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Critique my profile?
April 18, 2012 3:59 PM   Subscribe

Disregarding anything weird on my part in my OKCupid messages: what criticisms or observations do you have of my profile and pictures that might be able to explain my response rate?

I hear the response rate on OKCupid is pretty low, but I read in a few places that a lot of people do more of a shotgun-style contact method, and don't bother to read the other person's profile. Out of the three people I've contacted since joining, I only got one message back and they didn't reply any further.

So, disregarding anything weird on my part in the messages: what criticisms or observations do you have of my profile and pictures? I'm generally very curious as to how I come across (physically speaking, and personality-wise) as well. Although we are who we are, and we know ourselves as ourselves, it's nice to know how other's see ourselves since there's a lot of explanatory power in such perspectives.

http://www.okcupid.com/profile/osagemaclura
posted by SollosQ to Human Relations (56 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
I think you definitely need a better picture that shows your face with an engaged, smiling expression. Like you, I am a white person with pale skin, and snapshots tend not to show my actual features well. It's really hard to tell what you look like from the photos you have up, except that you are a slender white man with sandy hair who doesn't look at the camera.

Also, you might not get a lot of responses because it's already late April and you say you're going to be several states away doing research for the summer, which isn't a lot of time for you and prospective dates to get to know each other.

Good luck. I see that you've answered quite a few of the matching questions, but apparently it never hurts to do as many as possible.
posted by Sidhedevil at 4:04 PM on April 18, 2012


One real quick thing: tell us more about the pictures! Not "junior year of high school," but "junior year of high school, the day I ran the whatsit in so many so and sos!"
posted by phunniemee at 4:06 PM on April 18, 2012


You look really young in your third picture.

When you say things like "I’m really good at empathizing," and "The six things I could never do without: Empathy," it comes off to me as a little weird. Leave the deep, emotional, probing-each-other's-inner-psyche for the actual dates. This is way too serious for a dating profile.
posted by Nightman at 4:07 PM on April 18, 2012 [10 favorites]


I suspect it's because you come off as very very serious. Keep in mind that I'm a serious-business kind of lady myself--I even minored in philosophy in college!--but a little levity would go a long way. Prospective dates aren't really going to care about your life story (where you've lived, and when you moved), or the fact that you're a passionate person. They're going to way to see you discuss those passions vividly and in a lively way.

Also--bow making and knapping. That sounds interesting! But I have no idea what knapping means. So, er, talk more about these things. Why do you like them? What are they? And so on.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 4:09 PM on April 18, 2012 [6 favorites]


There is a lot of "I" in this profile for someone who talks about having empathy.

Try this: Add a paragraph about "you are..." and then list the things you would like in your date. Better yet, describe your ideal first date, using a lot of "you" pronouns.
posted by Atrahasis at 4:11 PM on April 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm sure you've got a sense of humor, yes? If so, could you try lightening up the tone a bit? It's clear that you're thoughtful, intelligent, and analytical, and for those reasons (and your tastes in Russian and German lit), you probably come off as slightly intimidating, even to awesome bookish nerdy beautiful twenty year old social theorists. After all, even (especially?) intellectuals want somebody with whom they can have serious discussions AND relax around and have fun. That could definitely be you. So find a way to show your lighter, merrier side as well! (Also reword a few bits to be less formal. "Places of access to nature" just underlines the formality and sobriety of your profile right now.)

"Just giving up and going to sleep" --> while honest and wry, this is neither intriguing NOR does it provide much of an opener for a person who is looking at your profile to figure out what to say in reply to you.

Think of your profile not as an advertisement so much as a series of messages/pieces of evidence (So, X remark whispers, "I'm smart;" Y remark suggests, "I'm thoughtful") AND a series of little hooks that give strangers an easy way to engage with you. Throw out remarks to which they can respond. Example of a hook: "I have never come across a German name that did not sound like the perfect name for a schnauzer. Seriously, I dare you to think of one. It's IMPOSSIBLE." ...Okay, maybe not the best example (especially if you're looking for the German ladies) but it DOES create an instant, easy way for someone to reply to you, e.g., "Gertrude is a terrible name for a schnauzer!" That's what I mean by hooks!
posted by artemisia at 4:12 PM on April 18, 2012 [7 favorites]


Your written profile seems good to me. You write well, you're clearly smart, and you don't make any major faux pas, so you're like 90% there already. Maaaybe you could inject some humor into it, but honestly I'd leave it be.

Your pictures need some improvement: none of them show your full face, one of them is blurry, and two of them are from high school. They may be only a couple years old, but they're high school pics nonetheless. The difference between 17 and 20 is a lot greater than 23 and 26. Replace them with something more recent.

Some of it may be your age; I would guess a lot of 20-year-olds are looking for dates on campus. Then again, I'm old and what do I know, maybe it's what all the college kids are doing.

Finally: one out of three is actually a pretty good hit rate. Just keep at it!
posted by Metroid Baby at 4:13 PM on April 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Agree with the "get rid of empathizing" under "Things I'm good at". I look at that area as an opportunity to give people a chance to start a conversation with you. Something like "Playing darts" or "Scrabble" or "Obscure mid-eastern trivia".

Also, answer all the details questions (what you eat, kids, pets, etc) - seeing the " - " there is apparently a red flag to some people.

Overall, though, just think "Am I saying anything that is a natural opening to an email?" If someone has to think too hard about what to say in an email to you, they won't bother.
posted by dotgirl at 4:14 PM on April 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


I would say you seem very clinical and serious and not very fun or light-hearted - which may be true and that's fine, different personalities for different folks but that's what would make me uninterested.

For example, here's how I would rearrange the first part of your profile to seem less clinical/more warm:

Hi, I'm Paul.

I'm a 20 year old philosophy major. I'm originally from Missouri, but Texas has been my home since I was 5.

I first became interested in philosophy in High School when I came across some dense texts that I couldn't understand. I've since figured out that a lot of what drives me is a sort of puzzle-solving desire to understand the difficult texts out there, but I do believe that philosophy has a real use in every day life.

I tend to get passionately involved in things that interest me, from academic subjects like philosophy, history, economics, anthropology, and literature to hobbies like running, camping, hiking, bow-making and knapping. While I'm not creative myself, I appreciate other's creativity in areas like literature, sculpture, art, and architecture nonetheless, and wish I had the talent to express myself in those ways. I also love meeting and talking to new people and hearing their stories.

(On preview, I see that people agree re: the seriousness and I agree that the focus on empathy is a little weird. That's one of those things that you just have to be rather than talking about it.)
posted by wuzandfuzz at 4:14 PM on April 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Disregarding anything weird on my part in my OKCupid messages: what criticisms or observations do you have of my profile and pictures that might be able to explain my response rate?

I think you're looking in the wrong place for answers to explain your response rate. If 1/3 of the people you write respond, that's a pretty high response rate. If all but 2 people that you've written responded, that's pretty good, too. Also, how much time have you given for these people to respond? Not everyone responds quickly.

You should contact WAAAAY more people before you start looking at your profile as the source of your problems.
posted by 23skidoo at 4:15 PM on April 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


20/still in college is on the younger side for online dating. I think a lot of people don't start until they're out of college and away from that whole built-in social scene, so your desired might be a little small. And I'm not sure how many post-college women would be interested in dating a college guy who's not even old enough to legally drink, which would shrink your market even further. Beyond that, I think your profile is well-written and could use a few more pictures that show your face straight on. I also would ditch the high school photos (you're legal now, jailbait photos gotta go) and substitute photos that are current so prospective dates can see what you look like now (like, what kind of hairstyle do you have? I see 3 photos and 3 hairdos).
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 4:15 PM on April 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


I'm a straight dude, so I just pretended your profile was a woman's and then imagined how I would feel about it.

Some things to think about:
-It's a little dry. It would be nice to see some enthusiasm or enjoyment coming through.
-You don't drink. That's fine, and you shouldn't hide it, but it is going to lower your response rate. Again, I don't think you should change this about your profile, but this may be the culprit if you're not getting a lot of responses.
- You took the "Friday night" question pretty literally. I tend to think of that question as really asking "what do you do for fun?" Your response makes it seem like you don't leave the house. I'm sure that's not true, so I suggest replacing it with what you like to do when you go out to have fun.
posted by Ragged Richard at 4:17 PM on April 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


a philosophy student who is really, really into his studies (honestly, 6 mentions of philosophy might be too many) and never drinks, smokes, or does drugs and wants women younger than 24 doesn't necessarily leave a lot of people in college station who would be compatible. factor in the studies maybe taking you away and the religion answer (i take from your answer that you're not christian and might feel strongly about not being religious) - not saying there aren't any atheist teetotalers, but it's certainly a smaller group.

also, as others say - the empathy thing comes off a little weird when mixed with all the philosophy stuff. i don't think you're like this at all, but it reminds me of the undergrads i knew at that age who used their "deepness" to bed a lot of girls and not respect them later.

are you looking for a lasting commitment or are you looking to go out and have some fun? your profile seems unfocused on that point (or leaning towards the first, but having practical limitations to that with grad school coming up).

finally - 3 people isn't a lot to contact. your expectations might be a little high. you'll probably also find some good advice at oktrends.
posted by nadawi at 4:18 PM on April 18, 2012 [4 favorites]


The Friday night answer coupled with the rest made me wonder what you do on a date. So, what would you do on a date? Put that in there somewhere. I agree with needing to loosen up a bit in general.
posted by cabingirl at 4:21 PM on April 18, 2012


Yes, definitely talk about something fun you would like to do with a date on a Friday night on that question.
posted by Sidhedevil at 4:23 PM on April 18, 2012


The positives: you come off as sincere, serious, intelligent and good-hearted

What could be improved:

1) You're definitely cute but I think your photo selection is doing you a disservice. I'd leave the first photo but take out the photos of you in high school, and replace them with some more recent photos that show your face more clearly or you engaged in another interesting activity.

2) I'd also take out the "I'm not creative" line. There's no reason to criticize yourself. It suggests a lack of confidence.

3) You mention empathy twice. I would replace it with something else under the "i'm really good at" heading. Or at least elaborate on it more.

4) Overall I get a depressed vibe from your profile, this part especially: fighting that Friday evening fatigue through conversation or books, or just giving up and going to sleep. Even if you are depressed, you want to make your profile as positive as you can.

5) A few more specifics to fill out the profile wouldn't hurt.

Good luck! :)
posted by timsneezed at 4:25 PM on April 18, 2012


Drop at least some of the mentions of philosophy, and add in other things you enjoy; expand on the hobbies you mention, or books you love to read (don't mention your appreciation of their philosophy!), etc. I understand being way into your studies (I am/was too), but right now your profile reads like a preliminary job interview. Unless you're trying to date your professor, expand your interests beyond your study! People like to know that workaholics are interested in other things as well.
posted by c'mon sea legs at 4:27 PM on April 18, 2012


Agreeing with the photo statements. Also, on quick scan: knapping read as "kidnapping." And I even know what knapping is (and have tried it)! Just a thought that you might be putting out a subliminal "creep factor" with that one.
posted by theplotchickens at 4:29 PM on April 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Also I just noticed that your only personality trait is "sloppy." You might want to answer more questions so the algorithms churn out some other traits to balance that out.
posted by timsneezed at 4:33 PM on April 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


a philosophy student who is really, really into his studies (honestly, 6 mentions of philosophy might be too many) and never drinks, smokes, or does drugs and wants women younger than 24 doesn't necessarily leave a lot of people in college station who would be compatible. factor in the studies maybe taking you away and the religion answer (i take from your answer that you're not christian and might feel strongly about not being religious) - not saying there aren't any atheist teetotalers, but it's certainly a smaller group.

Drop at least some of the mentions of philosophy


I disagree with all of the above. I'm into philosophy, and I enjoyed how obviously dedicated you are to something. I'm in college too, and my peers don't seem nearly as dedicated to their subjects of choice. I found this a plus. I don't smoke, drink, or do drugs either, and if you don't, so what? What's wrong with that?

Oh, and OKC is full--full!!--of atheists. It's a very large group, from what I've found.

I wouldn't drop the mentions of philosophy. Philosophy rocks!

Although I never got any messages either. Oh, well. Do you really want someone who smokes, drinks, does drugs, is very religious, and hates philosophy? No? Then don't change your profile to make it sound like you do.
posted by lhude sing cuccu at 4:33 PM on April 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Agreeing that you need a clear, high resolution photo that is flattering and of your face.
posted by hermitosis at 4:35 PM on April 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


Photos. If I were single and looking on OKCupid, I would look at the profile photo and keep moving.

1) They all look really, really young. Granted, I am ten years older than you, but I think it looks young even for college age.

2) Your hair makes you look younger, and also, sort of oldfashioned at the same time. Fixing this would help a lot.
posted by corb at 4:35 PM on April 18, 2012


I like a lot of your profile, as a datapoint it doesn't really bother me that you say you're good at empathizing although the repeat in the '6 things' list was a little much. You could maybe add some lighter things under that question as well though. I agree that the profile is very serious, but it reads well and I suspect that you're looking for someone fairly serious-- no sense in making the profile super lighthearted if that's not what you're like, you'll come off weird and attract people you wouldn't be interested in.

However, I think you could beef up the sections that talk about what you do in your free time. When you say talking to others, what do you mean? 2am philosophical conversations with your roommates? asking random people on the street for their life story? The relative merits of taylor swift vs. Rihanna? Why do you like camping? What do you do when you're camping, where do you go? When you say you like sculpture, do you go to museums? I'd be interested in seeing less about your vague interests and more about what you actually do.

I don't think the second two photos are doing you any favors-- the second is just a bad photo, the third you look very young (and are younger, right? You don't need to scrapbook your life, only post recent photos unless there's a story behind them, and if there is, tell it.)

Also, 1/3 isn't a bad response rate. A huge part of this is probably that you say you're leaving in a few months- I probably wouldn't respond to you on that basis alone unless I was on a similar timeline or looking for something super casual. Also, it's not clear whether you're applying to grad schools for the fall-- that was how I took it when I first read through and I was like 'well of course girls probably don't want to get involved with someone potentially moving thousands of miles away soon.' Now that I look at it again, I realize that you don't necessarily mean that-- I'm not clear on your timeline at all honestly. that's something that will be important for people to know.

oh, also-- "places of access to nature" is clunky and weird sounding.
posted by geegollygosh at 4:37 PM on April 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


Oh, and OKC is full--full!!--of atheists.

Wait, SollosQ, are you an atheist? Because I would not get that impression from "Other and somewhat serious about it" but then I don't know what the OKC options are.
posted by Sidhedevil at 4:42 PM on April 18, 2012


Hold on hold on hold on. You contacted THREE people? You must be new to the world of dating. Either that, or you had false hopes for internet dating. Don't get me wrong... internet dating is a lot of fun. I'm on okcupid and I've met some really neat women through the site, but it's important to remember that people are still people.

Generally, dating works like this: men approach women. It's no different online than it is offline. Sure, some women initiate contact, but they're the exceptions that prove the rule.

So... the question is this. Actually, it's a two-parter:

#1: What sort of woman would you like to meet?
#2: How is your profile written to inspire her to reply?

What usually inspires people to reply? It's usually details that make them think "Me too!" or maybe even just "Hey, that's neat."
posted by 2oh1 at 4:50 PM on April 18, 2012


I wouldn't worry about the smoking/drinking/god thing those are the kinds of things people need to know about you and there isn't anything wrong with them.

But I would cut back on the philosophy mentions, you mention it 6 times. Maybe you could talk about what type of philosophy/philosophers you're into and put other interesting things about you in place of the other mentions.

It would also be nice to have more specifics - information about your hobbies or specific books/movies you like. It makes it easier if someone wants to email you. Also i think specifics about your grad school plans would be good. I think some women, especially in your age range, might be hesitant to get into a relationship with someone who is planning to leave.

I though overall though your profile was good with a few tweaks! 1/3 messages is a good return too.
posted by SpaceWarp13 at 4:51 PM on April 18, 2012


i'm not suggesting you lie about drinking or drugs, or accept them in a partner or that you should hide your love of philosophy. i'm saying if you're wondering why 2 out of 3 didn't answer, it might be because what you enjoy and how you spend your time doesn't match up with a large part of the dating population at your age in your location. i was merely talking about numbers here (and to reiterate, 1 out of 3 is a pretty great response rate for online dating - most take a more buckshot approach to it, less of a sniper rifle).

as to removing some of the mentions - it's not to hide that you care about it or are dedicated to it, it's that it comes off a little weird. this isn't coming from an uneducated place - i've hung out with lots of philosophy students (even teetotaler atheist philosophy students!) - it just seems like you have nothing else to talk about and you aren't even really talking about philosophy, just that you like it. if i were a jock and looking for other jocks, seeing a profile that just keeps repeating "I LIKE SPORTS!" doesn't tell me anything and would make me think the person was just grasping for a personality trait. what authors? what parts of philosophy? what was the last paper you read that blew your mind? don't tell people you love philosophy, tell people what about it you love. that shows more about you as a person and reads less like a bookstore section.
posted by nadawi at 4:52 PM on April 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Hi there. Feel free to use whatever advice you're getting here about your profile, but I also recommend that you stop worrying about it so much. You've contacted 3 people and got one response back. That's fine. Happens to me all the time. Hell I've had much worse streaks, myself, and still manage to go on some lovely dates with some lovely people. OKC gives people a lot of tools for finding people, not necessarily for connecting. So use it for what it's made for: find people. Use the quickmatch thing extensively. If you rate someone 4 or higher stars they'll know, and maybe they'll rate you highly as well. then you have a much stronger reason to chat and the odds are high they'll happily respond. Browse around, use the search crietria, take a look at everyone that visits your profile, search for terms that are of interest to you in your area (a movie title you like, books, whatever) but look for people. Maybe you send messages out to 4 different people in one night, and then you don't message anybody for a week. cool. maybe some will get back, maybe none. just keep browsing around and if you see someone nice send them a nice message. maybe you end up doing that every night, or a couple times in one night, or a couple times a week or more rarely than that. all of those are fine, there is not appropriate number of people to message, or a time frame that anyone is supposed to adhere to between messages. it's your profile, and your dating life.

also, I recommend not thinking of okc (or any dating site) as a place to find a long term relationship. that can and certainly will happen sometimes, but really it's just a place to start a casual conversation with established boundaries and if it goes well ask someone on a date. after that, okc has nothing to do with it. so just look for people you might have a nice first date with and ask them a question about themselves or mention something you liked in their profile or something like that.

to answer your question a little more directly: here is how people browse on okcupid. they look for people whose match percentage is within a reasonable range for them, they see what you like and are interested in, they look at photos and they try to get a sense for how you spend your time. they want to know if you guys would have fun together doing the kind of things they like to do, and they want to see if they're at all attracted to you physically/emotionally/whateverly. so that's what your profile should present.

1. honest but good pictures of yourself
2. your personality (note, this does not mean to bear your soul, here. they want to know what you're like to talk to. let your inner voice present itself on the page. make jokes the way you do with your friends, talk about the shit you love the way you do in real life. use your conversational voice.)
3. what you do to have fun, kill time, be social, etc... do you travel? go to music shows? the movies? read? party with friends? tell people these things.

so make that kind of thing front and center of your profile. don't talk about your problems, don't give anyone advance warning of characteristics of yourself you think they may not like. just give them an idea of what you might be like on a date or during a conversation.

for the record: I've had way worse records than getting a response from 1 of 3 messsages. you're doing fine. just keep looking. there are a lot of people on that site, and plenty of them will like you.
posted by shmegegge at 4:52 PM on April 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


Actually I think parts of your profile is pretty good and I'll nth lhud'es comment (that this will work to attract people who you are interested in). If you are passionate about what you are studying in college, great...leave it in. I actually like that you explain why you like philosophy, too, and it suggests that you will understand other people's passions.

I agree with others, though, that the empathy/empathizing thing is odd (this is not uncommon...I'm twice your age and I see men list adjectives in profiles based on....?) So my suggestion for that is a bit different. Rather that stating that you are good at empathizing or have empathy, list specific things that demonstrate it (so why do you feel that you have this trait?). If you volunteer and tutor children, or give $ to the homeless, or do volunteer counseling...whatever it is, list that because it will stand out and later on your potential date can decide if you have empathy or not.
posted by Wolfster at 4:52 PM on April 18, 2012


Nthing the photos being the major offender (although lack of pizazz was also an issue for me, I found myself skimming this profile and thinking "ho hum").

I initially didn't look at the other photos and I thought with the distant small profile pic "OK, he looks about average". Then I actually looked at the photos. Photo 1: hey, he goes to liberal political protests! that's cool! Photos 2/3: oh my god, he's a child! I can no longer consider him as a date.

I suggest in addition to new photos of you looking like a fully fledged adult, you should maybe throw a little bit of storytelling into the profile. I know not everyone is good at the jokey/flirty stuff and I'm guessing you're one of those people. One way to be more interesting without being jokey is to tell a story about something in your life that will engage someone. It's a lot more interesting than a list of personality traits or a list of activities you like. Check out jph's answer from this thread last week for a great example of an engaging storytelling profile.

Also, move the knapping thing and the other obscure thing to the front of the activities list, and explain what they are. I missed that on my read through because the other stuff was generic and I was skimming by then. (sorry, just being honest) You seemed nice though and not creepy or weird.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 5:05 PM on April 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Your look is conflicting with your personality. Your personality says to me - I'm serious and passionate, and your look doesn't tell me that at all - it just shows me you're a dude. If you have a serious personality, you can own it a little more in how you look. You should be trying to create desirability.

"I'm really good at empathizing"

Is something a player would write. Think more about you as a person and less about you getting laid.

and wish I had the talent to express myself in those ways.

Not necessary. Focus on how you think art is wonderful and how you'd like to meet someone who you can go to galleries with and talk about art and philosophy with over a coffee. Leave out anything that's putting yourself down.

I also think you need to write more in a storytelling kind of vein - at the moment it's too factual. I like this, I do this. It's too short and sharp. And also mention upfront what kinds of anime shows you like - it's about trying to grab their attention and have them say, hey, this guy, he's someone I could go out with. But they won't see it unless you show it to them first (they'll just move on to the next profile).
posted by mleigh at 5:13 PM on April 18, 2012


You could do with some signs of humour and lightness in there, dude.
posted by Decani at 5:17 PM on April 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


I liked your written profile a lot! I think it's a good mix of specific vs general. And I thought that the first picture was good! The second is kind of unnecessary and the third is wayyy too young - so swap them out. You seem like a young looking guy, so just know that women on the higher end of your age range might not respond to you (overgeneralization-ymmv)

I really don't have any constructive criticism. I did my B.A. In philosophy so maybe I am partial to a certain type of person and writing style, but just know that everyone likes something different, and as long as your profile reflects you as accurately as you think it can, then you are golden and will attract the right sorts of women.
posted by sarahnicolesays at 5:20 PM on April 18, 2012


Your profile seems mostly fine, and good for you for putting yourself out there. But here's an idea: go through and change 5-10 things to make it breezier, snappier, less plodding and redundant.

For instance, cut some of the references to philosophy. The reference to philosophy in the first sentence after "I'm Paul," the paragraph about the various aspects of philosophy that appeal to you, and the reference to studying philosophy in what you're doing with your life — that's plenty. There's no need for the additional references to how passionate you are about philosophy. Look, I majored in philosophy, still read philosophy for fun, and would love to date someone who's passionate about the subject. If even I found your profile a bit too heavy on philosophy, you can bet most people would too.

"I mostly enjoy anime, though occasionally something Western will catch my attention (like Lost or Arrested Development)." Those details are great, but I question your "Western" framing. How about making it more plain and simple? "I watch a lot of anime, but I also like Lost and Arrested Development." That gives the same information, but without the sense that you consider anything "Western" (an oddly generalized term) to be a guilty pleasure. It paints a picture of someone who's always bemoaning the decline of Western civilization and only occasionally deigns to watch American television.

"I'm not creative, but I appreciate literature, sculpture, art, and architecture nonetheless, and wish I had the talent to express myself in those ways." Is there a more positive way you could put this? It's fine to be self-deprecating by talking about how you appreciate those things without having talent in them — but starting out with "I'm not creative" is unflattering. Instead of beginning the paragraph by characterizing yourself in a negative way, why not launch right into the positive? "I love going to museums," etc. You could also leave out "literature," since you use the word "literature" again in the section on books. Another picky comment, similar to what I said about "Western": the word "literature" has a faint air of erudition and, yes, pretension. I'm not saying don't use it at all. But don't use it 4 times. With a profile as academically oriented and straight-laced as yours (no drinking or drugs, etc.), you don't need to do anything extra to emphasize your erudite side, so you might want to pick a more vivid/fun word (like "novels" or some specific book titles) rather than "literature."

Try deleting your list of 6 things you couldn't live without, except leave one word: "Nature." (Not "access to places of nature" — it goes without saying that if you love nature, you want to be able to get to it.) Then come up with 5 things that are more unexpected or detailed than people, books, a computer, etc.

3 messages is a meaningless sample from which to draw any conclusions, and you'll be doing pretty well if you end up with a consistent response rate of 1 in 3. Good luck.
posted by John Cohen at 5:21 PM on April 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Your pics need updating. You have 3, which is a fine number, but two of them are you in running gear. To me, when I see a pic of a person in running gear, it makes me think of running, which makes me think of being sweaty and uncomfy...even if its just subconscious.

The pics should be super easy to take care of though. Just find some friends that you trust and ask if they'd take a couple candid shots of you smiling and looking at the camera...or at least towards the camera. Jr high pic would be okay if you had TONS of other pics, but as it stands its just adding to the graininess.

Bow making? That is kick ass! How about a picture of you in your shop making a bow?

Personal pet peeve is when people capitalize stuff like Science Fiction. But that might just be me.

I think you could change this: "- Places of access to Nature." to just 'Access to nature' or even just 'Nature.' It made me scratch my head a little when I read it.

Double empathy! Woah! Yeah I'd lose that. I'm sure you are an empathetic guy like you say you are, but it also seems like the sort of thing that would be a cheesy line too...you know? Like, Q:whats your favorite hobby? A:'Listening to you baby, and rubbing your feet while I do the dishes' Just kinda, sounds a little pandering, although probably not how you meant it.

You list anime as an interest and then: I've got a long list, so feel free to ask me about any particular anime shows I enjoyed. You are missing an opportunity to connect with your fellow anime fans here. I am not saying you should list out the 136 animes you love (in fact I think lists like that on profiles are kinda distracting). But I think you could pick out one or two and say why you like them. Or what you haven't seen yet but are looking forward too.
posted by ian1977 at 5:36 PM on April 18, 2012


Oh yeah and just to add in....1 in 3 response rate is AWESOME. If anything, law of averages will cause that to drop. Don't let it bother you in the least. Seriously.
posted by ian1977 at 5:41 PM on April 18, 2012


[um, seriously, if you can't be constructive and just want to be crabby about the OPs photos Do Not Answer. Thanks.]
posted by jessamyn at 5:57 PM on April 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


On a typical Friday night I am "fighting that Friday evening fatigue through conversation or books, or just giving up and going to sleep."

I think this, and this alone, could be enough to turn a lot of women away. How many women will look at a guy who spends his Friday nights half-asleep, or studying, or all the way asleep, and think "oh yeah baby! sign me up for some of that!"
posted by drlith at 6:03 PM on April 18, 2012 [4 favorites]


Better photos. I agree that the way you talk about empathy is sort of weird. I also think you're sort of jumping the gun talking about a career in philosophy when you are a junior. I don't find the repeated mentions of it off-putting, though.

Also, to say you like running, reading, and talking with others (two solo activities) but you really super like backpacking and camping (neither necessarily non-solo) makes you seem very, very introverted (see also your Friday night activity). If this is true and the impression you want to give, go for it, but it's going to appeal only to very introverted people.

I'd maybe expand more on how you speak Danish. That's neat.

But I'd respond to your message if you sent me one and we were reasonably close in age (we're not), so I don't think your profile is terrible, just possibly giving the wrong impression.
posted by jeather at 6:08 PM on April 18, 2012


Also, to say you like running, reading, and talking with others (two solo activities) but you really super like backpacking and camping (neither necessarily non-solo) makes you seem very, very introverted

Camping doesn't seem like a solo activity, and talking with people definitely isn't.
posted by John Cohen at 6:12 PM on April 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


I know people who camp and backpack solo, and after a list of three items, two of which are solo (which is what I said the first time: two solo activities in a list of three things you like), it doesn't seem at all extroverted. "Talking to other people" is generic. This is pretty consistent in the profile -- it's inward-focussed, and the specifics come across as a lot of solo pursuits. (The seriousness also plays into this.)

I am not judging this negatively: I like solo pursuits. I think bow-making sounds neat. I am saying that, if SollosQ does not want to give this impression, then some of his wording needs to be changed up -- for example, the things he likes to do should include more specific (as opposed to generic) non-solo activities.
posted by jeather at 6:40 PM on April 18, 2012


0) ignore any advice that makes you uncomfortable

0b) except about the photos. Get better pictures.

0c) BE YOURSELF. You come across as very down to earth, probably quite a ways down the introvert scale. That's fine! Don't oversell yourself, or force on exciting things or humor that aren't natural to you.

1) Add more narration/significant details. Mention a couple things you have accomplished that you're proud of. What was the best part of your last camping trip? Where do you want your next one to be? What bow making (awesome!) skill have you recently attempted?

2) Show, don't tell. Specifically, if you want to get across your empathy, talk about when a book or some other fiction impacted you emotionally.

3) Mention what kind of people you're drawn to, and what you like to do with them once you have their attention. Do you want someone similar to you, or very different?

4) Answer (a lot!) more match questions, and add more commentary. I liked browsing questions (and have been doing so while writing this answer), and it can be a neat quasi-conversation/conversation starter.
posted by itesser at 6:47 PM on April 18, 2012 [5 favorites]


Oh, something I meant to explicitly say:

Include the kind of details that your ideal match would be excited about. If you want a girl to love your philosophy interests, mention a favorite theory. It may sound too heavy to some people, but do you want to date the people it sounds too heavy to?
posted by itesser at 7:01 PM on April 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm not exactly an online dating master. I never actually message anyone and suck at replying to messages. (This has resulted in one truly disastrous date.)

I'll add my voice to the chorus saying 'don't call yourself empathetic'. To me, it comes off as weird and perhaps a bit arrogant. I'm torn as to whether it works in the six things list. I sort of think that works.

My OK Cupid profile talks about spending Friday nights on the sofa reading MeFi. Because, honestly, that's what I do. It's actually one of the things people use as a pretext to message me (not MeFi, but admitting I spend Friday evenings sitting on my sofa). You don't have to pretend you go out clubbing or something to make the Friday night answer not depressing. Are you boring on Fridays, but exciting on Saturdays?

If I was a prospective date (other than gender, I'm probably vaguely your target demographic), I'd want you to be more specific about what Russian and German literature you like. Goethe? The literature of the Weimar Republic? On the flipside, saying you like British literature and then mentioning only Spenser and Shakespeare seems odd because they're just a blip in the sea of British literature. There's some middle ground of detail to be struck here. I'd say the same thing about manga, but I don't know anything about manga.
posted by hoyland at 7:11 PM on April 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Agreeing with everyone's comments on the photos. You primary photo shows that you are cute and have features that are going to grow into a very handsome older man (nice). But then I saw the other photos and it reminded me of high school. You are still cute in them, but I just don't think they are right for what you need. Add in a frontal photo with eyes.

Also, I would change the Friday Night answer. You could do something such as "when I am not fighting through that F N fatigue with conversation or books, I like to..." Add in some of the other, fun/interesting things you do (such as planning/packing for a camping trip to x, to hike x mountain, and do x).

Lastly, fill in the personality part more. You may be sloppy, but I am sure you are much more than that as well.

And 1 out of 3? For a guy? That's a great ratio for online dating.
posted by Vaike at 7:17 PM on April 18, 2012


I agree with shmegegge generally, but I will say that your pictures made me gasp and say OH WOW HE'S YOUNG. College age women are all about being grown up and having grown up men finally instead of high schoolers so you want to go with that and do grown up pictures.

Plus if you're athletic, try to get a shirtless photo in there. Ladies will not admit it but we love shirtless photos of fit guys. It will help balance out the philosophy = serious business stuff.

Good luck!
posted by the young rope-rider at 7:18 PM on April 18, 2012


The thing that stuck out to me most in your profile was that you speak some Danish! Why? How? Write about that a bit, maybe. And give some specifics. I see you like Steinbeck - hey, me too. But if I saw you liked Cannery Row - hey! That's my favorite book. Have you ever been to Monterey?

Give people opportunities to have specific conversations with you.
posted by ChuraChura at 7:19 PM on April 18, 2012


ZOMG stop saying philosophy.

Really, you're totally on the right track, you're just a bit too general and repetitive. I see that you strongly identify as "someone who likes philosophy," but your puzzle description isn't going to resonate with someone who doesn't already think of philosophy as a puzzle. What do you like about camping, backpacking, etc.? People don't necessarily even know what you mean by those categories exactly, show them what you love about it by describing an inspiring experience.

At your age, junior year in high school is too recent to be something cute to post, it just highlights that you're a teenager.
posted by desuetude at 7:36 PM on April 18, 2012


I was a philosophy minor in undergrad, so I totally dig the philosophy thing, but I agree with others who have said that you need to be more specific. By being so broad, you sound kind of disingenuous, and maybe like you don't know what you're talking about. Who are your favorite philosophers? Favorite eras of philosophical thought? Favorite topics within philosophy? Talking about that will not only make you sound a bit more human, but will give a woman something to have in common with you.

Oh, and agreed with all the others that 1 in 3 is a really great online dating ratio. Just a reminder, if you haven't already heard: online dating is tough. If you're having a tough time handling the fact that only 1 in 3 women responded to your messages, you're going to have an ever tougher time when it's three months from now and that ratio has dropped dramatically. Online dating is a numbers game. Message any women who appeals to you at all, but be prepared to not get a ton of responses. The right one will respond!
posted by anotheraccount at 7:57 PM on April 18, 2012


Oh my. This has helped a lot, thanks!

For instance, I was surprised to hear about the empathy thing. I meant something completely different by it than by how people are taking it, so that's something I'll probably just end up removing.

That's a good point too Ragged Richard. I didn't think to take the Friday Night section non-literally.

I'll definitely remove the younger photos, though I'm generally not photogenic so adding new ones will be difficult.

A lot of other points to change, both large and small, were well made that I'll definitely put into effect.

The biggest thing perhaps for me to mull over is the humor. I have a fun time outside, but it's difficult (as it is for a lot of people I suppose) to translate that onto OKCupid which, counter-productively, seems at times to encourage a more formal tone (i.e., this is an application or resume for your future dating life), and makes one wary of committing to humor too much. As I read in another AskMefi thread: you don't want to come across as a stand-up comedian.

Anyways, thanks again!
posted by SollosQ at 8:12 PM on April 18, 2012


So to be totally honest, remove the picture where you look so skinny in the cut off shirt. It's totally fine to be that skinny, and if I met a guy online after sharing a few funny emails back and forth, I would not care exactly how skinny he was, but I can see how when perusing dozens of online profiles, girls might skip yours when there are more flattering pictures of other guys out there. And speaking of flattering pictures, get some where we can actually see your facial features, instead of a blurry tiny picture from which the only thing we can tell is that you're a young white guy. Just take a bunch of pictures of yourself with your cell phone at different angles (not in the bathroom!), see which ones play up your facial features - is there a picture where the shape of your eyes or cheekbones or chin stands out? Or one where you have a nice smile?

And as far as the profile, add something funny or playful to it. The #1 thing that girls are attracted to is a sense of humor. Don't try too hard and overdo it, but show a little playfulness, some spontaneity, or something. We got that you're serious about what you do, and thats great, but show us a reason that it'd be fun to talk to you or hang out with you!
posted by never.was.and.never.will.be. at 9:30 PM on April 18, 2012


You sound very serious; to be on the safe side, don't mention anything about philosophy in your profile. Also, you don't make it clear what it is you want to do with other people, let alone enjoy with someone you'd be dating. I have a great idea of what you want to do alone, but not with others.
posted by oceanjesse at 9:51 PM on April 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


More pics, definitely. Don't worry too much about not being photogenic and get a friend to help.

Here's a quick exercise to illustrate the importance of details:

example 1: Hi. I'm bunderful. My hobbies include reading, cooking and music.

example 2: Hi, I'm bunderful. I just finished reading The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, which I thought was pretty good despite the frequent googling necessary to understand the Dominican slang terms. I love to cook - a great weekend includes cranking up some motown in the kitchen and singing along while I put together a vegetable stew (sweet potatoes are my secret ingredient).

Just about anyone could have written example 1. Example 2 gives you a quick peek into my life, plus it provides a couple of hooks.
posted by bunderful at 5:07 AM on April 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


plus it provides a couple of hooks

Yes, hooks! You need something in your profile that would make it easy for people to reply to you and ask you questions about yourself, especially people who don't have the same interests. A lot of times I don't reply to guys because there is literally nothing for me to ask about or comment on in his profile. I hate writing boring messages, so if there is nothing fun in his profile, I will get writer's block and never write back. If you both love knapping, then yes, the girl is going to write back because she is excited about finding someone who likes the same thing. But if she's never heard it, give a brief description, or write something like "ask me about the best thing I ever knapped!" (disclaimer: I've never heard of knapping and don't know if knapped is a real word)

Some visuals, as bunderful gave as an example are also good because instead of being just a dating resume that someone reads online that lists some generic interests, a girl is now reading the profile and picturing bunderful rocking out in the kitchen and having fun.
posted by never.was.and.never.will.be. at 5:52 AM on April 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


^ Great advice above.

So as to not belabor any points, I will just give a personal critique, since you asked. I would not be looking for a pen pal or a new friend, so take this FWIW.

It didn't have enough romantic sparkle. I didn't see any, in fact.

Hypothetically, I plan to knock your socks off. I would like to have someone who I feel would be a little bit more suave in the romance department. I know I'm not the only one. (And I know that everyone is different.) Technically, you "bring more to the table" when you are romantic. The utter lack of it in your profile was a bummer, because I really liked that you are a smart guy, it shows, it's wonderful. But there's more to it than that.

No sharing a bottle of wine for us while we talk philosophy deep into the night on our camping trips. I'm not picturing us dancing in the kitchen to Motown making stew. I'm not picturing anything romantic at all.

Maybe one sentence about that side of yourself?
posted by Grlnxtdr at 9:30 AM on April 19, 2012


I would have to say (and I couldn't see all of it, just the front profile page, as I'm not an OKC member) ...

1. Keep the philosophy. And the seriousness. When I was doing online dating, a lot of profiles were SO shallow. Forced humour is horrible.

2. Cool hobbies like bow-making - put up a photo and talk about it a little. I once went for a guy who said he was making a harpsichord and loved playing Scrabble. Never saw the harpsichord; rubbish at Scrabble. Really rubbish.

3. Yeah, better pics. Then again, first pic I saw of Mr LB was HORRIBLE and we still went for it. Well, friendship first!

I think what I'm saying in summary is that yes, adding humour, fun Friday nights, drinking etc. might get you more QUANTITY, but will it get you more QUALITY? I would guess you are more likely to get girls responding who will be interested in you as a person if you keep the general tone and just tweak. MUCH younger LB would have been more interested in this profile than some generic cinema and drinking fellow.

Good luck! It does get better for the serious ones: promise!
posted by LyzzyBee at 1:52 AM on April 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


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