Should I do online dating? (22 year-old female)
March 12, 2014 4:41 PM   Subscribe

I'm 22 years old. I have never had a boyfriend and have never been on a date. Currently I'm finishing up my undergrad and will be entering a Master program in the Fall. I think I'm fairly attractive and I do not have a super high standard. At my college, I do socialize and have a lot of friends but for some reasons, I don't know many guys and the ones I know are either already in a relationship or just not interested in me. I've thought about online dating but I don't know if I'm too young for it, if my inexperience would put me in dangerous situations, etc. I've thought about joining paid sites such as or because I thought maybe guys are more serious on those sites. However, I am still a student and my budget is limited. I'd greatly appreciate any advice anyone has for me.
posted by missybitsy to Society & Culture (18 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I joined OKCupid (free!) in my mid-20s and met a great guy. We dated for a while, broke up for a year, and got back together. We got engaged a few months ago. YMMV. I can't think of a good reason not to give it a shot. I'd say the success levels are about the same as meeting people offline.
posted by mostly vowels at 4:48 PM on March 12, 2014

Yes you should do online dating. Put a little effort into your profile on OKC (nice, flattering pictures of you engaged in a variety of fun activities, plus some concise, punchy, upbeat profile verbiage that shows you don't take yourself too seriously) and prepare to be deluged with messages. Strike up an online conversation with a few people who seem interesting and see how it goes.
posted by killdevil at 4:53 PM on March 12, 2014

okcupid can be both lots of fun or awkward and intense, depending on random factors. That would be the place to start, rather than a pay site. (But, regardless--you are and will be on a college campus!!! Join fun clubs and organizations and go week after week if you're not doing so already. That'll get you outside your circle of friends and into a larger population of possibly interesting and interested people.)
posted by zeek321 at 4:54 PM on March 12, 2014 [1 favorite]

Okcupid is a pretty good place. You are the ideal age for online dating! Most people online meeting places aren't out to kill you and eat you; but that said, do take some basic precautions: Meet up in public, let people you trust know where you are and when you are expected to be back, don't take rides from strangers or candy from guys in dark vans. Don't put your address or phone number on the internet.

Oh, and if some guy/girl sends you something that looks like a form email and reflects 0% of what you said in your profile, its probably spam and pretty safe to ignore it. Also, even if they did spam, if their profile looks interesting, what do you have to lose? Edating is a numbers game, like so many other things.

My mom and I both met someone (well, separate someones!) online and it worked out well. Some good dates, some bad ones, some ludicrous ones, and one fantastic still going one :)

Good luck! Don't panic! Don't lose your sanity or common sense, and always wear sunscreen.
posted by Jacen at 5:01 PM on March 12, 2014 [2 favorites]

Do it. Use OKC but avoid "Plenty of Fish" as the people there are super dodgy.

Always meet in a public place, keep the first date short (1h) and get your own ride there/back.

Have fun!!
posted by St. Peepsburg at 5:02 PM on March 12, 2014

And trust your gut.... if it doesn't feel right/normal then just say No and don't look back.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 5:03 PM on March 12, 2014 [2 favorites]

Yes, people can be more serious on paid sites because they are usually looking for serious relationships or marriage. If that's not what you're looking for, OKCupid is a good choice.

Make a profile, and perhaps seek out a trusted and experienced friend to critique it.

When I've gone out on first online dates, I usually choose a low-key public place like a coffee shop or a park. Sometimes I will tell a friend where I'm going and give that friend my date's number, just in case.
posted by girlmightlive at 5:06 PM on March 12, 2014

I've thought about online dating but I don't know if I'm too young for it, if my inexperience would put me in dangerous situations, etc.

Definitely get a girlfriend or three to be advisors and sound boards. It's good that you recognize you're inexperienced, now be sure and build a support network to help you.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:08 PM on March 12, 2014 [1 favorite]

OkCupid is the main way that the people I know in their early twenties are meeting their partners. Give it a try!
posted by SkylitDrawl at 5:21 PM on March 12, 2014

Join OKCupid first to get a feel for the mechanics of online dating (how long to message before meeting, how to feel OK deleting messages without responding and blocking creepers without remorse) and raise your standards waaaaay up. If your standards are too low, you will not have enough time to go on all the dates with all weirdos.

I've been online dating for many years -- if you count success by finding marriage material before you're 30, I'm a failure. But I have a load of really great non-romantic relationship that came through OKCupid; I've had some great romantic relationships that just didn't last and I've got a basketful of stories of weird dates that are great for amusing my friends.

I did meet a guy on Match and had a 2 year relationship with him before he cheated on me and dumped me. I'm certain he would have done the same if we'd met on OKCupid but I've been leery of Match since precisely because it's designed to funnel people right into exclusive relationships right off the bat (as compared to OKC).

Up your standards, delete messages generously, meet in public after you have first name+last name+phone number+back story, leave all that and the screen name with a friend, and go have fun!
posted by mibo at 5:27 PM on March 12, 2014 [2 favorites]

Why not? What's to lose?
I have no experience at all in this world. I'm 60+, married, and I haven't looked around in 25 years. But I assume you'll exercise common sense.
And going online doesn't mean you walk away from your day-to-day. It's all serendepity, on line and in person.
I would tell the truth, completely -- otherwise your odds may be good, but the goods may be odd.
posted by LonnieK at 5:59 PM on March 12, 2014

Nthing okcupid. I suggest starting with the free site because you might end up dating for a while and then getting tired of it. If you are on a paid site, you are often tied in and may end up paying when you no longer want an online presence.

I'm around your age and did it just for fun, for something new, to get out of my comfort zone. Went on a lot of good dates (just use your best judgment, I was never in a dangerous situation), but eventually quit because I found it time-consuming and no longer felt the need. Might as well try it!
posted by la_rousse at 6:16 PM on March 12, 2014

I started online dating just with the goal of getting out there more, meeting more people, etc.
That was four years ago - now I'm married to the first guy I ever messaged online.

That's not a typical story...but it's not that unusual either. Anyway, I think you should give it a shot. Follow all the usual precautions and worst case scenario is that you meet guys you don't really like (but do gain more dating experience & confidence), and best case scenario is that you meet a great guy!
posted by leitmotif at 7:03 PM on March 12, 2014

You sound exactly like me. I took the advice everyone is giving you here, went on three or four dates with some perfectly nice people, and then met my current partner. A year and a half later, they asked me to marry them.

Online dating can be really great. And yeah, I'm n'thing OKC! I went into online dating hoping to have some fun and meet people KNOWING they thought I was dating material. Just be smart about who you meet and where. Everyones' experiences are different, but if you're a bit nervous (I was!) just remember that a not insignificant portion of us have had good to great online dating experiences.
posted by dinofuzz at 8:02 AM on March 13, 2014 [2 favorites]

There really isn't any "magic" about online dating - it just lets you meet people you wouldn't have met otherwise, and it's also already an open question that the person striking up a conversation with you is (most likely) not married or uninterested in dating themselves. It's the actual offline stuff - where you meet them in person - that is where the truth really lies; some people just come across way differently in person than they do in email, so it is possible that you could have some good conversations with them in email but then when you meet in person they're boring and you feel like you want to gnaw your own leg off to escape. But you can have boring dates like that with guys you get introduced to by your friends too.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:17 AM on March 13, 2014

One time I switched from OKCupid to Match. There were the guys I had blocked on OKCupid, right there on Match, same profile pics and everything. Never again.
posted by Bentobox Humperdinck at 12:22 PM on March 13, 2014 [1 favorite]

Online dating is great if you use it to supplement (rather than replace) your attempts to meet people in person. It can be enormously frustrating at times and I've found that the best thing to do when that happens is just deactivate for a while. Unlike many other sites, OKC has a permanent delete option and a disable option, which is the same thing except when you feel like it you can bring back your profile simply by logging in again. Your inexperience won't put you in any more dangerous situations than you'd be in from meeting people at a club or wherever. Less, actually, since you (probably) won't be drunk when deciding who to meet from online.

I'd recommend OKC, which is much better designed than the other online dating sites and also seems to have higher quality of people on there (i.e. far more intelligent/interesting profiles). Plenty of people are "serious" on there, and plenty of other people are only interested in casual stuff. This is also true for the paid sites, though.
posted by randomnity at 1:28 PM on March 13, 2014

Coming back in after bentobox humperdink's comment - yeah, there are jackasses who you will want to block, and if you move to another dating site you may run into them anew. There was one asshole who I went on one very lackluster date with and then blocked, but then every time I moved to a new dating site I would run into him again.

But that's not so much a function of online dating so much as "that guy is an asshole playa." It's kind of like the cyber-equivalent of you hanging out at one bar in town for a while, and there's this jerk you met there one time but you told him off and he was leaving you alone, but then you got sick of the bar anyway and checked out this new place and you liked it, but one day that same jerk walked in so then you tried another one, and that same guy randomly showed up, and then it hits you that this same guy is just hitting ALL the bars in town trying to score chicks. It ain't the bars' fault, it's that guy being a jerk.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:38 PM on March 13, 2014

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