It’s not that San Diegans aren’t friendly. If I’m out at a bar, I need to just affect the breezy impermanence of a tourist at an ocean resort and feel quite comfortable talking to people. SDers are flakes anyway, so it’s quite safe to start conversations because, without considerable effort, you’ll never see these people again. Join the permanent vacation vibe.
But I’ll tell you what makes driving 15 minutes (every commute is exactly 15 minutes, right?) out to a bar alone, hunt down and panic my way into a parking spot, and pay for my own drink (the first one, anyway) worth it, and that is a gloriously awkward first OkCupid date.
And for all you non-single monogamous / polyfidelous / otherwise-not-available people out there… OkCupid dates start out 100% as friend dates, anyway. Sure I flirted with them online, but most people I meet are savvy to the “friend-date unless proven otherwise” rule. I’m sorry, there’s just no way of knowing you’ll crackle my thunder ’til I meet you under the literal firmament. So, not only do plenty of people use the service for “just friends” (it’s an option), OkCupid culture naturally supports friend dates.
I learned how to really appreciate the awkward first date after a bit of practice, and if you follow my strategies, I think you will, too. The key is to go on enough of them that it becomes almost routine. And I tell myself that one of these is going to turn into a great story. I’m still ready and waiting for my first Trainwreck Date.
- Write a smoldering profile…
- …but don’t rely on it. Force yourself to send messages out.
- Find that correspondence length sweet spot…
- …but hurry to set a date.
- Choose location wisely…
- …and score a new friend/lover/significant other.
1. Profile Writing
Write your profile like an intimate letter, not a résumé. Here’s how mine opens:
I rewrote the bulk of this profile because I realized I misrepresented myself as responsible and organized. I can do responsible and organized, easy, but that’s not the kind of cupid I want shooting my arrows.
I’m bragging right now, shamelessly, really…but I get a lot of messages (after this rewrite). And people tell me I’m a good writer and it makes me all happy on the inside of my body.
Anyway. I’ve learned that this is one of the few times where talking about what you are like and not what you do is probably more interesting (thanks fellow ‘Sam’ and OkCupid analyzer for that insight). Possibilities are more seductive than facts, and the romantic brain is an engine of imagination.
In other words, I deleted the part where I said I had a degree and a job yadda yadda and added this:
Yes and no are my greatest powers – and it feels like I always get what I want, now that I know what I want.
The goal is to just get all sparkly with your personality and show off what it would be like for them to have a conversation with you over a Sculpin.
The six things you could never do without
This is not the time for extreme literalism. No one thinks you are witty for being the 5,708th person who lists oxygen. This is time for hyperbole and passion and a little bit of adorable quirkiness. I included….
Seeing a non-human animal at least once a day
…amidst serious stuff like art, my brother, & a job that makes me feel valued.
You should message me if…
Steal this. Just steal it and put it at the very bottom. It gets me a ton of compliments, and even a few messages from shy people. It’s genius and I thought of it and I hope it goes viral:
If you are shy on okCupid, just c&p this:
“Hi. I am really shy. I like your profile. Will you go look at mine and message me back if you are interested?”
2. & 3. Messaging & Maintenance
Facebook hack You actually have a facebook email address. It’s [yourusername]@facebook.com. If you don’t have a fancy pants smartphone (ugh…) with like, app thingies, and you check facebook all the time, you can set up OkC to send messages there. Then just be sure to drag one of the notifications from your “Other” to your regular “Inbox” messages and you’ll have an extra reminder that attractive people want to talk to you. Kinda buggy, though.
Experiment with these numbers, but here are my benchmarks:
- (When you first start out) Dedicate 1 night a week to seek new people and start 3 message threads. Each query ought to be a paragraph or two long. Show that you’ve read their profile. Lists can work well, i.e. “I think we should meet someday for these reasons…”
- Find the comfort-zone of correspondence with each person. Generally I go for two volleys (I write two messages, they write two messages) before offering my number and a date, but sometimes three. Offering my number too quickly makes people think I am desperate and/or creepy and/or a robot and they ignore me and I cry. Offering too late… well I mean if you don’t take this seriously you are not going to make any friends and you will be lonely and boring and sad.
- Don’t get caught up on % matches or profile details. People poorly represent themselves and also don’t know how to fill out quizzes (seriously y’all drive me insane) and only people equally as neurotic as me score a 99. Your goal should be to find people who seem to have some potential, you know, get the important stuff right, and hurry to actually MEET THEM. You really can’t know what someone is like ’till their face is three feet or less from your face.
There are two basic types, and they’re critical.
- You let a thread die and stopped responding, or just never responded in the first place because you were waiting for a time when you were less drunk at 3am in the morning to think of something witty.
- They let a thread die because you were too cranky / intimidating / boring / weird / they are such hotties their inbox is bursting with noise and they lost your diamond in the rough.
I like to get a little creative with these follow-ups, but the main goal is to give both parties the benefit of the doubt that messages aren’t perfect and everything still has the potential to be shiny.
Aww sorry I never got back to you. I didn’t get the butterfly connection at first and wondered what would make someone think of soft sweet jazzy pop from the 60s while reading my profile and was so despondent I got distracted.
Anyway I don’t normally ignore attractive PhD chasers with sharks on their heads and a 92% match score. How are you?
Again, it is IMPORTANT to follow-up with dead threads. If Katelyn never came back with her glorious witty comment, we’d never have met :( :( :( Good thing she is an OkC professional. I learned from the best!
5. It’s just a freaking internet date
You are meeting a stranger. Off the internet. You do not need to invest heavily in this date.
- A dive or beer bar, like Bar Pink, Lancers, Small Bar, Tornados, Hoffers, Red Wing
- A coffee shop e.g. Lestats, Filter, the Living Room
- Mexican food. No? Haha. I’ve never done this, but if someone will agree to meet me for Mexican food, then I will like her already.
- Somewhere you would go anyway, and you could run into friends, and seem all popular… such as Gossip Grill or The
Also, I am desirable and important, so I save my Fridays and Saturdays for old-friends-are-gold-friends and first dates get a weeknight. It is pretty embarrassing how often I’ve re-used the Taco Tuesday theme. (El Zarape for dollar fish tacos & the best green sauce you’ve ever tasted sober….and Lancers for a $6 Bloody Mary, poured heavy, with like 5 vegetables, and spicy like I like it.)
Guys, I got Katelyn from OkCupid. Enough said. <3
Bonus section: Don’t be an idiot
Please don’t tell someone you’re “just too busy.” That’s exactly the same as saying “Well if I was lame and didn’t have activities I would be desperate enough to hang out with you.” Obviously you have a profile and you’re looking for something. If you’re too busy to build friendships/relationships then disable that monster.
It is perfectly conventional to just ignore the first message if you’re not interested, and many people are okay with not following up after one boring date. I agree that blatant rejection hurts more than mysterious no-response. I do try to give closure to people I’ve met for a date whom I don’t feel particularly drawn to befriend or befuck, but damn it takes a lot of effort.
One last thing
This question KILLS me. Come on, San Diego.
….Aaaaaaaand now you know I spend way too much time on OkCupid. Seriously though, it’s one of the best ways to break into interesting friend niches in San Diego. Unless you want to be a redditor forever…
What to do when your wallet is stolen – San Diego Survival Guide
Terrific. A few of these points aren’t quite right for most guys, however, particular the frequency and amount of messaging. Almost all guys have to do so much more than that. I’m a veteran online dater, and have talked with hundreds of women about their online experience. It’s generally understood that women typically receive many more unsolicited messages than guys, but there IS hard data.
OKC published a book, and has an ongoing blog, in which they data-mine and evaluate the enormous wealth of information they record about their users’ every action on the site. And the fact is, only 3% of women will EVER cold-initiate contact. Ever. That’s hard facts over 10’s of thousands (possibly 100s of thousands) of users, in millions of interactions. The common advice for men is to (sit down for this one) send at least 10 messages A DAY to new profiles one is interested in. That’s roughly 23 times the amount you are recommending.
That advice does seem to imply that the man doing this messaging isn’t very good at searching for better matches, and is obviously a numbers game, but there is some truth to it, even when one is conscientious about only sending to matches that have some basis for interest beyond just the pictures.
And man! Don’t get me started on pet peeves about profiles. Experienced online-ers collect them!
Thanks for filling in the blanks for me! I think we both can agree that you must initiate messages if you want results, at least if you are seeking connection with a woman. So, just adjust the frequency!
I love that okC publishes so much data and analysis.
Day 28, 0pt, 10.15R | A MAN OF ACTION