Finding myself single again right before the quarter started, I turned to OKCupid to find a potential partner or partners. I know that online dating can be daunting, but the prospect of finding a partner in a small town where half the population are undergrads isn’t promising, either.
OKCupid allows you post profile information, a picture, and to answer a LOT of questions. When you answer a question (would you rather sleep in or get up and do something on a Saturday? Do you prefer virgins? What does ‘wherefore’ mean in ‘wherefore art thou, Romeo?’), you can select your answer, acceptable answers for a partner, and rate the question’s/subject’s importance. OKCupid then tells you how compatible you are with any given person as a lover, as a friend, as an enemy. You can also see the answers of a potential mate if the person has answered publicly.
It’s a decent system, but it’s amazing how many men are managing to screw it up. Guys, if you want to date me (me–not just someone), here’s some advice.
1. Have a picture and some profile information up. When I get a message from a blank profile, I am hesitant to answer. If a stranger came up behind me in a store and asked, “What are you doing for Thanksgiving?”, I would want to turn around and get a sense of who was asking before I answered. Why do you think you get to be even more mysterious online?
2. Don’t say anything on your profile about ‘space camp.’ Unfortunately, OKCupid allows you to say things about your current job/education like “Dropped out of space camp.” It’s mildly funny on the first guy’s profile. It is not at all funny ever after. And many, many of you are doing it. (It’s sort of like thinking if you meet me, you can make a really original joke about “good Karma.”)
3. Don’t describe yourself as “just an average guy.” Why the hell would I want that? I want you to be above average at something. Average=boring. Average=normal. Karma=not boring, not normal.
4. When you make first contact, say something specific. If you want to up the odds that I’ll answer, ask a question. Many guys simply say “nice profile!” Ok. Thanks. It’s literally the least you can say besides “hi.” It’s also something you can say to all the girls. I have pictures of myself with a giant Bart Simpson, for heaven’s sake–I have given you something to comment on or ask about that shows you actually looked at my profile specifically.
5. If you’re very much older than I am, try not to say things that remind me of that fact. Several older men have said things that I know they mean as compliments, but that totally put me off. The two main ones: “you seem sweet” “you seem like a fun girl.”
A. I hope “sweet” isn’t the take-away from my profile. I do sweet things for the people I love, but I don’t walk around embodying “sweet.” In fact, “sweet” as a descriptor of a person (as opposed to an action) signals that you’re either discussing a very young child or a non-intellectual. I have never described an actual female friend as “sweet”–but I’ve called women I think are kind of dumb or naive that.
B. I can be fun, and I do call myself a girl sometimes, but I think if you’re trying to be my partner and you’re old enough to be my dad, you should refer to me as a woman.
6. You mustn’t be an asshole. By asshole, I mean racist, sexist, homophobic, severely Christian, etc. When I was first on the site, I kept getting emails from men who were rated an 80-something percent enemy because of their inability to see others as deserving of equal rights. At first, I tried to be nice. I would politely reply that since I am extremely liberal, I didn’t see a future between us, but that I wished them well. None of them took the hint. Each argued with me, usually, like one Lurch-look-alike did, by saying something like “but your pretti.”
Yes. And homophobes and racists and sexists don’t get to touch the pretty thing. (Even though I’m sure you would like to love me, and pet me, and squeeze me, and call me George.)
If you don’t believe my friends (whom I love–I don’t even know you), your fellow Americans, deserve equal rights, then I’m not going out with you. If you don’t believe women are equal to men, then you can’t be my partner. If you believe birth control is immoral, why would I let you anywhere near my baby-maker?
I eventually had to add a snotty paragraph on my page that explained that I didn’t want to hear from the phobes. A few guys persist, though. One man tried to argue that I needed to be around homophobes so I could understand their position. I assured him that I have homophobic students, community members, and family members to contend with. He stopped bothering me when I said I didn’t need to waste time dating someone I couldn’t respect, since I don’t take people I don’t respect to bed.
7. Note that I’m not applying to be anyone’s mistress. If you’re out to cheat, don’t contact me. Partners don’t sneak around. While I am open to being poly, I am not going to be part of your dishonesty, especially when you would probably not want your wife to have the same freedom.
I am a stradivarius, not anybody’s second fiddle.