Yet Another OKCupid Profile Help Question - "Old, Awkward, ASD" Edition
July 14, 2017 2:09 PM   Subscribe

I need help with my OKCupid profile, and I trust the Hive to give it to me straight (uh... advice, that is. Nothing else! We're just friends!). Snowflakes inside, but basically: I'm 35, I'm socially-awkward, and I probably have a zesty little dash of autism spectrum disorder.

So I've had this profile up for a few months, and it's, uh, not a runaway success. I'm getting messages and likes, but not a ton of 'em, and not generally high-quality ones, either. I'm also getting very, very few replies to messages that I myself send. Please gently but firmly tell me what I'm doing wrong. Info:

- I have zero idea what dudes like. I was recently startled to discover that men pay attention to me when I wear colors instead of dowdy earth tones.

- I was formerly terrified of rejection, but I'm attempting to shake that.

- I am legitimately nice and kind and have no flagrant personality disorders.
posted by julthumbscrew to Human Relations (28 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I'm a straight married woman so I guess I'm all kinds of wrong demographic to be answering but I think you sound awesome and smart and lovely and I would want you to be my travel buddy-bff.

I don't know. Maybe a more comprehensive photo? You look adorable but I bet men would want to see more of you, and not upside down.
posted by fingersandtoes at 2:33 PM on July 14, 2017 [5 favorites]

Please gently but firmly tell me what I'm doing wrong

You're getting messages because you're smart and attractive but they're low quality because:

you sound pretty cool and nice and then right there in the center of the profile is the "dude-like brain" line, which will eliminate all the nice cool guys who would otherwise message you. It sounds incredibly sexist in the I'm-not-like-other-girls kind of way. and I don't think you are really that kind of person, but it does say that. it will only attract either guys who believe it and are sexist, or guys who don't believe it and think you are bragging (because they are sexist -- guys who respond well to it will not understand it as self-deprecation even if it is.) Or guys who have no feeling about it because they don't read carefully. The second type will also think that you're only saying you like Scotch to impress guys and don't really mean it, and that is the single most annoying attribute a man can have.

("quantifying human traits" raises one of my eyebrows too, but only one, not both.)

but that's the only objectively bad part. subjectively, I would edit this part thusly:

Potentials Dealbreakers For You, Re: Me: 1. I'm tall, strong, well-proportioned. , and... plump? Chubby? "Thick"? Luxuriously-upholstered? I'm like a size 14. I look good in evening gowns and once push-started a Toyota.

Communicate the struck-through parts through pictures, because sure people do care about that stuff, but don't talk about your body as a potential liability even in jest.

I can imagine a man drawing back a bit at the combination of "nurturing," "fiercely loyal," and "If you [...] I will crawl into your lap and purr." just because it is a lot from a stranger. but that is only a guess.

Having a child probably cuts down on the number of matches but that's not a thing you're doing wrong.
posted by queenofbithynia at 2:35 PM on July 14, 2017 [25 favorites]

The only thing I see (but it's kind of big) is the "potential deal breakers" section. It's right in the middle so grabs the attention, and while isn't directly negative, it doesn't do a lot to sell a date with you.

You talk about having a child later on and your pictures are full-body, so #1 and 2 are covered. #3 is not a big deal and wait for the date to worry about that, and the last sentence of #4 is the only thing that should stay.

Other than that, you sound funny and cool, and I'm a married lady but would definitely want to be friends.
posted by Fig at 2:37 PM on July 14, 2017 [3 favorites]

I feel like you and I would be great buddies, but that's not the aim of your OKC profile, so let's tidy it up and make it less "Karie's Best Friend She Didn't Know She Had" and way more "Stranger's Dream Girlfriend That He Must Message Now". Rawr.

- Profile photo: less cat, more you. Focus on you. I'm not a huge fan of full-on headshots, so something that still lets you cast a sideways glance at the camera. You look pretty.

- "Brand-new West Philadelphian. Professional geek with tattoos, college credits and introvert tendencies. Competent baker, but bad runner. Good writer and fairly hilarious." That cuts out a lot of your self-effacement and avoids Trait. Trait. Trait. Oh god more Trait.

- The whole following section starting lip-gloss, baby animal, dude-like brain and being a bro-ho needs sorting out big time. That's the part where I went oh god what's this? and I think, again, it's about self-confidence and self-effacement. Don't hide your good points!

"I'm not big on the awkward tango of ambiguity that is typical dating, so I'll be direct:

1. I'm tall, strong, and well-proportioned. I look good in evening gowns and once push-started a Toyota.
2. I have primary custody of a 12-year-old kid. Sometimes I have to go make grilled cheeses and dole out life advice. This is how it is.
3. I'm a lil' socially awkward at first but I'm working on my eye contact like it's an Olympic medal event).
4. I am driven, enthusiastic about stuff, open, and very kind. I live life voraciously and vigorously, with honesty and joy."

- Next couple sections are hella good and the right person will punch the air with glee when they see Dark City mentioned.

- That brings us to the "Message me if" where we are back to you doing a lot of acrobatics.

"You believe that each new relationship should feel like each person has simultaneously turned a key in a lock and opened a door to reveal a world of possibilities that would otherwise be inaccessible. I am also partial to a spark of gleeful anarchy."

I hope this makes sense.
posted by kariebookish at 2:38 PM on July 14, 2017 [9 favorites]

I think your profile is a little front-loaded towards things you think people might not like about dating you. That's sort of admirable, and it might be good if you were getting a lot of unproductive attention. But if you're not, you should think about moving things around a bit.

Para 1 technically says a lot of things but they are mostly telegraphic and non-specific.

Para 2 is not really doing anything for your sales pitch -- it seems to be basically making an excuse for para 3. The excuse is not necessary, but in my opinion neither is ...

Para 3! This is the longest thing you've written, and it's pitched as a series of warnings about what people might not like about you. These things are not bad, and it's not necessarily bad to prominently feature them here, but I can't help but wonder if presenting things this way is hurting you overall.

In my view, a lot of the same material you are using here could be re-jiggered to paint a more positive picture of you. So something like, "I look good in evening gowns and once push-started a Toyota," could be an intriguing first sentence of your profile instead of something you are half-apologizing for. The important thing is to focus on the overall goal of this writing project, which is to get someone who's never heard of you before to be interested in you.
posted by grobstein at 2:38 PM on July 14, 2017

I'm a queer woman and thus not in your target audience, but I think your profile is very appealing. I also think you have a good range of fun photos and that it's fine to show your cat - I would personally never date someone who didn't absolutely love cats.

I think queenofbithynia is correct about their edits and you should take their advice above. Don't talk about this stuff like it's a flaw, talk about it like it's a feature - a lady who looks good in evening wear and can push start a Toyota is hot, that's not something to apologize about. There's plenty of time once you have a relationship going to talk about body image issues, but don't do it in the profile.

Online dating in general is weird, and it's a lot of shouting into the void. It's going to hurt you that you have a kid with some people, and that you're not monogamous with others - this is why at least some of the people you're writing aren't writing back. Other people may have random reasons or just not check their accounts that often.
posted by bile and syntax at 2:56 PM on July 14, 2017 [3 favorites]

So is there a setting you can tweak to make the profile accessible without signing up? I don't have an account there anymore but I seem to remember there was a way you could do that - right now I can only see part of the written material and then it fades away and I can't click on the photos to see them larger.
posted by peacheater at 2:59 PM on July 14, 2017

I like your profile but think it goes a little too far on the quirky/funny/self-deprecating thing and is too longwinded at points. For example, instead of saying "I have neither aptitude nor patience for the awkward tangle of ambiguity that is typical dating", you could say something like "I like to be honest and direct."
posted by noxperpetua at 3:14 PM on July 14, 2017 [7 favorites]

I am a man, but am married, slightly outside your target age range, and have never used an online dating service. So YMMV. But a few unconnected thoughts:

* "Professional geek" -- doing what? You mention SQL below, so something tech-y? Psych?

* "non-monogamous short & long term dating" -- if you're solely interested in a non-monogamous relationship, maybe it's worth taking a sentence to elaborate on that in the "you should message me if" section. I found it a little surprising when I saw that after I read your profile, since up to that point it sounded like you were looking for a single other partner.

* You have a lot of talk of murder and death. "a serial killer," "non-murder-y strangers," "How the world is probably collapsing," etc. Makes it sound like you honestly think most strangers could possibly murder you, which is a little intimidating.

* Conversely, you mention 'loyalty' multiple times: "very loyal," "Being fiercely loyal," "Integrity. Solving problems. Loyalty." To my ears it comes off a little strong.

* Your opening paragraph, with its catalogue of unconnected two or three word fragments, is a little overwhelming. I mean, you say you're intense, so maybe that's what you're going for. But I found my eyes sorta glazing over it quickly.

* I agree with others that overall the profile is a little too self-deprecating and self-consciously quirky.
posted by crazy with stars at 3:50 PM on July 14, 2017 [6 favorites]

Myers-Briggs in the opening is a red flag for me. Like, I'm the kind of geek that knows my M-B type (INFP/ENFP borderline), but I can't think of a single typing you could put there that would be appealing enough to override the instinctive "ew, she thinks Myers-Briggs classification can determine romantic compatibility" reaction.

"Professional Geek" is fine by me but will turn off some dudes that you might otherwise get along with.

I agree that "dude-like brain" is not going to help you out any. It might weed out some shitty dudes who want a wilting flower, but it will also attract a lot of shitty dudes and will turn off some woke fellows who object to the idea of dude-like versus femme-like brains.

Otherwise, you are beautiful and awesome and single dudes in my demographic should be lining up to date you.
posted by 256 at 4:27 PM on July 14, 2017 [5 favorites]

I'm going to disagree with most of what's written above. I see basically two issues:

1. You're obviously extremely intelligent and you're also straightforward. This SERIOUSLY narrows the pool of guys who will be interested in you. I'm the same way, and I did the math once, and worked out approximately how many men there were in the entire country who would be a good match for me, based on intelligence, singleness, non-sexist-ness, etc. The numbers aren't high. So just be aware that yes, it's going to take you longer to find someone than the average woman, but the person you find will be AWESOME.

2. If you have a high brow, wide-set eyes, a full mouth, good hair, and a spark of gleeful anarchy, I will crawl into your lap and purr.
Nope, nope, nope. It's ok to have a "type", but if you put down specifics about appearance, a lot of people you'd be happy to date are looking at that and figuring they don't qualify. Or thinking they don't want to be dumped in three months for someone with fuller lips or better hair.

The rest of your profile is fine. If any of it scares anyone off, they're not someone you would be happy with anyway.
posted by MexicanYenta at 4:31 PM on July 14, 2017 [15 favorites]

So is there a setting you can tweak to make the profile accessible without signing up? I don't have an account there anymore but I seem to remember there was a way you could do that - right now I can only see part of the written material and then it fades away and I can't click on the photos to see them larger.

Ok actually I can see the rest of the text (didn't see the "More" button - duh!) though I still can't see the photos any larger. But that's good enough for me!
posted by peacheater at 4:35 PM on July 14, 2017

I thoroughly agree with MexicanYenta. I guess the part of your profile that makes me make a little frowny face, besides the appearance specific thing in their #2, is this: "I've got a pretty dude-like brain (oh god, I'm a bro AND a ho!) and as such,..."

The rest of your profile screams, "I don't want a man who has gendered views about brains and also don't and won't embody any of the rest of the ideas that such a man has about how women should be." I might just drop that whole paragraph and let your strength speak for itself, in the way that it does in the rest of the profile.
posted by Kwine at 4:49 PM on July 14, 2017 [5 favorites]

I'm a 36-year-old straight man, and we're a 95% match. My main advice is to delete the 3rd photo ("UKRAINIAN GIRL"). It's a fine photo of your body, but the combination of a weird facial expression and head angle and a poor-quality photo cause your face to look weird in a way that's apparently specific to that photo — since you look completely different in all the other photos, which are much more flattering.

You've selected "non-monogamous." Some people will be completely turned off by that. Others will be turned on by it. That doesn't mean you shouldn't leave it like that, but realize that it's one of the most attention-getting parts of your profile, and that people will read a lot into it (especially in a profile where you've also called yourself "a ho"). And as another commenter said, the "non-monogamous" thing doesn't seem to be reflected in anything else about your profile, so it's a little enigmatic.

Aside from that, I think it's a pretty good profile. I don't see any major red flags with the text — the following points are pretty minor:

Someone might find it odd that you list salmon as one of your favorite foods but then say you like to host "vegetarian-y" parties. I can think of at least a couple ways those could be consistent. But you still might want to explain your diet more clearly if the word "vegetarian" is going to appear in your profile. Yes, I know, it has "-y" at the end, and hosting a vegetarian event wouldn't necessarily make you a vegetarian. But still, that word will jump out at people who are skimming your fairly text-heavy profile. If you are a vegetarian/pescetarian, you're missing a chance to be more explicit about this, which would people who are the same. If you're really not one, you could be losing some people who think you are. I'm a vegetarian who's used OKCupid enough to have been in a few relationships that started from the site; I can say from first-hand experience that this is one of the most attention-getting, divisive topics to bring up in a dating profile, so it's worth addressing with extra clarity (especially since you answered one of the multiple-choice questions saying you would "like to go hunting").

I'd leave this out: "I'm tall, strong, well-proportioned, and... plump? Chubby? "Thick"? Luxuriously-upholstered? I'm like a size 14." There's no need to describe your body type when it's clearly visible from your photos and you've already checked the "curvy" option. "Well-proportioned" is a matter of opinion, and men will make up their own minds about that rather than taking you at your word. Also, men don't necessarily have a clear sense of how dress sizes translate to female body types.

"3. I'm a lil' socially awkward at first (but I'm working on my eye contact like it's an Olympic medal event). 4. I'm intense." After reading that, I'd expect you to have really, really … really intense eye contact on a date. I'm not sure it helps you to give potential dates a heads-up about that. (Eye contact is a surprisingly fraught and gendered topic.)

"I'm not dramatic, incompetent, or a walking tornado of bad decisions." That's kind of a weirdly judgmental litany of qualities to claim you don't have, and it could seem like protesting too much.

You say, "You think a relationship doesn't need to take one particular form," which is very vague and not very informative … and then you go on to give a fairly colorful description of what form you'd like your relationship to take. Hmm.

I'm sure a lot of the low response rate is largely because you have a kid, especially with sole custody. But that's not about to change, so that's not worth worrying about.
posted by John Cohen at 5:07 PM on July 14, 2017 [5 favorites]

Agree with everyone who mentioned dude-brain, but agree even more with everyone who wants you to cut "If you have a high brow, wide-set eyes, a full mouth, good hair, and a spark of gleeful anarchy" part.

Almost nobody has all of those things, and -- even though you don't mean it this way -- many people (myself included) read "bonus points for [x]" as "eh I'm not going to be that excited about you if you're [not-x]."

In this case there are 4 potential not-x's, one of which seems difficult to self-assess (spark of gleeful anarchy?) and one of which is as sensitive for many men (hair) as weight is for women. Meaning that I can see even dudes with good hair being turned off by that preference in the same way many slim women are turned off by a dude who voices a specific preference for them.

Beyond that I think people are not actually all that great at knowing who they're going to be attracted to, let alone who is going to be a good match for them.

NB, I'm not your target demo -- in fact I'm closer to what they call a "user like you" or whatever phrase they have for that. However I've always gotten plenty of high-quality messages on OK Cupid, and both times I was on I met guys I went on to have long-term relationships within a few months of starting to look. Maybe this was just luck, but it wasnt demographics -- both times I was in my 30s in major urban areas where women complain that the hetero dating scene is terrible and men aren't interested in women their age.

What I think helped was:

1. very wide filters at the profile phase. I said nothing about the kind of person I was looking for, not even "bonus points for" type stuff, and I tried to have no preconceived ideas about it beyond wanting someone I was attracted to, respected, and could have a fun/interesting conversation with.

2. Not putting a lot of stock or energy into the messaging phase. If someone's first message was unobjectionable and I liked their profile, I'd suggest meeting up in person almost immediately. This is not everyone's style, but for me it was way more efficient because IME the person you make up in your head based on profile and messages is rarely very much like the person IRL
posted by mrmurbles at 5:29 PM on July 14, 2017 [11 favorites]

You've got a great profile. The things I would adjust, speaking as a 40-ish geeky male in Chicago:

I don't know what the "bro AND a ho" joke means. "Not having the patience for ... typical dating" would worry me. The bit about not being willing to co-parent would make me concerned about how my relationship with your child might develop should we become serious

And, most thematically and IMO probably the cause of your lack of responses: the intensity you speak of comes across strongly in your writing, and I could see that being concerning, in that it would make me concerned about how you might be in person. Please forgive me for this, but people can extrapolate "intense tone throughout writing" to "intense attitude in person" to "scary in person, potential stalker/crazy person". I think you could fix this by taking the word count and cut your wording down viciously, each by 33-50% per answer.

I should also say that you refer to being plump and to having a child. It is a deeply crappy reaction of my gender, but both of those attributes can also drive away some men. For that, I'm sorry. Good riddance to those.

That having been said, since I dislike saying the negatives, let me point out that you come across a fierce, funny geek girl who can write, cook, be nurturing physically and emotionally, be a nurturing lodestone for a community, with wonderful taste in books and shows. I only offered the negative-based notes here because your question was phrased as basically what was holding you back.
posted by WCityMike at 6:33 PM on July 14, 2017 [4 favorites]

As a man very much in your target zone, I would go with what MexicanYenta said.
posted by danep at 7:14 PM on July 14, 2017

I didn't like the bro and ho joke.

But more importantly... The co-parenting spiders comment... I'm gonna assume that you do want a future dating partner that is good to your kid. So while I think you were trying to indicate that you're not expecting AWESOME DAD DUDE that this was weird. The phrasing was jarring.

IMHO dudes that are 35+ and decent and are interested in dating a parent are either likely to have kids of their own or are okay with kids.
posted by k8t at 8:10 PM on July 14, 2017 [4 favorites]

Welcome to Philly! Other than being married I guess I'm in your target demographic. Bona fide: I met my now-wife here on OKC 8 years ago.

You have a good profile. I definitely get a strong sense of who you are, which is great. When it does start to produce results, I think they will probably be way into you. If your goal, however, is higher-quantity, more casual responses, toning it slightly towards more generic might work well for you. The "dealbreakers for you" paragraph is the clearest candidate for excision if that's the direction you want to go in. I don't think it's necessarily a bad paragraph, and doesn't seem too self-deprecating to me. It's honest, which could strike folks as refreshing.

I can only see the first picture, but it would intrigue me enough to click through to the rest.

I would agree on dropping "bro and ho". I get that it's a joke, but it is incongruous with the rest, so it makes me wonder who you're trying to appeal to with it. The "crawl into your lap and purr" paragraph is on the intense/forward side, and does seem to be casting a narrow net.

I don't think the non-monogamy thing is bad. I just read it as a stated interest in casual dating. Wards away people who want to jump into a serious relationship v quickly.

The up-front MBTI with a stated interest in psychology is a little odd. (I'm a psychometrics snob, though.) I'd keep it more generic: "introverted with a tendency towards over-analysis" sums up the key points pretty well for this INTJ. I might be generalizing my own snobbishness, but MBTI in the first line will strike a few people the same way putting your astrological sign front-and-center would.

On the whole, I think it's a great profile, in that the serious responses you get will be solid matches.
posted by supercres at 9:46 PM on July 14, 2017 [3 favorites]

I don't think the non-monogamy thing is bad. I just read it as a stated interest in casual dating. Wards away people who want to jump into a serious relationship v quickly.

No, this is misleading advice. Saying "non-monogamous" will ward off people who want to be in a serious relationship ever, no matter how slowly. You should keep that only if you really do not want a monogamous relationship, ever. Do not put "non-monogamous" in your dating profile just because you might want to take things kind of slow at the beginning before becoming exclusive. Say that only if you would never want to be exclusive.
posted by John Cohen at 9:56 PM on July 14, 2017 [8 favorites]

(Ok, I take back the thing about the nonmonogamy-- misread on my part. Weirdly, content is presented substantially different for non-logged-in profile views on iPad vs iPhone. So yes, that's another filter men messaging you will have to pass.)
posted by supercres at 10:20 PM on July 14, 2017

You sound awesome. The 12-year-old is going to be a deal breaker for many, but the rest is great. (Cishet man here.)
posted by Joseph Gurl at 2:37 AM on July 15, 2017

I thought you sound pretty cool and look great but was also thrown by the spiders/coparenting comment as that seems like a relationship with you could never progress beyond dates that happen when you can get a babysitter.
posted by KateViolet at 3:35 AM on July 15, 2017 [2 favorites]

I'm a woman a few years younger than you (early 30s) and have been pretty successful with OKCupid. At least successful enough to really enjoy using it!

You seem like a nice person, but I think all the self-deprecation in your profile is making the profile as a whole come off as kind of negative.

If I were you, I would get rid of literally every self-deprecating statement in the profile, including in the photo captions. I'm even talking about things like "bad runner" (in the first paragraph). Your mileage may vary, but I think it's important to approach dating with confidence -- confidence is appealing, and, more importantly, you're going to need it, since inevitably dating means some amount of rejection (for everyone).

I would get rid of the entire "deal breakers" paragraph. It's unnecessary, and doesn't invite conversation. In fact, it kind of closes down conversation, because it sounds like you've already come to all your own conclusions about yourself and everything else, and don't necessarily have room or interest in other people's opinions/experiences. You don't need to sit there and judge yourself all over your profile, let the people who are seeing your profile make their own judgements.

In the "What I'm Doing with My Life" section: Trying to raise a child who becomes a particle physicist instead of a serial killer. This is actually where I would mention that you have primary custody of a 12 y/o. Maybe something like, "Trying to raise a child who becomes a particle physicist instead of a serial killer (I have primary custody of a twelve-year-old)." Something pretty casual. You don't know what the family situation is of everyone who is reading your profile -- I would expect that you're going to be getting a lot of men in their 30s and 40s who have kids themselves. So I would just leave it at the bare fact that this 12 y/o exists until you're talking to a specific man and have a specific read on the situation.

In the "You Should Message Me If" section: I would get rid of everything but the last paragraph (the one that starts "if you're kind, compassionate..."). The key/lock thing puts way too much pressure on the first message. The physical description paragraph is counterproductive and too forward. Obviously you are going to be judging people based on whether you find them physically attractive, but you don't have to tell them about that right up front, before you've even seen them. It's just kind of harsh.

Also, I agree with other people above who are saying that you should only have non-monogamous on there if you mean that you would only want a non-monogamous relationship. You might also want to address it in your profile as well, to explain what you mean by non-monogamous (i.e., whether you're currently in a relationship with someone else as well, etc).

I think that the non-monogamous thing is likely to be the biggest deal-breaker for people. Having a child is likely a deal-breaker, too, but the "and don't want more" likely is at least as much. Of course, that stuff isn't your "fault" or changeable or anything, so it's not really worth worrying about.
posted by rue72 at 8:21 AM on July 15, 2017 [3 favorites]

Your profile seems like the intended audience is you and you are alternately psyching yourself up to date or protecting yourself from rejection.

I suggest retooling to appeal to the "high browed wide-set eyes" crowd. This is advertising. Keep all non-self depricating jokes. Hide every flaw. Dating profiles are for putting your best foot forward.
posted by Ironmouth at 4:36 PM on July 15, 2017

Thank you so much, guys. Profile retooled with almost all of your very-excellent suggestions. It takes a village to raise a child, and it takes a Hive to find me a boyfriend. :-D
posted by julthumbscrew at 4:39 PM on July 15, 2017 [3 favorites]

Seriously if the dudes do not like this one I don't know what to say. I love it.
posted by fingersandtoes at 5:13 PM on July 15, 2017

Love it!
posted by k8t at 9:37 PM on July 15, 2017

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