What can I do to improve my OKC Profile?
July 1, 2012 6:09 AM   Subscribe

My experience with OKCupid has been somewhat frustrating. What can I do to improve my profile?

--> My Profile

I joined OKC about four weeks ago. I have messaged approximately 60 women, and about 7 have responded. I've gone out with 2 of those who responded, but there wasn't a real spark with either one.

Is this normal? I understand this is a numbers game, but a 10% response rate seems like a poor return for the amount of effort to put into this.

So with that said, I feel like there's something up with my profile and/or pictures. Women will visit my profile after reading the message I send them, but there is almost never a response.

My messages are usually a pithy sentence followed by a question acknowledging one of their interests. I keep the initial message very short. Generally I follow the suggestions in this thread.

So fellow askmefites, is there something I need to improve on my profile?

posted by anonymous to Human Relations (43 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Your profile is restricted to members only. Could you please adjust your settings (at least temporarily) so we can give advice?
posted by insectosaurus at 6:10 AM on July 1, 2012

I don't see anything wrong with your profile. I think your results sound well within the range of a normal experience, though at times, for no apparent reason, you may get more responses. Other times, fewer.

It's a good, thoughtfully worded, nicely photo'd profile. (I'm not a woman, but I check out dudes on OKCupid all the time.)
posted by hermitosis at 6:24 AM on July 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

I think your profile is fine. Two things that stuck out:

1. That you detest laughing and you are super serious. I assume you are kidding of course but some people will not read it that way. The line above states that you like to goof around. Which is it?

2. Stating that you take pride in your humility isn't very humble.
posted by Fairchild at 6:26 AM on July 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

Take this with a grain of salt as I am a woman who dates women, I'm in the right age range;

Overall I like your profile. I like your pictures. The only thing I noticed is the age range (which I always, always check) why are you willing to date 7 years younger and only 4 years older? Not a dealbreaker, but I really dislike it when it's uneven.

So - I would guess that it's just a numbers game, and it's not a profile problem. Good luck!
posted by insectosaurus at 6:26 AM on July 1, 2012

On non-preview, I thought the "pride in humility" line was funny and one of the best parts of the profile.
posted by insectosaurus at 6:27 AM on July 1, 2012 [2 favorites]

Posted too quickly. Your profile is nice, not too pretentious or phony. I think it reads as sincere.
posted by Fairchild at 6:28 AM on July 1, 2012

I agree that the " I detest laughter. I'm super serious." line is a bit odd. You might want to lose that.
posted by HuronBob at 6:28 AM on July 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

Your webcam photo makes you look like a serial killer. You need a well lighted photo without any other people in it.
posted by desjardins at 6:30 AM on July 1, 2012

I'm a woman in your age range and market. I don't think the photos are all that great to be honest, there not horrible but they could be better especially the second one.

I actually like the "I'm super serious" line and found it funny.

The age range thing would bother me, maybe not enough to ignore your message but it's not ideal. Also you're only looking for short term dating which might turn off women who are looking for something longer term or with the potential to be longer term so to fix that you might want to write a bit about what you're looking for in a relationship.
posted by SpaceWarp13 at 6:32 AM on July 1, 2012

Overall, I think that it is pretty good, but these things stand and also elaborating as to why:

-Pictures.If you go through profiles quickly,you decide yes/no sometimes. For me, it is often based on whether I see a floating hand touching the other person, which you see in your primary picture. Now if you take the next step and go look at the pictures, there are lots with other people. A potential date wants to imagine herself or himself with you, not all these other people. Also, do those people know that you are using their images in your dating profile? For some it is not a big deal, but ....it strikes privacy issues for some (are they going to be featured in a future picture as you are looking for dates?)

-Short-term dating. It may be what you want, but do realize your dates may filter you out (so only contact pple who have that box checked and only that box.

-Agree with the serious comment above. Is it a joke? Serious? If the reader has to guess and say "is this weird" or "is this a flag", they may move on to the next profile.
posted by Wolfster at 6:38 AM on July 1, 2012

I agree that your profile is funny, I get your two lines about laughter and humility, nothing wrong with it that would make me not answer your message. (Although, I also noticed that you're willing to date a 22 year old, so my judge-before-I-know-a-person-at-all voice says, "What?? He's willing to date someone so immature? He must be just looking for a piece of ass." And then I'd feel insecure like I used to when I was a senior in college and felt like I was competing with all of these younger, less experienced freshmen girls. But this wouldn't keep me from writing you back.)

But anyway, the issue is not really your profile--you're not really working from the angle of people liking your profile and sending you messages (which I'm sure would be nice, but come on, we all know how this works). When I get messages from guys, most of what mostly decides whether I'll answer is the message itself and the photo. I'll look at the profile to see if anything's wrong, not to find the greatest profile ever.

So first, get better photos: one of your face, smiling, looking at the camera, in focus, high-res, no hat, no sunglasses... you seem like a smart guy, so I'm sure you know what this looks like.

And second, since from your profile I'm sure your messages are not the problem, it then comes down to whom you're messaging, and whether they're "in your league," to be crass.

And finally, maybe there aren't so many people who get your sense of humor, as we can see from this thread here.
posted by thebazilist at 6:44 AM on July 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

If you have "I love to laugh" in your profile, we won't get along. I detest laughter. I'm super serious.

This is funny — an obvious jab at the countless profiles that say "I love to laugh," as if this were a unique quality. I would keep it. If some people don't get it, fine — filter out people who don't get your sense of humor.

Delete the photo of you alone, and replace it with a better photo of you alone.

If you've gone on two dates within four weeks of joining the site, that's not so bad.
posted by John Cohen at 6:51 AM on July 1, 2012 [3 favorites]

I'm a mid 20's woman, and I would probably go out with you if you messaged me on OKC (I don't have a profile there)

Your personality comes across as funny and smart and interesting, and interested in what you do which is a plus. So many guys are really "generic", so I'm glad you stayed away from doing that. I think your pictures are good. You have a nice smile.

The two things that read as negative for me personally (and I think might read as negative for a lot of smart and independant women in your area, assuming that's what you want...)

1. You are 29 and a full time graduate student. I assume this means you don't work a seperate job to earn money and are living off of loans. Ok, Fine. But I worked full-time through two years of a masters CS program, because I didn't want to drown in student loans, and this would make me feel a bit salty as well as give me the idea that our core values weren't compatible.

2. But 1 doesn't really matter since you're only looking for short-term dating, right? Just someone to fill the time until you are ready for a "real" girlfriend...

There's nothing wrong with wanting to hookup with people sans commitment. But your question and your profile read as if you are a bit more serious and thoughtful, and then goes to contradict itself. So maybe think about what it is exactly that you want, and put some effort into better reflecting that.
posted by sarahnicolesays at 6:57 AM on July 1, 2012

In your India group photo and classmate group photo I think you sort of blend in with the background. I would remove them and put up pictures of just you. Or crop the India photo to just you and the guide.

Do you have a picture of you skiing instead of standing around in ski gear? You aren't very visible anyway so it would be better showing you doing the action.
posted by zephyr_words at 6:59 AM on July 1, 2012

I agree with others that the lines about hating laughter and humility may be putting some people off, your acceptable age range is problematical, and you may want to crop some of the photos to include only yourself. But I think the major obstacle may be that you're only interested in short term dating. It's good that you're being upfront about that, but it probably *is* limiting the pool of women who'd be willing to date you. So my suggestion is to just be patient and keep trying.
posted by MexicanYenta at 7:00 AM on July 1, 2012

Your rate of return is really not that bad.

I think you could use more hooks - but I nearly always think that.
posted by bunderful at 7:05 AM on July 1, 2012

I think your profile is great. A well-lit photo of just you is a great idea, but the rest of you pics are great (I don't see the creepy webcam picture). I agree that you experiences sound typical for OKC. I got A LOT of mail from men, but I ended up marrying someone I messaged first. You are an attractive, interesting guy in NYC. Keep trying!
posted by two lights above the sea at 7:06 AM on July 1, 2012

Unless the OP just changed the age range, he's not looking for someone 7 years younger. He's 29 and is looking for someone 24-33. At 22, I fall outside his preferred age range but I don't see a problem with his age range at all... I've seen many OKC profiles that aren't interested in someone even a year older.

Your profile is funny! Don't change the lines about humility and laughter-- would you really want to be with someone doesn't "get" your humor?

I would totally respond to you if you messaged me so just keep trying! For a male user, it seems like the 2 dates so far makes you quite a OKC success!
posted by lovelygirl at 7:15 AM on July 1, 2012

Nthing that 2 dates in 4 weeks is not bad at all! Online dating takes some patience. Good luck!
posted by Fig at 7:26 AM on July 1, 2012

34/F/NYC. I like it! If anyone tells you to take out the disembodied head + Red Stripe picture, ignore them. It's hilarious.

Your rate of reply/date/spark sounds about right to me...pretty good, in fact.
posted by skbw at 7:30 AM on July 1, 2012

Frankly, I like your profile! You seem funny and smart and interesting, and I like men who can admit to something a Burt's Bee's lip balm addiction. That line alone bumped you up several points in my book. It's funny and says that you're not trying too hard to be a Dude, which is a personal pet peeve of mine.

A couple pointers:

1) You admire someone who's flexible, which is a really vague and uninteresting quality in this context. If my husband listed my finest quality as "flexible despite obstacles," I'd hit him in the shoulder. That just sounds boring.

2) You used to write for a television network! That's awesome! Can you add a cool detail about it?

3) What do you like to cook? That's something I'd want more details on.

4) Your books are too generic, in a "Barnes and Noble Summer Reading List" sort of way.

5) And yeah, you seem attractive but you have no pictures of just you. Get on that, and maybe get a real photographer to take them.

But honestly, these are minor tweaks. I'm a married 28 year old woman in NYC, and I've seen a lot of irritating, self-congratulatory male OKCupid profiles in my day. This is not one of them. Good luck!
posted by zoomorphic at 7:43 AM on July 1, 2012 [2 favorites]

Your profile is surprisingly free of red flags (not surprising for you, since obviously I don't know you, but surprising for OKC). I think it's fine. I agree with the few others that say that the age range should be equal in both directions (this becomes even more important when you're older). The only thing I'd suggest is that your pictures make you look very child-like. I'd prefer to see some that make you look more adult and ya know, like someone that one would want to be potentially romantic with.
posted by FlyByDay at 7:44 AM on July 1, 2012

I find profile photos that include other people to be totally inappropriate. Do all the people in your photos know they're in your ok Cupid profile? I'd question if you have an issue with boundaries. If I was included in someone else's profile pic I would be furious.
posted by goshling at 7:49 AM on July 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

I am a lady. You seem really work-oriented to me. That might appeal to another person who works in your field, but I feel like we wouldn't have that much to talk about.

(scans profile again) Ooo, you like Twin Peaks. Okay, see, we could talk about that like crazy, but I missed it because it was crowded out by all the work talk. I think you need more conversational bait to grab people's interest. Like, in this section...

Prior to grad school I was a producer, writer, and editor at a television network.
[what did you write? what kind of program was it? I hope it was some local thing where an old guy in a cardigan talked to a puppet, but even if it wasn't, a description would make this more interesting.]

I have lived in Manhattan for seven years, and it never gets old.
[tell a crazy anecdote about living in Manhattan]

Also, "Income: rather not say" sounds kind of prissy to me.

I think this might help. But to a certain extent this seems to be the way online dating goes, especially for men.
posted by duvatney at 8:06 AM on July 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

(I wish you hadn't been updating in real time with this thread, because it makes it hard to know if I agree with the other commenters.)

Just because they're clicking over to your profile doesn't mean that your messages are working and the problem, if there is one, must be in your profile and/or pictures.

Anyway, there are some typos in there. Those bother some people. Your profile could improve with more hooks and details. More specifics about the TV network. More specifics about making one person's day a little better. Maybe it's a little generic, but overall, I think it's fine and not enough to keep you from getting responses.

Really, I suspect your expectations are too high. A 10% response rate for a pithy two sentence message is not exactly a large investment of effort, and it's weird that you would characterize it that way. Here's the thing that makes it really impossible to answer that question: Who are you messaging? Hotties with excellent profiles of their own? Then you're doing well with a 10% success rate.
posted by J. Wilson at 8:22 AM on July 1, 2012

First, I'd send a longer, more involved message that shows that you've read and digested their profiles, that shows that you're interested in whatever they're talking about on their page. It doesn't need to be a page and a half, but two or three specific observations pulled from their profile can go a long way towards making them more interested in you. "Hey, you sound cool because of this thing and this thing and also this thing that I know this about. I'm a grad student at NYU and I'm geeky and also I like to travel -- but does anyone not like to travel?" Or whatever.

I'd drop the drier, sarcastic humor -- too high risk -- but looking at your current profile, it seems you already have.

Reading your profile, I don't get a sense of who you really are. I get a sense of what you do, but I'm not sure what you and I are going to do on a date. Your prose feels a little dry and stilted. Let's see what we can do about that.

I admire those who are flexible despite the obstacles put in front of them. Making at least one person's day a little better is rewarding, even if it's a small gesture. I try to find the humor in all situations, as difficult and challenging as some might be.

I'm looking for someone who is passionate about their goals, geeks out about what she loves, and likes to goof around.

I get it -- you're a nice guy and you're looking for a nice girl. But instead of platitudes, turn these thoughts into concrete ideas. "I admire flexible people" and "I try to find the humor in all situations" can become "I'm looking for someone who can get on the wrong ferry in Seattle by accident and find a cool restaurant on Bainbridge Island (are there *any* cool restaurants on Bainbridge?) and keep cracking jokes about it the entire time."

I am a full-time graduate student at NYU studing interactive telecommunications — I spend a lot of time on product design for web and mobile services, as well as critically analyzing, constructing and deconstructing my current projects.

I don't know what the "critically analyzing, constructing, and deconstructing my current projects" means. I mean, I know what it means, but I don't think it says "Hey let's go to dinner." I think you can remove it and not miss a beat. ("Studing" should be "studying.")

Can you give me a cool example of what you're working on that I would recognize? "I'm working on a project right now where you'll be able to order a pizza from your phone." I might even drop "web and mobile services" and make it "I spend a lot of time on product design for things you do on your phone."

I like to participate in hackathons when I have the time. Basically it's getting a lot of designers and programmers together to build some really cool shit with specific sets of data over the course of a weekend.

I'd change this paragraph so that it says more about who you are. Basically you're a geeky hacker, which we should already be clued in to from the previous graf -- so tell us more about that in specific ways. "I like to participate in hackathons which are like marathons but with fewer blisters and more keyboards, I like to take apart microwaves and figure out how they work and then try not to blow anything up when I put them back together, and I like to juggle. I don't know how to juggle, but I like the idea of it at least." Or whatever your specific things are.

You say in a few different ways "I like to do something when I have the time" or "when possible." Write more directly, don't qualify what you do.

Trekking around town and making an adventure out of it.

I have a long list of places to checkout, and they all involve food, dancing, or some peculiarity that caught my eye.

Give me concrete details! Where exactly do you hang out? What bars? What clubs? Which movie theaters? What do you buy at the theater? Are you a popcorn/soda guy, or junior mints? Butter? No butter? What are the long list of places from last night? I want an itinerary. I want to get a sense for what your adventure is.
posted by incessant at 8:32 AM on July 1, 2012 [2 favorites]

I'm on OKC, in your demographic, and live in your city. I agree that you're getting pretty good results, considering that you're a guy and that you've gone on two dates in four weeks. A few things stand out to me about your profile:

- Your grammar is pretty inconsistent. There's a sentence in which you switch from singular to plural pronouns at least twice. While I'm unusually attuned to that sort of thing (former editor), I suspect that a lot of people will get the impression that you're inarticulate or not especially smart, even if they don't specifically know why. Proofread, or get a friend who's good at proofreading to do it for you.

- Your books are all things a lot of us had to read in high school. It might be helpful to talk about what you've been reading lately. If you just read 1984 for the first time now, or if it's continued to be your favorite since the 8th grade, tell us why.

- On that same note, you have a bit of what I like to call "High Fidelity" Profile Syndrome: your profile lists things you like, and they're eclectic, but tells us very little about why you like those things. If I'm using your books/music/movies to get a sense of you as a person, I need some information about what it is that actually attracts you to those things, not just a list.
posted by decathecting at 8:43 AM on July 1, 2012

First, let me say that I am in your age range, but not your city and happily coupled. I responded to fewer than 10% of the unsolicited messages that I received. The most annoying messages were the ones that were super short and felt like "hey, I read this one thing in your profile and I want to take you to coffee so we can talk about this thing!" They were annoying because in my profile it said "do not message me if you are inviting me for coffee." It was a handy filter. As for messaging tips: please don't comment on my body or my hair or even my great smile in your first message. Comment on me, the things I like to do, things we have in common. Look for the filters. Relationship desired, this is really important to a lot of women. Any guy who wanted short term or casual sex, even if it was in addition to long term relationships, no response from me. Any guy who only liked shoot 'em up movies or said they hated books, or otherwise expressed a one dimensional personality, no response from me. You're off to a very good start in this respect. You show a bit of vulnerability, but not much. Share some fears. Share some aspirations. Express what it is you're hoping to do with this degree you're getting.

Delete the photo of you alone, and replace it with a better photo of you alone actively doing something. Skiing, standing on a stage with a microphone, behind stage at a puppet show, watching birds in the woods, giving a lecture on hacking to 3rd graders, producing back before grad school, I don't fucking care. Just be doing something.

The Burt's Bees thing is funny because a guy friend of mine once compared OKCupid dating experiences and he'd noticed that many many many of the women's profiles he viewed listed Burt's Bees products in the 6 things you can't live without section. So this is good for me as a woman because it's...unexpected.

Writing has an adage, "show, don't tell." So this paragraph:
I admire those who are flexible despite the obstacles put in front of them. Making at least one person's day a little better is rewarding, even if it's a small gesture. I try to find the humor in all situations, as difficult and challenging as some might be
could be changed to
My grandmother is my greatest hero because despite being a widow with 16 kids during the great depression, she managed to amass a fortune of $17 Billion even though her factory was burned down twice and then swept away by a flood! She donated all of her money to charity before she died and spent her last days volunteering at an orphanage (except, you know, something true). My best days are the ones that include offering a stranger the dime they need to make exact change, or some other real things you've done lately to help people. Last week I had a flat tire on the side of the road, so I perfected my stand up comedy routine while waiting for the roadside assistance truck. My material is still terrible, but it made the time pass.

I'm looking for someone who is passionate about their goals, geeks out about what she loves, and likes to goof around.
probably seems pretty specific to you, but it's very vague to me. What kinds of goals do you want someone to have? Are you going to be a perfect match for a woman whose aspiration is to be a stay at home mom to 16 kids or a woman who wants to be a CEO of a mega corporation or a woman who wants to be a world class rock climber or a woman who is working toward all three? In what ways do you want a goofy partner? Word games? Physical humor? Drawing? Video Games? "goof around" is not specific at all, but makes me think of fart jokes at first glance.
to build some really cool shit with specific sets of data over the course of a weekend.
Are you going to be swearing at me on our first date? If no, find another way to describe the things you build. Also, "really cool shit" sounds kind of lazy as far as language use. Is there a particular type of stuff you like to hack? Are there particular kinds of data you like to work with? The best way to get a hacker girlfriend into your profile might be to tell her what you're working on. Getting a non hacker girlfriend may require treating us like we might understand or be able to look up or heck, ask you questions! about the specifics of your interest.
I have lived in Manhattan for seven years, and it never gets old.
You are hereby forbidden to ever complain about
  • friends who live sooooo far away in Brooklyn
  • filthy subways
  • super slow walking tourists
  • finding a place to park your car
  • anything about Manhattan. Sorry. If you want this right back, be more specific. The skyline never gets old. The hot dog vendors on every corner still fill you with joy. And hot dogs. Whatever.
    Working out and running are my go-to stress relievers. On most mornings you'll find me in Central Park. Running through the streets of Manhattan is quite thrilling — it's a great obstacle course.
    Running is a workout. If you're going to be super specific about one kind of workout, I wonder about what other kinds of "working out" you do, and why you're not describing your love affair with the rowing machine or P90x or whatever. Contrast running in Central Park with running in the streets. Again, show, don't tell. But please don't add a Zombie Apocalypse analogy, unless you downloaded that running app.
    - Finding great restaurants and places to hang out. (OK, tell me which restaurans I might find you in. Luca? Or some place that feels like a taco truck indoors?) - Cooking awesomeness. (OK, great. do you have a real kitchen? In Manhattan? Or are you cooking on a propane burner next to your toilet? This is an opportunity for humor! Tell me if it's dessert or apps or authentic Chinese food or your own concoction skills or a particular cookbook that is the source of this awesomeness! Are you cooking masterpieces for one, or are you having friends over?) - Ordering everything off Amazon (what can't you order from Amazon?). (This kind of makes you sound like a dick that doesn't support local businesses. Amazon is getting some heat (ha) for their terrible working conditions and the harm they're doing to mom and pop shops. So if the lady you hope to attract is opening a small place of her own, she may stop right here.) - Taking pride in my humility. (This reads as bullshit to me, along the lines of the relaxing on Friday nights trope, but others love it. So feel free to keep or discard.)
    In the books, tv, movies etc section, maybe tell your reader why you love these things. For example, does that list of books have anything in common to your eye? It's ok if they don't, but I like when people can tell me about the themes of their lives. Without your input, my thematic grouping of these books is, "He hasn't ready any since 12th grade. Frown."
    - iPhone - Sriracha hot sauce - Reddit - running sneakers - headphones - Metrocard
    I like this list! It tells me that you probably don't drive (much), your health is important to you, and gives me some insight into your eating. Now. The headphones....I suspect that you tune out your environment a lot. This wouldn't fly for me, because I like people who are where they are. But for a woman who is really really into music, she might dig it.
    In the wise words of a favorite designer of mine
    This was a pain in the ass to parse. I kept trying to make it a "favorite designer friend of mine" because "favorite of mine" goes together once I read the quote. Something like "NAME OF THE DESIGNER, who I really admire, then what they said." Because I'm a curious person and want to know more about this designer, and it annoys me that I have to google the quote to figure out who said it. Yes, it's one step and I'm being prissy and lazy. But I feel like you're keeping useful information from me. Rational, not really. But dating is emotional, and if I can't trust you to tell me who said that, then what else are you hiding? (god, I do not miss OKcupid, not even for a second)
    Friday night Trekking around town and making an adventure out of it. I have a long list of places to checkout, and they all involve food, dancing, or some peculiarity that caught my eye. It's practically impossible not to walk down a street here and not find a new venue to try out.
    How about sharing the list and suggesting that you'd enjoy some company in checking these places out. This way, the ladies who are viewing your profile can give you tips about these places (x has a super long waiting list, bring a book! or "I've always been meaning to try the pork appetizer at oh my tapas bar, are you free this Friday!? I know the door guy and can get us an awesome table!" Also, what is a peculiarity to you? I am very curious and want my curiosities answered. As you visit these places, make some notes in your profile about why you liked them.

posted by bilabial at 9:11 AM on July 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

I think your problem is that you live in NYC where the competition is much fiercer. There's really nothing wrong with your profile.
posted by timsneezed at 9:53 AM on July 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

The bit about detesting laughter is funny to me because so many people mindlessly talk about how they "love to laugh" and if a guy ever told me that he loves to laugh I would instantly lose interest and probably not be able to conceal the eye roll. Sometimes humor and sarcasm are difficult to read online but just going by that example I think if you leave it in your profile you will weed out a lot of people - the ones who don't get it - who are not compatible in terms of sense of humor anyway. Don't know about you, but for me sense of humor is key. I "love to laugh" with someone.
posted by fromageball at 9:54 AM on July 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

You say that you view this as a numbers game. This makes me wonder how discerning you are about the women you send messages to. Maybe there really are enough women on OKCupid in NYC that you can send 60 messages in a month to women who have a good chance of being a good match for you, if only they would respond - I don't know.

If you're not pretty selective, then your response rate will be low. If your frustration is due only to the time and effort you're putting in for so little to show for it, then an unselective strategy is probably less time-consuming for you than thoroughly reading the women's profiles, including their answers to match questions that are important to you, and then only sending messages to women who you think you have a good chance of clicking with. But if you're frustrated by a low response rate because it makes you feel like a rejected loser, then you may want to send fewer, more targeted messages.

Also, I noticed that in the time since some posters above indicated that listing only "short -term relationship" under "what you're looking for" could be a dealbreaker for a lot of women, you added "long-term relationship" to your list. I'm sure this will increase your response rate, but I hope you're actually interested in pursuing a long-term relationship. Otherwise, it's not fair to waste people's time.
posted by Mila at 10:02 AM on July 1, 2012 [2 favorites]

My messages are usually a pithy sentence followed by a question acknowledging one of their interests. I keep the initial message very short.

I won't be the one to suggest you write a novel in your first email, but when I was doing online dating (before I met Mr. Arnicae online half a dozen years ago) I wasn't particularly interested in the guys who sent two sentence emails.

Things like: Hi Arnicae, I came across your profile and it really caught my eye. I live close by you, and like you, post frequently on metafilter. How are you liking grad school in California? Hope to hear from you soon. Helios410

They just do nothing for me - they're really as formulaic as the emails I get from guys interested in a one night stand or a FWB. I still responded to some of them, but to me they were the written equivalent of "Hey you, how's it going tonight? Nice dress." at a bar, just a fisherman seeing what he could reel in.

The guys that I really was interested in from the outset sent a first email (or responded to my first email) in a significant but not lengthy way. Maybe a long paragraph, probably not significantly more, that told me something about themselves and what about me made a significant impact on them (note: not personal appearance).

I had several relationships of varying sizes (from two months to a year) that started online before I met Mr. Arnicae (also online). I'll note that if I'd met Mr. Arnicae on a blind date or at a bar, we likely wouldn't have gone on a second date. But his written communication was compelling enough to really get me very interested enough to get past our first in-person impressions and beyond them. So...the way you express yourself in writing really matters (at least to some).
posted by arnicae at 10:10 AM on July 1, 2012

Also, suggestion that you try other dating sites. I never was on OKC because of its bad connotation (although, if you're looking for flings and one night stands, that's exactly what I've heard the site is for) and I know a lot of other ladies in grad school avoided OKC for similar reasons (Bay Area California FWIW)
posted by arnicae at 10:15 AM on July 1, 2012

Just wanted to chime in that your experience in terms of response rate and number of dates (and number of "good" dates – it's totally normal to have a couple of blah dates in a row) is totally in line with what I was getting when I was on OKCupid. It's kind of disheartening but hopefully you'll feel less demoralized to hear that it's also totally normal. I eventually met the woman of my dreams through OKC, and we will be getting married just as soon as we can sort out some bits of our life and get to a more stable place career- and education-wise.
posted by Scientist at 10:39 AM on July 1, 2012

But yeah, basic advice: do write your profile so that it looks like you have a sense of humor (and not a mean sense of humor), do have some nice pictures of yourself, send messages that are maybe a couple of short paragraphs long and make it clear that you have read the person's profile and not just lookd at her pictures, avoid giving off even a hint of desperation, and don't keep bugging someone if they suddenly stop replying to you after a few messages or even a few dates.
posted by Scientist at 10:41 AM on July 1, 2012

I have no idea what arnicae is talkin about. As a straight man in NYC who has used OKCupid, I have no interest in "one-night stands" and have not found the women on the site to be any more interested in casual sex than on any other site. It's much more common to find women's profiles explicitly saying they have no interest in hookups, than the opposite.
posted by John Cohen at 11:05 AM on July 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

Or, "talking about." Sorry for the typo (iPhone).
posted by John Cohen at 11:06 AM on July 1, 2012

but a 10% response rate seems like a poor return for the amount of effort to put into this.

I like the women I date to be highly selective about whom they go out with, so I only message women who respond "Extremely rarely" (according to OKcupid stats). If that's what you do also, then I think 10% is a pretty decent response ratio. You might simply be overthinking this.

Are you checking the OKcupid stats on their response ratios? (Red for "responds extremely rarely", yellow for "responds selectively", and green for "responds frequently.")
posted by wolfdreams01 at 11:09 AM on July 1, 2012

There can be any number of reasons why a woman doesn't respond. You can really never know - if your profile is an accurate representation of you, rest assured that if something in there is turning certain women off, they wouldn't be a good match for you anyway. All you can do is be yourself and be honest with yourself about your expectations and the type of person you're looking for, at which point there's a greater chance that the women who respond are the kinds of women you would really be interested in and who would really be interested in you.

In terms of the short-term/long-term dating thing, you should really only check long-term dating if you're open to the idea that it might turn into that. If you have absolutely no interest in that, even if you do hit it off with someone, don't check that box, because that would mislead women who are really hoping to find a good long-term match. Often, when people check both short-term dating and long-term dating, what they're really looking for is a long-term relationship but also indicating that they're not looking to jump right into that without getting to know the person.

Focus on finding women who are a truly good match on several levels, even just for a short-term dating experience. When you message these people, make it compelling. Say something relevant about yourself that they might legitimately find interesting related to stuff they said in their profile; don't just make it about them. A great profile doesn't make up for a two-sentence message that sounds like a rather mindless variation of something that's being sent to a bunch of other women.
posted by wondermouse at 11:14 AM on July 1, 2012

Increase your age range. It doesn't have to be in any particular direction, but if you're not finding enough responses you have to expand your pool.
posted by rhizome at 11:18 AM on July 1, 2012 [2 favorites]

What was your initial expectation for a response rate? 50% responses? 50% of those leading to dates? That would be 15 dates a month, so about two dates a week. That's a lot of dating. Maybe a do-able amount, but ultimately you don't want to waste your time with people that aren't all that into you to begin with. A 10% response rate really isn't that bad.

Best of luck, good for you for getting out there!
posted by Pearl67 at 11:34 AM on July 1, 2012

I like your profile pic, I think you're good looking. Probably the reason you're not getting any responses is due to the rest of your pictures. From the others, I really can't get a good sense of you. You are not the primary focus of them at all, some are a bit far away in perspective that I really can't tell what you look like, or would look like in in real life.

Get some that are close up shots of you, & some that are of you maybe doing some things you're interested in (other than drinking red stripe with classmates ;)

What you wrote overall I liked :) I think you really need to write more about yourself & what you're interested in, though. The part about the books being generic picks, I agree with. If you listed more I could get a better sense of you, but from the pictures & not too much to delve into with revealing more of yourself in what you write, I definitely wouldn't contact you if you didn't write first. I can't get a good sense of you at all, given those 2 points. The part about liking Burt's bee's (with "trademark" included, why?) as the most private thing you'll admit about yourself doesn't do much to create interest, & also makes me think again that there's not much to you, or that you're willing to put yourself out there & put more of who you are on the page.

Other than that, I think there's really nothing wrong with it. If you're looking for more responses those are the things I would tell you to tweak. Just my opinion, though. I would probably go out with you if I was in NYC :) Good luck & happy hunting!
posted by readygo at 1:09 PM on July 1, 2012

60 messages, 7 responses, 2 dates, you're doing fine.

A low response rate is how it works when you're a guy (as recently discussed to death on the blue) and ten percent means what you're doing is working.

Keep working to improve things, but try not to be frustrated - this is just the nature of the beast.
posted by -harlequin- at 1:54 PM on July 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

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