OkCupid University: Etiquette 0500

Welcome to another installment of OkCupid University!  In case you missed it, you can find my intro to OkC post here.

Many of the most common question I get asked about online dating revolve around etiquette.  A lot of myths still abound about male/female interaction, and since the majority of my friends are heterosexual, that’s what I hear the most about.  I hate to be heteronormative, but a lot of this post is going to deal with being a woman looking to date a man, because that’s what I have personal experience with.  If you don’t fall into that category, I would love to hear from you about how your experiences differed from mine, if at all.

My Least Favorite Myth: Women shouldn’t send the first message.

I can’t believe I’m even addressing this in 2013, but since I’ve been asked more than once, it seems I have to: Go ahead and send a damn message.  Someone has to make the first move, and if you noticed him first, why shouldn’t you?  There exists this stereotype about girls who “chase” boys, girls who are needy and pathetic, and I know a lot of smart women who are afraid to make a move because of that.  Fuck that shit.  Say hi, mention something specific from their profile that drew you in, and close with a question related to another area of their profile that caught your eye.  Easy peasy, and nothing “crazy” about it.  Women who message men aren’t crazy or needy, they just don’t subscribe to bullshit theories perpetuated by the patriarchal media.

Real Faux-PasThe double message.

You know who really is crazy? The person who sends a follow-up message, when the first one did not receive a response. Especially a follow-up message like this:

“Guess you didn’t like what you see.  Sigh.

No matter what you want to say to that psycho, just don’t do it. Don’t tell them off, don’t buy into it, and most of all, don’t apologize. This is not someone you want to get involved with. They’re either emotionally manipulative, or they’re a child, and either way they are not fit for a healthy adult relationship.

There is one exception to this rule: If you have been messaging someone and you were setting plans with them but they disappeared, it is perfectly fine to send a follow-up 3 or more days later. Something like, “Hey, still interested in getting together?” Short, sweet, nothing emotional. It’s possible that they forgot to press send on their last message, but it’s also possible that they changed their minds. I won’t lie to you – it happens. All you can do is be an adult and hope they behave the same way.

Call Me, MaybeWhen to give out your number.

In my opinion, there is absolutely nothing wrong with giving out your number. I usually did it when we’d talked for a bit via OkC messenger, mostly to make my life easier. It’s much simpler to text someone about plans than to rely on them checking their account. Use common sense: Don’t give out your number in a first message, and don’t put it in your profile. I gave my number to at least 15 guys during the course of my OkC experience, and not a single one ever harassed me. Some people think it’s forward for a woman to give a man her number before he asks for it.  I guess those people really get a kick out of wasting time.

Set a DateAsking, accepting, and declining.

Do I really need to tell you that it’s totally ok for a woman to ask a man out on a date?  Really?  Because it’s totally ok for a woman to ask a man out on a date.  “Would you like to get coffee sometime?”  Any well-adjusted person would be happy to hear (or read) those words!  If you want to go on a date, there is absolutely no shame in asking.  Because guess what?  If he says yes, he wanted to go out with you.  End of story.

Now, what if someone asks you on a date.  Do you want to go?  Did you check out their profile, and make sure they didn’t answer any questions in a worrisome fashion?  Then accept!  Obviously.  Do you think it would be a total train wreck, ending with a thrown drink or you falling asleep in your chair?  Politely decline.  “I’m sorry, I’m flattered, but I don’t think we’d make a good match.  Good luck, and I do appreciate the invitation.”  Maybe I’m a little formal, whatevs, you can adjust it.  I’m not your damn secretary.

Show Me the MoneyWho pays?

This is a highly personal aspect of dating, and it’s something that gets many people’s undies in a twist.  To be safe, assume you’re going to split it down the middle. Don’t be a dickwad and order anything you wouldn’t want to pay for. I’m personally ok with letting someone else cover the check if that’s what they want to do. I think it’s polite to ask, “Are you sure? I don’t mind splitting,” but if they press I will let them pay. I might get flack for that, and I understand why, but it’s how I’ve always handled dates. If you hate to let anyone pay for you, that is certainly your prerogative, and I do understand the reasoning behind it.

Next up at OkC U: Playing the Field – Dating More than One Person at a Time

OkCupid University: OKC 101

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.

Flashback to Online Dating

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 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?


Dating and Friends

I’m going to put this right out there: Some people suck at having friends and dating at the same time.

Have you ever had a friend who just completely disappeared after meeting Mr./Ms. Right(Now)?  Maybe you’ve been that friend.  Maybe you currently are that friend.  Stop that asshattery right this instant.

I get it, and I’m happy for you.  You’ve met someone that you just can’t stand to be without.  Hell, I have someone in my life that I can’t imagine being apart from.  It’s intoxicating.  New love is amazing, and you want to just cocoon with your lovenugget until you’re both old, grey, and sick of each other.  If you do that, everyone else is going to get sick of you real fast.

Let me tell you something.  Not every activity you and your squeeze do together is a date.  You’re going to get bagels, you’re not headed to the opera.  If you do every single activity that you can think of together, alone, you are annoying to all of your friends who still kind of want to see you every once in a while.

Once you sequester yourselves, you will stop getting invitations to any and all other activities, unless they’re double dates.  Double dating is fine and dandy, but remember your single friends?  Yeah, they feel like shit when you don’t have time to see them anymore now that you’ve pair bonded.  Step away from your lovenugget for one hot second and make some plans.

Furthermore, everything you do with your beloved does not have to be a “date.”  You can invite other people on these outings and make an effort to make them feel comfortable and included.  Believe me, it works. Haven’t you people ever seen How I Met Your Mother??

This is a wakeup call.  Think about the last time you went out with a good friend.  Think about the last time you tried to include someone else in your plans with your lovenugget.  If you can’t remember, pick up your damn phone and send some texts…  Because it’s never too late.


PS: I used the terms “lovenugget”, “squeeze”, and “beloved” because I couldn’t think of any gender-neutral pronouns besides “ou” and some people would be confused by that.  Your lovenugget don’t gotta conform to gender stereotypes and neither do you.

“I just can’t figure out how he feels about me!”

A few days ago, I overheard one girl on my college campus talking to another.

“I just can’t figure out how he feels about me.  When we’re together, it’s great, but then he doesn’t text back and he doesn’t make plans.  But I like him so much!”

It was really difficult for me not to go over and tell her what I’m about to tell you: It doesn’t fucking matter.

Think about it this way.  When you make a new friend, you hit it off immediately.  Often, you exchange numbers, and you might go through an awkward phase where you’re not sure how much texting is normal, but you’re really excited to hang out more.  You see each other at parties, or you invite each other to lunch or to study.  It’s fun and easy.  Why should romance be more difficult than that?

To get another perspective, I asked Steve if he thought there was ever a good reason for a girl not to know how a guy feels about her (obviously, though, this phenomenon is not limited to heterosexual relationships).  He – a great boyfriend – said no, absolutely not.  If she doesn’t know, he’s not into it.

And that’s all you need to know.  It doesn’t matter how much you like them.  If you “win him over”, are you going to be happy?  Or are you going to be worried you have to stay on top of your game to keep him?  That’s not much of a prize, and it’s definitely not much of a relationship.

Some people aren’t very good with communication.  That’s a fact.  But if it’s important to you that you hear from your partner, then you should probably hold out for a partner who will respect that, who either already has a tendency to answer promptly or who is willing to make adjustments for your happiness.

Now, this part is going to sound crude, but it is what it is.  Of course things are great when you’re together – one or both of you is getting what you want.  You both want physical intimacy, otherwise you wouldn’t be in this situation.  But if one of you wants more and the other one doesn’t, having that intimacy isn’t going to change anything.  You can’t oral sex someone into loving you.

I’m not going to say “guys are ____” because they aren’t.  All men, women, and ous are different.  I will tell you, with confidence, that if the pieces don’t match up, if you don’t want the same things, it’s not going to work, no matter how much you like them.