OKCupid without Cupid
January 4, 2012 6:51 PM   Subscribe

Is OKCupid a good way to meet platonic friends?

I'm a guy, moving with my girlfriend to a new city where neither of us knows anyone. I would like to meet people but I'm kind of introverted so I thought that maybe the internet would be a good way.

Since OKCupid is a website for "dating", I'm just wondering if women would find it weird (or simply time-wasting) that a guy in a relationship would be messaging them without any sort of romantic/sexual intentions.

I know there are other websites like meetup.com but those tend to be for group activities with strangers who you have no chance to know anything about beforehand, and I'm not particularly keen on groups. OKCupid has the question system to help you find "matches" who you can talk with a bit before meeting up. Also, I've always often found it easier to make female friends than male friends. I've discussed this with my girlfriend and she's not against it, but said that she would never try the same thing herself, as she wouldn't trust any guy on OKCupid to have purely platonic intentions.

Has anyone tried this?
posted by nikodym to Human Relations (31 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
I think on OkCupid you can mark something like 'just friends' - or you can just write it in your profile. It's free so it can't hurt. : )
posted by bitterkitten at 6:57 PM on January 4, 2012

seems unlikely. i think you may want to reconsider meetup.com or perhaps a reddit or a MeFi meetup?
posted by pyro979 at 6:59 PM on January 4, 2012 [7 favorites]

To my eye, frankly it sounds creepy, and if I was a girl I would immediately think that this was someone looking to a) cheat on his girlfriend or b) involve me in some swinging/threesome action. I would then question why the person wouldn't use a site like meet-up or other group things for friends, instead of a site specifically about finding romantic or sexual partners. The fact that you would target women not men would also set my alarm bells ringing (I understand where you're coming from; most of my closest friends are women, too, but I would never just "give up" on guy friends - there are still plenty of great guys out there, too!) .

That's just my take, though, and I have no idea if I'm representative; others may be different.
posted by smoke at 7:00 PM on January 4, 2012 [15 favorites]

I know a couple of people who tried to use OkCupid to find platonic friends. It didn't work - not a disaster or anything, just not a success. So there's a data point for you.
posted by Ragged Richard at 7:01 PM on January 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

Yeah, I just probably wouldn't trust you. I'd say if you do do it, your chances of success will be still small but nevertheless much greater if you went after guys.

But while I also am often intimidated by Meetup and the like, a lot of them end up being surprisingly small gatherings and you only have to go to a few before you can plan individual outings with people you click with.
posted by vegartanipla at 7:12 PM on January 4, 2012

frankly it sounds creepy, and if I was a girl I would immediately think that this was someone looking to a) cheat on his girlfriend or b) involve me in some swinging/threesome action.

I am a girl on OKCupid and that's exactly what I would think. Would meetup groups be more your thing if you went with your girlfriend and not alone? That way, even if you won't click with any of the people in the meetup group, at least you can hang out wich each other during that first meetup and not have to engage in awkward conversation with strangers. What about work? Can each of you ask coworkers to go to happy hour? And then introduce each other to each other's coworkers?
posted by never.was.and.never.will.be. at 7:13 PM on January 4, 2012 [3 favorites]

Oh, on the same sex note, actually - if you're looking for friends for both of you, have your girlfriend do it. I actually did go on a platonic girl OKC coffee date once. Then after she's friends with the new girl, the three of you can hang out.
posted by vegartanipla at 7:14 PM on January 4, 2012 [2 favorites]

I quite like the regional groups and forums of couchsurfing.com for this purpose. Even though I've lived in Vancouver for years, sometimes in the summer I'll want to go to the beach or the park and my friends will be busy. Putting up a post there, I would often get 5-10 people calling me and meeting me wherever. Some of them are travellers or foreigners on temporary work visas, and some are locals like myself just looking for someone to hang out with. Most of the big cities have regular weekly bar/social meetups, although I haven't enjoyed those as much (like you, I can be a bit of an introvert and the amount of people at some of those was overwhelming).
posted by mannequito at 7:32 PM on January 4, 2012 [5 favorites]

It's not impossible -- I met my favorite man-friend on OkCupid about five years ago, and, well, (obviously) we've been friends for five years.

I think it will be harder for you to make that work as a man, though. Guys are a bit more used to non-interest on dating sites than women are. A woman will likely always be wondering what your angle is.

I would say, if you want to try this, be very up front about what you're looking for: have pictures of you and your girlfriend together on your profile, state in text that you're looking for friends only, and make sure your "looking for" section lists men as well. List as many activities as you can that you enjoy doing and ask for recommendations in your "message me if" section. If nothing else, maybe people there can tell you where to go that you might meet other people you click with.

But as everyone says above, you'll probably want to pursue other methods as well.
posted by emumimic at 7:37 PM on January 4, 2012

I've been told that people who say they are looking for "friends" on OKCupid and Match.com are presumed to be looking for fuckbuddies.
posted by jayder at 7:38 PM on January 4, 2012 [6 favorites]

I've done this successfully several times (with both men and women, as both the messager and the message-ee). In addition to checking the 'platonic friends' checkbox, I also had a prominent note in my profile about how I truly wasn't interested in dating anyone. However, I'm a queer woman, so the gender dynamics are quite different.

-If your girlfriend is also on the site, you could link to her profile in yours (saying something like "I'm in a monogamous relationship with the lovely $username, but we're both on the site looking to make new friends!")
-Only message people who share your niche hobbies and/or intellectual interests, and write them something substantive about those interests. Those are the only type of platonic messages from men that I will answer. Generic "hi, you seem cool, let's have coffee" messages always read as covert flirting.
posted by introcosm at 7:45 PM on January 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

You should absolutely go to a metafilter meetup in your new city. We're good people.
posted by phunniemee at 8:14 PM on January 4, 2012 [2 favorites]

I'm there for just friends, occasionally chat with others.

you may find a few people who think it odd, but you can search specifically for people looking for friendship and contact them
posted by myShanon at 9:24 PM on January 4, 2012

The way I have met people in my new city is meetup/group type things. It only took a few meetings to find people I like. I am a rather hard core introvert, too. A little pain was worth the gain for me.
posted by Monday at 9:30 PM on January 4, 2012

I don't think Okcupid is the forum you are looking for. The vast majority of girls on the site are looking for a boyfriend or at least a date; the vast majority of guys are as well. Therefore even though you are in fact looking for just a (female) friend, it's not going to go over well/be believed. I understand that you get along better with girls, but it will still seem strange to girls on the site that you only want to make friends with girls and most of them will assume you have ulterior motives, especially since they don't know you and never met you. So at the very least you'd have to do a lot of convincing. It's much, much better to meet friends in person, and with your girlfriend.
posted by bearette at 9:58 PM on January 4, 2012

cosigning on couchsurfing.org, i met a large group of cool friends that way.
posted by messiahwannabe at 10:21 PM on January 4, 2012

Hah. Well, ask yourself this : how often do heterosexuals contact people of the same sex over OkCupid? The answer is basically never, because OkCupid is a terrible way to meet friends. Best case scenario, people will assume that you're just playing hard-to-get. The few times I was contacted by people looking for "friendship" -- all of them female, BTW -- I basically ignored them, because *I* was there looking for a date, and looking for friends on an online dating site is just weird.

Just don't do it. The whole point of a place like OkCupid is that you pretty much know everyone there is looking for someone to date. That's what makes it different from something like Facebook, and it's pretty much the only good thing about the place.
posted by Afroblanco at 10:36 PM on January 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

Introduce yourself to a neighbor who has a dog and, after you've established a friendly rapport, offer to take the dog for some nice long walks. Dogs are great conversation-starters in a city, and you'll have a new friendship with your neighbor, too!
posted by argonauta at 10:39 PM on January 4, 2012

I have recently noticed that a high preportion of my 'close circle' friends are people I've originally met from OkC. It was completely unintended. They weren't people I slept with and got bored of or even had didn't-really-work dates with, I guess we just got chatting over junk and stayed in touch. This includes both males and females, and I'm a female looking to mate on or near males.

I have recently moved cities and have been using it in slightly the same way. If your profile makes it clear that you aren't looking for twoo wuv and the messages you send people aren't sleazy (eg 'Hey, I'm new around here. I noticed you were into XXX, can you give me any hints on where to find the best XXXthing? Thanks!) I wouldn't send anyone who has a three year marriage/babies/mortgage plan a message like that, but I think a lot of people with profiles are open to meeting friendly people who share their interests.

What's the worst that can happen? (C'mon... it is strangers from the internet. What could possible go wrong)
posted by Trivia Newton John at 11:14 PM on January 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

I've done it, but as others above astutely noted, the success rate is not high.

I've technically had 2.5 successes so far (all male, ranging from early to mid 20s; I for the record am female, early 20s). The secret to my success (tongue firmly in cheek here) was part profile, part luck.

For Friend #1 (whom is the only one I count a true success), I was single, but I firmly and very clearly said I was not looking for a date or any sort of romantic attachment, and any attempt at doing so would be soundly ignored. And then, like every other piece of advice one sees about dating sites or general meetup sights, I provided lots of information about myself, lightly made fun of myself in several paragraphs, and wrote everything in the half-sardonic drawling tone that apparently is my trademark. In short, I portrayed myself in (what I hope was) an interesting light and gave prospectives a lot of things to comment on. The fact I'm a gamer girl (apparently not common anywhere) helped. Friend #1 contacted me, we hit it off via email and IM, and 3.5 years later I'm still friends with him. This was helped that he was taken as well and had less than zero interest in getting some on the side.

Friend #2 was interested by my profile for the same reason as Friend #1. I was taken by then, and while he was then single, he became taken shortly thereafter as well. Plus he was the ex of one of my friends and I just never saw him in that light. He's one of my closest friends now (far more than his ex) after lots and lots of long emails and IM exchanges.

Aquaintence #3 (success # 2.5) started out in much the same way as #1 and #2, but no IMing (different schedules); after I suggested a coffee meeting since I was actually going to be in the area for entirely non-related reasons we met up. Awkwardly. He was totally non-engaged the entire time and looked like he was trying to find something to say or politely run away. I figured we didn't click after that and didn't email him after, but he sent an email to me over the new year's saying hello, so I guess that might've worked out a little better than I thought.

In all these success stories the awkward element of possible romance had been thoroughly eliminated because of circumstance (usually one side or the other is taken, and there was no ambiguity about Ain't Gonna Happen, Buddy) which sidestepped any misconceptions. But the chances of success really isn't very high, and I got soundly ignored for any other message I sent off even on profiles that stated they were looking for "just friends and nothing else" (female and male). 3 years of that profile netted me 2.5 friends and I think that's already a higher success rate than average for what I (and you) are hoping to get out of this, fair warning. You will probably also get questioned repeatedly about "why are you on a dating sight if you don't want to date" as per above, even if your profile answers that question (mine did). And I got some of the usual vapid "hai sexy I want to screw you" messages as well, although far less than average (helped because I was marked as romantically unavailable so I probably didn't pass most people's filters).

It can work, definitely, but your success rate via other venues is are likely to be higher.
posted by Hakaisha at 2:03 AM on January 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

Hmmm, yes someone messaged me for friendship on OKCupid a little while back, and it didn't go over very well with me I have to admit. I felt that my time had been wasted, as he didn't specify in his profile or intro message that he was looking for friends only - it wasn't until I asked about his relationship status that he said he was looking for friends. His 'looking for' was set to women only, which also led me to wonder if he was just looking to cheat on his gf.

My advice if you do decide to go down this route:

- Make your profile explicitly about friendship
- Be clear in messages about what you are looking for
- Have your 'looking for' be Men and Women
- Suggest activities that you are looking to do with someone else - activities are what usually bond new friends, and personally I'd much rather go rock climbing with a stranger than sit through some kind of horrifically awkward 'friend date' at a coffee shop!
posted by vodkaboots at 4:11 AM on January 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

I ended up playing board games at the University of Regina once with a group of people. It didn't turn into a friendship, but I was honest in my intentions. I told the girl that I just recently moved into the city, noticed that she played Settlers of Catan, and that I was wanting to get out of my house. I played other board games with her friends, although, I decided against contacting her again as she dropped a line that her boyfriend was a douche (I didn't know what to make of it) I don't think it's likely to have regular friends for online dating though.
posted by DetriusXii at 6:17 AM on January 5, 2012

Datapoint: I have made several platonic friends from OK Cupid - two of them who I can't imagine not being in my life anymore - but only after having been on a date or two with them!
posted by ozgirlabroad at 6:40 AM on January 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

I´m a mostly-straight woman, and I met one of my good friends, also a straight woman, on okcupid. She messaged me first. At the time, I was seeing someone and very up-front about it on my profile. She was single, but her profile said she was straight and only looking for friends. Maybe I´m gullible, but I was willing to give her the benefit of doubt, and I´m glad I did.

That said, my one meet-up with a guy who claimed to be only looking ¨for friends¨ was incredibly awkward. I took him at his word that he wasn´t interested in more and it became apparent quickly that he was. You sound pretty committed to your girlfriend, but still--women who´ve been burned in a situation like mine may think twice about writing you back. I like the idea of linking to your girlfriend´s profile from yours and clearly stating that you´re monogamous, should you choose to go the okcupid route.

I feel you on not liking meetup groups, and have often wished that there was a site more like okcupid but intended strictly for friend-matching and not dating. Good luck!
posted by ActionPopulated at 6:44 AM on January 5, 2012

I would find it extremely annoying.
posted by the foreground at 7:30 AM on January 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

I dunno what all the fuss is about. I think it's perfectly okay to look for friends on OKC. Like the others said, just be upfront and very clear about your intentions. I, for one, wouldn't at all be upset or weirded out if someone messaged me on OKC just wanting a new friend. In fact, I think it'd be pretty cool.

As a side note, I've actually met a couple of (sane) platonic friends through placing an ad in the "Strictly Platonic" section of Craigslist... Of course, YMMV.
posted by Falwless at 8:33 AM on January 5, 2012 [2 favorites]

Just a note that there is a double standard for this where sexuality is concerned.

My straight friends have found it frustrating and weird to try to make friends on sites like OkCupid, whereas I've found it relatively easy as a gay man to make plenty of friends via the site.

I received two emails within a short span of time from women essentially saying, "Uh, clearly I'm not your type but you seem like superfuntimes, can we be pals?" And I was totally down with it. One of them even added a little PS in her profile that was clearly the result of misadventures in friendseeking on a dating site. She noted that she had a boyfriend, and that they were NOT seeking thirds to join them so anyone thinking about that could just walk away.

I've also received messages from other gay men who have been seeking friends. I haven't ever found the story implausible. My most recent friend is the result of OkCupid. We have a lot of fun together and there hasn't ever been a hint of weird ulterior motives. I particularly like meeting people new to town because it forces me to go out and enjoy the sights here, and remember why it is a wonderful place to live.

As a straight man, you're probably best to send messages to guys suggesting that you're new to town and that you're hoping to make some new friends.

But let me also plug MeFi meetups. The first one is always scary. Of course. But it is like ripping a bandaid off. And once you've done it, you're guaranteed to meet some fun folks! Just remember, everyone there will be their own unique little brand of socially awkward. So you'll fit right in. Promise.
posted by jph at 8:55 AM on January 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

Another vote for couchsurfing. I don't even live in a huge metro area and my couchsurfing group has weekly potlucks; they go out to bars, play soccer, go to sporting events, concerts, etc.

That said, I do have a straight male friend who has made several female friends on OKC. Cool, except I think they ended up friends because one or the other of them was hoping to date and it didn't quite work out that way.

This same friend and his roommate posted an ad to Craigslist, it was pretty cheeky and didn't take itself too seriously, just said they wanted to make new friends. They contacted a few people who had written funny or interesting responses, and lo, these many months later, are still friends with some of the Craigslist-ers!
posted by iahtl at 2:16 PM on January 5, 2012

I've done it, however, unintentionally. I did not date my friend, wasn't even interested in him, but I was on the website to date. Prior to that I have a "just looking for friends" profile with a disclaimer, and I got messaged anyway... sometimes hostile, sometimes incredulous, usually just confused.

FWIW where I live most people who put "just friends" in their profile often aren't believed, and most of them really mean "I am looking for a friend who may become a romantic interest," not that they are actually seeking platonic companionship.

So I'm going to vote that it's not a really good way to make platonic friends; it's probably incredibly difficult, actually, and requires quite a bit of time investment for little payoff.
posted by sm1tten at 4:49 PM on January 5, 2012

I've made friends with males who contacted me (single female) through OKCupid searching for just friends. Two of them are very good friends and still in my life today, six years later! I responded more favorably to queer men than straight men. What made me respond to straight men as a single straight female:

1. The first message starts off by stating that he's not looking to pick me up. The only message I remember now had this stated in the subject line. All of them made it very clear early on they were interested in 'Friends only'.

2. The rest of the message refers to activities that we could do together as friends, mentioning SOs if they exist.

3. The profile features SO predominantly (if she exists) and mentions activities to do as friends. Using 'we' instead of 'I' when describing interests will help a lot.

4. Under "I'm looking For" he's checked "I want Everybody", hasn't checked "Must be single", and under 'For', he's selected, "New Friends", "Activity Partners", and maybe "Long-distance penpals".

I'm honestly surprised at the negative response you are getting above. OKcupid has the 'I'm married/here for friends' option, which implies it can be used for such. It has the 'New Friends' and 'Activity partners' options and, like I said, I've had people pick me up for friendships on there and I've done it as well. I've received mostly non-responses to my inquiries for friendship when I've sent them, but I have some really long friendships through OKCupid.
posted by PrimateFan at 7:56 AM on January 6, 2012

Just a data point, I'm on OKC with a partner and am explicitly not looking for dates but I still get messages from people not looking for dates. I met my partner on OKC and we both just updated our profiles to include each other.
posted by Blasdelb at 10:30 AM on January 7, 2012

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