic example of the common animal mode is the peacock, who is all about display, and chosen by the rather plain peahen. The peacock is sexually selected for so much display his tail is actually a survival disadvantage.

So I am curious as to what would happen if an online dating service were built on the peafowl model. Which is to say only men would put up ads (display), possibly for free, and women would browse and contact the men they like (possibly having to pay to do so.) They could also include a reputation system for women to rate the men after dropping them, which some dating services are already playing with.

My question is, would this be a spectacular failure, or a surprising success, or just midling? It is common in dating systems to have the women pay less or nothing, and have the men bear the price. This is partly due to social norms and expectation about financial ability based in tradition. And in business, you do want to go where the money is. Men are also less protective of their identity in online dating, so they would just put their real contact info in the free part of their profile, not wanting the woman's non-payment to be a barrier.

A few options might deal with this. Men might get to put of ads for free (you don't want to discourage participation, at least at first) but also include in their ad if they will pick up the woman's fees if there's a date. Or it may well be that the financial disparity is now low enough that the "conventional wisdom" about men having the money to spend on dating can be disposed of.

Women are willing to invest money in finding the right guy, but will they do this? (Of course perhaps somebody has done a service like this before and I just haven't seen it, being out of dating circles for many years.)

What do you think ladies, would this appeal to you?


I once mentioned a similar idea to my advisor. I didn't think of biasing the application fees, but i did think that turning the tables would at least be an interesting experiment.

Many dating sites have tried this but it doesn't work. From the women's point of view, why pay for access to a site when there's dozens of sites that are free? You'd need to supply some serious service to get customers. And just having lots of men wouldn't cut it - for the men, it's a free service so they might as well try it.

It's also like pay-per-view sites aimed at straight women, where there's a huge cultural assumption that women don't pay for porn, and those few who do are hard to find (signal to noise being the major problem - most porn searchers are men). But some sex shops target women, and those tend to stock movies aimed at stright women (a case of you paying them to filter for you). I've seen friends of mine very reluctant to pay for *any* dating site, even the male ones, because there are so many free ones.

Your work-around reads very US-centric - many other countries have no tradition of men paying for dates, so in (eg) much of Europe it would come across as fee for service, rather than fee for "only in your dreams".

Well, perhaps I was wrong, but I thought that most countries did indeed have the tradition of men paying for dates, but that some countries had gotten past this tradition, recently. Is it the case in the many european countries you refer to that they did not have this tradition, and even 80 years ago the women paid or they split or whatever?

From what I know, dating is a US custom that only arrived recently. Before that shared outings involved chaperones and romances were generally conducted in plain view anyway. The "dating service" was typically the village gossip or your parents. In Germany and Holland especially I've seen a profound reluctance to let men pay for dates because it's normally a sign of that he has the primitive sexist tendencies we see on US TV.

There's a rich tradition in the warmer countries of men paying for dates, and even today the women involved are often respected and acknowledged in public (the mistress of the late French president, for example, was invited to his state funeral IIRC). But I suspect that is not what you meant.

I think the reason that most men pay for online dating services is not because of the old-fashioned tradition that men pay for dates, but because the odds overwhelmingly favor women in online dating services, at least in the 20-30 age range. So even with women taking a more liberated view towards who pays for dates, that doesn't translate into women paying for dating services. Of the women I've met through personals sites, a lot of them wanted to take turns paying for dates, but they weren't paying to use the service; I was always the one paying to contact them.

The politically incorrect truth is that if a woman in her 20's (a) is not seriously overweight, (b) does not have any kids, and (c) does not spend her whole ad talking about her personal relationship with Jesus, then she can post an ad for free on any major personals site and browse though the pictures and responses from all the men who contact her -- knowing, of course, that if she writes to any of those men, he is virtually guaranteed to respond, since he's the one who contacted her in the first place. So I don't see why a woman would prefer to use a service that they would have to pay for and where they're not even assured of a response from the men that they contact.

You're correct that women would be willing to pay for a service to seek out the ideal mate, but that doesn't mean they'll be willing to pay if they can get the same service for free :)

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