Dating and OKCupid as a childfree loner
May 19, 2013 4:37 PM   Subscribe

I'm childfree, meaning I don't have kids and don't want them. I'm also on the far end of the loner scale. I have some questions about finding a partner and using OKCupid to do it.

I'm a straight man in my early 30s. For most of my life I've had no more than a few friends. I'm pleasant enough socially, for example most people at my job like me. Strangers don't make me anxious. I've had one long-term romantic relationship in my adult life. We were together for years and it ended years ago. I've had very little physical contact with women (or anyone) since we broke up.

Last year I saw a psychiatrist and was diagnosed with dysthymia, which is a sort of low-grade, chronic depression. I take medication now and it has helped so much. I like myself. I have plenty of solitary things I like to do. I'm not looking for a bunch of friends. I do very badly though want one-person intimacy. I am so tired of living without an intimate partner and not being physically close to anyone.

I have some requirements: no kids now or in the future, no religion, no drinking/smoking/drugs, broadly similar worldview and age range. I'm skeptical of requirements lists but these are all really important. I wish they were more common. I also think the woman will need to be fairly introverted herself, otherwise I don't think she would understand or trust a man in his 30s with no social calendar. I've seen this difference put a real strain on a relationship. Does that all sound reasonable?

I have very few pictures of myself and they are all old or otherwise unsuitable for a profile. I don't know what to do about this. A profile with only self-shots seems sad. I've considered hiring someone to take some pictures but having only photos from what is obviously a photo shoot seems sad too. No photo doesn't work either. Any ideas?

I live in a liberal American city near millions of people. There are less than 10 women on OKCupid nearby who pass my filters and who otherwise seem vaguely suitable. This is a really low number. Let's say none of them work out. What is plan B? OKCupid search worldwide? Meetups? I think the odds of finding even one possible qualifying partner in a meetup group of 20-30 semi-random people is incredibly low. I'd have to churn through a ton of these and turn each one into a speed-dating event. That sounds awful. I don't know what else to do though.

Any other thoughts? Thanks.
posted by moonlit walk on the sun to Human Relations (49 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
 
I have some requirements: no kids now or in the future, no religion, no drinking/smoking/drugs, broadly similar worldview and age range.

It's been a while since I used OkCupid. But unless the userbase has changed drastically, "No drinking" is going to be the only part of this that's difficult. My experience was that the site skewed towards atheists, nonsmokers, introverts, and people who wanted kids somewhere between "maybe someday" and "definitely never."

There are less than 10 women on OKCupid nearby who pass my filters and who otherwise seem vaguely suitable. This is a really low number. Let's say none of them work out. What is plan B?

This might mean you have an unrealistic idea of who would be "vaguely suitable" for you.

In which case plan B is to go on coffee dates with some of those other, vaguely-unsuitable-seeming women. Best case, you discover some of them are secretly awesome and just made a weird first impression (which is easy to do with a couple pictures and a slab of impersonal text, after all). And worst case, whatever, you drank some coffee and you never have to see each other again.
posted by Now there are two. There are two _______. at 4:48 PM on May 19, 2013 [5 favorites]


Your requirements are totally reasonable. In fact, minus the no religion aspect of things we'd probably be super compatible. :) You could say something like, "I'm an introvert who loves X, Y, and Z, and my ideal match would be an equally introverted woman with similar interests between the ages of Q and R. Please know that I am not religious, and I am also not interested in having kids at any point, so if those are two things that are very important to you, I won't be a good partner for you." I would be prepared to clarify some of your requirements to help you and the women you come into contact with get a better idea of what you want and need. For example, religion-wise are you agnostic or atheistic? Do you like kids but don't want to be a dad, or do all children of any age make you uncomfortable? These are important distinctions that so many people leave vague because they want to seem approachable, but sometimes it leads to misunderstandings which is super lousy in the dating sphere on a lot of different levels.

On the photo front I'd probably go ask a friend to take a nice photo of you, or I'd seek out a local photographer who could do some nicely lit headshots of you so you have at least two recent shots to put up. There's nothing sad about that. (At least I hope there isn't, because I just put myself back up on Match.com with a photoshoot set of photos and I think I look pretty freaking amazing but whatever). You could even go into the shoot and express a desire to have the pictures not come off too staged if that would make you more comfortable.

As for the issue of not having enough women to choose from, do consider expanding your search by 5 to 10 miles so you can see who else is in a 50-60 mile radius around your city, and do examine whether or not your filters are currently set to be really stringent (it's easy to do on OKCupid) and as such you're missing out on a group of women who you might actually be very compatible with. Remember -- these women aren't out there to meet your needs and your needs alone. Make sure you're considering what you have to bring to the table so that you can realistically compromise on certain things and seek out variations on your requirements so everything doesn't become black and white.

And, if all else fails, use a paid dating service like Match or eHarmony. It's worth the money IME, and my guess is you're going to be pretty disappointed in OKCupid given its current userbase. Good luck!
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 4:52 PM on May 19, 2013 [6 favorites]


I have some requirements: no kids now or in the future, no religion, no drinking/smoking/drugs, broadly similar worldview and age range. I'm skeptical of requirements lists but these are all really important

You can't meet someone halfway on children, and individual experiences to the contrary, relationships with one partner actively religious while the other is actively non-/anti-religious don't generally work out. With everything else, though, you really have to be more open to getting to know someone as a person and seeing if you are compatible and have personal chemistry rather than expecting that can check off a specific set of requirements.
posted by deanc at 4:53 PM on May 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Well, don't start snowballing the situation. You really don't need a huge pool of available women. You only need to find one.

Experiment with the camera on your phone in different types of light to get a couple of decent photos. Sit or stand next to a window. Vary your expression. There's also a list... somewhere... of MeFi members who will take portraits of others. Does anyone know where that list is?
posted by houseofdanie at 5:19 PM on May 19, 2013


I'd strongly suggest relaxing the "no drinking" requirement in particular, unless you have a very good reason. I know very few people who never drink, and all of those are for religious reasons, but MANY who drink responsibly and/or rarely. Aiming for the latter group may avoid the problems you might be associating with drinking (?), while considerably enlarging your pool.
posted by randomnity at 5:22 PM on May 19, 2013 [26 favorites]


Yeah, the "no religion" and "no drinking" combo is probably what's limiting your list to 10. Other than the drinking part, you sound a lot like me, and I met my now-wife on OKC after two-ish months on the site, with those very strict requirements.

I hate to chime in with the crowd, but a lot of people -- especially introverts -- use bar dates as a crutch since alcohol and relaxation/decreased anxiety often go hand-in-hand. Bars in my experience are default first date venues for that very reason.
posted by supercres at 5:29 PM on May 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


No religion but some drinking? Fine. Lots of religion but no drinking? Likely also fine. But you have chosen a combo that isn't going to work. Relax your requirements.
posted by 1adam12 at 5:32 PM on May 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


I don't see any reason why you need more than one photo. A self-photo is fine. Make it a very clear, well-lit one where your face is clearly and completely visible. Someone who is going to be put off by you having a self-photo would be way more put off by your lifestyle so I don't see a problem there.
posted by cairdeas at 5:34 PM on May 19, 2013


I'm a hardcore atheist, but really the religion thing is only a problem if you're planning on having kids. I would lighten up on that one if it were me.
posted by empath at 5:43 PM on May 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Ignore the religion requirement in the filter, as people may put it in to show up as a cultural preference, but their actual beliefs are non-belief.
Attend some outdoor events, ie. art show, street fair, monster truck rally, etc and when you're in front of an interesting background, hand your camera to someone to take the shot. Have them take 3 just in case, and if you really dont want to ask, get a camera extender thingie. Okcupid had a post about photos.
posted by Sophont at 5:46 PM on May 19, 2013


Self-shots don't have to be sad. Just don't take them in the bathroom mirror (ugh).

As for the drinking, yeah. My OKCupid profile says "drinks socially". In reality I have one drink about every two to four weeks. I just finished the six-pack of hard cider that I bought back in the fall. So I think you need to be clear as to where your "no drinking" requirement falls. Is that "doesn't get wasted"? or is it "lips that touch liquor shall never touch mine"?
posted by shiny blue object at 5:50 PM on May 19, 2013 [16 favorites]


Check your MeMail...I just sent you something.
posted by three_red_balloons at 6:07 PM on May 19, 2013


You don't know until you actually try. I would think that someone who is on the "far end of the loner scale" is probably not doing the sorts of activities where one meets a variety of prospective partners. It seems more than reasonable to me to give it a try, because how else would you meet people?

As I'm sure you've read in other threads about OKCupid, online dating can be kind of a drag at times, so don't be too hard on yourself if you don't meet your perfect partner in a month or so.

I don't think your requirements are too stringent. However, other than the kids issue -- which is so important for people in their 30s to be clear about with each other -- I think having the list of "not" requirements may cause you to miss out on some good ladies for you. For example, there are plenty of people out there who are just not into drinking, smoking, or doing drugs. But they are busy living their lives, doing their thing, and they probably don't think too much about how they spend all of their time not drinking, smoking, or doing drugs. Then they sign up for OKCupid, and they answer the questions, and maybe going out to a bar once in a while with friends is ok to them or they don't mind if their partner drinks wine with dinner or whatever. So it doesn't really come up in their profile, or if it does it's in a very middle of the road way, even though they may be a 100% sober person without thinking about it at all. Of course sobriety may be a very, very big deal to you for valid reasons, but it's probably better for you to indicate that in your profile when talking about yourself, rather than defining your lady before you've even met her. Same goes for religion. There are many women out there for whom religion is not important, but they don't go out of their way to define themselves by their atheism. Does that make sense?

tl;dr: go for it, give more emphasis on what you do want, less emphasis on saying what you don't want in a partner. Good luck!
posted by stowaway at 6:36 PM on May 19, 2013 [4 favorites]


For each requirement you list, figure out which ones are absolute deal-breakers, and which ones could possibly be relaxed. Each requirement will make your dating pool smaller, although it will still be nonzero. (e.g. I'm pretty much a female version of you, so we do exist, but I think we're pretty rare.) Also keep in mind that love is crazy and weird and you may totally fall for someone that doesn't fit all your checkboxes, but suddenly those checkboxes might not seem so important to you. ;)
posted by phoenix_rising at 6:37 PM on May 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


Self photos are fine, just make sure that you look good in it. You may want to date outside of your requirements. The best relationships are the ones that allow us to grow. I have learned so much about myself and the world around me by dating men who are very different for me. Try it, you might like it.
posted by myselfasme at 6:45 PM on May 19, 2013


If no drinking is important to you, you should ignore the advice above about giving up on that being a deal breaker. It is okay to want to date someone who doesn't drink, and it is similarly okay for that to be a dealbreaker for you. You do not have to compromise on that front. I haven't, and I am finding that there are many more people like us who would prefer a partner with similar leanings than people think there are.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 6:54 PM on May 19, 2013 [4 favorites]


I will state first that I have no experience with online dating, but I recently read this:
Data, A Love Story: How I Gamed Online Dating to Meet My Match and thought it had some good tips. Your skepticism over requirements made me think of it; this woman has a very methodical strategy that is nothing without strict requirements.
posted by Tandem Affinity at 7:14 PM on May 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Keep in mind, too, that people cycle in and out of OKCupid. So, while you may only see a handful of suitable women right now, others will appear over time.

I say stick to your guns with your requirements. I don't think they are unreasonable. Since you don't have a timebomb ticking (e.g., wanting to start a family), there's no rush.
posted by nacho fries at 7:17 PM on May 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


There are less than 10 women on OKCupid nearby who pass my filters and who otherwise seem vaguely suitable.

Well of course if you apply lots of stringent filters, you don't get many results. For one thing, you're not searching for women who leave the smoking, drinking, drugs, religion, and children fields blank. You're not even accepting women who put that they drink "rarely" or "socially" (and "socially" might very well mean "I almost never drink, but I think 'socially' sounds more fun than 'rarely' or 'not at all').

Until OKCupid decides to make the filters more useful by allowing users to select "-" as one of the options (or allowing you to search for "not..."), filter searches are really limited and not indicative of much. Tweak the filters in whatever way is going to let you widen the pool from the outset, then start looking through those results and apply your own judgment on an individualized basis.
posted by John Cohen at 7:30 PM on May 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


As another example of how arbitrary and limited the searches on OKCupid are, think about trying to find someone nonreligious. There is no option for "nonreligious." There are options for "atheist" and "agnostic." Your dream woman might not want to call herself "atheist" because that sounds very harsh to a lot of people; she might not want to call herself "agnostic" because it's too wishy-washy. So when you say you searched for "no religion," that just doesn't make sense — OKCupid doesn't have any way to search for "no religion." OKCupid only gives a list of religions and then two options that are about whether you believe in God — which is completely different from religion, since there are atheist religions. Don't let these kind of arbitrary shortcomings in one website define your direction in life.
posted by John Cohen at 7:36 PM on May 19, 2013 [4 favorites]


give more emphasis on what you do want, less emphasis on saying what you don't want in a partner.

I totally agree with this.

Having done a bit of online dating, I find it much more helpful to focus on what I do want, and then look carefully at anything I don't really want and decide if it's actually a deal-breaker. For example, if there existed a kind, witty, attractive, fascinating, loving, intelligent woman who was a perfect match for you in all other respects but liked to have one glass of wine occasionally, would you NOT want to meet her?

Re: the pictures. I set my (old, not fancy) digital camera on time-delay mode and propped it up on some phone books. This enabled me to take photos of myself that didn't look like selfies.
posted by Salamander at 8:20 PM on May 19, 2013


There are a few tourist-y places near where I live that you can go to around sunset and have someone else take your picture. Here in LA my go-to is the Griffith Observatory. It is always packed on a weekend evening with people taking pictures of each other, and no stretch at all to ask someone to take a photo of you. Look for something similar nearby.

A lot of the free dating sites also host meetups/mixers, which is a good way to force yourself to get out there (and meet people who are doing the same—).
posted by carsonb at 8:25 PM on May 19, 2013


In addition to personal ads, you might also try joining some face-to-face childfree meetups and other social groups and follow this strategy:
1) Go to social gatherings for the explicitly childfree
2) Hang out with the people who aren't drinking/smoking
3) Get to know the women and find the atheists
posted by Jacqueline at 9:23 PM on May 19, 2013


pay to get some good pictures of you taken.
posted by cupcake1337 at 9:25 PM on May 19, 2013


Also, don't treat the meetups you go to as speed-dating events. If you go to meetups and focus solely on the single women, you'll come across as a bit of a creeper.

Instead, go to the meetups with the goal of making friends with people who share at least some of your values (childfree, atheist, etc.). Even is Ms. Right isn't there herself, chances are some of the people there will know at least a couple potential candidates for Ms. Right. So get to know everyone well enough that they feel comfortable inviting you to non-meetup social gatherings where some of their other friends will be present.
posted by Jacqueline at 9:33 PM on May 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Your requirements may be shrinking the pool more than you surmise. Using some available statisics via google: 33% of people don't drink; of these who are women, only 18% will not want want babies; of these only 20% max will be non-religious. So you are down to about 1%: that's the percentage of total women who will meet all your criteria (for simplicity I have rolled smoking and drug-use into the drinking category). In fact your dating pool is probably less than 1% of women, because non-drinking is often associated either with religious belief or a desire to be as fit as possible for pregnancy; and you further require a similar world view. Maybe rethink your criteria? After all, nobody's perfect.
posted by londongeezer at 9:48 PM on May 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Regarding the anti-social part- as someone who used to fit all your other criteria (except I have a drink once in a while) I'd be concerned that I'd be 100% of your social life. I'd also be concerned that if I wanted to go out and be social, it would bother you. And finally, I'd be concerned that you'd refuse to go out if I really really wanted you to, once in a while. There are some occasions when you want to bring your date.

Oh, and I guess I'd want reassurance that you weren't a proselytizing secularist, because I have family and friends who are religious and I'd want to make sure you weren't going to be all holier-than-thou at them.

Otherwise you'd sound great- I'd just want reassurance is all. And self-shots only never bothered me. That's usually what I posted too- my friends and family don't need to be dragged into my OKCupid profile!
posted by small_ruminant at 9:52 PM on May 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


If you decide to go the Meetup route, here's some advice that I wrote on another AskMe a while back that might help you:

http://ask.metafilter.com/137017/Step-2-Step-3-Friends#1958312
posted by Jacqueline at 10:02 PM on May 19, 2013


Straight guy, early 30's, met my wife on OKCupid, now happily married.

One big thing to remember is that your requirements on OKCupid will eliminate too many people you'd actually be compatible with. My (now) wife wouldn't have made it through my 'strict' filter, which was based on the website's own compatibility / personality index and extrovertedness. She's much more of an introvert, but once she warmed up and got comfortable things proceeded quite well... While neither of us had mentioned kids in our profiles, I brought it up in conversation on the third date, and we agreed on that.

I should also note that I went on lots of dates with women that were much more of a match, in terms of personality / having things in common. Opposites can and do attract. In your case, I'd set my expectations one notch above what they're currently set at - instead of 'no alcohol', try 'social' or 'occasionally' or whatever the next setting is (I've forgotten, sorry). People sometimes put that to not look like a person that doesn't go out to party.

Finally, as a photographer, ask the person shooting you for some fun outdoor locations they've used in the past. There's no need to limit yourself to a studio.
posted by chrisinseoul at 10:31 PM on May 19, 2013


I say stick to your guns with your requirements. I don't think they are unreasonable.

I don't think they are unreasonable either, but I have the opposite recommendation. People don't like to pick absolutes. They don't like to put "no drinking" because they think that will scare away everyone. They put the religion they grew up in even though they are non-practicing. That is to say, people fudge towards the "normal" middle of the range. So you're going to go on some dates, and find out that whoops, "drinks occasionally" means parties every night. Scratch that one. But you also might find that "drinks occasionally" means "almost never, and only when talked into it by the boyfriend," which is no longer an issue when you're the boyfriend.

You're also going to find that, if you really like someone, you'll be willing to be more easy-going about your "requirements." Maybe you would be a great match for someone who "might want kids someday." Maybe she'll change her mind. Maybe YOU will, you never know. Maybe neither will, but you'll get several years of happiness out of the relationship anyway before you eventually decide that's a deal-breaker.

That's kind of how dating works. You can't win if you don't play. By all means, try your "perfect" matches first, but don't write off the "close but not exact" ones.
posted by ctmf at 10:57 PM on May 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


You are making thingss way too difficult. Dating sites aren'a mail order service for the perfect date,
I realise they market themselves as such. Given your empty social calendar, I would get rid of the wish list and start dating. Relationships are all about compromise anyway and you might as well have some fun learning how to do just that.
posted by BenPens at 2:07 AM on May 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


Also, introverts and extroverts are good matches. I am introverted and my gf is extremely extroverted, and if there is ever a conversation where we are both there, people for some reason will just end up talking to her, which is great for me, because I hate making small talk.
posted by empath at 3:41 AM on May 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think it's hard to judge people on okcupid based on how they answer the questions because people interpret them differently...so the advice to relax the strict requirements could be good just to get you meeting people.

I've been on several dates with people who said they were social drinkers but then just from talking to them it probably would have been more honest to say that they drink "often." I've gone out with people who put down that they are Christian/Jewish/whatever on the site but then it turns out they are actually atheist but identify culturally with the religion. I'm one of the ones who prefers someone with no religion so if someone identifies with a particular one I look to see how they've answered match questions about religion, particularly the one about how important of a role does god play in the person's life.

So it's hard to tell what you're getting until you actually have a conversation. Another is the people who put that they "graduated from space camp" for education - what does that even mean?

Then there are other people who put down joke answers - one guy I was talking to had answered a question "yes" that he was waiting until marriage for sex, but then in the clarification box he said "only kidding!" Well, his "yes" for that could get him filtered out of someone's matches and that isn't his serious answer.
posted by fromageball at 5:44 AM on May 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Ditto on relaxing your requirements a little during the dating stage. I met my beloved on OKC and he had a picture of a dog in his profile. Pets are an absolute no for me. I went on the date anyway, turns out he likes dogs but is ok not owning one, and now he saves me because every time we go to my day's, he can run interference on Dad's large annoying dig and keep it busy so it doesn't bother me. Win!
posted by JoannaC at 7:11 AM on May 20, 2013


I have very few pictures of myself and they are all old or otherwise unsuitable for a profile. I don't know what to do about this. A profile with only self-shots seems sad.

Use or borrow a camera with a timer. Nobody would need to know there was nobody else behind the camera. If you worry about your 'social calendar', this might be a good time to think about taking a class in photography or portraiture (though you don't have to tell anyone it's for OKC).

I do very badly though want one-person intimacy. I am so tired of living without an intimate partner and not being physically close to anyone.

I think this might be an issue for you. Having been around men who are very much desperate (pejorative word, but I can't think of another) for a girlfriend, and some to the extent where the actual identity of the girl/woman was secondary, it can be very offputting to women. It sounds like you don't have a lot of experience in dating, and I think the best way to think of it is that not every date is a chance for the other to audition for the role of Life Partner or Long-Term Prospect.

It might even be good for you to meet with, if not date for a little while, people who don't fulfill your requirements. The childfree thing makes sense - at your age, there will be lots of women who want children ASAP, but there will also be a lot of women who are similar in outlook, and it doesn't make sense to compromise on that point. But could you spend a couple of evenings with someone with a faith and a good-natured argument, or drinking a coke with an interesting woman who likes the odd shot, even if you know it's not going to lead to marriage? I think trying new things would be good for you, even if it reinforces the idea of who and what you want.
posted by mippy at 8:26 AM on May 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


I live in a liberal American city near millions of people. There are less than 10 women on OKCupid nearby who pass my filters and who otherwise seem vaguely suitable.

Two reactions:
  1. Fiddling with a calculator for a few minutes suggests this scenario is possible but also suggests you're filtering on more than you let on; unless there's like zero correlation between "atheist" and "childless" (unlikely) or this millions-of-people liberal US city is entirely composed of coupled people and/or those who fear computers. Try weakening your criteria a bit.
  2. Ten people, eh? Sounds like ten awesome first dates are in your future!

posted by ead at 9:56 PM on May 20, 2013


Great answers so far.

I really like carsonb's suggestion to ask tourists to take my picture.

I have no moral problems with the concept of drinking, but due to my dysthymia I have problems with alcohol and have found by trial and error that I can't drink at all and can't have alcohol in my home. I assume she would feel awkward drinking around me when we're out, knowing I have alcoholic tendencies, and so would end up stopping altogether. I don't know how I would talk about this on a first date so I just filter on "never" or "rarely". I'm open to any suggestions on how to talk about this. I can look closer at "socially"s to look for people who don't really drink but don't want to seem prudish.

I'm a strong atheist and consider most organized religion to be a mix of fairy tale and tool-of-control-by-the-powers-that-be. On the other hand, I've believed in the past and know what religion can offer. I respect people's right to believe whatever they want. My partner though should be the person with whom I share my most personal thoughts, and I couldn't do this honestly if they believe in something I think is delusional. But, I'll look a little deeper at the "X but not too serious about it" ones.

I think these requirements are critical and I don't agree that I should relax them early on or ever. These are major life issues that have to be dealt with sometime and waiting just means the stakes are higher when that time comes. I'm willing to consider almost everything else as part of a whole. To me, these requirements are on a completely different level than, for example, whether she has a type of pet I don't like.

"Vaguely suitable" meant they passed the core filters, had higher than 70% match and their profile seemed reasonable. Even just "no kids"+alcohol+70% only gives around 20 people.

I'm already looking 25 miles out, which in the metro area I live can be a long way. 50 miles out is not going to work unless one of us plan on moving.

I don't have gross attitudes about women being interchangeable. I just want to share my life rather than be alone. I'm not offended at the suggestion though, too many men do have that attitude and there is no harm in making sure I don't.
posted by moonlit walk on the sun at 10:01 PM on May 20, 2013


ead: I'm also filtering on "online in the last week" and a reasonably wide age range.

OKCupid is big but it's not THAT big. Right now it says there are about 112,500 people online worldwide, men and women. londongeezer guesses my filters take it below 1%, so do that and then restrict by age and area and 10 matching women is (sadly) low but not unrealistic.
posted by moonlit walk on the sun at 10:16 PM on May 20, 2013


I'm a strong atheist and consider most organized religion to be a mix of fairy tale and tool-of-control-by-the-powers-that-be. On the other hand, I've believed in the past and know what religion can offer. I respect people's right to believe whatever they want. My partner though should be the person with whom I share my most personal thoughts, and I couldn't do this honestly if they believe in something I think is delusional. But, I'll look a little deeper at the "X but not too serious about it" ones.

As an atheist and skeptic who has some experience dating atheists and religious women alike, I can assure you that anybody you date, atheist or no, once you get to know them, will eventually express some belief which you find to be completely 'delusional'. It's just one of the things you need to negotiate in a relationship. There is nobody on earth who believes everything you believe about everything. Even if it's not religion, it could be horoscopes or aliens or homeopathic medicine or acupuncture or any of the many other completely unsupportable belief systems that people need to adopt to make it through the week.
posted by empath at 10:55 PM on May 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


I assume she would feel awkward drinking around me when we're out, knowing I have alcoholic tendencies, and so would end up stopping altogether.

Please don't assume this! I'm an occasional/social drinker (a couple drinks every week or two, tipsy/drunk maybe every month or two) and I'd have no problem with this. It'd actually be kinda nice because often I feel indirect social pressure to drink when I don't really want to, and another non-drinker helps protect from that. Not having alcohol in the house would be a minor inconvenience, but certainly not enough to stop me from dating someone!

Don't filter people out because you think they won't like something about you - people can surprise you. They'll let you know if it's an issue. That said, if the issue is more that you're worried about being triggered by her drinking in front of you, that is totally fair and an excellent reason to avoid dating someone who drinks. Although even then, an occasional drinker might be fine with not drinking in your presence.
posted by randomnity at 8:00 AM on May 21, 2013 [3 favorites]


Regarding filtering specifically:

A lot of people won't have something set for a particular option. So filtering on 'Does not want children' will skip everyone who didn't fill that field in. And it's very common for people to be particularly vague about the kids question in particular (by not setting it) but not wanting them. I know that if I'm looking for childfree guys, searching by enforcing 'does not have kids and does not want them' will find me 1/100th of the guys who'd be childfree or ok with it.

I suspect most people who have 'rarely' or 'socially' marked will be fine with your views on drinking. For example, I would mark 'rarely', and to the best of my knowledge the most alcoholic thing I have around is a bottle of vinegar, and I last drank a bottle of cider a few months back when the only other option was some kind of disgusting sugary thing.

I know quite a few athiests will put some kind of joke religion, just like people will put 'language: Elvish' or similar.

So as someone who'd meet most of your requirements (age range excluded), perhaps sort via match questions, then check the 'requirements' manually. And by 'check' I mean ask the person if there could even be the slightest ambiguity.
posted by Ashlyth at 9:08 AM on May 21, 2013


'm also filtering on "online in the last week"

Just get rid of that one. Lots of women don't spend tons of time perusing OKcupid even if they have a profile up. If you send her a message, it'll go to her regular email, so it's not like she'll never know it's there if she doesn't sign in.
posted by cairdeas at 5:01 PM on May 21, 2013


It seems like the consensus is to scale back the filters a notch on most fronts and then investigate profiles individually. I'll try that.

empath: What matters is whether I can express my views honestly and how her belief impacts our life. Disagreeing about belief in, say, aliens is one thing: she says she saw an alien, I say she's probably wrong, we shrug and move on. On the other hand, my belief that the foundational assumptions of her emotional, moral and often political and social selves are not only false but also ridiculous is something else altogether. I can absolutely accept people who believe this as colleagues and friends but it is not a minefield I'm willing to accept in an intimate relationship.
posted by moonlit walk on the sun at 5:56 PM on May 21, 2013


I have no moral problems with the concept of drinking, but due to my dysthymia I have problems with alcohol and have found by trial and error that I can't drink at all and can't have alcohol in my home. I assume she would feel awkward drinking around me when we're out, knowing I have alcoholic tendencies, and so would end up stopping altogether. I don't know how I would talk about this on a first date so I just filter on "never" or "rarely". I'm open to any suggestions on how to talk about this.

In your own profile, mark yourself as "never" drinking. And then let other people decide how they feel about it. If it's a really big deal to someone, they'll make sure to look at that part of your profile.

As for talking about it — well, just don't make a big deal out of it. You don't need to make a Big Important Announcement on a first date. If someone asks you out for a drink, you can be like "oh, how about coffee?" and if you're out for dinner and there's a wine list you can be like "none for me, but you go ahead if you want," and either they'll ask what's up and you can tell them or they won't ask and you can talk about something else instead.
posted by Now there are two. There are two _______. at 7:12 PM on May 21, 2013


Yes. When I've used online dating, I've marked myself as "rarely drinking. What that means in reality is that I NEVER drink if I'm by myself or if I'm just around people who aren't drinking. I almost never keep alcohol in my house; the only exception is if I'm going to a party or dinner that, in my social circle, one brings a bottle of wine to. Then I keep one or two around for that reason.

If I were dating someone who didn't drink and felt strongly about not drinking, it would be trivial for me to stop drinking completely and I don't think I would have a problem with it.
posted by cairdeas at 6:00 PM on May 22, 2013


Four thoughts based on personal experience:
--Many people are partnered with people who don't drink for some reason. They are fine with no booze in the house, they don't drink around their spouse even when out at a restaurant just to be supportive, but when they hang out with friends on their own they drink. Definitely negotiable with most people, unless they have alcoholic tendencies themselves.

--Many women don't mind having a partner who doesn't have a social life, as long as the woman can still have her friends and go out 1x a week going out on her own without you. You *may* be asked to participate in some group things that you don't need to do anything other than show up to and make conversation for a few hours.

--Many people are atheist but identify themselves as Jewish when asked "religion?" for cultural reasons.

--The childfree thing is very clear-cut, which at least makes that part easy for you!
posted by tk at 7:44 AM on May 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


Here's the thing. I've been there too. If you come across in person anywhere NEAR as miserably unhappy as you do in these posts, then people won't want to be around you. It's not your filters, IMHO. It's that you sound really unhappy. I hate to hear it because I hate to see another person suffering. I hope things improve for you.

I take medication now and it has helped so much. I like myself.

I believe you and I am glad to hear it. But maybe you need to travel down the same positive path--awesome!--before you're ready to date. It took me about two and a half years from the day I first walked into serious, long-term therapy and drugs.
posted by skbw at 4:16 PM on June 8, 2013


Sorry, meant to post in the new thread.
posted by skbw at 4:17 PM on June 8, 2013


Time: Do not be afraid to try other sites that are not OKCupid. I understand and feel you, as I am working much in the same way and am an Atheist without children and who never wanted them, and female. Depression, introversion yada yada. I finally lucked out with a fantastic guy I knew a long time.

My advice: Be yourself, don't try to conform, then you are selling a lie. Not yourself.

These things take time and won't happen overnight and even if you meet someone right away, it may not be the right person for you, so go slow, be honest and most of all, patient.
posted by Fayrose at 5:24 PM on February 13, 2014


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