How do I do not worry so much about getting back into online dating?
May 25, 2012 3:46 PM   Subscribe

Advice needed to transition back into casual and not-so casual online dating after a long time.

i'm straight, female, late 20s, live in a major city in CA. I've done the OKCupid thing a few years ago, and I got burnt out from the online dating scene. After that I dedicated myself instead to my job and hobbies, and I abstained from sex for over three years (not out of frustration, but just to focus on my own things).

A few months ago I decided to put more time to myself than spending so much time absorbed into community volunteering and other activities I felt obligated to do. I quit or am putting a few activities on major hold, and basically left with just my full time job and a lot of time to finally do my own things and spend more time with friends. I also realized that sex was important to me (especially as I am sex positive), so one night I cruised Craigslist casual encounters and by the next day I slept with a very nice guy and felt refreshed and amazing after having good sex after a period of abstinence. It was only a "two night stand" and I'd rather seek out another person for casual sexytimes.

Cutting away most of my volunteered obligations, getting laid, and spending more time on myself has re-energized me. Friends have noticed that I'm way happier and relaxed. While not skinny, I have an attractive body type and I get compliments when I am dressed well and look cute with or without makeup. I used to have self-esteem issues despite my qualities, but friends and acquaintances say I have an above average level of outward confidence. I started to eat better, exercise, and overall I feel at my best. I think it's time to start dating with all this free time and confidence!

However... I'm also seeking casual sex as well as regular dating. And am nervous about getting back into the online dating waters. I created a new OKCupid profile that is a little ambiguous with a picture that looks like me if I told you it was me, but potentially could look like someone else. I described myself decently without putting any dead giveaways (like not listing all of my typical hobbies, tastes or industry). However, I put that I was seeking basically anything/everything: long term dating, short term dating, friends, casual sex. I am honestly open to any of those at the moment.

I'm kind of freaked out as I already noticed a few guys that I know that have checked out my profile. To most people I seem rather conservative in dating despite being an adventurous person. Close friends know otherwise, but I think most people that don't know me that well would be shocked that I would be interested in casual relationships. Does listing that you want "everything" drive away guys? I don't want to be seen as I'm only looking for casual sex from guys that want to date, and I don't want to remove my chances from a hot fling from guys that aren't committed.

Also, should I just "come out" and just go full monty and put clear pictures of myself? I think what's held me back from good dates on OKC before was that I think I'm rather bad at making my own profile and choosing pictures. I don't want to be paranoid and best open my chances for all sorts of dating, and I am a bit nervous since I haven't done it in such a long time.

How do I get over this? I also set up an email if any MeFites are willing to help spruce up my profile:
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (8 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
You should definitely have pictures that actually represent what you look like. That's by far one of the most frustrating parts of online dating.
posted by two lights above the sea at 3:56 PM on May 25, 2012

I'm kind of freaked out as I already noticed a few guys that I know that have checked out my profile.

We're long past the pont where being on OKCupid raises any eyebrows if you're single. Hell, it barely raises any eyebrows if you're in a committed relationship.

Does listing that you want "everything" drive away guys?

Not a significant number. The ones who are looking for one thing will be happy that you're also looking for that, and the guys who are looking for another thing will be happy that you're also looking for that.

If you're worried about guys who might be relationship material being turned off at you being open for flings, then ask yourself whether those are the kinds of guys you'd really want to be in a relationship with anyway. If so, then take yourself off the casual-sex market. If not, their loss.

Also, should I just "come out" and just go full monty and put clear pictures of myself?

Not if it makes you uncomfortable. As above, I don't think it should, but there's a big gap between "shouldn't" and "doesn't." Don't do what you don't feel comfortable with.
posted by Etrigan at 3:59 PM on May 25, 2012

I feel there are two separate issues here (one more important than the other):

a) discomfort with public self-declaration (important)

b) building an effective dating profile

I can't help you with b). But I am certain when I tell you that the reenergized, confident, and high esteem self-regard you are enjoying will intensify and be even more consistently available to you if you let go of the attempt to meet others' expectations of you or your own view of their expectations. There is this scary, bungeeing heart dip thing that happens when you finally just internalize the whole "fuck it" philosophy in order to live on your own terms, but when that goes away you never have to hide again.

You declare, here, that you are sex-positive. That there is genuine value in how you feel, in going after what it is you want. What you want is reasonable. What you want has nothing to do with what anyone else may believe that you want based on the one or two settings in which they have gotten to know you.

If one of these people sees some open and honest profile online, or learn about some other part of your life in some other setting, their perception of you will simply deepen, not utterly change. What scares you about losing your current public perception? What awesome might happen if you open up the view to others?

And, you ALWAYS get to set your own boundaries. If someone from your life sees this new profile or learns more about who it is you are and wants a date, or to sleep with you, or to get to know you even better, you still get to say yes or no. You don't even have to explain why, if you don't want to.

You're on the edge of a realization that a lot of women don't get to have until our 3rd or 4th decades, after more trial and error that teaches us that nothing bad actually happens when you are simply yourself. Get some solid underneath you and go for it. What would you look like 3 more years from now if you did?
posted by rumposinc at 4:15 PM on May 25, 2012 [3 favorites]

I'd make different profiles for casual hooking up and for actual relationships, and keep the "these are actually me" photos and possible identifying information for the serious relationship/friends profile. If you meet someone under your "casual NSA sexytimes" profile and you really hit it off and feel like you want to go for a relationship, you can, but then you still have your "looking for a relationship" profile to screen for guys who actually have serious intentions towards that end.
posted by The Master and Margarita Mix at 4:15 PM on May 25, 2012

I'm no longer dating (thank god) but my advice from my experience on OKCupid.

Nthing that you need good photos of you up there -- it makes it much much easier to get dates. Be honest -- I remember going on a date with a guy when I was much heavier and I hedged a bit about my weight. It wasn't worth it when I saw his face on our first date. You need to make sure that expectations are aligned with reality so that people who would really be into you message you. Spare yourself some hurt.

Regarding the casual dating vs. long-term dating thing. I would just use one profile. Depending on where you are it's likely that people will see both your profiles and figure out that you're the same person (especially if you answer questions in the same way, which you are likely to do). Then that would look rather creepy. You might want to consider writing that you're open to both short and long-term dating on your profile. You'll get casual hookups anyway, believe me, and this might screen some of the more creepy guys.
posted by peacheater at 4:29 PM on May 25, 2012

My 2 cents, as a guy who used OkCupid to find his soon-to-be-wife: I think if you make it clear what you're looking for on OkCupid, you're not likely to turn anyone off. OkCupid skews pretty liberal (or at least the people who turned up in my searches did) and I didn't think it was weird to see people looking for NSA sex, or polyamorous folks looking for partners, or people looking for traditional monogamous relationships. I think if you say that you're open both to a long-term committed relationship as well as a fling (if that is what you're looking for), people would understand. The one thing I would maybe make clear is if you are looking for a long-term monogamous relationship, so that people who aren't interested in casual sex don't write you off because they assume you are going to want to have multiple partners in a committed relationship.

Good luck on OkCupid! At a recent party something like five of the six couples there had met through it, so it seems to work.
posted by pombe at 4:31 PM on May 25, 2012

Take off the casual sex thing. Short term dating is code for I might be up for something casual, but am mostly looking for something long term. While casual sex is code for its 2 am can I come over. And as a woman you'll already get plenty of those emails without opening the floodgates. Trust me no hot guy will be turned away from trying to initiate a casual fling with you just because you don't say you're looking for casual sex.
posted by whoaali at 6:20 PM on May 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

Seconding "short term dating;" that will explain what you're looking for pretty effectively. Okcupid profiles are often built on euphemisms - just look at their body type descriptions, for example - so that you can have a profile that is both clear, with good photos and an accurate microcosm of your personality, while also being discreet about your sexuality. (just as an example, look for women who list "secretary" as their favorite movie.) It's important to have good photos and writing as an act of good faith -- after all, you wouldn't agree to meet a guy if he didn't have clear photos, and you are going to have to talk to these people for at least an hour before you take them home.
posted by modernserf at 8:58 AM on May 26, 2012

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