Not getting many replies on OKcupid: NYC 20-something woman edition!
August 20, 2017 3:02 PM   Subscribe

I just made a new OkCupid profile after being single for a week. It's how I met my last boyfriend. I'm looking for guys 23-26 who are average attractiveness and are looking for serious relationships. I'm not model hot but I think I look okay in the pictures I have up. And I think my profile is a good representation of my personality and interests. So why am I barely getting any replies? I usually send guys messages asking about something interesting I saw on their profile. Link to my profile.

I've been sending guys messages if I think they look averagely good and they have similar interests to me. For example, a guy said he like indie pop, so I said "Have you ever listened to Stars?". They're my favorite band so I thought it would be good to open with something that could be mutual. I've been getting messages from guys that I think are unattractive and don't have good first messages. Stuff like "hey", "your gorgeous", "nice smile". My type is nerdy, non douch-y, can hold an intelligent conversation and feminist-y. I'm very open to dating other races. Should I edit my profile, add different pictures or send different messages? Any other tips?

Bonus question:
How do I not get disheartened/ burnt out from online dating? It started happening after I first made a profile in April. I was getting tired of getting shitty messages and going out on dates with guys and figuring out I didn't like their personality or they had dealbreakers. My boyfriend was the third person I went out with and we became official at the end of the second date. We were both like online dating sucks and I'm not seeing someone, so why not get together?
posted by starlybri to Human Relations (24 answers total)
I like your profile! I'm not in your target demographic (female and ten years older than you) but my thoughts would be: favorite picture is pic 1, also like pic 3. Pic 2 and 4 are a little out of focus-y? Do you have any additional pictures of you doing things you enjoy - finding those awesome cheap eats or crafting that you could upload?

I would think a little more about your self-summary, my sense is this is the landing page where people give a profile a 30 second (if you're lucky) glance and then either decide to read more deeply or hit the back button. Your first sentence doesn't quite mesh with how awesome and interesting the rest of your profile suggests you are- is there a one liner that you think could capture you and your interests better? Something like Nerdy student who enjoys scouting out tasty (cheap) food and creating cute crafts? That's not quite it, but something that gives people an insight into who you are. I'd also put a period after "good conversations" (deleting "even if they're not always super exciting").

Beyond that, I would say try to be patient and give it time. I would just delete without a response all of the one liner guys who don't bother to indicate they've read your profile before responding.

Good luck I know you'll meet someone great!
posted by arnicae at 3:13 PM on August 20, 2017

I think your profile is great. Arnicae's suggestion is good - get a good friend to take pictures of you doing some of the fun stuff you love. I like to mix it up and have some more casual pics along with one or two glammed up pics (meaning lipstick and an outfit I might wear on a date).

Online dating is weird - there are times when I haven't been able to get a nibble for anything, and there are other times when OKC presented with me with more intelligent, attractive men than I could possibly have time to date. Replies are weird. Generally when people don't reply either they're dating someone, they got dating fatigue and stopped checking the site, or they're not interested (for any number of reasons, people profile screen based on some crazy stuff like whether someone seems submissive (in a D/S sense), religious, has decent grammar, etc etc. If someone knows at a glance that we aren't a fit then they've saved me some time).

Mostly I'm here to answer your bonus question. I've done my best at not getting disheartened when I treated the whole thing like a joke/adventure, where this date *might* lead to a second but more likely won't, and if it all goes well I'll have a nice drink with someone interesting I wouldn't get to talk to otherwise, and then we'll go our separate ways. When I had a tragic date I would see the humor in it and look forward to telling my friends about it later. I have the expectation that something like 1 out of 10 first dates will lead to a second date, and maybe 1 out of 5 of those will lead to a 3rd. (This is not based on statistics but is generally true to my experience).

When I first started dating online, *mumble* years ago, I met someone great right away and we dated for a while. It took me a while, once I started dating online again, to realize that my initial experience was not typical, and that I might have a lot of unanswered emails and okay-but-not-going-anywhere first dates before I met someone else I really hit it off with. And you know what, that's okay. There's a lot of variety in the universe and what it takes to hit it off with someone is a mystery we don't understand, but it makes sense that most of us have to meet a lot of people to get there.

Good luck!
posted by bunderful at 3:25 PM on August 20, 2017 [2 favorites]

One thing you might rethink is the age range looking for; it's very narrow. If you really don't want to date anyone who isn't 23-26 that's fine, but I think you could be flexible by at least two years in each direction and it would open up a lot more options.
posted by kitty teeth at 3:31 PM on August 20, 2017 [13 favorites]

I wouldn't start with the line about improving as a person. Fine to have in there, but it's a bit of a jolt as a first line.
posted by knapah at 3:33 PM on August 20, 2017

1. Better photos! #1 and #3 are close-ups that distort your head a little. Photos are really key.

2. Get better matches: Answer WAY more questions! This is the great gift of online dating: getting to know whether or not you share juicy stuff ahead of time that you usually don't divulge until after a few dates. Put your cards on the table and don't think twice. Trust me. Your matches improve greatly. "Show don't tell." Give specific examples. I was worried that I'd turn off good guys - what really happens is that you just start attracting the RIGHT people.

3. How to not get disheartened: You only need one "match" to be in a great relationship. It's about being somebody's shot of whiskey, not everyone's cup of tea. And finding a profile that makes you say YES! instead of someone you're lukewarm about. You're awesome and deserve that! Take it less seriously and personally. Detach from the outcome. You might have passed on a great guy because of some of the movies he listed, or you were in a weird mood when you read his profile - could be anything. So that's what might be happening from their end! The responses you get have NOTHING to do with your worth as a person. To piggyback on kitten teeth: I'd open up your age range! I'm 37 and get lots of responses from much younger guys because I put "short-term dating" as an option. Guys in the 23-26 can be pretty commitment-phobic. I admit that I've learned a lot from guys when it comes to dating - guys seem to be more comfortable dating around and meeting lots of women until they find someone they don't want to get away. Be open to new friends and short-term. That's how you get to know someone and can decide if you want to commit to them at all.
posted by blazingunicorn at 3:45 PM on August 20, 2017 [4 favorites]

Seconding removing the "improving" line -- it's vague, and yet also introduces the idea that you're not good enough somehow. Maybe focus on the activities that make up "self-improvement" for you -- reading, swimming...?
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 4:15 PM on August 20, 2017

I think your profile is great.
posted by salvia at 4:56 PM on August 20, 2017

Visit the site, answer more questions, and make small edits to your profile frequently. All of that will bring you up on more people's radar and seems to have positive results. Also, while free users (I think) don't see specifics on who likes them, definitely make sure to hit "Like" on people who you're about to message if you are interested in them.
posted by limeonaire at 5:04 PM on August 20, 2017 [1 favorite]

You sound great! But I agree that a few slightly nicer photos would go a long way.
posted by k8t at 5:14 PM on August 20, 2017

I was born before computers, so take my comment with a grain of salt. To me, all the "I like this, and this, and that " sounds passive and undirected. Nursing school is a plan, but overall, it reads like you are drifting. I would edit to increase focus on what you like best.
posted by SemiSalt at 5:29 PM on August 20, 2017 [4 favorites]

I think you're totally dateable and come across fine. Just message more men - and if you want to meet someone quickly, I'd say just message a lot more men! (I know that is indelicate, but hey). It is an app that is set up a bit like a computer game, not a product carefully optimized to bring the most well-matched people together in the minimum amount of time. Just go for it, you're not doing anything wrong, it just depends on your own personal tolerance for going click click click through a million different profiles and having a million little conversations that might not go anywhere.
posted by benadryl at 5:43 PM on August 20, 2017

I think you're totally dateable and come across fine.

I agree that you seem totally dateable. But I don't think the profile comes across just fine; I think it's weak and there are some things you could do to be more striking and stand out from the huge amount of competition a little better.

Here are some things to consider doing that could lead to more replies to your messages and more initial messages from more appealing people:

• Get a whole new set of photos. None of your photos is ideal:
Photo 1 is at a weird angle and has some glare. Also, wearing a backpack is not the most flattering garb for a photo.

Photo 2 is poorly lit, and you're not using an especially flattering stance; you just kind of have your feet planted firmly on the ground and your fists clenched. Try turning your torso more to the side while keeping your face aimed at the camera. For instance, look at photo #12 here — see how it's calculated to be appealing, instead of just standing in place by default? And you — your body — should fill up the photo frame instead of having lots of space around you that's of no particular interest. It would be different if you were in some exotic travel destination — then it could make sense for your body to take up only a small portion of the frame, but a Starbucks and other random buildings do not fit the bill.

Photo 3 is better, but your smile looks a little glum. At best, the facial expression says you're reasonably content, but nothing more. Also, the laundromat background is dull.

Photo 4 is out of focus; we can't really see you at all — instead we end up focusing on the background, which isn't picturesque and doesn't convey anything about you as a potential mate.
Ideally, get a friend who's good at taking photos (or a professional), and have your picture taken in a mix of well-chosen settings (could be nature, or an urban setting — but not just a random street corner or laundromat), with more of a variety of different facial expressions. Even having one absurd, unflattering expression, like play-acting as a scared character in a horror movie, can work nicely on a dating profile, as long as the rest of the photos are flattering. Or even if you get just one strong photo, that could be better than all of your current photos.

Consider taking off your glasses unless you feel this would be deceptive because you wear them all the time. I wear glasses sometimes too, but when it comes to dating-site photos I either wear contacts or quickly take off my glasses. I want people to feel like they're looking directly at my face with nothing in the way.

• Be more vivid or specific in places where your current profile is vague, e.g. "Likes having good conversations," "check out interesting things," "cool … places … to … do stuff." That's like saying "I like to have fun" — hard to imagine anyone who doesn't like that, since words like "fun," "good," "interesting," and "cool" all essentially mean: whatever you happen to like. So it's like saying "I like what I like," which isn't informative. Also, saying you or your mate "like to go out for fun but stay home some days" is a dating-site cliche that doesn't distinguish you from 99% of other people. The rest of your profile text seems fine.

• Answer more of the multiple-choice questions. Also, you answered one question by saying "evolution and creationism" should be "taught side-by-side" in schools. When I see this, I'm inclined to move to the next profile because I get a sense that this person either is a religious nut, is socially conservative, or has wacky ideas about education. Maybe I'm wrong about that, but if that's my reaction it's probably other people's too. Sometimes I decide to clear my answer to one of the multiple-choice questions, even if I could give you a perfectly fine explanation for my answer, because it's simply too open to misinterpretation.

• Increase your age range even further on either side. (I see you used to have your age range at 23-26 and you expanded it to 22-28.) You still won't have any obligation to date someone 2 years younger or 6 years older, but at least you'll be expanding your options.

• "Like" more people.

• Move out of the Bronx. Sorry, but most New Yorkers don't consider the Bronx a very desirable area, so you'd get more responses if you could honestly put "Manhattan" or "Brooklyn."

Good luck!
posted by John Cohen at 6:39 PM on August 20, 2017 [10 favorites]

Add more specifics! You're adorable and I think you're probably interesting and have a lot to offer so can you add some color and flavor to your descriptions? Name the neighborhoods you've visited and what you like about them, or the ones you've yet to visit and why you want to go. Talk more about the hobbies or crafts you've done, the actual restaurants you've loved, memorable conversation topics, favorite finds from Trader Joe's, etc. Paint a picture of your personality, don't just describe general things and hope for the best. I think it's awesome that you're honest about wanting a serious relationship but that will definitely narrow your matches since commitmentphobia is hip now. I met my husband on Craigslist so you can do this!
posted by masquesoporfavor at 7:04 PM on August 20, 2017

Wait, you've only been on it for a week? Give it some time. I don't know when you were last on OKC but it's taken a popularity dive the last year or two compared to all the other apps. Try Bumble and Tinder.

Also, it's August and people are on vacation and not checking dating apps as much. And yeah, widen your age range. 23-26 is waaaay too narrow. I would do 21-28 at least.

Lastly, I'm not sure why (angle? outfit? posture?) and I hope it's not offensive to you to say, but the second photo makes you look very young. Like, 14-young.

But there are plenty of people to date in the Bronx and upper Manhattan, so ignore the whole lie-about-your-location-or-move advice from above. That's just ridiculous.

You're cute and good luck!
posted by greta simone at 8:10 PM on August 20, 2017 [4 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks for all the helpful advice so far! I'm glad that all I might have to do is make some tweaks to my profile. A few follow up questions: Should I wear dressy or casual clothes in my profile pictures? And any tips on taking flattering selfies? My face is kind of round and chubby depending on the angle. Greta simone, I don't take offense to that, I've gotten that I look way younger than I am a lot.
posted by starlybri at 8:17 PM on August 20, 2017

Flattering selfies? Angle high, aim low. De-emphasizes any unflattering jawline, puts focus on eyes where it belongs. Disclaimer: if you go too high and angled, it looks really jarring. You'll have to take some to find a happy medium. Also, try using the hour of natural light just before sunset, or a warm-toned lamp. If you can catch a light reflection in your eyes it brightens them, makes them look more piercing. Wear dark clothing so light doesn't reflect up to make distracting highlights. (Or wear nothing and just take neck-up photos.)

Just practice. It feels silly but hey, no one's watching!
posted by Nyx at 8:43 PM on August 20, 2017 [1 favorite]

Should I wear dressy or casual clothes in my profile pictures?

Either can be good. It's probably ideal to do both, since a casual photo can give a sense of what it's like to be around you on an everyday basis, and a dressier photo can be more straightforwardly focused on presenting you as attractively as possible. I did think it was kind of a waste that the only photo where you're wearing a dress is the one out-of-focus photo. As a straight man who's used dating sites a lot, I often find photos with casual clothes in a casual setting very appealing — but I also can't imagine being turned off by seeing a mix of dresses and street clothes. I could be put off if every photo shows her in glamorous clothing, because I could think "she's trying too hard — she probably doesn't look like this most of the time" — but I would not have that thought if only some photos are like that while others show her in a T-shirt at a bar or cafe.
posted by John Cohen at 8:47 PM on August 20, 2017

My take on selfies is that they're generally not flattering, they always seem distorted. Maybe ask a friend to take some casual poses and use a photographer for some shots as well?
posted by coldhotel at 8:59 PM on August 20, 2017

I think the problem is 23-26 year olds who are looking for serious relationships in NYC are basically unicorns, dating sites or no.
posted by corb at 9:15 PM on August 20, 2017 [3 favorites]

Agree that basically you just need to fix the photos. Not because they're so unflattering but in the instagram age I think you just need to up your game- people are used to seeing well lit and very flattering pics.

Your glasses are cute and you surely do not need to move. Look at some pics of people you think good and mimic the amount of space they take up in the frame, the angle and the lighting. This is honestly a very easy fix.
posted by jojobobo at 9:18 PM on August 20, 2017 [4 favorites]

Oh and if you don't want to look younger, don't wear t-shirts especially not crew necks. I discovered this at about your age. If you don't care of course, full steam ahead.
posted by jojobobo at 9:20 PM on August 20, 2017 [1 favorite]

I think things will pick up. You seem cute and cool. You're looking for a cool guy long term and there are WAY more generic one-night guys than cool long-term guys. I agree with the advice to have friends photograph you "in the wild" and then select a couple you like.

You definitely don't need to move to Manhattan to get dates, unless for some reason you are trying to attract the kind of guy who'd refuse to date a Bronx girl. (I live in Brooklyn and I've dated Bronx guys and while distance can be a drawback, "less desirable area" has never crossed my mind.)
posted by kapers at 9:00 AM on August 21, 2017

Your profile looks great to me (would also suggest adding clearer photos taken by someone you trust*, in a variety of settings), but I wanted to suggest Bumble. It came about after I stopped online dating (met someone IRL through friends, both of us trying to online date using OK Cupid, but never seeing each other's profile for who knows what reason), but it is very much my style and I think yours. Women make the first move on Bumble, which I think filters out a lot of non-feminist men and filters in more men who have anxiety about being the first to approach (depending upon your favorite flavor of nerd, this may be AOK with you). I personally found that OK Cupid straight dudes preferred to send the first message. Which also made me wonder what other traditional gender role ideas they favored.

* In my experience, someone who loves me takes the best photos of me. An old friend, an ex you're friendly with, that kind of thing. Someone who sees the best and beauty in you really knows best how to bring that out. And frankly, sometimes that does mean taking a selfie. Lots of people use selfies in online dating (including me when I was there). Just be mindful of lighting/focus/exposure and what kind of image you'd like to put across.

Photo 3 is my favorite, I think, although I also understand why you used photo 1 (the glare on your glasses is distracting, but you look super cute in it). In photo 2, I'd only suggest changing what pose you use (could be funny or glamorous or anything in between) or even having a photo of you with friends.

Also, we hear a lot about straight women being overwhelmed with messages, and I think that has to do with falling into certain demographics (age range, body type). It's also important to remember that quantity is not quality.
posted by pammeke at 9:31 AM on August 21, 2017

Regarding photos, I find the best ones (of both men and women) are candid photos where someone is just having a good time and laughing or smiling, like at weddings or other events. So I say, go out with a group of friends, maybe to the park or the beach during the daytime when the light is good, and just have them take photos of you while you're having fun--playing frisbee or cuddling a dog or whatever. Just make sure that whatever you post is of just you and not you in a group. Selfies are generally not the most exciting photos for profiles. One is okay, but I find it more informative and interesting to see someone actually doing something in context.
posted by greta simone at 7:03 AM on August 22, 2017

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