How do I... do OKCupid?
August 25, 2014 9:24 AM   Subscribe

Whew. Just put up my OKC profile for the first time ever! Looking for advice and some pointers.

My OKC profile is linked in my Mefi profile here. I put it up just last night, and when I logged in this morning, I found out I had 37 Quick Matches. I'm so new that I'm not even sure what a quick match is, but apparently that's OKC's way of saying that someone's rated you highly. However, I've gotten only two "someone likes you!" e-mails, so I'm not sure what the deal is with that -- is OKC just stingy with those emails? Either way, I'm just wondering how to actually go about matching with those people... I have yet to give the quickmatch thing a whirl so I'm assuming my high-raters are mixed in with other profiles (a la Tinder) and that comes down to me also rating them highly. Is that right?

Anyhow, my friends to whom I've showed my profile have been big fans, but I thought I'd hit up you folks up here at the Green for advice, since I've found the previous OKC threads pretty enlightening. I know I definitely need a couple more pictures -- and I'm working on that -- but I'm wondering if there's any way my profile itself could be improved. Is it too wordy? Does it strike the wrong tone? I don't mind keeping the tone the way it is because it appears to capture my personality IRL, and that's something my friends have said that they definitely agree with, but I'm just guessing that it'd be helpful to have some impartial advice as to how I come off.

I have to admit that this is all a little overwhelming, but any input (please be gentle) would be appreciated -- just knowing that I'm on the right track here would really mean a lot to me :) Thanks in advance!
posted by un petit cadeau to Human Relations (29 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I can't advise on your profile from here, but off the top I'd say to pay little mind to "Quick Matches" and ratings/winks/smiles. Those are all ways for OKC get you to click around the site more, and I never found them to be useful in pointing me towards a date for real.

Answer only the questions you really care about. In potential dates, pay attention to the answers on the big ones--I remember the one about rape (something like "No means no. Always?") and about women being "obligated" to shave their legs. Another one asks whether someone ever owes you sex. Pay attention to those. And go for matches that are 90% and above--I found those to be pretty great predictors of compatibility. My highest match in the area, 97%, is now a close friend. We didn't date, but we get along famously.

The best advice I got about online dating was to not take it too seriously. Cast a wide net and go on a lot of dates. Enjoy yourself!
posted by magdalemon at 9:34 AM on August 25, 2014

Can you make your profile visible to non-OKC members, even if just for a little while?
posted by schroedingersgirl at 9:34 AM on August 25, 2014

Response by poster: schroedingersgirl: Whoops -- forgot to turn that off. Thanks for letting me know, and it should be fixed now.
posted by un petit cadeau at 9:37 AM on August 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

The "Quickmatch" thing is like Tinder - it's a way of sorting through profiles super-fast, where they only show you the picture, a location and a percentage "match" based on your questions you've both answered. You're meant to scroll through the pictures and decide, based on that data alone, whether you dig them or not. Meanwhile everyone's doing the same with you. If you and someone else BOTH dig each other's picture, they'll let you know and you can take a closer look at their full profile. The number of people that OKC has said "quickmatched" you is only a number of people who've recently said they liked your picture.

It's all just bells and whistles, yet another way to sort through the stack of people they have on hand. You can set up whatever criteria you want, sort through them however you want, what have you. But to save your own sanity, I suggest two things:

a) Take the perspective that OKC is just a way to meet people you wouldn't have met otherwise. Maybe you'll hit it off, most of the time you won't. But the same is true for any other way to meet people, so that has more to do with people all being different than it is OKC. And when you hit it off, yay. (I would never have met Object d'schmoop if not for OKC - even though we're kind of on a temporary "grad school is eating him alive" break now, I'm still glad I met him.)

b) If you take a look at your messages inbox, look over on the right and you should see a button that gives you the option of filtering your incoming messages based on what percentage a match to you they are ("screen out people who match less than [foo] percent"). Trust me, YOU WANT TO DO THAT.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:46 AM on August 25, 2014 [2 favorites]

Okay, swoon.

I think your profile is really great. Some of your answers are a little lengthy, but they aren't bland or anything, so I think that's okay. I get the sense that you don't take yourself too seriously, but are also smart and kind and funny. Really, really good.

Here are some itty-bitty, teeny-tiny nitpicks:

1. You might consider adding more photos (though the ones you have up are quite good)

2. You might clarify this: "Whether we're truly alone in the universe. I mean, all that space... just for us? It's a possibility, although remote, and it's so trippy to think about." Do you mean that there's a remote possibility that we're alone, or that we're not? Just worded a little funky I think. (As you can see, I love pedantry quite as much as you love the Oxford comma...)

3. Your "typical Friday night" response is a little unimaginative - almost 100% of the profiles I've seen have some variation of this. If you could jazz up this section a bit that would be nice.

Otherwise it's really great and I think you're going to get a lot of dates through OKC. :)
posted by schroedingersgirl at 9:47 AM on August 25, 2014 [3 favorites]

As an OkC veteran, I find your profile interesting, smart (without being arrogant or annoying), and funny. You avoid a lot of the pitfalls that turn me (academic woman, feminist) off. Your "Friday night" section is the least interesting to me. (On preview, schroedingersgirl nails why.)

You might want to check out the OkC subreddit: it's a helpful group of folks. And there are funny screen captures, so yay.

Finally, I find it useful to just OkC as directly as possible. I.e., message who you want to message; don't expect responses from anyone; answer questions that matter to you and ignore those that don't; and, yeah, pay no nevermind to QuickMatch.
posted by correcaminos at 9:51 AM on August 25, 2014 [2 favorites]

I think you should leave the income question unanswered, rather than listing "More than $1,000,000." Good luck, but I doubt you'll need it!
posted by maya at 9:58 AM on August 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

Since you twice cite your devotion to the Oxford Comma, perhaps you should excise the uses of "kinda" and wanna." The contrast between grammar maven and fella makes one or the other seem affected. Oh and I presume you're joking about polar bears living in Antarctica, but I'm not sure that works on the page. Otherwise: nice job!
posted by carmicha at 10:08 AM on August 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

I suggest you add some more photos. One with your face to the camera would be nice. Otherwise I think your profile is good.
posted by saradarlin at 10:17 AM on August 25, 2014

I love your profile, and I don't love very many profiles on OKC. You could add a few more pictures, but that's not mandatory. I would have an issue with "Mostly Monogamy" - it can make people think you're a cheater - but I'm a different demographic than you, and people your age might be perfectly ok with mostly monogamy. Also your income: better to leave that blank.

I've been using OKC practically since they started - I was in an 8 year relationship I met on the site, and as it recently ended, I'm back on there now. I've never had a bad date from OKC, but I am very selective.

The Match Percentage is just a basic compatibility. I think that's based on things such as age, marital status, how much you drink - the things in the My Details section. In other words, the obvious things you'd want to know right up front. What matters for a really good match is the enemy percentage. This seems to be based on the questions you and the other person have marked as deal breakers. Answer lots of questions (which I see you've done), but don't bother with any you think are just stupid. Use the comment section to explain your answers when you feel the need, because that tends to reveal actual personality. And always, always read the other person's questions. You'll be amazed at what people will reveal in the questions. Seriously, I've seen a few who thought that both starving children and starving animals were "perfectly fine with me." And lots who thought that book burning was ok but flag burning isn't.

If you see someone who interests you, send an email. Mention something in their profile that interested you. (For me, anyone who just says "Hi! Nice pictures!" goes immediately into the trash.) Don't take it personally if you don't get a response. I had a note on the top of my profile saying that I was on hiatus for an indefinitely amount of time, and I still got anywhere from 2-10 messages every single day. And I'm 53 years old, so I can't even imagine how many messages 20-something women get. I only respond to messages from people that I really think I could click with.

Game the system. As a new user, you'll be showing up in lots of search results for a while. But after a while, they stop showing you to as many people. This is how you can get around that:

1. Make edits. Change a few words here and there, or a punctuation mark. Or upload a new photo. This will make you show up in Recent Activity.

2. Stay logged in a lot. Active users get shown in more search results.

3. Periodically, disable your account for a week. When you reactivate, you'll be considered a new user. After reactivating, make an edit or two, and stay logged in.

I never, ever look at the quick matches, although some people do. But to me, that mostly seems to be a way for guys to say "Yeah, I'd fuck her." There's not enough other info shown to be able to make any other kind of judgement about a person.
posted by MexicanYenta at 10:27 AM on August 25, 2014 [8 favorites]

I think your profile is great. It comes across as very real and sincere, in a good way.

Also, with regard to what MexicanYenta said - as someone closer to your demographic in terms of age and location (albeit female and queer), "mostly monogamous" does not at all read to me like "sometimes a cheater." This presumes that the person reading is familiar with polyamory/ethical non-monogamy. Not sure if that's quite as common in the San Francisco straight world as it is in the queer one, though.

I might use slightly less harsh wording to describe the phenomenon that is staying in with Netflix and pizza on Friday nights. Because yeah, (almost) everyone does it, and in sort of poking fun at yourself, you're also criticizing them.
posted by needs more cowbell at 10:43 AM on August 25, 2014

I'm a straight guy and I did OKC for a little while. At first I made what I thought was a very clever, funny, cute and thoughtful profile, and I didn't have much success. I was discouraged, but after I pared it down to only the essentials and got rid of all the attempts to impress I found that I had way more success. I think that having a really, I don't know, "smart," profile makes you seem desperate, like "I really need to show you how smart and funny and interesting I am in order for you to find me attractive and worth going on a date with." Basically it looks like you're trying too hard, which is unattractive to most. If you keep it concise on the other hand, it comes across as more confident, like "I like myself just fine; I'm attractive and interesting; I don't need a fabulous profile in order to try to prove it; you can take me or leave me; I'm not dependent on this site for my dating life; etc." Only some or none of that might be true for you personally, but I think you have to give off that vibe. Also, having less on your profile probably gives you a little mystery, which is often attractive, and women might to learn more about you and go on a date with you or at least trade some messages. Don't get me wrong: with your current profile you will definitely have some success with certain women, but if you want much more broader success and more dates with more women, I really urge you to pare it down. Hopefully all that makes sense.
posted by early one morning at 10:48 AM on August 25, 2014 [13 favorites]

I'm an OkCupid veteran, and I agree with the idea of adding more photos mentioned above. I also think your profile is pretty solid.

One big idea for improving your experience is that if you are looking for a relationship, to own that in your profile. Show that you're willing to put some effort into it and you're not just hoping to click with someone and have that take care of everything. But don't belabor the point.

Also, as mentioned above, match questions matter. For me, the big one is, "Would the world be a better place if people with low IQs were not allowed to reproduce?" and it's game over for me if someone answers yes. Also: "Would you date someone who has vocalized a strong negative bias against a certain race?" Also, "are you the type of person to tell a homeless person to get a job?" Also, "Someone you are attracted to is drunkenly flirting with you. You know that if this person were sober, they wouldn't engage in casual sex, but now it looks like they're willing to hook up. What do you do?"

Also, I pay attention to the way people answer questions about being overweight, although I am not overweight. There's something that's yucky to me about someone who says they wouldn't date an overweight person and then rationalizes it by saying something about health consciousness in the explanation, because they could easily say yes, and explain that they'd be cool with it so long as the person exercised regularly and ate well.

Don't be afraid to skip match questions, especially if they ask you to be judgmental without adding much to someone's sense of who you are, or don't offer good answer choices.

Be wary of anyone who lists Ayn Rand as a favorite author.

Also, get good at sending out a ton of messages without attaching too much, but make them personal and send them to people whose lives you think you could make a little better based on what they've written.

My two mottos for online dating are (1) Nothing is real unless the two of you agree it's real, and (2) "Flake out on me, show up late, or stop communicating all you want, but whatever you do, don't apologize. I know what I'm in for with online dating." That is, you'll run into some bad behavior, and also some behavior that feels bad but is really a rational course of action for women in response to different risk factors they face. Just roll with it but hold yourself to a high standard.

Also, if a woman likes you in Quickmatch, and she looks like someone you'd like back, strike while the iron is hot. In my experience, it's really easy to turn these into dates.

For a first date, I'd propose a walk in a park or something over drinks.

Good luck.
posted by alphanerd at 11:27 AM on August 25, 2014 [2 favorites]

More photos, answer the drug use question, and I'm in your demographic and would totally date you, so... Hi. :) Super cute.
posted by Hermione Granger at 11:48 AM on August 25, 2014 [2 favorites]

I'm in your target demographic and EXTREMELY picky about profiles, and you have yourself a winner of a profile here. You're cute, witty, and intelligent and I know a pretty lady in SF I'd have liked to set you up with if she were available.

I'm also going to advise you to DISREGARD DISREGARD DISREGARD early one morning's advice above if you're interested in going on dates with women who are a good fit, vs. just dates with women. You might get more dates with that advice, but it won't be with people who appreciate the finer points of your humor and personality. There is absolutely nothing about your profile that says desperate to me, and trust me, I've read a lot of profiles.
posted by dynamiiiite at 11:48 AM on August 25, 2014 [6 favorites]

> Since you twice cite your devotion to the Oxford Comma, perhaps you should excise the uses of "kinda" and wanna." The contrast between grammar maven and fella makes one or the other seem affected.

I disagree with this; you are large, you contain multitudes, and that's a good thing. (Also, there's nothing "affected" about the Oxford comma, for pete's sake; there are two choices as to whether to use a comma before "and," and that's one of them. Is it somehow more democratic or downhome not to use a comma? Sheesh.)
posted by languagehat at 12:58 PM on August 25, 2014 [13 favorites]

My advice is that there are many really interesting intelligent people who approach the whole idea of profiles like a job application. So when the profile seems stiff and awkward, but something calls to you, shoot them a note anyway. They may be great with actual interaction in a way they just can't be in the format of an OKC profile.
posted by rileyray3000 at 1:13 PM on August 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

one important thing I forgot to mention. oh and many i's are there...i'm not wearing my but seriously dynamiiiite makes a really good point that with your kind of profile you will certainly have women who are totally into what you're putting out there. no question about that. so if you know for certain the kind of woman you want to be with and what kind of profile will catch their interest, then yes be as genuine and effusive about yourself as you want. See, for me, I didn't know what kind of women I was interested in, so I wanted to meet a variety of women and see what I was most attracted to. So my idea of making the profile more concise was good for what I was trying to do. Oh and the important thing I forgot to mention, if you decide to pare it down, is to have really good pictures. You have to have really good pictures if you do it like that. And a fair amount of them; not just 2 or 3. By good I simply mean interesting and fun and vibrant. I think most women are going to look at your pictures first and if they think you seem interesting, then they'll go down and read your profile.
posted by early one morning at 1:14 PM on August 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

I think the key to OkCupid is to send lots of messages, and meet up with lots of people in person. You can get important clues about people (i.e. this is someone I am totally unattracted to, this is someone who has political or religious views that are offensive to me, etc.) but among the set of "reasonably good" profiles it is just so hard to tell who you will click with in person. I had absolutely no patience for people who wanted to become pen pals. Unless a bunch of sexy penpals is of interest to you, I would cut it off after a few messages if things aren't heading to firm plans to meet up. You don't want to sink a month into crafting lovely messages with a person only to meet them and find you have no in-person chemistry.

Be sensitive to selecting dates that are public and safe. Do not suggest sketchy things like: picking up women in your car, demanding their phone numbers, meeting at private or semi-private locations. Even if you know your intentions, your date does not. Bars, coffee shops, museums -- all of these are great options depending on your personality.
posted by rainbowbrite at 1:28 PM on August 25, 2014 [2 favorites]

Tiny quibble: unless that's a very coy Douglas Adams reference, I think you mean "telekinesis" rather than "telepathy".
posted by teremala at 1:49 PM on August 25, 2014

if you didn't live all the way across the entire country, i would totally send you a message. you sound super fun.

okcupid is totally a crapshoot, though. the most important rule about online dating? DON'T TAKE ANYTHING PERSONALLY.

look, some people are going to be annoyed if you message them first, some people are going to be annoyed if you DON'T message them first, vice versa. PERSONAL ANECDOTE: when i met my boyfriend on okcupid, i messaged him first, then he messaged me back, and then my life got crazy busy (deadlines, i had them) and i didn't message him back for like a week. when i finally did, he told me later that he was pretty much like ehhh whatevs, this chick took a week to message me back, not worth it. luckily, i'm extremely charming so he decided to ask me out. but if he had decided to be a dick about my busy week, we never would have met.

rule number 2 for me, i meet up as soon as possible. like within the first 2-3 messages, i suggest that we grab a drink somewhere. but i'm a girl, and it's somehow less weird when i do that versus when a dude does. i don't know, gender roles, right? but it annoys me when i have to trade messages back and forth and back and forth for weeks before hanging out. i'm very pro-chemistry is in person, though.

rule number 2.5 is have a suggested date place. i hate when we're making plans to meet up and they're like "i don't know, where do you want to go?" NO BRO, I ASKED YOU FIRST. it works better (for me) if someone's just like "meet me at this place at this time on this day."

rule number 3 for me, have fun. dating should be fun. focus on thinking about this as just lots of really good excuses to meet lots of really interesting, fun people. some of them are going to be awesome and you're going to click. some of them are going to be terribly boring. but you're going to get to go out and meet people and network and make connections and go places you normally wouldn't go. so have fun! enjoy yourself!
posted by kerning at 2:11 PM on August 25, 2014 [2 favorites]

It's not too lengthy, no -- you've succeeded in effecting a natural conversational tone that gets your GSOH across while communicating key points of distinction. Perfecto. If what you do on Friday nights is what you've said, let it stand, otherwise you might find yourself committing to mini-golfing or something. (Also: I like that you started the 6-pt list at 0. Noted.) I think, change nothing. You're adorable and you are not going to have a problem.
posted by cotton dress sock at 2:33 PM on August 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

Disclaimer: I am so not in your target demographic.

That said, I'm well informed about grammar and writing, and yet, I can't remember whether "The Oxford Comma" is the one with, or without, the extra comma before the "and." Or whatever. You might be mystifying and annoying a lot of people with your little pop quiz, and about something so trivial.

And note the capitalization that you've left out. Proofread.

Otherwise the profile looks like a lot of fun. Good luck.
posted by JimN2TAW at 2:50 PM on August 25, 2014

> I'm well informed about grammar and writing, and yet, I can't remember whether "The Oxford Comma" is the one with, or without, the extra comma before the "and."

Those two statements are in contradiction. Anyone who is well informed about grammar and writing knows what the Oxford comma is.

> And note the capitalization that you've left out. Proofread.

The c of comma is not capitalized, if that's what you were talking about. You might want to make yourself better informed before you start being snarky about other people's writing.
posted by languagehat at 5:11 PM on August 25, 2014 [2 favorites]

My OKCupid advice for straight men in the Bay Area (some of this is generally applicable):

1. Your goal is to go on a lot of first dates. You will learn quickly that you can't tell who you will like based on their profile. The profile you were drooling about and fantasizing over? She'll bore you in person. The lackluster profile that you were just sort-of into and met up with because "Eh, why not?" You'll think she's the bee's knees. Skip the agonizing over which profiles to message and how to message them, and get to the dates quickly. At the beginning, write a message to at least 2-3 new girls every night. Don't stress over it, just write them.

2. Related: Keep the first dates short and sweet. Coffee or a beer. 60-90 minutes. Of course if it's going well you can hang out longer!

3. Send a LOT of first messages to women whose profiles appeal to you, and expect a low response rate. It's really an insane experience to be on the other side of this as a young, vaguely photogenic straight woman. You receive 5-10 serious, thoughtful inbound messages a day (after an initial flood of 20 or so a day at the beginning), 2-3 of which you think the sender's profile sounds appealing. As a woman, if you answer 2 messages a day, by the end of 1 week you have 14 men you are messaging with and potentially 14 upcoming coffee dates! (If I answered a man's first message, that meant I was willing to get a cup of coffee. Really. Get to the date already.) I was on OKC for 3 months, went on about ~15 dates, and had probably 40-50 messages in my inbox that I never responded to even though I liked the guy's profile. I just couldn't possibly answer and meet everyone nice and cute and smart. I'm not particularly hot, and I don't think this was unique. A lot of other young women I'm friends with had similar experiences.

4. Be nice. Don't sleep with her on dates 3 and 4 and then promptly tell her that you're not into it. Try to be honest with yourself and if it's not going anywhere, call it off before sexytimes.

Finding love is kind of a crapshoot, online or off. Just have fun and meet lots of people!
posted by amaire at 5:34 PM on August 25, 2014 [3 favorites]

I agree with 'meet as soon as possible, for a short, no-pressure date, like coffee or a walk in the park'. Some people really like to drag out the correspondence (and I hear women do this more than men), but there's no substitution for actually meeting face to face.

Your profile looks good. I have no problem with the Oxford comma, in its usage or in the mentioning of it, but it's become somewhat of a dating site cliche to use your position on this bit of punctuation to somehow define yourself as a literate person. It's become a kind of dating shorthand, I guess.

Try not to judge people too much by their pictures. I know this is hard, but it's worth it to try to see from their profiles whether or not you're compatible, rather than mooning over some uber-attractive person who is probably receiving hundreds of messages and with whom you might have nothing in common. I met my mate on OKC and he didn't even have a picture of his (incredibly handsome) face. What he did have was a wry sense of humor and a quick wit, which made me anxious to meet him.

My daughter, who is closer to your age, is online dating these days and she, being a very beautiful girl, gets too many messages to respond to even half of them. That being said, the Oxford comma mention is a big draw for her! You sound really great and I'm sure you'll go on lots of interesting dates. Remember, even a bad date is an interesting date! Have fun, and don't stress.
posted by alltomorrowsparties at 2:54 AM on August 26, 2014 [1 favorite]

More photos for sure.
posted by k8t at 4:49 AM on August 26, 2014

Languagehat indicates that my first post was unclear, so I'll try to improve it. Again, trying to be helpful, although I'm not in your target audience.

Your profile looks attractive, but please consider the following.

Proofread for capitalization, such as in "Breaking bad."

Reconsider whether you really need your dates to feel strongly about punctuation (the Oxford comma). You've specifically stated that that's a requirement for your dates, and you've put it at the very top of your profile.

Maybe joking about comma errors is an important dating ritual for you, or maybe you feel you couldn't respect someone who used fewer commas than you do. Whatever, it's your choice. I'd just advise reconsidering it.
posted by JimN2TAW at 9:02 AM on August 26, 2014 [1 favorite]

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