…that you can now find me on NoStrings Dating’s blog?
NoStrings Dating is a UK-based dating site that focuses on casual dating and hook-ups. If you’ve been a longtime reader of my blog, then you know that I spent some time learning about what I now refer to as “dating culture”, so I’m sure you can see why writing for their blog piqued my interest!
If not, let me re-cap it for you: In spring of 2011, my second serious college relationship ended when we realized we just weren’t compatible at all. The thing is, we had been dating for 9 months. We should have been able to figure out that we weren’t compatible before getting so invested. I wanted to know why I kept getting into relationships before really getting to know the other person. Also, I wanted to have some fun. So I decided to learn how to date. I went on dates with roughly 25 guys in a span of four months, and I learned so, so much.
Over on the NoStrings Dating blog, I’ve already shared a more in-depth version of Why I Chose Casual Dating. I’ve also discussed my absolute worst date of all time. Ever the problem solver, I have a few tips for What to Do When He Can’t Get It Up. And, arguably the most fun of all, What Your Favourite Sex Position Says About You.
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.
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.)
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.
Today, I’m going to take you on a journey. Back, back… back to when the pop charts first introduced us to “Rolling In the Deep”. When many of us were surprised by how much we either loved or hated Bridesmaids (loved, mostly).
Summer 2011. I had just finished my sophomore year and broken up with that year’s boyfriend. In truth, it had been over for a solid 3 months before we finally axed the whole thing. I felt I had gotten into the relationship before I even knew if we were compatible. Until the dissolution of our relationship, my relationships always followed the same formula: Meet guy, start talking to guy (and don’t talk to any other guys), get serious. So I headed into summer wanting to learn how to date.
Joining OKCupid was one of the first things I did after I unpacked my dorm room and moved back in with my parents for the summer. Seriously, I was not wasting time. In fact, during my first day online, I set up and attended my first OKCupid date. Which was a total fucking shitshow disaster. But you know what? After that particular baptism by fire, it got pretty fun.
I wanted to learn how to decide if I was compatible with someone before getting emotionally invested. I was tired of 3-10 month relationships where you spend half the time fighting and trying to convince yourself that there’s some reason you’re still together. What I really wanted was to meet a lot of guys, hone my taste, and learn how to decipher real compatibility. The four months that I spent dating left me with invaluable insight, both into dating as a practice and myself.
I’d really like to talk more about online dating strategies and experiences. This blog is devoted to sex and relationships, but a crucial part of that is simply meeting the right person.
Do my readers have any topics you’d like me to cover? Did you know that I offer online dating consulting services, including profile assistance?
Steve’s not much for Valentine’s Day, so I’m sparing him the indignity and writing this post now. Being that we live together, he’s a huge part of my life, and I don’t know how much I really talk about him besides his sexual preferences. (Poor man. He’s a saint.) So this is a post about us.
12/31/12 in St. Louis
We met when I worked at a local coffee shop, but I only knew him as a customer. He probably frequented the cafe 1-2 times a week for a year. (Yes, I did think he was cute.) He moved, I was having my summer of dating, but that’s another story. In early 2012, I re-joined OKCupid, and after a couple of weeks of a couple dates, I got a message from Steve saying that he recognized me from the cafe and he hoped I didn’t think that was weird. I actually scheduled and then cancelled our first date. I rescheduled on a whim in the Giant Eagle parking lot and then panicked and ended up going anyway.
March 2012 had our first date, to our favorite bar. April 23, I got horrendously drunk with a professor at 4 o’clock in the afternoon, and Steve came to join us. That night, I asked him if he wanted to be exclusive while doing something I shouldn’t have in his office, then I broke my nose, then I made him stay at my apartment while I slept til 1am, let him leave, and called him back again begging him to come back. Why is this man currently living with me? Aren’t those warning signs?
His folly is my fortune, though, because we’ve just passed 9 months of serving up relationship realness. I moved in with him in July 2012, meaning we’ve spent 2/3 of our relationship together at least 12 hours a day. Sometimes we just turn to each other and high five.
And all of this is really culminating in the fact that, at some point in the next month or two, we’ll know where we’re moving, if we’re moving, and what we’re going to have to do to make that happen. There’s a possibility we’ll be in Pittsburgh another year, and there’s a possibility we’ll be jetting to Europe. The uncertainty makes me insane, but there’s nothing that either of us can do at this point. Just wait it out.