Welcome to OkCupid University.

For my first course, let’s just take a look at the basics, shall we?  If you’re unfamiliar with the site entirely, know that it’s a free service and can be relatively private if you’re smart about it.  Mostly, it’s successful for college and grad students, and working kids in their 20s.

Myths

1.  Free sites are only good for hook-ups.  If people want relationships, they’re willing to pay.  False!  If you’re a student (undergrad or graduate) or you’re in your 20s, you probably don’t have that much disposable income.  You probably also feel like you’re not “old enough” for something like Match.com or eHarmony.  You can use OkCupid for random casual hookups, but there are people actually looking for relationships too.  We’ll touch on the beauty of signaling later.

2. Anyone can find you, so you shouldn’t show your face.  Ever.  At least on OkCupid, there is an option that allows you to be invisible to non-members.  The way I see it, if someone is a member and sees you on there, you’ve reached an impasse.  You could be outed, but they’ll realize you’d out them, too.  You absolutely should include pictures of your face – otherwise you look like a crazy person and no one will want to meet up with you.  Should you include your face, your home address, and your job title/company?  Um, no, do you want to be stalked?  Obviously, keep basic internet privacy and safety rules in mind.

3. It’s weird.  You’re weird.  Sure, there are some weird people on OkCupid, but there are weird people at your campus bars too.  Learn how to spot red flags, and you won’t have to worry.  (Also, carry pepper spray.)

Photos

1. Include at least one photo focusing on your face.  Maybe it’s a picture from a vacation, a cute shot of you and your dog/cat/rabbit, or a halfway decent self-taken photo that is not a mirror pic.

2. Include one fully body shot that’s flattering, but not obvious.  Again, vacation photos are great for this.  No judgment if you want to go for a bikini pic, but I would recommend it be cute and not too ~sexy~ unless you want to wade through creepy messages.

            A. Example: I included a pic of me in a bikini at the beach, holding my dog.

            B. Pictures from a hike, a 5k, etc. are also great, as they show some personality.

3. Include a silly photo that showcases a bit of your personality.  Maybe you play the ukulele, because you’re secretly Zooey Deschanel.  Or if you play D&D and you’re looking to snag a fellow player, post a picture of you on D&D night.  Whatever.  Don’t be afraid to show an interest of yours that’s a little less common – it gives someone who’s interested but shy something to comment on so you can begin a conversation in a way that’s not awkward.

Your “About Me”

1. I’m hoping everyone’s gotten over this internet phase, but just in case you haven’t, you are not random.  I repeat: you are not random.  Don’t you dare put “I’m really random lol” in your About Me.  You are not 14 and this is not 2002.

2.  Brevity is the soul of wit.  A short, well-written description is worth more than all the words you know thrown together in an attempt to sound interesting.  I recommend one to two short paragraphs.

3.  No one wants to hear you put yourself down or make self-deprecating jokes.  This is the time to focus on your good qualities, because trust me, they’re there.  If you can’t love yourself, how in the hell you gonna love somebody else?

Your “Looking For”

Really, this is a simple one.  Be honest about what you’re looking for!  During my last stint on OkCupid, when I met my boyfriend, I had checked only “new friends” and “long-term dating”, because I didn’t want to be casually dating a number of people.  You don’t have to check “short-term dating” if you’re not looking for that.  I think a lot of people make the mistake of checking “short-term dating” when they’re looking for long-term dating because they don’t want to appear too needy.  Forget about that for now.

Congratulations!  You’re now ready to move onto the next installment of OkCupid University.