Because if you know someone single and they mention OKC, chances are they aren’t talking about Oklahoma City…!
Ah, OKC. The young twentysomething’s Match. The pre-Tinder Tinder. The good ol’ cesspool.
I signed up for OkCupid on a Saturday night in January of 2014 100% out of spite. I had been gchatting with a guy I liked at the time, and he signed off, telling me that he was heading out with “some people.” Since I was not invited, like I normally would be, and since he chose to not elaborate upon who these “some people” were, I assumed (correctly) that this meant he was going out with his girlfriend at the time, who I, being the scorned woman, had less than no use for. Naturally, I did what any reasonable person would do in that situation: I joined OKC to find me a boyfriend to make the guy I liked jealous. Definitely a good mental place to be in for this sort of situation.
OkCupid, in my opinion, is the Salvation Army of online dating. (In the most delicious coincidence of my entire life, about two weeks after I came up with this clever metaphor, I met someone on OkCupid whose parents work for the Salvation Army as pastors, thus meaning this guy was raised in the Salvation Army. Every now and again I accidentally predict my future like this, and I kind of love it.) While the VAST majority of available options are outdated, not your style or damaged in some way, and while literally every available option has been rejected in some capacity by someone else, if you are both persistent and patient, you’ll find what you’re looking for. In my experience, you HAVE to go in with this mindset, or else you will lose your will to live…or at least, you know, lose your will to continue using OkCupid. Let’s say you’re looking for a perfectly tailored Theory blazer, but don’t want to drop $425 at Bloomingdale’s to buy said blazer. Are you going to find that blazer at Salvation Army if you waltz in on any given Saturday afternoon? Probably not. However, if you go to Salvation Army every single day, if you figure out when Salvation Army restocks its inventory and make your daily appearance accordingly, if you scope out several Salvation Armies to find which one would be most likely to stock what your coveted Theory blazer, chances are you’ll eventually find, if not a Theory blazer, a perfectly acceptable substitute. You have to know, though, that it could very easily be a long, long process, and you’re going to have to sort through A LOT of crap to find what you’re looking for. If you’re not willing to put up with that, then you should probably just go to Bloomingdale’s in the first place.
OKC is completely free with the option to pay to upgrade to A-List service for a little bit of bonus material (more search filters, the ability to see who has indicated that they like you, the ability to browse anonymously, etc.). I’ve never gone A-List, so I can only speak from the free standpoint. To register, you fill out a profile with as much or as little information as you choose, come up with a username (this, in my opinion, was the hardest part of the whole situation), upload some photos, and answer more multiple choice questions than you ever dreamed you’d see this side of the ACT. OkCupid doesn’t require you to do any of these things aside from choosing a username, but the more information you add, the more OKC has to go off of in determining your match percentage with someone, and–perhaps more importantly–the more someone viewing your profile can see and use to decide whether or not you are worthy of his/her virtual flirtations.
I think there are two major stereotypes about OkCupid (and, to an extent, free online dating in general). Stereotype #1: 95% of the people on OkCupid are looking for a hookup. The other 5% are either lying or delusional. Stereotype #2: If you are a girl, you will be bombarded by asinine-at-best messages from every dudebro caveman with Internet access, and will need to spend untold hours sorting though this useless correspondence. Dozens of men will visit your profile on a daily basis, and most of them will solicit you for sex. If you are a guy, you will have to fight tooth and nail to overcome the preconceived notion that you, possessing a Y chromosome, are inherently a dudebro man looking to get laid and/or a serial killer. The chances of you receiving an unsolicited message from a girl are about as high as the chances of you finding a glittery rainbow unicorn prancing up and down State Street.
In my experience, neither one of these things has proved entirely true. In regards to Stereotype #1, I can’t speak from experience or actual researched knowledge (though I do think this would make a fascinating study), but I hypothesize that Tinder has overtaken OKC as the way to find a hookup in this, our smartphone age. In my OKC experience, it has been exceedingly rare to find someone or be contacted by someone looking only for a hookup. Granted, that could be based on how I have my profile set up–I don’t know what all OKC takes into consideration when presenting me with eligible boys–but I haven’t found that to be much of a problem.
In regards to Stereotype #2, I will say that I delete probably 75% of the messages I’ve receive without ever responding, because those messages usually look like “hey” “how are you” or “what’s up.” I have a few rules of thumb when it comes to responding to messages: they have to look like dudebro put at least an iota of effort into it, they have to come from someone within my acceptable age range (49 year olds need not apply), they have to come from someone who lives within the city of Chicago (or a very easily accessible suburb, if he seems outstanding), and they have appear to not be a form message sent out to tens/dozens/hundreds of girls hoping for a response. To say that I’ve been inundated with messages, however, would be wildly inaccurate. I’d say I get, at MOST, messages from three new guys in a week. Usually it’s more like zero to one new guys per week – and that’s just messages in general, not messages I will justify with a response. This has led to plenty of existential crises–am I not pretty enough? Not interesting enough? Not chill enough? Why am I not being sexually harassed like everyone said I would be?!–but, realistically, I think I’m doing okay :P As for the other side of the coin–that girls never message guys–I imagine that by and large that’s true, but I’ve certainly sent a first message to my fair share of guys. On rare occasions, they respond. On even rarer occasions, this leads to something (true life: I first-messaged my now-ex-boyfriend, who I met on OKC. I was, once again, frustrated by that same guy who drove me to sign up for OKC in the first place, and in browsing through guys on OKC, I saw one I thought was super cute, read through his profile, and straight up asked him out right then. Though it obviously didn’t work out long term, it definitely was an effective strategy! To be fair, though, I’ve tried this strategy again since we broke up, and it has not worked out at all with anyone else.). OKC indicates how often someone responds to messages when you see their profile, and in my poking around, I’ve found that most girls respond selectively or very selectively according to OKC, whereas most guys respond frequently. You would think this means if a girl messages a guy, she’s guaranteed a response, but I’m here to tell you that is NOT always the case. While that stings the first time or two, the more it happens, the more you stop caring. The way I see it, if a guy can’t respond to a thought-out message I sent him, he’s not worth my time. So I move on and continue looking for that perfect blazer–I mean, boy ;)
You can try all sorts of strategies on OKC to get attention. Updating your profile makes it more likely that OKC will show you off to people, and this can legitimately mean adding or removing a comma from a sentence. Personally, I like to go on OKC during what I refer to as the “witching hour”: Sunday night. I’ve found this is when the most people are online, so if you want traffic, this is a good time to be active. If I want to actively look for people on OKC, I use QuickMatch, which is basically OkCupid’s answer to Tinder. It shows you random profiles and you can choose to either like them or pass on them. Passing on them doesn’t mean you’ll never see them again, but liking them moves them to your list of liked people. From here, you can browse people’s full profiles. If I’m actively OKCing (as opposed to passively OKCing, which is being on OKC and waiting for someone to come to you), I’ll set aside a certain amount of time to QuickMatch – until I get home, until I finish this meal, for the next five minutes, whatever. I’ll like the guys who seem interesting, then go to my liked list and more thoroughly look through their profiles, keeping a particular eye on when he was last active on OKC, because I’m not going to waste my time with someone who hasn’t been on in two weeks (the fact that OKC tells you when someone is online is also useful if you’re in the market for a solid dose of schadenfreude, because it will tell you when your ex-boyfriend is online if his profile happens to show up when you’re browsing matches, and then you can think, “Ha-HA, loser! Guess whose fault it is that we’re both online right now??”). OKC lets you know who’s visited your profile, so in theory, these guys should all know that I’ve visited their profile, which I think is the equivalent of continually looking in someone’s direction at a bar/on the train/wherever, hoping that they’ll make eye contact with you and come over to introduce themselves. Sometimes, I can’t think of anything to say to him after doing this, which I choose to believe is fate telling me this isn’t worth my time (unless of course he chooses to message me later). Sometimes I come up with something witty and creative to say, in which case I message him.
OKC has a lot of active members (187,000 people are online as I write this), which is both a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, you have a lot of people to choose from, so chances are you’ll find someone worth finding (though, like I said, it’ll take some persistence and patience, most likely). On the other hand, there are 187,000+ people on OKC, and if there’s anything I’ve learned from online dating, it’s that the world is much, much smaller than you may like it to be. If you’re a twentysomething doing the online dating thing, there’s a really good chance you’re going to run into your fellow single twentysomethings on OKC, whether you knew they were single or not…like, for instance, a person recently hired by an organization that you work closely with, who you talked to on the phone for work related things a couple weeks ago, who suggested that the two of you get a business lunch some time, who you accidentally ran across on Facebook two days later because he had liked something on a page you were viewing for legitimate research purposes, who, when you clicked on his name, had a very familiar profile picture, and OH SNAP, yep, you DEFINITELY know this guy from messaging him on OKC. And, of course, the golden rule of dating, “Thou shall not attempt to date other runners,” certainly applies on OKC just as it applies everywhere else, because inevitably, you will run into this person later on down the line, like, say, when you’re volunteering at Participant Packet Pickup at the Shamrock Shuffle, and that’s awkward and uncomfortable for all involved.
One issue I’ve encountered with the guys I’ve met on OKC (I like to refer to them as my suitors :P ) is that it can be REALLY easy to get caught up in messaging and never go beyond that, or take for.ev.er. to go beyond that. In my OKC life, I’ve gone out with five guys I’ve met via the site, only two of which (the now-ex-boyfriend and Salvation Army) I ever saw and/or spoke to again post-first date. The other three guys became penpals–we’d exchange messages almost daily–before finally–and I kid you not, every single one of them said exactly this–saying, after a FULL MONTH, “I don’t want to be too forward, but would you like to meet up in person?” UM, DUH. I didn’t join OkCupid to find a digital penpal, and I’m guessing you didn’t either! Based on that, I have to say that if you and your suitor exchange messages for a month–honestly, for more than two weeks–and neither one of you feels compelled to ask the other person out, RUN IN THE OPPOSITE DIRECTION. You’re wasting your time and his time. Of course, all the usual rules about meeting up with Internet strangers certainly apply with OKC: meet in a public place, tell people where you’re going, having an emergency exit strategy in place to use if needed, don’t pass off too much personal information the first time you meet them, etc. But do meet up with them if at all possible.
If you’re willing to put time and effort into online dating, I think OKC is completely worth it. You’ll likely meet people you never would have met otherwise, and though you will need to put up with some junk, you’ll probably find some gems if you keep at it. It’s the only thing that’s ever gotten me a boyfriend, so it must be worth something ;)
Though be forewarned: if you reactivate your profile after deactivating your profile due to dating your now-ex-boyfriend, OKC will have no sympathy for your fragile emotional state:
What an ass :P