Permission to judge this OKCupid profile! (31F in NYC)
July 19, 2015 8:27 AM   Subscribe

Hey guys! I just re-joined OKCupid a month ago and haven't received many messages. It's nerve-wracking to post my profile here, but who knows: maybe you can help!

How can I make my profile more appealing to relationship-minded dudes in their 30s? Yes, I'm going to start messaging them first. The gist:

--I get hundreds of QuickMatch likes, but few messages
--Men pay attention to me in real life, but it's hard to meet enough of them that way.
--I don't know what I'm doing. Help.

posted by jessca84 to Human Relations (50 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Switch up your photos. You look gorgeous in the second one, and the composition and lighting are really nice! The first one isn't particularly flattering, and your face gets lost with everything going on in the background, especially in thumbnail form.
posted by Metroid Baby at 8:34 AM on July 19, 2015 [11 favorites]

Your main picture should be one of just you. Even looking at your other pictures, it took me a second to pick you out of the group.

Your self-summary might need some fleshing out. What else about you? What's the first thing people normally notice about you?

Are kindness and joking all you're looking for in a messaging requirement? How do you find kindness? What kind of humor do you like?
posted by RainyJay at 8:35 AM on July 19, 2015

Number 1 thing: change your profile pic. I couldn't even tell which person in the photo was you without clicking through to all the photos.
posted by asterix at 8:36 AM on July 19, 2015

Your main profile picture should only have you in it. I can't tell which one you are in that crowd.
posted by pravit at 8:37 AM on July 19, 2015

I suggest changing your profile pic -- your second or third options are more flattering than your current pic, imo.

If you answer the match questions, OKC will be able to show you users that are most compatible with you.
posted by lovelygirl at 8:37 AM on July 19, 2015

...and right after I posted that, it looks like you added another picture, I think. To be clear, the great picture I mentioned is the one with your hands behind your head; the not-so-great one is the outdoor one with the beers. Don't use group photos at all, or photos with other people awkwardly cropped out; a phone selfie is better.
posted by Metroid Baby at 8:38 AM on July 19, 2015 [2 favorites]

Overall, it looks great! You look lovely, sound funny and smart, and have a great conversational tone and sense of humor. I'm a female in your early 30s so not in your target demographic but you definitely look like someone I'd want to hang out with and introduce to single guy friends. (Bad wording but you know what I mean.) Your bio is short but I think that works well: people get the gist and then can write to you for more.

A few suggestions:

- I personally would put your third photo (red shirt) first. But they're all good!

- I'd take out the part about losing your credit card in three foreign countries. I know there are surely valid reasons behind each example but it makes you sound more careless than carefree.

- Do mention improv but take out the bit of "I promise not to make you bear witness" to it. Technically, you'd want a guy who is positive or at least neutral about it, so there's no need to apologize (even jokingly.) If you want to keep the joke, you could say that you wouldn't expect him to come on stage, too?
posted by smorgasbord at 8:38 AM on July 19, 2015 [11 favorites]

Response by poster: Ugh, sorry to threadsit: my main picture was usually the headshot where I'm looking over my shoulder. I JUST uploaded the Thanksgiving pic and didn't realize it defaulted to my main photo. Sorry for the confusion, guys. Carry on!
posted by jessca84 at 8:39 AM on July 19, 2015

I don't understand what the pittsburgh-brooklyn thing or the thing about your job mean. Reeks of trying way too hard to be witty or hipster. I have no idea who you really are.
posted by Aranquis at 8:40 AM on July 19, 2015

Make the first picture one of you alone. I like the one in the red jumper best, or perhaps the one where you are looking over your shoulder.

The rest of it is okay, but doesn't really give me a clear picture of who you are. I don't know if it's just because I'm not from the US but the self summary means absolutely nothing to me. I would like to see something concrete and non cryptic here. Same with the rest of it really. But I'd bet that changing the picture will triple your messages.
posted by intensitymultiply at 8:42 AM on July 19, 2015

Your blue scarf picture should be your main picture.

Other than that I think your profile looks great, maybe a little intimidating but thats a Good Thing! I don't think you sound hipster or too cool. I feel like I get a clear sense of your personality and interests, without your being overly wordy. I think that if you change anything to make yourself more approachable and easier to message, then you'll get a higher volume of messages, but a lower overall percentage of people you'd want to ever talk to. From my experience, you are in the top 10% of the people on that site. If you're only attracting the top 10% then you're being efficient. (if you're getting a low volume of messages and they're all garbage then idk what to tell you. okc sucks*).

*Keep in mind that this advice is coming from a jaded former okc user who loathes the process of online dating with every fiber of my being for exactly this reason.
posted by lilnublet at 8:43 AM on July 19, 2015 [7 favorites]

Use the photo in the red shirt for your profile picture.
It is a straight on happy and engaging shot of you.
The one up right now has side-eye, which tends to look either disengaged, cynical, or artificially, IMHO.
posted by SLC Mom at 8:45 AM on July 19, 2015 [6 favorites]

I actually love it as-is! You sound cool, funny, and bright. I'd message you, but I'm a married lady so it'd be like "you're awesome pls be my friend".
posted by masquesoporfavor at 8:47 AM on July 19, 2015 [9 favorites]

something no-one else has mentioned, but which struck me as odd (although i have no experience with okcupid) was that you were low in geekiness. that seemed odd given the rest of the description. but perhaps i don't understand what geekiness is, or okcupid skews more geeky than normal (otherwise, as everyone else is saying, it looks damn good).
posted by andrewcooke at 8:48 AM on July 19, 2015

1) I'd make your second profile picture the main one because it has better lighting and an air of mystery that might attract more clicks.

2) Your profile is very generic, imo. Talk about the things that make you, you. The things that make you different from all the other Jessicas. Don't be afraid to talk about the things that you think might be off-putting to some people! Don't be ashamed of your improv! Actually, you should insist that you WILL force them to see it because it is a vital enough part of your life that you felt the need to include it in your profile. You're looking for someone to share your life with. Don't compromise parts of your personality here.

3) What are you looking for? A long-term relationship? A marriage? You're casting your net really wide. Narrow it down by listing the relationship-specific traits you require in a committed relationship partner. Honesty? Romanticism? Communication skills? Ambition?

4) Answer questions. Answer questions until you're bored out of your mind and exhausted from thinking so much about yourself. Then do it again the next time you log in. This will help narrow down the vast list of potential candidates. Also, rate everybody. Like profiles. The more you interact with the website the more likely you are to get interesting results.
posted by contemporarySlob at 8:48 AM on July 19, 2015 [2 favorites]

Maybe rethink the part about the dog one day? It makes you sound a little flakey, like you have been trying to get a place on your own for ages and still haven't managed it. (I realise its part of living in a city- im still dying to have a cat!)
posted by pairofshades at 8:58 AM on July 19, 2015 [2 favorites]

Usually I avoid looking at these because I assume, "Sigh, probably beyond help." But as someone in your target zone (though married, via Okcupid), your profile is great. It's a little short, and I would definitely make the blue scarf picture your main one. (It doesn't show much of you, but it's a good "hook".) If you want to keep it short, I would only have one reference to foreign travel. The advantage of a long profile is that there are more opportunities for a guy to come across something small and be grabbed.

Oh yeah, and my wife messaged me first. So do that.
posted by supercres at 9:09 AM on July 19, 2015 [3 favorites]

OKCupid is just weird. It isn't you and probably isn't your profile. You're gorgeous! Actually this post made me feel better about my own profile, because people are always yammering on about how women get millions of messages, but it's not necessarily true, even for hotties like yourself (and maybe me? hehe).

I think the site randomly promotes profiles and give your profile more attention depending on how active you are. That's been my experience. I'll get a bunch of messages and and then there are period of lulls.

You can tweak and fine-tune your profile if you want- can't hurt. Also, I agree with sending messages yourself- even if you were getting lots of messages, they probably wouldn't be high-quality ("whats up ur beutiful")
posted by bearette at 9:16 AM on July 19, 2015 [1 favorite]

I think it looks good, though I like the red shirt and scarf photos much better than the rooftop one you have up right now. I'd recommend browsing through the guys and messaging them first, and maybe even ignoring your inbox. I found it easier to meet guys I actually liked that way when I was on OKC.
posted by three_red_balloons at 9:18 AM on July 19, 2015

Also, I'm wondering if messages decrease because of this quickmatch option?

Men may also be intimidated by you and weary of sending messages; another reason to send them out (which you said you were already going to do, but just re-iterating).
posted by bearette at 9:18 AM on July 19, 2015

I like the "dog one day" thing (it would be a definite plus as a dog lover in the city who is tired of being around people with only cats), but that's an odd place to put it.

With the improv so high up in the profile... Remember that people read sequentially. With short mentions of slightly wacky things like that, it's easy to be paranoid that the person writing it does it 3+ times a week, and is terrible, but dreams of being on SNL, and is just understating. It's like height-- if a guy says 5'9", he's 5'7". Is he says he does improv occasionally, he does it 3+ times a week, is terrible, etc. So read it with an eye to worst case scenario? Though sometimes that leads to over-generic profiles.
posted by supercres at 9:21 AM on July 19, 2015

When was the last time you were on OKC? Were you in your twenties? OKC has shown many stats proving that once a woman turns 30 the messages she receives drops dramatically. As a 32 year old woman in who has been OKC dating in NYC since the age of 26, I can fully attest to the truth of this. I used to get so many messages that it was hard to keep up. Pretty much the moment I turned 30...crickets. And I my looks have not changed very much at all.

Other single women I know in NY have had similar experiences. Obviously, this is not across the board, but that could really be a major part of what's happening here. Also, the pool of single guys is just smaller now than in our twenties. And those single dudes want to date younger chicks. Check out OkTrends for more info.

So yeah, you're totally cute and charming and I would be friends with you and set you up with my single dude friends (if I had any!). It's not you. Keep on keeping on.
posted by greta simone at 9:25 AM on July 19, 2015 [2 favorites]

It's good, but I would like it better if it were a little less generic. I mean, you do mention interesting things in it, but I don't get a sense of what you're really like or what you're looking for.

The pink dress photo is fine, but it's the least flattering of all the photos.
posted by metasarah at 9:26 AM on July 19, 2015

Best answer: Here's my opinion as a dude in his early 30s who used to use OK Cupid when I lived in Brooklyn and went on many dates using it. I also received a ton of messages from women (which is !!! for a guy).

What stands out to me is you talk negatively about yourself, which is a turn-off. In fact, what you chose to highlight are negative aspects of yourself. So what happens is that reading your profile is kind-of a bummer. My advice is to remove those entries, and replace it with things like ... what you enjoy doing, or expanding on things you like.

When you said you like Buddhism, I thought, "awesome!" Then you highlight how you lose things on your trips, etc. I'd remove any reference to your blunders, foibles, etc., because 1) it's a turn-off and 2) you might attract creeps who are turned on by people who talk down about themselves.

So that's what happened with me. At first I was like "she seems like someone I'd message", then reading about your foibles and blunders made me think "that's kinda depressing, why would she talk about that?" then after that it all flatlines and I'm like "OK, I should probably tell her that."
posted by gehenna_lion at 9:30 AM on July 19, 2015 [10 favorites]

I don't have a ton of OKC experience, but I would keep it as is (except for changing the photo, which has been well-covered above).

It feels genuine to me, and feels like a nice balance of casual/breezy/joking and serious, this-is-who-I-am. You could maybe add more content but short profiles are good.
posted by aka burlap at 9:35 AM on July 19, 2015 [1 favorite]

I think you look great in the blue scarf pic and your profile is pretty good. I would definitely keep the group shots. I've heard some people look for evidence of a social life in pics, and I definitely look for that in profiles of men (I'm a straight woman who uses online dating).

Agreed that maybe take out some of the self deprecating stuff about credit cards, ugly but tasty desserts, overthinking and threats of improv. Improv is cool, and any guy you end up dating will want to see your shows! You don't want to end up here in a few months writing questions like, "My boyfriend hates my improv habit and won't come to my shows. DTMFA?"

I don't think your profile is too generic, but everyone likes coffee and no one can keep up with all the TV these days, even my friends who watch TV for a living. Maybe talk about which coffee you like most, and say some specific things about the TV you do like.
posted by sweetkid at 9:37 AM on July 19, 2015

I think on-line dating is really dependent on one's specific geographic location, and NYC is an especially "tough market" for women over 30 who are seeking men. I experienced a rapid drop off of responses from men once I was past 30 and so did all my beautiful, fabulous, heterosexual female friends.

I don't think there is anything problematic about the content of your profile, and in other cities, you'd be inundated with messages.

If you are going to continue on-line dating in NYC, you might want to consider other sites. It wasn't an option for me, but I know lots of women who had success with JDate.
posted by girl flaneur at 9:58 AM on July 19, 2015 [1 favorite]

My wife messaged me first on OKC, so it's definitely worth a shot!

The only thing that struck me about your profile is that you don't quite provide any aspects of yourself that trigger follow-up questions. Travel, pets, Buddhism, improv, rooftop drinking...these are pretty common topics in NYC. That means you have a lot of common ground with possible interested OKC users, but it also means that these other OKC users have probably already explored these topics to great extent.

I suggest going granular with your interests. What aspect of Buddhism fascinates you, even if it is seemingly unimportant? Was there a particularly thrilling character or skit you got to do in improv once? (Your business sounds interesting, but a user might not want to ask about that first-thing, since it seems intrusive and formal.) Are there profiles that make you want to learn more? See what aspects of those you could incorporate into yours.
posted by greenland at 10:07 AM on July 19, 2015 [2 favorites]

One other suggestion: widen the age range you are willing to consider.
Maybe 26-40?
posted by girl flaneur at 10:10 AM on July 19, 2015 [2 favorites]

I love the dog piece. I agree, cut the credit cards, rustic desserts, overthinking, and threats of improv. And then add a few more details and things you really like. But overall, you sound like an interesting, funny person, so you're not missing the mark by too much.
posted by salvia at 10:13 AM on July 19, 2015 [1 favorite]

For what it's worth:

Photos are fine, but you seem guarded. A tiny bit too twee and jokey. Reveal something a little more real. Short mysterious is good but you don't want to come across as boring. Difficult to respond to- your goal should be to give someone reading something to ask about or respond to. Very literally- you might even ask an open-ended question or for their opinion.
posted by quincunx at 10:23 AM on July 19, 2015 [6 favorites]

Best answer: A lot of dating profile content seems to tend towards "signifiers of desirability" and "trying to explain who I think I am." That's necessary stuff, but sometimes I wonder if it isn't the stuff that really draws the relationship-minded into thinking about a shared life.

I think that might be drawing little pictures of what you think the best parts of a shared life are. Something like this story of a girl being taken to watch a meteor shower by her Dad in the middle of the night comes to mind.

This is all highly subjective, and your mileage will probably vary greatly.
posted by weston at 10:33 AM on July 19, 2015 [2 favorites]

I definitely think the red shirt photo should be your primary photo. You look great in it and the red is very eye-catching.
posted by hazyjane at 10:37 AM on July 19, 2015

The photo of you in red looks great - use that one as your main photo. Delete the group photos (including ones with other people cropped out) and get photos with just you in them.

Do you have a friend who can help? Go to a park and take a walk and have your friend take a bunch of photos. At least a couple of them will turn out good. If you don't have a friend who enjoys photography, hire someone.
posted by Melsky at 11:00 AM on July 19, 2015

44M here. I'd vote for you in the red sweater as your main picture. I like the one in the blue scarf, but without seeing your eyes I can't tell your mood, whereas you in red you look like you're smiling and enjoying yourself. And it fits my personal portrait best-practices: slightly angled, aimed slightly downward, smiling. However, it also looks slightly fuzzy / unfocused, and while it's nice, it doesn't quite portray your personality.

IMHO your current photo (you in blue) emphasized a bit too much your chin and cheekbones. :) Soften it up a bit by facing toward the camera a little more.

General impression of the profile is you seem to be interested in a LOT of things... a regular Jill of all trades. It doesn't quite give me a CLEAR sense of who you are... or what kind of guy you hope to attract. Do you need a cuddle partner? Activity partner? Travel partner? Just general "go out on a date partner"? "Drinking partner"? And why all the self-deprecation?

Pick one and change your descriptions and such to emphasize WHY you'd be a GREAT partner for that.
posted by kschang at 11:18 AM on July 19, 2015 [1 favorite]

As a guy who's pretty much exactly in your demographic, I would say your profile is perfectly good as is. I would consider just trying out different primary photos to see which one gets you the best response, but I certainly wouldn't stress over the written portion, unless you or someone you know is capable of crafting something that is exceptionally witty. Few people read OKC for the articles, so to speak.

Your best bet is probably just to start initiating contact as much as possible. There are exceptions, of course, but most guys actually receive very few or no solicitations, so you might be surprised by the responses you get.
posted by seymourScagnetti at 11:26 AM on July 19, 2015 [3 favorites]

Blue scarf pic for profile pic as opening teaser, hands down, then red shirt pic at the top of the photos page.

I like your answers to the last three questions, think you could expand with a few specific details on fave stuff etc. (name some comedy heroes, maybe?), agree about getting rid of credit card and overthinking things bits in the "I'm really good at" section (it's called the "thing's I'm good at" section! Put some things you're good at in there!). Your self-summary absolutely needs fleshing out, stereotypes don't offer information about what sets you apart from anyone else who could fit whatever is meant by "Pittsburgh/Brooklyn".

(I sort of think the warning about improv is fair enough, because a lot of people are [maybe justifiably] cagey about having to see bad, i.e. unskilled improv, but if this is part of what you do, at a pro or semi-pro level, stand by it. Just mention it in a matter of fact way.)
posted by cotton dress sock at 11:31 AM on July 19, 2015 [1 favorite]

Yes, the blue scarf photo is amazing. They're all good except the one with the blue-dress-person chopped off. I think roof-with-beers should be the last one in the set as a strong ending. In the photo-narrative, blue-scarf and red-shirt get my attention, dinner-party looks fun, then roof-with-beers makes you feel more casual and not totally intimidating.

One thing I was looking for in your profile - you mentioned something about your own business, what is it? Don't be afraid to let things you're passionate about show, it's what differentiates you from everyone else and definitely makes you more interesting (to me) than a basic whatever, whatever profile. On the other hand, leaving it out gives me an obvious hook to message you and ask, so there's that, too.

I think your profile is great. Plus, MeFi shout out, woot! I have that too, but nobody's ever mentioned it so far.
posted by ctmf at 12:43 PM on July 19, 2015 [1 favorite]

You come off as a bit nervous in your profile. I would remove the "Oh gosh it's intimidating" bit.
posted by gemutlichkeit at 12:49 PM on July 19, 2015 [1 favorite]

No self-deprecation! 90% of your profile is self-deprecating. You think it sounds cute, or funny, or modest, but in fact it comes across like ambivalence, insecurity or depression.

Be joyful, enthusisatic, competent. In NYC at 32 your primary dating market is men in their 40s. They (okay, we, but I'm happily married) really don't go for ambivalence, insecurity, or depression. They've got an ex-wife or several ex-LTRs to give them that.
posted by MattD at 1:14 PM on July 19, 2015 [4 favorites]

In NYC at 32 your primary dating market is men in their 40s

I disagree, don't know where this assumption would come from.
posted by sweetkid at 2:49 PM on July 19, 2015 [11 favorites]

Best answer: Hey I'm like you in lots of ways! NYC (soon)/improv/metafilter/etc. And I agree with MattD on confidence: you're flinching a lot here, like apologizing for a joke because you're worried someone will judge you for it. Being confident will turn off some dudes but fuck those dudes*.

Put your personality and your passions and commitments on display and folks who appreciate those qualities will show up.

* dismissive 'fuck' not the other kind, altho I mean you do you
posted by wemayfreeze at 3:45 PM on July 19, 2015 [4 favorites]

My suggestions are:

1) You list Metafilter in your OKC file, but you don't have your OKC profile as part of your Metafilter profile under "Also On". It seems to me that if Metafilter is important enough to list on OKC under the what's important to you section, you may be interest in meeting other Mefites who are also on OKC. Only 86 MeFites currently list their OKC profiles. That should be remedied.

2) Go to MEFi IRL meetups in your area. Meet more friends with Metafilter as their interest and you may meet a MeFite you like but others may introduce you to someone with whom you hit it off.

Good luck.
posted by terrapin at 5:30 PM on July 19, 2015 [1 favorite]

Married dude who's somewhat too old for you here. Single biggest thing I'd suggest is getting a friend who's got a real camera and knows how to use it to make some better pictures. They don't have to be posed, studio portrait type pictures - just flattering, well-focused ones.

As others have said, I'd also lose the reference to losing your credit card and either remove the statement about improv or modify it to make it a positive, not something a date would be expected to "endure."
posted by randomkeystrike at 5:36 PM on July 19, 2015

posted by DMelanogaster at 6:10 PM on July 19, 2015

Response by poster: Thanks so much for everybody's honest responses! Your perspectives were very helpful.

I'm going to get better photos, curb the self-deprecation, and be more specific in my answers. Weston's meteor shower anecdote was great, too ... there's something really lovely about that.
posted by jessca84 at 7:06 PM on July 19, 2015 [4 favorites]

someone recommended to me that I just cut and paste stuff I put on Facebook or Twitter into my OKC profile and I've noticed a massive upgrade in thoughtfulness of comments since I've done that - plus a few longer ish relationships. The idea is that that's more "me " than anything I'd craft for OKC and in 2015 social media is social media. It works for me but it depends I guess on your level of engagement on social. Could work with freeform writing as well.
posted by sweetkid at 9:35 PM on July 19, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: My approach to dating site profiles is that you want to stand out from the rest of the profiles on the site. And having read bagillions of profiles from people in your demographic, I would recommend getting rid of the following things, since they are on many of those profiles:

- Drinking whiskey. I've noticed this much more on NYC profiles.
- Banter. Please do a search on OKC for the number of women in your age range in Brooklyn that mention this in their profiles -- to this browser, the answer is practically indistinguishable from "all of them." (Plus, even if no one else had it on their profile, it's not really helpful or meaningful. You like interesting conversation? Great, so does every other breathing human!)
- Wanting to travel. Again, ubiquitous on profiles. (At least you didn't use the word "wanderlust," which is in the running for most overused word on OKC.)

I've also noticed that people use the "like" feature much more often in NYC. But that often doesn't indicate interest so often as it indicates... well, I'm not even sure what it means anymore. (Presumably if it did indicate significant interest, those people would be messaging you!)

Consider changing your username (or doing this by starting another profile). "Another-X" makes you sound commonplace and replaceable. Probably not the reaction you want to cultivate, right?

Good pictures of yours: white sweater with blue scarf, jenga, improv performance (I presume that's what that is), red shirt.

Play up your strengths / distinguishing features a bit more. Actually, fuck that, a LOT more. You barely mention your improv troupe (?), and that's interesting and unusual.

You're probably not getting the interest you're hoping for, I'm guessing, because your profile just reads like a NYC cliché -- Macbook. Travel. Buddhism. Dog. Coffee. Whiskey. Banter. I know that's harsh, and we all play out clichés to certain extents in our lives, but I want to know when I read your profile: what makes you YOU? What makes you DIFFERENT from every other thirty-something girl in Brooklyn? Improv! That's interesting! Tell me about the improv! I don't know anyone in an improv troupe! And what's this Metafilter thing? I (if "I" is average OKC browser, obviously) haven't heard of that!

You have the material for a great profile that will attract loads of interest. Go out and make it!
posted by Noisy Pink Bubbles at 6:34 AM on July 20, 2015 [3 favorites]

If you want someone "relationship-minded," don't say you're interested in "short-term dating."

The photo with the scarf should be the first one. That's a perfect combination of showing you're clearly attractive while also being a little mysterious and making him want to see more.

The second-best photo is the Thanksgiving table. Along with the caption, that photo shows you being creative, social, and fun. I also like the "I told you" photo for similar reasons. (And I'm generally not a big fan of group photos.)

Delete the photo where it looks like a much taller woman's arm is about to hit you in the face. That's awkward and off-putting and it adds nothing to the other photos.

The other photos are OK, not great. I agree it would be useful to have a friend take some better photos.

Your username makes it seem like you're expecting the man to have had some experience with a previous Jessica. I'm thinking you're overly conscious of the idea that your potential mate has a romantic past. So that's kind of weird and unnecessary. "Jessica84" would be more appealing.

The text has already been covered so thoroughly that I don't have anything to add.
posted by John Cohen at 3:22 PM on July 20, 2015

I'm going to be blunt: in online dating, your looks (or pictures) matter most. Nobody really cares about the text in your profile.

Your pictures don't properly show your face. On top of that, your first photo isn't flattering and obscures part of your face.
posted by GiveUpNed at 8:46 PM on July 20, 2015

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