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February 27, 2011 1:22 PM   Subscribe

What are some boutique dating websites, other than OKCupid? Also, do men really like it when women contact them on dating sites?

Woman talking:

I prefer the non-mainstreaminess of the average OKCupid user. Sites like Lavalife and Match, although they have a larger user set, are full of status quo duds that I have little in common with. I speak from experience.

However, since OKCupid has relatively fewer users, I find that I'm not getting as many dates as I want. I'm pretty, but maybe because I'm of a minority ethnicity is why I don't get the fabled "hundreds of messages" that white women do. So...

What are some other boutique websites that attract left-of-mainstream users? Maybe if I register on multiple ones I'll get more dates.

Also, bonus question: do guys really like it when women contact them on dating sites? The "experts" seem to say that even though a man might be a little flattered, it's ultimately emasculating, upsets the male-female dynamic, leading to eventual relationship doom. Discuss!
posted by oceanview to Human Relations (39 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
 
Also, bonus question: do guys really like it when women contact them on dating sites? The "experts" seem to say that even though a man might be a little flattered, it's ultimately emasculating, upsets the male-female dynamic, leading to eventual relationship doom.

The experts are wrong.
posted by John Cohen at 1:32 PM on February 27, 2011 [27 favorites]


I can only answer your bonus question. As a male who is on OKCupid, I have no problems whatsoever with a woman initiating contact. It is a welcome contrast to the nine out of ten or so women who don't respond when I initiate contact. I know that a woman who initiates contact is more likely to engage in conversation and (usually) willing to meet up in real life.

This isn't rural 1930s Alabama. It's perfectly fine for a woman nowadays to send a message to the man (or woman) of her choice on one of these sites.
posted by AMSBoethius at 1:34 PM on February 27, 2011


Also, bonus question: do guys really like it when women contact them on dating sites? The "experts" seem to say that even though a man might be a little flattered, it's ultimately emasculating, upsets the male-female dynamic, leading to eventual relationship doom.

I think any man that would be "emasculated" from a female initiating contact isn't a man that you would want to date.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 1:36 PM on February 27, 2011 [31 favorites]


I guess the standard logic would be that if a guy didn't like hearing from the girl first, for whatever reason, he's probably not someone you'd wanna go out with anyway.
posted by TheSecretDecoderRing at 1:37 PM on February 27, 2011


bonus question: do guys really like it when women contact them on dating sites?

In my opinion, the potential problem isn't that they don't like it or it's emasculating, etc. It's just that when guys are frustrated by sending out dozens of emails and getting few/no replies back, they may reply to your email or go on a date with you, even if they're not that into you but you look/seem decent enough, just out of frustration. That's the only thing I think I'd be careful of.
posted by Ashley801 at 1:41 PM on February 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


The "experts" seem to say that even though a man might be a little flattered, it's ultimately emasculating, upsets the male-female dynamic, leading to eventual relationship doom.

The experts are either idiots or misogynists.

Data-point: I initiated contact with my boyfriend (we were on Salon/Nerve personals at the time; I don't know if they exist in the same form now but they were good at the time). We've been happy together for going on six years. Shortly after we started dating he mentioned that he'd actually been planning on disabling his profile in large part because he was discouraged by how few women contacted him (and he'd given up contacting anyone as nothing had panned out), so it turns out I'd emailed him in the nick of time.

Another data point: a (male) friend of mine is married to a woman who contacted him on Salon/Nerve personals.
posted by scody at 2:02 PM on February 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


The only one I can think of off the bat is Nerve.com, and they were edgey about 10 years ago and have probably been bought out by a larger company by now. No harm in checking them out, though.
posted by newpotato at 2:05 PM on February 27, 2011


do guys really like it when women contact them on dating sites? The "experts" seem to say that even though a man might be a little flattered, it's ultimately emasculating, upsets the male-female dynamic, leading to eventual relationship doom

I think it depends hugely on the kind of relationship you want. Speaking for myself and every guy I know, I think it would be foolish to let that worry keep you from messaging someone you find interesting. Your ultimate relationship dynamic will depend a lot more on the way you interact later than on your initial contact. However, if you expect and want the man later to be the driver of the relationship so you can be the coy gatekeeper, then messaging the guy first means you're much more likely to meet someone who doesn't act the way you want, leading to eventual relationship doom. It's a pre-filter for the kind of person you want.
posted by hattifattener at 2:06 PM on February 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Re: scody's mention of Salon/Nerve personals above, this was actually operated by a company called Sixth Street Networks (if I remember correctly - might have the name slightly wrong) which operated the online dating hub behind Salon, Nerve, The Onion and other web-magazine personals. Back in the day (around 2002-04-ish) this was the gold standard for free-to-premium hip online dating - *much* cooler and more stylish than okcupid today, which is distinctly more low-brow (the user generated questions are generally lame, sorry). Unfortunately Sixth Street was bought out by some other company (Fastcupid, I think) which promptly destroyed the hipness by introducing a garish MySpacey aesthetic and imposing new money-milking measures which destroyed the ease of use for free users.

OKC, as far as I know, is the hippest dating site out there at the moment with no real competitors (even though its pretty cheesy, IMHO). OKCupid just got bought out for $50million earlier this month by Match.com, btw. They promise not to change it too much, but we'll see.
posted by Bwithh at 2:12 PM on February 27, 2011


As a guy who uses OKCupid, I enjoy talking to someone who reaches out to me. I'm very bad at making the first move.

Depending on your definition of "non-mainstream", you might try Soulgeek?
posted by BZArcher at 2:15 PM on February 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


If you initiate contact with a man on a dating site you have automatically set yourself apart from the vast majority of other women on there. Absolutely, do it.
posted by fso at 2:21 PM on February 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


Nthing that it's totally fine for you to message a guy. If they're turned off by your initiative, you don't want to be dating them anyway.
posted by pts at 2:22 PM on February 27, 2011


My first contact with my girlfriend of 3 years was when she sent me a message ok OKCupid. I'd say it's ok!
posted by Urtylug at 2:35 PM on February 27, 2011


Reference point: not all white women get flooded with messages. I get messages every so often but not frequently*. It's possible that those who don't attract much interest just feel bad and keep quiet about it.

*that's fine with me, and a couple of guys who have contacted me have suggested that my profile is designed to filter out creeps and the incompatible
posted by dilettante at 2:44 PM on February 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


However, since OKCupid has relatively fewer users, I find that I'm not getting as many dates as I want. I'm pretty, but maybe because I'm of a minority ethnicity is why I don't get the fabled "hundreds of messages" that white women do.

According to OKCupid themselves: How Your Race Affects The Messages You Get

Where are you? You don't have to answer that here - but maybe you'll do well to find out what service people in your area are using - IME this varies from city to city. PlentyOfFish is popular in my neck of the woods (although it's definitely considered a hookup sort of site here); some cities have a lot of Craigslist action (almost no one uses it here); what about your local alt-weekly paper? The Stranger in Seattle has Lovelab/Lustlab personals online, for instance. Online dating is all about the local market, after all.

Oh, yes, and I think it's perfectly all right to contact men first. The point is to put yourself out there - you can't just wait for something to come to you. And I'm echoing everyone above saying you probably don't want to date someone who would feel "emasculated" by you making the first contact, right?
posted by flex at 2:46 PM on February 27, 2011


The only guys who don't like to be contacted by women are the "old school" masculine types, so don't worry about it unless that's the kind of guy you're in to.
posted by MillMan at 3:04 PM on February 27, 2011


I've had good luck using PlentyOfFish, met some very interesting people through that one, including my boyfriend. I'm in Canada though, seems to be a popular one up here amongst the university crowds and indie music nerds anyway.
posted by lizbunny at 3:48 PM on February 27, 2011


Also, do men really like it when women contact them on dating sites?

Absolutely, positively, unequivocally yes.
posted by ixohoxi at 3:52 PM on February 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Bwithh: I believe it was SpringStreet.
posted by elsietheeel at 4:16 PM on February 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


Nthing the fact that I like it when girls contact me on okCupid. But there's one piece of information that people aren't getting at; not only is it equitable for you to contact men, but it's also in your best interest to make the first move.
posted by Dr. Eigenvariable at 4:29 PM on February 27, 2011


I'd like to offer another data point as a woman who doesn't get "hundreds of messages" -- or even close. I feel like this is a myth/exaggeration. Or at least, that's what I tell myself.
posted by cider at 4:56 PM on February 27, 2011


I'm marrying a fella I met on OKCupid in less than three weeks, and you better believe that I was the one to initiate contact. I also made the first move IRL. I think the soon-to-be mister is quite pleased.
posted by two lights above the sea at 6:02 PM on February 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm pretty, but maybe because I'm of a minority ethnicity is why I don't get the fabled "hundreds of messages" that white women do.

I can't speak to that, but I find that my days of excessive quantities of messages has gone way down. Maybe it's my age (this is officially my last month of my 20's, w00t w00t!), or maybe they've gamed the way the site works to discourage that.

Also, fwiw, back in the day when I got outrageous numbers of messages, there was a HUGE signal to noise problem. I'd get 30 messages, and two would be from people I was willing to reply to. If I got 2 people a day I was potentially interested in, 2 in any given week would materialize as folks who actually had any intention of meeting me in person on a timeline that worked for me. So I'm not sure that the end result if you get a glut of messages is any better than what you're seeing now.

A third point. If you're looking for a "niche" site with people who aren't "cookie cutter" or "blah" or whatever, by its very nature the numbers are going to be less impressive than match or whatever.

Your side question - I've had OK success messaging guys. The main problem is with me, weirdly enough; if I send the first message and propose the first meeting, I can never be entirely confident that the guy is really into me. Especially what with some guys' weirdness about planning dates. If I'm doing all the upfront work, it can be a really long time before I realize the dude has never really done anything to acknowledge that he's into me.
posted by Sara C. at 6:07 PM on February 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Another offbeat / geeky / boutique dating site is itsjustcoffee.com. I've dated a dozen or so women off okcupid.com and none from itsjustcofee.com. It's still at the stage where you can put on your hipster glasses and say you were into it before match.com was into it...
posted by Schmucko at 6:40 PM on February 27, 2011


A woman contacted me on yahoo personals in 2004. I liked it just fine. We got married in 2006. Our son was born 2009, and is sitting on my lap right now.
posted by fings at 7:35 PM on February 27, 2011


OK you guys convinced me. I'm gonna take some initiative in hunting for my next Mister and start contacting men. *fingers crossed* here goes nuthin'......

thanks for your input :)
posted by oceanview at 9:43 PM on February 27, 2011


There is one drawback to girls writing to guys on dating sites... The guy may not write back, but then again, it's something guys have to deal with all the time.

And since guys will likely initiate contact with anyone remotely attractive to them, it might just be a matter of time until someone you're interested writes to you anyway. The biggest benefit I can see from it is if he just doesn't log in frequently.

I think the "girls talking to guys first" thing would be much more useful in real life, where shyness or hesitation on the guy's part is much more of an obstacle than a relatively anonymous dating site.
posted by TheSecretDecoderRing at 12:36 AM on February 28, 2011


I'm on OkCupid, I don't often send out messages because it's largely a waste of time for me, they rarely get replies. I don't even log on to OkCupid often because I'm mostly too busy. If you don't message me, you probably won't hear from me. I have to put all my effort in writing other pretty things.
posted by fuq at 4:31 AM on February 28, 2011


And since guys will likely initiate contact with anyone remotely attractive to them, it might just be a matter of time until someone you're interested writes to you anyway. The biggest benefit I can see from it is if he just doesn't log in frequently.

I can tell you from my first-hand experience as a man using OKCupid, this is simply not true. The majority of women on the site I find attractive will not receive messages from me. The only exception would be if we're in a very small town.
posted by John Cohen at 4:56 AM on February 28, 2011


data point: contacted a boy on OkCupid who took a long time to respond (he did, when he finally logged in). I somewhat naturally assumed a planner's role for the first dates (was never into that. yet it felt so natural with him! I was convinced both were having a great time). 3+ years on, past expensive gifts (both ways), expensive travel to his family events half-around-the-globe, huge regret. Regardless of the effort, I was always the last in the priorities list, always something better, more important to take care of lingering around. I'm not bitter, but I think that combination of my hopefulness, my age at that time, and his attitude will result in me dying single and family-less in a few decades. This is what I think after 3 years past that breakup. It's a lot to pay for assertiveness shown during 2 months of my life back in 2005.

What I'm trying to say: if you are after a serious relationship, beware of anyone who just keeps a profile on any dating site passively waiting for you to contact them.
posted by Jurate at 5:21 AM on February 28, 2011


a thought on Sara C's reply:

I can never be entirely confident that the guy is really into me. Especially what with some guys' weirdness about planning dates.

If a guy is weird about planning dates, then take that as a sign. If someone wants to see you, they'll make time, even if takes a bit of schedule bingo, and they'll step up to plan something if you ask.

Jurate:
I'm not bitter, but I think that combination of my hopefulness, my age at that time, and his attitude will result in me dying single and family-less in a few decades.

I'm really hoping that first clause is sarcasm!
posted by canine epigram at 6:08 AM on February 28, 2011


I am a guy on OKCupid, and I very seldom send the first message myself (although I did learn that my response rates when sending out the first message are dramatically higher than that OKTrends article suggests is the norm, so hooray!), as such most of my dates are with women who initiated contact. But, subjectively speaking I am very good looking and I have a well crafted and clever profile (my many many other faults notwithstanding), and its good for me because personally I like more assertive women.

So, there are plenty of guys who would think nothing of you sending the first message, and while you should be prepared for a lot of disappointment, this is still a very viable strategy for online dating.
posted by BobbyDigital at 7:15 AM on February 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah it seems like OKC is the front runner for the most part, however, local mileage may vary. Check into the number of users of several sites and see which has the best user pool in your area. There's no reason to limit yourself to one site.

As for the bonus question: Contacting first is a burden, not a privilege. Most guys I know see it this way at least. Initiating things isn't something that guys like to do, its just something they often have to do because that's what mainstream culture expects. I suspect that almost any man would love to hear from a woman first.
posted by cirrostratus at 2:42 PM on February 28, 2011


I have a couple of thoughts on your ancillary question. First, I'm a non-minority woman I am not flooded with messages. I would estimate that I get maybe one a day and only a quarter of those are people who have some potential. In my most recent relationship, I made the first contact and it worked out well. After the first contact, he pursued me (which I enjoyed). We broke up, but it had nothing to do with the first contact. He didn't think he would have a chance with me.

I think making the first contact opens you up to many men who might feel like they don't have a chance with you. For instance, a guy who is subjectively less attractive than you, might not even bother to contact you since he might not think he has a chance. Also, if you are highly educated or earn a lot of money, some men might not think you would be interested. If you want to meet less educated or lower earning men, you might have to make the first contact.

After the first contact, let them pursue you if you want.
posted by parakeetdog at 3:09 PM on February 28, 2011


I dislike being the one to give the politcally incorrect or contrary answer, so I thought about not posting this, but to follow up on Jurate's example...

It has so happened that I have had an equal number of relationships start via the guy asking as via my asking. The ones in which the guy asked me out? Very loving, good sex, he planned everything, lasted years, one of them proposed to me, I moved in with him, he had his stuff together. The ones in which I made the first move? Brief, he was very timid to initiate dates or physcial affection, I had to lead him there every step of the way, things in the bedroom became about his desires more than mine, he tried to move in with me before I was ready, and when I broke up with one of them he raged and whined...in short, he took advantage from that precedent. I felt like I was "the guy". Whether or not this did anything for HIM, it sure didn't work for ME.

This could be total coincidence. I don't doubt that from the guy's point of view, it's great to have women ask them out! However, personally, (especially when/if I actually am looking to get very serious about marriage) I won't be making the first move again. I'll look nice, make myself available, and be friendly, but, yeah, I'm just not going there. My theory is that a guy just has a lower threshold for saying yes even if he's not invested, and he's more likely to be invested if in his moments of doubt later on, he can think back and remember he put so much effort into it and it was his choice and his venture from the get-go.

Warning: This is a very unpopular view and it's only one data point. But I thought I'd offer it anyway.
posted by Nixy at 3:16 PM on February 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


I asked a similar question about two years ago but am too lazy to link to it now. I'm a black woman who tends to date interracially. I have very specific criteria (OK, don't we all?) and honestly, I've had the best luck writing a pithy, very specific ad on Craigslist. My two closest male friends here in Phoenix are both guys I met looking for dates on Craigslist. They obviously didn't work out but I got two buddies out of that ... and am four months in to a new thing with a guy I think is just swell.
posted by notjustfoxybrown at 5:16 PM on February 28, 2011


Nixy ... I agree with you. Throw me in the "unpopulalr opinion" pile.
posted by notjustfoxybrown at 5:17 PM on February 28, 2011


For what it's worth, the last guy I dated I contacted first on OKCupid. He, though, asked me to get together for a drink in his first response and pursued me from then on. It was a very positive relationship.

More generally, I'm also a white woman, consider myself attractive, and am not flooded with messages. I'm in a smaller town, which probably makes a difference...
posted by tacoma1 at 5:22 PM on February 28, 2011


The ones in which I made the first move? Brief, he was very timid to initiate dates or physcial affection, I had to lead him there every step of the way, things in the bedroom became about his desires more than mine, he tried to move in with me before I was ready, and when I broke up with one of them he raged and whined...in short, he took advantage from that precedent. I felt like I was "the guy". Whether or not this did anything for HIM, it sure didn't work for ME.

I have no problem with you preferring the man initiating, and I don't think you have to apologize for expressing an "unpopular" position, but I do think you're reading too much significance into the one detail about who initiated. Why do I think that? Because I've been in relationships that started with me sending a message on a website, and I've been in ones that started with her sending the first message. Whatever positives or negatives are true of me, I'm still the same person. The dynamic in relationships where I initiated was not significantly different than in ones where she initiated.

However, I do agree that if one of your main goals for a relationship is that he plans everything and you don't plan anything, then it stands to reason that you'll be more likely to find the type of man you want by letting them do the initiating.
posted by John Cohen at 5:37 PM on February 28, 2011


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