This is part five of a seven part series on using OKCupid for the non-monogamous and others seeking polyamory or open relationships. It is cowritten with Molly Rene. This week: Meeting People on OKCupid.
Table of Contents
- Introduction / What Is OKCupid?
- Writing a Dating Profile
- Answering Match Questions
- Finding People on OKCupid
- Meeting People on OKCupid
- Extra Features of OKCupid
- Conclusion: Finding Polyamorous Love
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Meeting People on OKCupid
Obviously, the goal of any dating site is to facilitate messaging between users so that they can ultimately meet. Pay sites restrict this ability, but on OKCupid you can send as many messages to other people as you like. Getting in touch with someone new is the point, but it’s also where big mistakes can turn potential compatibility into failure.
Women on OKCupid are often approached by many people. Unfortunately, a lot of the messages they receive will be crude or unappealing, and show that the sender has not bothered to look at their profile but has just ogled their photos. At the same time, both men and women with well-crafted profiles will receive messages from people they might want to get to know better. All genders should plan to approach those that they find interesting.
Though OKCupid has instant messaging, many people turn it off. In my experience, it is always better to approach someone for the first time using private messages. Assuming you are sending a first message to a compatible looking stranger, what can you do to increase the chances of getting a reply? Once again, OKCupid’s staff analyzed their customer base and wrote a great guide to first messages; my personal experiences with approaching men and women on OKCupid seem to back up their research.
Make your first message short but include multiple complete sentences. Some people — straight men in particular — make the mistake of copy and pasting huge messages (sometimes thousands of words long) to every woman they see. Not only is this a transparently cheesy ploy that will get you laughed at, it completely misses the point of a first message. We hope you wouldn’t try this kind of sales pitch on a new acquaintance you met in person, so why try it online?
When writing to someone on a dating site, the purpose of the first message is not to win their hearts or even to secure a date. The purpose is to start a conversation. Every person you write should feel like you’ve really read his profile — say a few things about what you have in common, and then give something to say in return — ask a question about a common interest or a part of the profile which made you curious.
You should almost never refer to sex or to the physical appearance of the other person in a first message. If you’re writing to a person on a dating website, you can assume she knows you find her attractive; if you’re both listed as looking for dating or casual sex, then she’ll see that and there’s no need to mention it. Approach her as a person, not a sex object, regardless of whether she’s looking for hookups. You should sign a first message with your first name — the one people call you in meat space, not online.
Once the conversation starts, there’s a fine balance between moving too quickly and too slowly. Too quick and you’ll turn most people off, but I have found that if you take too long to meet in person things usually run out of steam. When I discussed this topic on FetLife, some people said they like to meet quickly while others preferred more lengthy online correspondences. Some, especially queer women seeking same-sex relationships, want to talk on the phone soon after establishing a connection to prove the reality of their new friend.
To be safe, you can let the other person set the pace — try some light flirtation and see how they respond. Rather than demanding his phone number or personal information, offer some of yours and see if he responds in kind; of course, if you’re scheduling an actual date it is perfectly acceptable to ask for his number if you haven’t been given it yet.
Every profile shows whether you have contacted that person in the past, how recently she’s logged on, and a rating of how likely she is to reply. In the end, we all have to accept that many sexy, compatible people simply won’t write us back and that many conversations won’t lead to dates. Unless something major has changed — like you go from Seeing Someone to Single, or you move to a closer city — there is no point in making repeated approaches. Find another profile and move on.
If your luck has been consistently bad, you might need to redo your profile. See if you can find some better, more recent pictures. Updating your profile often not only makes you look more active, but also makes you appear in more searches. If nothing else works, consider asking a friend of your desired gender and orientation to look at your dating profile or recent messages and give advice.
Molly says: Use a “throw away” email address for your profile. I will also use that email address to contact people outside of the site, until I get to know them better. I will use that Google Talk handle to chat with people from the site as well. Don’t give out your real email address, Facebook, phone number, etc. and don’t ask for them. You don’t want a random person commenting that you “look hot” on pictures from your wedding.
If someone doesn’t respond to you the first time, don’t contact them again. If this happens to me, I automatically block the person. Unless, as Kit said, something in your life has changed (most obviously, that you’ve moved) you will come off as pushy. When contacting someone for the second time, mention that you have contacted them before and why you’re contacting them again.
Despite what the nightly news may tell you, the internet is not filled with sexual predators who want to maim you. However, be cautious. My first dates are nearly always for coffee; I always go to the same place. I wonder what the staff thinks of me. Pick a public place, don’t drink too much alcohol, and tell someone where you are going.
Copyright © 2011 Molly Rene and Kit O’Connell. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.
This license applies ONLY to this guide, not to other parts of this site unless otherwise noted.
Once you understand OKCupid’s basics you are ready to become a power user. In the next installment we look at phone aps, message filters, and other features.