Online dating: some reviews, some tips, some little green ghouls

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My ex and I started dating when I was 19, and we were together for seven years. That’s a lot of Formative Time in a monogamous relationship. Now I’m single. And being single is awesome. Dating is also awesome. …Kind of. Sometimes? Well, it’s definitely a thing, and it’s new to me. I met my ex in a bar, and at the time, I remember online dating being an embarrassing thing that my peers assumed was for people who had given up on “real” dating. My best friend waited a year into her relationship to “confess” to me that she and her boyfriend had met on Plenty of Fish. Fast forward to 2014, and my view on meeting online is that it’s actually more legitimate than meeting at a bar. If you can put up with my tweets and still find me alluring in any way at all, there’s a good chance this might actually work. And it’s true: I’ve met some awesome people through Twitter and Tumblr. People who I’ve come to be very close with online, people who I’ve then met in real life, and people who I’ve dated. This always happened organically and it was always fun. The problem when it comes to dating, at least, is that my interactions on this site are almost exclusively with people at least a plane ride away from me. So, since I was newly single, I decided to try out some dating sites.

What a trip.

I should preface that I live in a town with about 400k people, and that bigger populations probably yield better (or at least more diverse) results when online dating. Here are my experiences with some popular and free dating sites. Then I run down a list of tips I’ve learned to try to make the experience more successful.

Tinder

The first one I tried was Tinder. Tinder is interesting because it’s overtly a hook-up app. It’s only phone-based and it’s designed nicely. It was fun and kind of addictive when you’d vote up a photo to find that the other person had also voted you up, too. I listed myself as bisexual and didn’t come across any other women, at all. This was a bummer. I spoke to some guys on there, but I didn’t hit it off with any. I understood that our conversation would be a lot less in-depth than dating sites, but even then, there wasn’t a lot of spark. Though some of them looked great in their pics, I discovered that I need a bit more of a connection to entertain the idea of a hook-up.

Plenty of Fish

This site looks like garbage and I couldn’t get past the login screen.

OkCupid

OkCupid works well and looks fine and the user interface isn’t too confusing. But my misadventures on OkCupid began immediately after I joined. I know a lot of people have really bad experiences, and I didn’t have any negative comments hurled at me — but I did get exposed to the phenomena of getting a message written poorly that jumps immediately to some sort of comment about sex. I found this strange because OkCupid isn’t a hook-up site… right? I also found that every person who was messaging me had at least 50% Enemy-level with me. Frustrating at best. My favourite observation is that a large chunk of the men messaging me had answered “yes” to homosexuality as a sin… but I’m listed as bisexual. I met just one person I found enough of a connection with to keep talking to so far. The misadventures make for some good laughs, so that’s a bonus.

FetLife

FetLife is a fetish lifestyle website meant to facilitate meetings between like-minded fetishists. I joined it as well, and have had a blah time. I think maybe if my city was bigger this would really change my experience, but another problem is that the site is just… not nicely constructed. It’s difficult to navigate. It doesn’t look nice. I don’t think it has a great “matching” algorithm (if any??). I’m not sure if it’s trying to be a dating site or a mini-blogging site where you can post photos and updates and others can “love” them. In general, it hasn’t worked for me at all. If you’ve had success on it and want to share some secrets, please do!

SO in summary: none of these were perfect options for me, but OkCupid was the best. I reactivated my account about a month later, and I’m trying to just take it as casually as possible. Which leads me to sharing what I’ve learned…

Tips for minimizing agony and maximizing sexy good times

I know I’ve only been in this game for a few months, but I think I can offer some tips based on my experience.

1) Include lots of photos where we can actually see you.

I felt instantly strange and didn’t trust anyone who didn’t have any photos, or did have photos but they obscured their face. These people could have been fun and nice but my first impression was “shady.” First impressions matter!

2) Fill out your profile, and actually read profiles of individuals who catch your eye.

Give potential readers something good to read. It doesn’t have to be too personal or wordy. Just a bit about what you like to do, what your favourite movie/book/music/whatever is, and you’re well on your way to actually meeting someone with similar interests. In one episode of “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,” Charlie’s friends help him write his profile for an online dating site. If you’re having trouble, consider talking to close friends before you set up your profile. They can help you remind you of all your fantastic attributes. Also, they can help you avoid writing an awful profile if you happen to be Charlie Kelly. Take the time to read others’ profiles. Do they seem interesting to you? If so, send a message. The goal, I think, should be that when you read your own profile, your reaction is sitting back and going, “Hell, I’d date me.”

3) Say hello when you first message someone.

Don’t jump into a compliment or worse yet — a pick up line. Say hello. Ask how they are. Mention something from their profile. Just because you’re online doesn’t mean you can be a dick. If you want actual responses to messages, make your message worth responding to.

4) Consider sending a “Not interested, thanks” message

If someone messages you, and they’re polite and abide by rule #3, but you’re just not interested, consider letting them know politely. Full disclosure: if someone sends me a terribly-written pick up line and their profile makes me gag, I ignore them. Sometimes I even block them. Don’t be afraid to block if you need to.

5) Be clear about your expectations — especially with yourself

My advice is to not go online with the express intent of looking for your for-life partner. I’m definitely not in that state of mind right now, and I make that explicit on my profile. But some of the otherwise interesting people who have messaged me are very obviously looking for something long-term on their profile. Of course, if you’re looking for that, there’s nothing wrong with it. Just be wary that the way you express that can seem intimidating to some people who you might otherwise hit it off with. OkCupid is particularly good about asking you questions that will let people know that you are hoping for a long-term commitment, eventually. There’s no need to go overboard and belabour the point in the written part of your profile.

Think of online dating as a fun and convenient way to meet people with similar interests — just like Twitter and Tumblr, but even more focussed. If your expectations are too high, you might miss out on meeting some people that would be great to know as just friends or just as casual dates. Try to be casual about your expectations and let things happen as naturally as possible.

6) Try to chill

It can be intimidating to put yourself out there, whether online or in person. It can be intimidating to think that you’re summarizing everything someone might want to know about you in a small profile. Get into a good mindset before you write your profile. Think about all the things that make you awesome and all the reasons you’re a good catch. Now project that onto your profile. Imagine you’re getting amped up for a job interview. Dwelling on your insecurities before you head into the boss’ office is a sure-fire way to come across as the wrong candidate for the job. Think about how when you meet someone in real life, you want to put your best foot forward. Your profile is exactly that. Dating is supposed to be fun, so try have fun with it.

Have you tried online dating? Have you had any success? What are your tips for making the experience the best it can be?

Comments on Online dating: some reviews, some tips, some little green ghouls

  1. ha. i got together with the guy i married when we were just 19 and then he passed away at 27, so when i found myself ready to dip my toes back into the dating pool some time after that, i had NO idea what i was doing. enter online dating. i tried plenty of fish first and OMG you are so right. i spent maybe 2 days on there before i’d had enough. i get that online dating is a bit of a meat market, but this place actually fucking felt like craigslist for people. it was awful. i came across a lot of one-liners and other garbage where people obviously hadn’t read my profile, and a handful that LIED on theirs (like some guy who claimed on his profile that he worked in the medical field, and then let it slip that he was a mechanic in a message…dude, i don’t fucking care if you’re a mechanic, but don’t lie!). i tried out okcupid after that and there was a lot of the same (except for a much prettier and easy-to-use interface), but i did meet my new dude there and pretty quickly. (although he’s hardly new now, we’ve been together for 3 years.) he’d been on there for a good long time though, poor guy, lol. also, on okcupid, if you’re not answering the same quesitons as other people on their profile survey thingy, you’re not going to get good matches. there was some article going around about some guy who hacked okcupid to find out what questions people were answering because he had that problem. i feel like the better way to fix that problem is to take the time to actually answer LOTS of questions though, rather than data-mining the site.

    something else to consider, especially if you’re female and straight (since my personal experience is limited in that way, lol)…don’t just let them come to you. look around and make contact yourself too. one thing i’ve found from other people i’ve talked to who’ve tried the online dating thing is that guys get ignored a lot and women have a tendency to see who talks to them first, instead of really getting in there. of course, most people i’ve talked to about it are young wids like myself, so maybe that’s more the particular demographic than straight women on the whole.

  2. just real quick. I tried okcupid for just the tiniest bit (in Maine so small town not too too many choices) and they all wanted sex. I wondered if a pay dating site might yield better results bc those men (or whatever you’re after) pay to actually find a mate. they’re more serious. just a thought, not sure if that’s real but it’s my theory. I deleted my acct pretty quickly bc I didn’t want just sex and it got overwhelming. ugh.

  3. Fetlife is not a “dating” site, so there is no algorithm for match ups. It’s a community for social networking for those of the kinkier persuasion. Kind of like a dark facebook with forums. If you go into it looking for hook ups, you will be sadly disappointed, but, if you involve yourself in your local community attending munches (Google it) you can find compatible and even life long relationships with other like minded kinky fellows. I loveit. I found “home” when iI found fetlife.Though it can get pedantic and has iit’s fair share of drama llamas and trolls like any other forum site. K&P (kinky &popular) is always good for a laugh and a perve.

    • I was just going to say the same thing about Fet NOT being a dating site. In fact the creator has specifically avoided allowing searches to be built by age or sex in an effort to keep it more as a social network than anything else. I will also say I get the most out of it when I’m actually out and involved with the local community. My fiance uses it to arrange photoshoots at community events with local riggers and models and it is a way for them to communicate with them if they want images without having to use their personal email address etc. I like it to stay in touch with the learning events going on in our city (with a population of 1 million that equals a very diverse and busy kink scene).

      If you were looking for a kink dating site I would have reviewed CollarMe.com …I met my fiance there….but you also have to weed through a lot of junk as it is a free site and when you add kink to the mix it can be kinda icky sometimes.

        • Just be careful with collarme.com with your photos. Every time I’ve made a profile there, I’ve had a man claim he’s saved my picture and attempt to blackmail me. (Tip: If anyone threatens blackmailing, do not respond, report the profile to the site and if they have a credible threat, report it to the FCC/authorities).

        • CollarMe gets a LOT of flack and is a well know haven for creepers … BUT, two of my very good friends met on there and have been together for five years now. As mentioned by those above Fetlife is intended to be social networking only (although that doesn’t stop random messages from people who epically fail #3) but offers a lot of great opportunities to see whats going on in RL in your community. If kink is a must-have part of your future relationships, going to local fetish events is the best way to meet non-vanillas.

          • “If kink is a must-have part of your future relationships, going to local fetish events is the best way to meet non-vanillas.”

            Okay, NOW I understand FetLife. Thank you!

    • While I feel Fetlife is the best place for me to meet people, it’s NOT a dating site

  4. Great info. My husband and I met on okcupid and my only additional piece of advice would be to make sure you talk a bit on the phone before you meet in person. I talked to a few creepy people that passed the “not an internet serial killer” test until I spoke to them on the phone… No joke, one guy told me he was going to chop his MOTHER into tiny pieces so no one could ever find her!!! Sometimes my internet chat radar isn’t as well tuned as my tone of voice, hearing pauses radar…

    Also, on okcupid answer as many of the survey type questions as you can to get better results. One summer when I was bored I answered what felt like a billion of them and I really found the matching tool interesting, how it collated all that data and spit it back out as a % match 🙂

  5. I ended up using OkCupid, but I had different goals than the OP did… I was definitely looking for something serious and heading toward the goal of “lifetime partner/marriage”. I had originally tried Match.com, but I didn’t have any luck with it because most of the people there were in their late 20’s (I was in my early 20’s at the time) and were very career-minded; I had just dropped out of college and was working in retail. If you’re looking for something serious, I would recommend making your profile in-depth. Because my profile was so intense, most people who were interested in hook-ups or short-term/fun relationships thought “ugh tl;dr” and sort of left me alone. I ended up meeting my fiancee this way, and after I met her I was able to make a close friendship using this same method. That being said, I feel like OkCupid is much more geared toward people who want more fun relationships, in which case the OP gives excellent advice!

  6. My husband and I met on Match.com. It was a a whim to join, and I didn’t expect anything. In fact, I was hoping to just casually date a few people. I was so scared and nervous too, that I ended up just emailing with people for probably 2 months, then finally met one guy in person (mega dud), then another in person (2 dates, but it didn’t work out), and then finally my husband in person. I think having low expectations is important! And taking the time to talk to them before jumping in. And don’t be afraid to make the first move (I “winked” at my husband first, he had about given up on online dating but my wink made him give it one last try).

    My roommate and I were on OKCupid in college, and I think I met one guy from there, but mostly we were just there for laughs. I think that since it was free, it attracts ALL kinds of people, whereas on Match, you do have to pay, so people who join are actually looking to have a relationship (for the most part).

  7. I met my husband on OKCupid. I first met a few other people. Couple of dates with one nice guy, then a few months with someone awful and manipulative, then met The Spouse. He’d also had not-so-good luck on there and messaged me as a “one more and then I delete this damn thing” attempt.

    My friend didn’t like OKCupid because when she got a lot of one liners and booty call requests. They really unnerved her, but I just brushed them off and blocked them. So maybe have a plan on how you will deal with unwanted messaging just to keep your head level. I also got the most polite sexy time request from a guy old enough to me my dad: he asked if I was interested in meeting up (without typos and grossness), I said I wasn’t there for sex, he said “Oh okay. Sorry about that. Have a great evening!”. Oh, and a diaper fetishist messaged me too.

    • I had pretty much the same experience with OK Cupid. My husband and I met on there about 3 and a half years ago. We got married this past June. He also had had a number of not-so-great first dates and was ready to give it up. He kept at it because his brother had met a really cool girl on there (they got married a little over a year ago) so he messaged me and the rest is history. I definitely had a few creepers, but the few dates I went on before I met my husband were OK. Nothing creepy or gross, just no sparks. I was lucky that I met my husband pretty early into my online dating experience.

  8. Ah, online dating sites.

    I met my husband on Plenty of Fish. That’s right, I actually spent sufficient time on that site to find someone I wanted to date. They had a new feature at the time, suggesting people who they think would like you based on profiles they have viewed. My husband came up. We honest wonder if it was an error as he hadn’t logged in in 3 months. I wrote him a ridiculously long message, he went through at least 2 beers reading it, and we started chatting.

    I had some pretty irritating experiences. I messaged people who sounded interesting but got no response. I got responses from people who were pretty far out from who I said I was. I also am in a relatively small city so the options are limited. I also had people approach me who obviously should not have (men who were far outside the age I had listed as something I would consider, people just looking to hook up).

    My tips include really showing your personality in your profile. Do not tone yourself down or pretend to be anything but who you are. That just ends up wasting a lot of time and reduces the chances that you’ll find someone who would actually find you interesting. I agree with Caroline, do share a good picture. Don’t share an old one or one you have photoshopped into unrecognizability. I accidentally started talking to an ex boyfriend (who I had met on a different dating site), because his photo looked nothing like him and his information was at least partially a lie. It was creepy.

    I tried the free level of e-Harmony and the matches I got were all people who seemed like I would have nothing in common with them. Cupid.com is one we have where I am. I had met people on it previously but it rarely went well in the long run. I really found that if you connect with people based on personality and interests it will go much better than if someone is just attractive but doesn’t say anything in their profile. If you want to just hook up, that’s going to be easiest. Lots of people want that. If that’s all you want, just be honest about it. It can be worth giving people a message even if they don’t seem like they are the right fit, but be prepared to find out someone is not exactly as advertised.

    I did poke around on a geek dating website but it never really went anywhere.

    • I also met my Husband on Plenty of Fish! I was on there for about three months, and luckily for him I was so used to all the regulars I found his profile right away and scooped him up within hours of his joining. We’ve been together for five years next month.
      I was 18 at the time, and couldn’t even tell you the number of times men over 50 offered to pay me. It was mega creepsville, and even though I met my Husband through it I still hesitate to recommend it.

      • A guy on POF tried to force himself on me. I reported his account and deleted mine. I’m about to marry a man I met on OkCupid. Some sites work for different people.

  9. I also found a life-partner through okcupid. I tried out eharmony too BUT it was really weird and not a good fit. I found okcupid when a friend recommended their nerdy blog and I LOVED it. Lots of cool information based on the site’s data as well as an interesting description of why paying for dating sites can actually be less effective (http://www.columbia.edu/~jhb2147/why-you-should-never-pay-for-online-dating.html). That post has been taken off their actual blog because they were recently purchased by Match, but the rest of the blog, which is also not being updated, is still fascinating. http://blog.okcupid.com/ There’s info on why people leave okcupid and who gets the most messages, and what people are lying about. (Straight) Men tend to leave because they’re not getting any messages/responses and (straight) women leave because they’re overwhelmed with messages that aren’t personal. So I’d echo the advice for women to show interest too and not leave all the messaging to men! That’s how I found my bf!

    I do live in a major metropolitan area, so there was a good mix of serious and just-looking-for fun stuff out there. I also spent a TON of time refining my profile and didn’t get as many attempts and random hookups (but still lots) as some people I know. I found after a couple years of online dating that the chemistry was so important that it wasn’t worth investing a lot of energy into the getting-to-know-someone-online thing before meeting in person (in a public place).

    I was actually really cautious about giving out my phone number until I really felt comfortable with someone, and this was a good unintentional litmus test. If someone asked for my phone number and I explained I didn’t want to give it out until I met someone and felt safe about it, and they freaked out, they were not worth it. The nice ones were always really understanding.

    • Yes to reading the blog, and a huge YES to your last paragraph. I wasn’t that cautious with my phone number if I actually planned to meet someone, but I didn’t ever give my name until the in-person meeting. One guy who messaged me (which I didn’t respond to, since it was a useless message) was oddly insistent about finding out my name, and even messaged me again to ask why I hadn’t responded to him and ask what my name was again. After that I decided it was better to have a one strike, you’re blocked policy. The nice ones tend to send good messages from the start, and are fine with you enforcing your boundaries however you feel comfortable.

  10. A few years ago I was on OKcupid for a bit when I lived in the middle of nowhere (an hour to the nearest grocery store)…I definitely had some weird shady interactions with a lot of people.

    There were a couple people I found interesting and enjoyed going out with a few times, but they were all people that I contacted first. Most people who contacted me were way creepy. A lot of MUCH older men (like 30 years older than me), a couple of them commenting on how much they liked my armpit hair (Is that supposed to be a sexy pick-up line? Haha).

    This one guy sent me a ‘wink’ but no message or anything. I never responded to those because I figured if they were really interested then they would have said hello or commented on my profile or something. After a while he sent me a badly spelled message along the lines of “hey why didn’t you respond?” I politely told him that I generally don’t respond to winks and that I looked at his profile and it did not seem like we had much in common. (Like you, I had a lot of people contact me that were extremely incompatible). He proceeded to get really angry and call me a bitch and tell me I was probably a lesbian (I identified on the profile as queer, so I don’t know why he would even think that was an insult. Unless he really did not even read it, which is totally possible). When I didn’t respond he sent me another really hostile message, so I blocked him.

    I think the reason it was such a weird experience for me was because I had never really DATED…I had always just gotten into relationships with folks I had been friends with, usually for quite a long time prior. (Even now, I am with someone I met through my brother that actually went to my high school). So, I think the fact that I was going out with people with the expectation of a date before I actually KNEW if I wanted to date them was a strange one for me, and was difficult when I realized I didn’t really want to go on anymore dates. The people I dated through okcupid were very nice and it sucked telling them I just wasn’t that into it, but I suppose that happens with anyone you go on dates like that with, regardless of where you meet them. :/

    ANYWAY, it was an interesting experience and I really like your tips and advice. There are a lot of decent people online, you just have to wade through a lot of creepers to find them, heh. Good luck on all your future dates! 🙂

  11. Oh! I am also curious if anyone has any good “offbeat” dating sites. When I was looking, I searched a bit for nerdy or more politically liberal/radical dating sites and didn’t come up with much.

    • Trivia: many people over the years have requested an Offbeat Dating site (a request came in just last week!) and the truth is that while it would probably be a money-maker, I’m just not equipped to deal with the emotional liability issues. What if someone got assaulted by someone they met through my site? Even if I was legally protected against culpability, I don’t know that I could handle the sense of emotional responsibility.

      • I actually worked for one of these dating websites and let me tell you, you aren’t wrong about the emotional difficulties. There were days where we’d all be crying because of some of the things we handled/dealt with behind the scenes. Think pedophiles, underage girls pretending to be old enough to join the site, and all the interactions between them; think scammers from Nigeria visibly swindling older site users out of their money in front of your eyes; think users reporting one another for things like rape or assault, and having no legal ramifications, because all you can do is report it and ban the user, but you aren’t even sure if they DID get raped because a lot of the users would admit to saying things about the other person that were untrue simply because they were mad the person didn’t pay for their date, or was bigger or shorter or uglier in person than what they thought they’d be…it was a hell of a fun job, to be sure, but the stress took its toll and there were no policies or help in place for the employees to turn to when we came across that stuff. I wouldn’t want to do it again!

      • Yeah, I definitely understand your reasons for not wanting to take on something like that. However, it could drum up additional business for OBB… hehe.

  12. I met my husband on eharmony. I have a friend who tried it and it didn’t work well for her, to each their own. My only advice is be thoughtful in how you answer the profile questions. I had a couple lame dates, but nothing awefull. I liked how you could slowly ramp up the conversation if you are more tentative, or bypass that option if you just want to jump in. Choosing pics to include was the hardest part for me!

  13. I met boyfriend on Match.com (and have had fairly significant relationships with two people I’d met on there in the past) and I like it. My personal view is that because it’s a paid site there are much fewer of the trolling for sex types (they are there, but there are fewer of them, I found). I’d tried PoF a few times and definitely preferred Match for that reason. Plus PoF just largely felt…weird? I can’t explain it….maybe it’s just because I attracted rather unique types on there!

    I like how Match doesn’t make you answer 5 million questions to sign up and I also like that there isn’t a helluva lot of leading
    in Match’s profile (ie, they give you big text boxes to write what you want). Here’s a pro tip for Match as well, they do sales a lot. So, if you create your free profile and then wait a bit you’ll get an email offer to sign up with a discount. Saves you spending quite as much right from the get go. But, then again, I had no problem spending £70 for a six month membership when I considered that that’s about the cost of two dates….if I had someone to date at the time.

    • I totally agree with this comment! I am currently in a relationship with someone I met on Match, and I found that my experience there was far better than any of the free sites. Ultimately, it’s worth the investment if you can afford it, because the people on there are serious enough to be willing to pay for the service.

      I also like that their profile is pretty open-ended, and they don’t waste your time with extensive surveys or personality tests. You just make your profile, do your thing, and meet people if they seem interesting!

      I went on several dates that didn’t pan out, but I am pretty selective, so I fortunately never encountered any total weirdos. Basically, go into it with an open mind, don’t have too high of expectations, and have fun with it!

  14. I tried to join I THINK IT WAS eharmony and apparently, I and 25% of the population aren’t able to join that site because we’re too amazing or something. (Actually, I suspect it was a small perceived inconsistency somewhere on the dating profile quiz.)
    And yeah. FetLife’s website. I’m sure that site is incredibly intricate, but my god does it need a facelift and a purge of old, unused accounts. In my area, all of the folks from FetLife meet up at one venue that’s just sketch as hell. For that reason alone, I steer my friends away. In larger markets, I’m sure there are better options.
    I originally joined OKCupid because of the quizzes and because it was an offshoot of TheSpark. With the matching system, it really should be one of the more interesting and relevant dating sites. But the fact that the users choose to totally ignore profiles and matching makes it worthless. I wish they would create a side experiment where you can find matches based on profiles and stats, THEN you get to see the photos. Boom, best dating site going. My profile currently has me listed in a relationship and looking for strictly friendship and I still get hit up constantly. I wish my crushing nostalgia would let me delete my profile.
    I met my boyfriend through a random video chat site–not like Chat Roulette, but a group webcam chat room. It takes some time because you get to know people by hanging out. It’s often troll-ridden, full of unbidden penis and you don’t get a choice as to where your co-chatters are from, but it worked for me!

  15. I met my ex on okcupid and it was a really good match and the relationship lasted 3 years before hitting a roadblock no one could have seen coming and I am now back on okcupid for round 2. Before that I tried match.com but found most of the guys were older 30s and 40s while I was in my early 20s. This probably varies geographically. I think a great online dating tip is go in with an idea of how much time you want to spend on it. I try to check it once or twice in the evening after work and that seems to be perfect for me. If I spend too much time on it it starts to feel like an energy drain

  16. I started out on Yahoo’s personals, and I’m not even sure they exist anymore. I actually had good luck on Plenty of Fish, but mainly because I knew what I was looking for. I developed a few rules over the several years I toyed around with online dating: 1) Meet for at least coffee with someone who is interesting enough to warrant it as soon as possible after the first contact, even if you’ve spoken on the phone. There’s nothing as effective as getting a read on someone in person. Saved myself tons of time and emotional investment in not-suitable partners with that one. It’s ok to say “sorry, I’m not feeling a spark” afterward. It’s honest and clear and hard for us women sometimes. Most empowering thing I learned to do, though. 2) With soooo many people looking for partners online now, it’s kind of overwhelming. Here’s what finally worked for me: I figured out *what I had to offer* and how I *actually lived my life*, not only what I was interested in trying or would’ve liked to do “someday”. Once I was honest about how much time I could realistically give to a relationship, between kids and my business, how I actually live, what my priorities were and how emotionally available I could be, the shape of the right partner started to become visible. Once I could see that, it was so much easier to see whether or not a potential match would fit. I was interviewing them for the position just as much as they were interviewing me, which helped me feel more confident and at ease. In the end, after lots of different coffee dates, I found a great guy whose life meshes with mine perfectly. Our 4th First-Date-iversary is on Sunday. 🙂

  17. There is no IRL. There is only AFK.*

    Each of these sites is just an online, intensified experience of meeting real people – real a–holes, real sex-obsessed people, real disrespectful people, real people you can’t stand, real friends, and real amazing, incredible, life-changing partners.

    I met some great people through OK Cupid, including my fantastic husband.

    It’s just old-school dating presented digitally, and I wish everyone would stop pretending it’s any different.

    *In Real Life, Away From Keyboard

  18. Ahhh online dating….I first delved into that in college, when a girl on my dorm floor said she met her boyfriend on AOL (remember that??). My mind was totally blown. I went for it and never looked back. I met my first husband literally randomly on ICQ (don’t know if that’s still around). He randomly started chatting with me, because the site gave you that option. We were married for almost 9 years, and divorced in 2010. From 2010-mid 2011 I was online dating like there was no tomorrow. Here’s my take:
    Match.com – hated this. It’s free to join, but in order to do anything like respond to messages, you have to pay. Most profiles are useless because of this reason – people are cheap and refuse to pay for the site. I went on like 1 date with a guy I met from there.
    Plenty of Fish – Not too bad in my case. I met a couple of fuck buddies on there, and some random hookups. They need a facelift for sure on that site.
    OkCupid- I LOVED the data analytics and the blog and the survey questions. Wonderful for blowing off endless hours online. I met 2 boyfriends on that site. I was with each for only a couple months though, but still! I really liked the percentages and maybe was one of the few who took them seriously. I also met some friends with benefits there and some fuck buddies as well.
    EHarmony – It actually let me join! This was kind of meh. I met 1 person IRL off here that I remember. He was a decent guy and we went out a few times. I think he had potential but someone else grabbed me first for the relationship. I hooked up with him again after that relationship fizzled but I think he lost interest in in me. 🙁

    And – no judging here please: Craigslist. Yes, I used it, and YES you can find ANYTHING on here. Even a spouse. Yes. I met my current husband on here and he is AMAZING. Best husband ever. This yielded the most results, and maybe it’s just my area (Alaska) but they were all pretty normal people. Yes, they wanted sex and hookups, but frankly, they’re men. No matter what site you’re on, they’re gonna be after that if they can get it. No exceptions. None. I never met one that didn’t. My husband held off a tiny bit longer than most because he immediately saw that I had long term potential, but even so – he wanted sex. I had no idea of the reputation of CL before I got on it, maybe if I had I wouldn’t have, but really, I say – don’t go to casual encounters (duh) and really, it’s awesome. I do have a friend in a long term relationship who he initially met as a casual encounter from the list of craig, though, so maybe even that advice take with a grain of salt.

    No matter which route you go, cast the net far and wide if you’re serious about it. You will get more results if you use multiple sites. You will also run into the same people on different sites too, though. Don’t be afraid to reach out first, but also remember that women rule the roost when it comes to online dating. We get more responses and can pick and choose the best of the bunch. 🙂

    I would absolutely do it again if I had to.

  19. Ooooh, I have so many opinions about this. I did online dating for probably six years and went on maybe a couple hundred dates. Here’s where I ended up:

    In a smaller city (<300,000-400,000 people), it is exactly the same pool of available men on every site. I recognized the same guys from CL, Match, OKCupid. If they are looking, they are looking everywhere. I finally went with CL because it was free and I like text.

    I always led with my strongest differentiator (no TV). I was looking to screen as many people out. My problem was too many responses, either generic or horribly lonely. I wanted fewer better responses.

    My sense of who people were from a brief text-only response was very good. If I caught a whiff of misogyny or conventional dating norms from a short email, or if I simply thought we were not alike, I was always right. Text is sufficient to determine if you want to meet that person.

    Contra the original poster, I never put up a picture. I am conventionally pretty and it would have gotten me too much stupid attention. I never asked for one either, since I was unwilling to give one. When I was answering an ad, I figured I should meet his terms, so I would send one. But I absolutely refused to post or send one if it is my own ad. It is just fucking coffee. You can live through one coffee with an ugly (to you) girl, if that's who I turn out to be.

    I went on so many dates (and was generally shocked at how bad men were at putting their best foot forward. I think they are so lonely, so as soon as they met a listener, they'd pour their hearts out and I ended up listening to terrible off-putting lengthy stories on the first date). It took me a while to realize. My goal on any particular occasion was not to meet My Soulmate. My goal was throughput. If I met and checked someone off the list, that was also progress.

    Finally, the key to internet dating, from someone who went on hundreds of internet dates. Go to brunch. Brunch will do you right. There's no question of spending the night. It ends and you haven't wasted your whole day thinking about it. It is always fun to eat brunch out. Go to brunch. A million times better than dinner or drinks. Brunch, my friends.

    (I did finally meet him. He mentioned the other day that he looked back at all the women he went on a date or two with, or followed their profiles. Every one of them is engaged or in a partnership now. It may take a while, but if that's what you want, meeting a lot of people will very likely get you there.)

    • Here’s a second to craigslist. I used it in NYC a long time ago (2003), but found a boyfriend that I stayed with for 3 years. I thought it easy to filter out the guys just looking to mess around, since that wasn’t what I was looking for then.

      I also second the brunch idea, although I’d caution to make sure you have somewhere else you “have” to be afterwards. I ended up on one date that lasted from brunch through 8pm because I had said at the beginning that I didn’t have anything else going on that day, and I felt it was too rude to say “I’m tired of hanging out with you now, so I’m going home.” (I was young and inexperienced and very shy…)

  20. My husband and I met 8 years ago on E harmony…I lucked out and met him during the free online week trial. Haha

    One of my friends met her husband on Hot or Not.com. if i remember correctly it’s a rating site and not a dating site, haha.

  21. Add one more to the legions who met their current partner online. I used OkCupid, and he was actually the first guy I met up with in person from there. We’ve been dating for 3.5 years now. I think the most important thing for that site in particular is to answer lots of questions, and also carefully fill out the “how important is this to you” and “what answers would be unacceptable” corollaries. The algorithm found me lots of people with a match rating of 95% and up (btw, I really am in the right region of the country for meeting people with similar beliefs and values to mine), and when I read their profiles they really did look like people I’d get along with and probably want to date.

    I also very, very much agree with making the first move yourself, as a woman looking for men. Men don’t get nearly as many messages, so someone you like is fairly likely to respond to you right off the bat, and that way your inbox won’t be entirely filled with creeps or people who don’t have anything to say other then “HEY BEAUTIFUL” and are not compatible with you at all. That gets demoralizing quickly, so use the block button liberally!

  22. I’m another person who met their spouse on OkCupid, glad to know there’s a bunch of us out there!! I couldn’t stand PlentyOfFish, but here’s some ways I made OkCupid a happier place for me:

    1. Set strong filters. It can feel harsh, but setting filters that block certain age groups, people looking for hook-ups, or people whose compatibility percentages are too low helps keep your inbox looking nice(r).
    2. Don’t be afraid to block. If someone comes off as creepy or sleazy, block them. You might feel guilty at first, but it will save you a LOT of emotional drama down the line.
    3. Answer a lot of OkC’s questions. The more you answer, the more the percentage system works in your favor. It really makes a difference.
    4. If you’re bi, it is really hard to find same-sex people on OkC. It’s a problem with their site’s set up or algorithm or something. I haven’t used the site in a few years, so they might have fixed that problem, but a lot of my bi friends would temporarily change their settings to “gay/lesbian” in order to find same-sex compatible people — one woman complained that she would see 60% compatible men before OkC would show 85% compatible women.

    • Bi people have the option of making their OKC profile invisible to straight people. When you select this, only gay and bi people of your own sex and bi people of the opposite sex will show up in your matches. You can turn this option on and off whenever you want.

  23. I met my husband on a dating website. I was on and off the same website (nzdating.co.nz) for a good… 10 years actually. I had several boyfriends from there, a few of them for over a year, one for 2.5 years, and now my husband. I definitely found that the more I put in the profile, the better quality of guys that sent me messages. It also helped me weed out those that couldn’t be bothered reading it. If they asked me a question that was clearly stated in my profile, I’d ignore them. I laid out exactly what I wanted in my profile, so if they didn’t fit it, I deleted their message.

    I agree with going on at least one date. My husband had particularly unflattering photos up, so even though his profile was okay (not hugely filled out) I was iffy. I decided to go on a date with him anyway. I came home from that date telling my flatmate I’d met the man I was going to marry, and did so 3 years later 🙂

  24. I met my fiance on OKCupid. I admittedly had to wade through the idiots first and through people who were kind of nice but didn’t interest me. It was obviously worth it in the end though. My fiance is amazing. 🙂 I agree with someone above who said to answer many of the questions on OKCupid. Comparing answers made for some good conversations between my now-fiance and me. I also agree that it’s good to talk on the phone and/or voice chat for a while before meeting in person.

    Before I met my fiance there were some dumb messages I got that I simply laughed off and ignored. My “favorite” being nothing but the following: “I want be friend wih you.” (I left the “t” out of “with” on purpose, to be clear, lol.)

  25. Any words of advice for an online introvert? I signed up for OkCupid when I moved to my new town, but I actually just disabled my account because I just never worked up the nerve to respond to anyone. Granted, most of the message I receive are pretty bland and don’t actually elicit responses, but even with the ones that were nice and thoughtful, I just couldn’t do it. (Honestly I am more of a dating introvert than anything, and I have trouble with any interaction that could possibly lead to romance – I thought online dating might be a good way to practice, but without the pressure of face to face interaction, I just opt out!)

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