Is my OKCupid okay, cupids?
May 5, 2016 8:21 AM   Subscribe

I'm hoping for some feedback on my OKCupid profile, general and specific.

I would appreciate general feedback (like "your fourth picture looks bad" or "don't say you like cookies three times, it makes you sound too cookie-centric" or whatever). More importantly, I'm hoping you can help me convey some nuanced information about me.

I'm married, but we're separated, recently and amicably. My wife and I are doing everything we can to remain close friends -- we care about each other and want to be a part of each other's lives -- but we're not functional as romantic partners. That part of our relationship is finished. I live alone. Our finances and belongings are in the later stages of being disentangled.

However, we're not divorced yet. I don't want to conceal this fact or mislead anyone, so my status is Married. And at the risk of narrowing my field of prospects, I wouldn't want to spend too much time with anyone who would be uncomfortable with my situation, either now or in a future where my ex-wife is also my friend.

I'm interested in meeting new people, including (and especially) new friends. By virtue of my situation and my own disposition, I think taking it slow would be best.

I want to convey all of this clearly, but I also don't want to belabor any of it, or derail the exposition of (in my opinion) the more interesting, particular, & lasting parts of my personality, which are presumably mostly what prospective partners want to know.

I've never done this before, the okcupid. In fact I've never dated! I was with my wife for 14 years, and before that everyone I've been with was a friend or at least an acquaintance first. I'm not scared of dating, but I am wary of coming across like a creep or someone with a hidden agenda. Part of me wonders if I'd have a better experience delaying the online dating thing until my relationship status is more clearcut. But I don't want to delay happiness either, or try to "game" or "outthink" the system, so here I am. Thanks for any help you can provide!
posted by sleevener to Human Relations (23 answers total)
Ha, sorry. My MeFi profile website link currently goes to my OKC profile.
posted by sleevener at 8:24 AM on May 5, 2016

This would be easier with a link to your profile but so far you're doing the right thing. Honesty honesty honesty. Honesty. Is good. In addition to listing yourself as married you should also put down at the bottom in your "you should message me if" section the info that you're amicably separated and in the process of divorcing, and are interested in short-term dating with people who are aware of and ok with that.
posted by phunniemee at 8:25 AM on May 5, 2016

The trouble with having “married” as your status is that most people who aren’t looking for a poly or cheating relationship will filter you out. I’d pick “single,” since effectively you are even if the legal status hasn’t caught up yet. The upfront explanation you provide in the profile is adequate disclosure.

Your explanation though doesn’t make it 100% clear that you are definitely in the process of divorcing, you live alone, etc. It leaves open the possibility that you’re staying with her as a platonic partner but starting to see other people too, at least to me as someone who’s very tuned in to untraditional relationships.
posted by metasarah at 8:40 AM on May 5, 2016 [12 favorites]

This is quite good! I wouldn't list yourself as "married" because it will limit the searches you show up in, but I think it's fine to maintain those details about your situation in your "self-summary" section. You've kept it fairly short and on-target. Having read a bunch of profiles of poly people whose self-summaries go on for 700 words about exactly what relationship anarchy means to them or whatever, I think that a) that section is the appropriate place for relationship nuance details and b) three sentences is about right.

The only things that gave me pause, and only because I'm very picky:
- "I hope to meet someone who laughs a lot" verges on cliche and also doesn't convey a lot of information. Presumably you don't want someone given to cruel mockery, or someone who huffs a lot of nitrous. What is the actual quality that you hope will lead to much laughter? A lighthearted approach to life? The ability to see humor even in difficult situations? Say that.
- This is a problem men rarely have, but you may actually have too many pictures? At some point I start wondering "what is this person trying to convey with each picture, and why do they need me to know that about them?" It feels calculated. You could probably lose at least the Halloween costume and the long shot. (To be fair, though, I'm not logged in so I can only see the thumbnails.) This one's not a big deal in any event.

Things I really like:
- "'I like everything' but deeply rather than broadly; I'll wring out one album or one song before studying a whole genre." -- This is wonderful! Gives me such a good sense of you, without just being a list of favorites.
- Your thoughtful, serious, and illuminating six things. I hate this section, unless it's done right, and it's rarely done right. You've done it right.
- Just throwing "Irish set dancing" in there. Way to give people something to ask you about!

TBH I might not message you because no jokes (don't add jokes! This seems very indicative of who you are), and I would pore through all your question answers before deciding one way or the other, but I would for sure send your profile to a friend (and none of my friends would be put off by your marriage situation).
posted by babelfish at 8:41 AM on May 5, 2016 [1 favorite]

P.S. sorry if that was too much feedback but I feel compassion for your situation -- I started dating long before I was officially divorced, and though I didn't really worry about how people would react to my technically still being married (as mentioned, I am very picky about online dating, so I just didn't meet many people by design), I very very much identify with "help I just got out of a marriage and I don't know how to date."
posted by babelfish at 8:43 AM on May 5, 2016

I'm not sure the very close of your profile ("message me if... like me, your life hasn't turned out the way you expected") is the most flattering/ appealing: kind of makes you sound like you're disappointed with your life/ still working through some stuff in your current situation. Could you reframe it in a positive way ("... you've embraced a life that evolves in unexpected ways"), or leave it off altogether?
posted by Bardolph at 8:44 AM on May 5, 2016 [1 favorite]

When I separated from my ex-husband my status was single. No one thought I was being dishonest. In your self summary you're immediately being up front so personally, I think that's good enough.
posted by shesbenevolent at 8:51 AM on May 5, 2016 [1 favorite]

Some changes made based on the above; thank you! Still welcoming more feedback, etc.
posted by sleevener at 9:02 AM on May 5, 2016

Just wanted to add...if someone is hesitant about you because you're separated take it as a sign they're not right for you. For example, someone is worried you're going to go back to your wife. I'm sure those people will be filtered out anyway because you've been so honest in your explanation.
posted by shesbenevolent at 9:17 AM on May 5, 2016

Take out the part about how you will remain close friends with your ex-wife in the future. It was an immediate turn-off because all I thought about was how this woman would be in my life for all time if we formed a relationship. I'm a pretty non-jealous person, but even I thought ick. It also hinted at not being completely over this yet and other such messiness that I wouldn't want to deal with. Also, if you are getting a divorce, just say, I am getting a divorce. Your wording is oddly opaque and this contributes to the feeling of emotional messiness I get from reading this paragraph.
posted by unannihilated at 9:24 AM on May 5, 2016 [4 favorites]

There is a huge gap between " I wouldn't want to spend too much time with anyone who would be uncomfortable with my situation, either now or in a future where my ex-wife is also my friend" and "married."

Separated is the accurate and factual description here.
posted by DarlingBri at 9:36 AM on May 5, 2016 [1 favorite]

The only thing that leaped out at me that's different from what others have said is: "I write poetry books."

It's a grammar nitpick sure. You write poetry. Perhaps you write and (self?) publish books of poetry.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:40 AM on May 5, 2016 [1 favorite]

Maintaining good friendships with exes is a good thing in my view, but not something I want to read about in a dating profile.

"I love games" -- does this mean you spend too many spare hours alone in a room with a video game, or are we inviting other couples over for beer and Trivial Pursuit...?
posted by kmennie at 9:58 AM on May 5, 2016 [2 favorites]

Did you mean "dinner breakfast" rather than "diner breakfast"? Both could make sense but it stuck out as a little confusing to me.

In my neck of the woods, only having "short term dating and new friends" is generally taken to mean looking for hookups. If you are open to dating if the right person drops into your life, you might want to add long term dating as well.
posted by Candleman at 10:02 AM on May 5, 2016

I don't think your profile really stands out. You want a stronger opener. Tell a story maybe. Speak more directly.
posted by Dragonness at 10:10 AM on May 5, 2016

Could you re-position your photo so the very top of your head isn't cut off?
posted by Leontine at 10:38 AM on May 5, 2016

Maybe this is a function of this being your second draft but not your third or whatever, but to me, your profile sounds a little ... precious? like it's being cute at the expense of being real and communicating clearly? I found that aspect of it off-putting, sorry, and I think it's somewhat obscuring what you have to bring to a relationship. Examples of what didn't work for me:

- Being really good at "saltwater appreciation" (you enjoy swimming in the ocean? you gargle with saltwater nightly and have thus become something of a connoisseur? why are you saying things in ways that make me guess? how can someone be good at appreciating something?)
- message you if they "like living and evolving in unexpected ways." (I spent awhile thinking, what she's this even mean? I like living. Am I 'living in an unexpected way?' If so do I like it? Evolving... is it ever truly unexpected? Or does every instance of evolution occur in response to external factors that make that evolution sensible? Does anyone truly like that moment when life forces you to change unexpectedly?")
- "I'm really good at laughing and I've had a lot of practice" (What are you getting at here?)
- "mixing (rather than matching) clothing and home decor" (Are you saying your clothes don't match? Are you saying you are good at creating harmonious looks ... but wouldn't that be being good at matching? What is "mixing clothing?" Shuffling your clothes such that the red shirts are evenly distributed throughout the drawer?)
- do you really write poetry books (plural) and create video games (plural) in your spare time?
- you're good at balderdash, pinball repair, candlepin bowling... How much time do you spend at the hobby shop? I find it hard to believe that of, like, six concrete skills you want to list, three of the most important are games. (Are you good at your job?) Add to that the saltwater, birdwatching, mismatched decor, and popcorn, and I'm picturing a bunch of us on a lazy summer beach retreat weekend going through the basement for entertainment ("oh, look, a broken down pinball machine. Oh look, lawn darts").
- you like "Picnic lunch at the beach, or on top of a mountain." How often do you eat picnic lunch on top of a mountain? I again find myself wondering it you're being real or trying to be cool / cute / impressive.

I generally suggest you trim and focus this, and play things a little more straight. (If you really want to say you're "good at" something related to the ocean, maybe you're good at "finding time to get out to the ocean.") At the core of this, you seem like a gentle person who knows himself, has a life, can communicate directly about important issues (I liked the ex- paragraph), and would generally be a good partner for someone. To me that's getting lost amidst balderdash etc. I'd rather you just told me in a more clear and focused way who you are and what you're about.
posted by salvia at 10:48 AM on May 5, 2016 [5 favorites]

I'd leave the thing off about your wife. You're getting a divorce, you can put divorced or single. It's cool that you ex is important to you. The women you want to meet will appreciate that once you meet them, but most of them will never meet you because being hung up on a past relationship is a huge red flag.

More nit picking:

I'm good at giving compliments and hugs (I'm told).

Not a fan of selling yourself as overly sensitive on a dating profile. Lots of women have had bad experiences with guys who think of themselves as hugging, doting, cuddlers. I'd delete that.

Laptop is your #1 thing you can't do without? Not super exciting. Peanut butter, then passport, then everyone stops reading so that's fine.

You're a poet, keep cutting. :) Short and sweet is best. Most people spend about 30 seconds on each profile before making a decision whether to engage or not.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 10:52 AM on May 5, 2016

Not trying to be all negative though--your pictures look fine to me and tbh that's the most important part.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 10:53 AM on May 5, 2016

For your profile photo, maybe use the last photo or the yellow shirt hiking photo? I like the lamb photo when I look at it closely, but when it's shrunk down to profile pic size, there's something about your posture that reads as "defeated" to me.

I liked the compliments / hugs line. Normally I wouldn't, for the reasons PA gives, but it read as authentic and important to me because of the "I'm told" bit, so I reflected upon it while reading. And it was one of the few things that was less about you and more about how you relate to others, so it rounded out my impression of you. Just a second opinion.
posted by salvia at 11:29 AM on May 5, 2016

Nice profile! I can't see anything other than your main photo, but could you use a different photo as your primary picture? You're super duper small in the picture and if you are keeping it as your main picture could you crop it so that you and the baby animal fill up more of the frame? Also, speaking as someone who loves baby animals - it always reads to me as a cliche and kinda inauthentic when guys do that on online dating sites (read: girls like baby animals!).

I'm really good at laughing and I've had a lot of practice. I'm good at giving compliments and hugs (I'm told).

I really disagree with others upthread: this feels forced and awkward. The giving compliments and hugs thing particularly seems like it verges on skeevy. Sorry. That alone would probably compel me to the "back" button. How about:

"I like to laugh! I take time to appreciate the world around me and enjoy giving (and getting) hugs."
posted by arnicae at 1:43 PM on May 5, 2016 [1 favorite]

I think you should be more specific about at least some of your likes. This makes it easier to imagine you a real, interesting person during a rushed read, and provides fodder for a first conversation. Plus, you should really put a joke without a punchline tucked into your list of likes. I would also delete the info about your current wife. Back in the day that was an automatic NO for me. It sounds to me that you are yet to move on. Surely, you can say that in person, naturally, on a second or third date.

Here's some specific suggestions to set you apart from the pack:

I'm a fun-loving daydreamer. What's fun? Board games, mind games (but only in months with the letter "R" -- no, that's oysters), music, writing poetry, books about music, poetry, and zombies, problem-solving what to do in a zombie apocalypse, dancing salsa, running a mile or two, stupid jokes (what's brown and sticky?), good food, lousy food late at night, conversation, space exploration, conversations about space exploration, and serial commas. I'm hoping to start as friends, to take things fairly slowly, and to see what develops! In the longer term, I hope to meet someone who knows at least three knock-knock jokes, can name one Nobel prize winner, and Is undecided about zombies.
posted by djinn dandy at 2:03 PM on May 5, 2016

Thank you everyone for all of this very extremely helpful feedback -- I really appreciate your time.
posted by sleevener at 8:17 AM on May 6, 2016

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