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What do the most successful online daters do? It turns out dating sites and researchers have been studying just that. Here’s a few things they’ve learned about what works (and what really doesn’t).

Catherine DiBenedetto
December 12, 2014

Zumba may have dropped off the list of top fitness trends, but it looks like women across the country are still happily stepping and shimmying to the rhythms of Ricky Martin and reggaeton. Or at least, the women using Match.com are.

To celebrate 2014 coming to an end, the dating site's data whizzes crunched the numbers to tease out any trends among the millions of profiles hosted on their site, and found that Zumba (of all things) is the third most popular term on women's profiles. (The words "warmhearted" and "crochet" came in first and second respectively.)

They also came up with a few other interesting factoids: Albany, New York is where daters log on the most often, but users down in Miami send the most messages. Gay men and women post an average of 2.3 pics, compared to a straight man’s 2.8 and a straight woman’s 3.6. And the most common height searched by women? An even 6 feet.

All this is fascinating, but it made us wonder: What do the most successful online daters do? It turns out dating sites and researchers have been studying just that. Here’s a few things they’ve learned about what works (and what really doesn’t).

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Don’t be shy about the word “love”

Earlier this year PlentyofFish analyzed 1.2 million profiles and found that people who used the word “love” were more likely to find it, Time.com reported.

Mention you do yoga

For Wired’s February issue, the magazine’s editors teamed up with Match.com and OkCupid to mine “massive amounts of data” for dating tips. In their list of the most appealing words on profiles, “yoga, “surfing,” and “athlete” made the top five. Other attractive terms included: sushi, driven, f*ck (uh, that's one way to get attention), holidays, lucky, physics, creativity, foodies, and awareness.

But not that you do karaoke

It’s decidedly not hot, according to the data compiled by Wired.

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Agree with the critics

“One of the clearest findings: Higher-brow preferences make you sexier,” the Wired editors noted. Among TV shows and movies, Homeland ranked first, followed by Arrested Development, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Pulp Fiction, and The Office. The single most attractive band? Radiohead.

Adopt a puppy! But not a cat

Women who have a dog receive 5% more messages, according to another study by the data maestros at PlentyOfFish. But using the phrase “my cats” is a turn-off, Wired found.

Highlight your smarts

Another finding from PlentyOfFish? Women who have a post-secondary degree, like an associate or bachelor's degree, got 6.45% more messages.

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Smile… with teeth

Wired’s analysis revealed that 54% of the hottest photos showed off pearly whites. The sexy pout (aka duck face)? Not so sexy. Only 6 percent of the hottest photos involved pursed lips. And for women (but not for men for some reason), selfies appear work: 45% of top-ranking straight women used them on their profiles.

Go on a date already

Don't spend too much time messaging each other. A September study published in the Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication found that the longer people waited to meet an online match, the more likely they were to be disappointed. The theory: As weeks tick by, we build our expectations until the real guy or gal can’t possibly live up to them. The ideal window for a face-to-face love connection is 17- to 23-days after the first exchange.

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