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In Which I Attempt To Educate An OkCupid Guy

A bad OkC message.A common complaint I hear from straight men on OkCupid is that women won’t even respond to their messages to politely decline and/or to explain why they are declining. Personally, I don’t believe that is a courtesy that anyone owes anyone on a dating website, especially not when a lot of these messages read like copy-pasted spam sent out to every woman in a 10-mile radius. If you don’t send me a personalized message, why should I give you a personalized reply?

In most other social contexts, when someone spams you, it is considered acceptable to ignore the request. I don’t need to explain to the nice person with the clipboard on the street exactly why I will not be stopping to listen to what they have to say today. If a salesperson knocks on my door, it’s fine to just say “nope sorry” as I’m shutting it.

In situations where the person who receives the message is getting very many other messages, it’s also reasonable that they might not take the time to respond. I have emailed numerous writers, researchers, and speakers that I admire, either to just tell them that I admire them or to ask questions about their work or whatever, and did not receive replies. That’s okay! Either they saw my email but didn’t find it interesting enough to respond to, or they meant to but it just got buried in the inbox, or they didn’t even see it because they get so many emails, or whatever. It’s not a personal slight.

But on OkCupid, for some reason, we are expected to give spammy men “closure” or else we risk being seen as “rude.” But aside from the fact that nobody owes anyone attention on the internet, the reason many of us are so disinclined to offer a polite “No thanks, not interested! [Optional: Here's why!]” is because of things like this:

Him: Hey, I know this is kinda wierd and pushy haha, but would u like to have sex with me? I’m not a creep or pervert, just a genuine guy. I would treat u with respect and the sex would be good. I can even make u squirt if the connection is right haha. I will not judge you or think you re “easy”. So yeah, excuse me if I come across as a little uncalibrated but I think you re attractive, so what do you think? :) haha

Me: This would be a perfectly good message if my profile said I was looking for casual sex. It specifically says I am NOT looking for casual sex. In fact, it even said I’m looking for friends primarily, maybe more later.

You’re going to have more luck with this approach if you message women who say they’re looking for someone to hook up with. As it is, I’m annoyed that you clearly didn’t even bother to read my profile.

By the way, making women squirt has nothing to do with “the connection.” Some women do it, others can’t, and the ones who can will do it if you stimulate the g-spot the right way.

Him: Ur profile is kinda long. But I get u re bi and u speak Russian. I do speak Russian too. I’m here to have a good sex actually

Me: “Ur profile is kinda long.”
Then that should’ve been your first hint that we’re not gonna get along very well, no? The people I’m looking for have all told me that my profile is awesome and interesting. If you don’t agree, that’s fine. Go find someone else who’s interested in having sex. I am not.

Him: It’s interesting actually but it’s better when it’s not so long. It’s too detailed. Just my humble opinion

Me: I didn’t ask for your opinion. We’re not interested in the same thing. Find someone else.

Him: Ok))

Him: I will keep my fucking opinion to myself

So, rather than a simple “Ok, sorry about that!”, I got: 1) repeated attempts to interact with me, 2) unsolicited advice about my profile, which I had just said works perfectly well for what it’s meant to do, and 3) childish, passive-aggressive pouting. Attractive.

Dudes, the reason women so often try to immediately disengage when you proposition them isn’t because they’re too rude or self-centered to give you a polite “no.” It’s because so many of you will turn any verbal or nonverbal response from the woman into a Referendum On Why We Should Totally Fuck Even Though You Just Said You Weren’t Interested.

By the way, I do this sort of exchange on OkCupid a lot, because I don’t mind doing it and I think it’ll be good if I manage to convince a guy or two to stop spamming women who specifically state they’re not into random fucking. (From my profile: “I’m not looking for casual sex.” Yes, it’s actually in bold.) I will say that this latest instance is actually pretty benign. Often it’s more like “Fine ur ugly anyway u fucking cunt.” Mmm, those sour grapes sure taste good after a hot summer day.

A lot of guys will claim that the reason women get angry at messages like this guy’s first one is because they hate sex and hate men and especially hate male sexuality. It’s true that some people (including all genders) are very uncomfortable with direct sexual propositions for all sorts of reasons and would find that message disgustingly inappropriate. There are plenty of reasons someone might feel that way.

But I’m actually not one of those people. I didn’t feel disgusted or uncomfortable or creeped out by that message. I felt annoyed, because I made such an effort to be clear about what I’m looking for and what I’m not, and I still constantly have people ignore what I say, either assuming that they know better than me or that there’s nothing worthwhile to read in my profile, and every attempt I make to clarify to people that we’re not looking for the same thing is met with Referenda On Why We Should Totally Fuck Even Though You Just Said You Weren’t Interested.

And that is a behavior that is not exclusive to men, by the way. I get it from women who (along with their boyfriends/husbands) are looking for a fun young female sex toy to try in the bedroom, even though that’s another thing I specifically state I’m not looking for. While entitlement to sex shows up most often among men who have sex with women, since that’s a dominant cultural script that we have, plenty of people display it egregiously regardless of gender.

Not only does this guy clearly think he knows what I want, he also seems to know what the partners I’m looking for want: a shorter profile. As I mentioned in my exchange with him, I’ve gotten tons of compliments on it. I worked hard on it. I think my personality comes through pretty clearly on it, and the fact that I’m so clear about what I’m looking for is meant to keep folks from wasting their time (and me from wasting mine).

Not only that, but, well, I’m a writer. If you’re not interested in what I have to say, I’m probably not that interested in you. Since I’m looking for friends and possibly partners, it doesn’t make sense for me to engage with someone who’s not interested in reading my profile, so if you’re not curious about me, there’s no reason to pursue an interaction on OkCupid.

The advantage of OkCupid to meeting random people in-person is that, in theory, it gives you the ability to weed out the people that you already know you’re not going to be interested in, and, as my friend Wes has explained, to weed out the people who ultimately won’t be interested in you. I’m a picky person, and also a person with a lot of potential dealbreakers (polyamorous/not into casual sex/introvert/feminist/atheist/progressive/huge nerd/can’t date anyone who doesn’t like Chipotle/NEVER MOVING OUT OF NEW YORK UNLESS I ABSOLUTELY MUST/etc), so it makes sense for me to have a long profile. It works for what I need it to do, dude.

It strangely parallels the unsolicited and useless “advice” I get about making my blog posts shorter, too. I don’t get it. Many people enjoy my blog posts and I am not at all lacking for readers. If you don’t want to read something, the sensible response is to not read that thing and not bother with the person who wrote it, rather than send them messages demanding that they tailor their style to the personal preferences of a random stranger on the internet.

In conclusion, I’ll probably continue responding to these messages politely and trying to get their senders to see why they might not be very successful, and will probably continue getting either verbal abuse or whiny passive-aggressive snipes in response, because I hold out hope that one day I will get someone to realize that it really doesn’t make any sense at all to keep trying to offer people things they have already said they don’t want.

~~~

Extra moderation note: I will delete your comment if it includes some variation on “How dare you think so highly of yourself as to not be grateful for any and all attention you receive, you smug _____.” Yup, I really do think so highly of myself that I am not flattered by these messages. (Not) sorry!

Second moderation note: Please do not ‘splain to me about “Yeah well nobody reads profiles anyway because it’s just a numbers game blahblah.” I am aware. I understand very basic mathematics, and even some slightly less-basic mathematics, and even–here’s the real shocker–a little bit of psychology. I am not arguing “wow huh I can’t imagine why people would do this wow such surprise.” I am arguing, “You should read people’s profiles so that you stop wasting people’s time and possibly be slightly more successful.” I am also arguing, “Wow, I am annoyed right now! I have a good reason to be annoyed! I’m going to write about it.”

~~~

DISCLAIMER: The Author in no sense intends to imply that All Men are responsible for the aforementioned Conflict(s) or Issue(s) as described in this Text. The Author reiterates that Not All Men commit the Offense(s) detailed in the Text, and that the Text is not intended to apply to or be addressed to All Men. The Author hereby disclaims any binding responsibility for the emotional well-being of such Men who erroneously apply the Entreaty(ies) contained within this Text to their own selves. The Reader hereby agrees to accept all responsibility for any emotional turbulence that arises as a result of the perusal of this Text.

Comments

  1. jackal says

    I feel ya. When I get contacted by people who clearly didn’t read my profile or disregarded my stated intentions, I get disappointed, annoyed, and angry in that order. It’s disrespectful to message people counter to their stated intentions, like you don’t see them as a real person with their own desires. I tend not to engage, since I don’t like dealing with hostility. Also, when I see a red flag in a message or profile, sometimes I think it’s best to leave it there as a warning to others.

  2. linford86 says

    This was amazing! I don’t have much to say in these comments, other than that I really enjoyed this (and I am not expecting a response, but would be happy to receive one). :)

  3. scenario says

    I don’t get the numbers game idea. Of course most of the people viewing your profile won’t be a good fit for one reason or another. The long profile is a way to weed out people that would not be a good fit anyway. Why waste time talking to a hundred people that you would almost certainly not click with?

    The numbers game only works for people who want one night stands. If your not looking for that, the numbers game is a waste of time.

    • AhmNee says

      The numbers game only works for people who want one night stands. If your not looking for that, the numbers game is a waste of time.

       
      That’s a wide brush you’re painting with, Scenario. I’m not certain how you can escape the concept that meeting people on dating websites is a numbers game. It’s not the same as meeting someone face to face and building a rapport with them. On a dating site, you never know who still checks their profile (in the case of match.com, who has a subscription and can even respond), who will decide to reply, who will actually be someone interesting to talk to, or if a profile is a scam.
       
      When I used to frequent dating sites, I hate to call it a technique but it was a technique, I used to find about a dozen or so women who seemed interesting and send them an opening message. Most of my message was usually the same blurb about myself. But I always tried to say something in the message that showed that I did take the time to read the other person’s profile. Some part that I found interesting or an interest we shared. But if I was lucky, I’d get back one or two replies. If I was exceptionally lucky, one of those replies would be someone who would respond with more than one sentence answers so that it was possible to actually hold a conversation. I’d typically send a single follow up message if I didn’t hear back in around a week and then moved on. If I wanted to spend my time actually speaking with someone, getting to know them and working toward a meeting so we could see if we had chemistry, it had to be a numbers game. Doing otherwise would have me spending months or years talking to myself. Being the person to contact others on a site means sending out a lot of messages and seeing who responds. (I am trying very hard not to use fishing analogies which is compounded because I used to use the plenty of fish site.)
       
      That was my experience with dating sites. I didn’t do it for one night stands, I had been a serial monogamist for my entire life. I did it because I found that I had to in order to find people who were actually there and willing to make contact. I met a few people during that time. Had varying degrees of success, relationship wise. Ultimately, I met my current GF of six years through an MMO. Another year and it will surpass my longest relationship to date, it’s already my most successful.

      • scenario says

        I’m sorry I didn’t specify what I meant by the numbers game.

        From the top of Miri’s post. “Personally, I don’t believe that is a courtesy that anyone owes anyone on a dating website, especially not when a lot of these messages read like copy-pasted spam sent out to every woman in a 10-mile radius.”

        I was thinking of someone who makes up a canned response, and sends the same message to everyone who they might be remotely interested in a 10 or 20 mile radius, usually all people of their preferred gender who fit their physical criteria. Someone who would look at the pictures of the new people in their area. If they considered one attractive, cut and paste a let’s have sex message.

        You actually took the time to read and respond personally to each woman. That’s not the type of behavior I was referencing. I realize I didn’t make that clear.

        • AhmNee says

          I see where you’re coming from. We’re just using a ad hoc term in different ways. Obviously sending out message after message of “Hey, wanna have sex?” puts a person’s intentions right there in plain view.

          Just copy pasted spam/messages, on the otherhand, (presumably not asking for sex) could simply be a indication of poor social/communication skills.

          Cheers.

  4. James K says

    Considering that OKCupid has written on its own blog that it not only “experiments with humans” and manipulates their profiles, you might want to reconsider using it (as thousands of other have written to the blog’s comment section).

    I suspect this “gentlemen” is a self-absorbed fool (or worse), but if OKCupid is manipulating what your profile shows, you cannot be sure that what you wrote is what others saw.

  5. Lily says

    Thank you for this article. I love your disclaimers at the end. These days I do choose to ignore those kind of messages because in the past I always got abuse in response. But I do think it’s worth talking about because of the sheer numbers of men and some women on these sites that disrespect women in this way. It’s also often racialized, with unashamed people saying things like ‘no black women, sorry, just my personal preference’ well it’s not just your personal preference, it’s a scary sexist, racist trend in the minefield that is online dating. But, as an above commenter mentioned, on the plus side it helps to weed out anyone who would think like that.

  6. Edward Gemmer says

    When I did online dating at first I was puzzled as to why people wouldn’t respond. It is a different kind of experience. Once I got used to it, I hated getting responses from people telling me they aren’t interested, as the lack of response made it pretty clear.

    • Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :) says

      I don’t understand this mindset. On the rare occasions where I’ve received a “sorry, not interested” type response to a personalized first message (or even a follow-up message to a first date ending with an affirmative answer to “so do you feel like you’d like to get together again?”) I’ve sent to someone who had a high compatibility percentage with me, some clear points of commonality, and no apparent dealbreakers either way, rather than radio silence, I’ve genuinely appreciated it and responded with a “no problem, thanks for letting me know.”

      Silence is ambiguous because people vary in their frequency of checking messages and responding, and it either wastes time while you’re parsing the response or leads to awkward fumbling of an emotional investment you’ve already discarded when/if you do get a belated response.

      • hereandreal says

        A “no thanks” reply from someone to whom I’ve written is definitely not necessary, but, as long as it’s kind and just done to avoid leaving me hanging, I don’t mind at all. I didn’t write back to most messages, because, like Miri said, it was usually clear that I was one of many who just happened to be within the radius of the person’s very wide net. If I could see the full message in the preview line, I didn’t open it, let alone write back. (e.g. “Hey.” “I like ur smile.” “U seem cute. Wanna talk?”)
        That said, I think some people carry the absolutely legitimate attitude of not owing anyone a response or a conversation online into “real life” too often once they actually meet up with someone. I’m not talking about first meetings/dates, since lots of people are cool with just kind of tacitly acknowledging a lack of connection and moving on. I know so many people (including myself) who’ve gone on several dates/hung out several times (whatever the case may be) with someone they met online, only to have that person suddenly drop off the face of the earth. To me, once you’ve hung out a couple times in person, your relationship (as in relation to one another – not that you’re “in a relationship”) is no longer an online one, but it seems like some folks carry the “online rules” into the regular ol’ world of personal interactions. That kind of radio silence is totally not cool with me. This happened to me with a dude I met on OKCupid after we’d hung out around 4-5 times. I wasn’t particularly heartbroken, and, in fact, had also been feeling unsure about our connection. But I did feel dismissed and pretty pissed off. I felt that the one thing he owed me at that point was to be upfront enough to say he wasn’t interested or didn’t want to hang out anymore – not even to give a reason. (I called him on it, btw, he apologized, and we’re still buddies.) Are my friends and I the only ones who’ve experienced these “disappearing dudes”? (Of the stories I’ve heard, they’ve all been straight-ID’ed men. Limited sample, not APA-approved, etc., etc.)

  7. Esteleth is Groot says

    So, this seems the appropriate place to post this exchange I got on OKC:

    Him: Hey my name is [name]. How are you this afternoon? You have beautiful eyes by the way.
    Me: Do you routinely message lesbians?
    Him: Sorry I though you were nice but I guess not

    A week later he messages me again. I ignored it this time.

    • AhmNee says

      I used to, unless it was specifically asked that males not. Not every relationship found on a dating site needs to be romantic.

  8. says

    Based on his grammar and syntax, I’d say that your interlocutor also suffers from a case of Not That Bright. Which is another reason he’d be a bad match for you.

    • Pen says

      I thought he sounded like English wasn’t his first language. Which means the bright bit may not apply and a bunch of gender expectations even worse than America’s just might.

  9. Kevin Kehres says

    So yeah. The internets are full of people like this; not all men and not all women, but enough of both to make it annoying. I used to do online dating, and it shocked me at constant barrage of messages I’d receive from women who absolutely 100% had not read my profile.

    NO SMOKERS! (“I love to smoke in bed”)

    Non-religious (“God is the most important thing in my life and should be in yours”)

    And on and on. If you can’t get your own head out of your own ass long enough to read for 2 minutes or less, please get off the fracking internet.

  10. Stevarious, Public Health Problem says

    I attempted to use OKCupid many years ago, way back when I was young and stupid in the 2006-2007 region.
    Last year I logged on again and had a look at my old messages and such and – while I never sent random messages asking strangers for casual sex – there was some serious red flag shit going out in all my messages. Ignoring boundaries, unsolicited ‘advice’, attempts to continue conversations when the other person had clearly stated they wished no further contact… Basically I was an asshole all the time.

    I wish I could remember what I was thinking back then, and why I thought that shit was okay. But I can’t remember.

  11. Deke says

    I hear this kind of stuff from girls who are on OKC all the time. How guys are aggressive and obnoxious.
    I think I’m a pretty decent guy, I don’t think I’m great looking but I’m far from ugly.
    According to my friends I always date the “wrong girls” so at their badgering I tried OKC.
    Every email I sent to a girl was personalized and mentioned something I liked about their profile, was polite and never remotely said anything sexual and yet I maybe got one reply in 100.
    Honestly I think that girls are completely inundated with emails from guys it’s hard to stand out but I have no idea really why I never connected with anyone. Whereas in a bar, if I talk to a girl I’d maybe get a number maybe half the time I ask for it (but that doesn’t mean we would date or even answer a text so I’m not saying I can pick up anyone I wanted to, I’m just saying the numbers are vastly different). So maybe I just photograph badly or my personality never came through online. I don’t know.
    Anyway… long winded question… and while I’ll never try online dating again, I’m curious as to what does make a girl answer because it has to be more than just a personalized email? Is it professional photos? What kind of things should be said in a profile?
    I could never crack that code so maybe you could write a blog post about that in more detail?
    Btw – really nice article!

    • Esteleth is Groot says

      Your problem, Deke, is that you see “girls” (I presume you’re going after grown women, not minors?) as a monolith with a single set of interests, rather than a collection of individuals. You also seem to think that there’s a “code” to crack.

      Maybe women see this and are repulsed.

    • says

      It’s not about cracking a code, Deke. It’s about being the sort of person that the sort of person you’re interested in would want to date. And that’s not something that can be faked, at least not for very long.

      Are you looking for just “a girl” or for someone that you could have a serious, meaningful relationship with? If it’s the latter, then yes, you need to send a personalized email, and you need to make your actual personality shine through, both in your profile and in your message. No, you don’t need professional photos. (Nobody I know has them, and personally, I’d be turned off if I saw a profile with professional photos.) You should have similar interests with that person so that you have things to talk about. You should ask them interesting questions, not just “How are you today” or “So how are you liking [city].” My friend has a great guide to OkCupid here, and although it’s intended primarily for poly people, you could probably glean something useful from it.

        • Deke says

          Sorry somehow posted too early.
          @Esteleth – I think you’re reading way too much negativity into my comment. When I see what American guys say to the opposite sex it repulses me. I was brought up to be respectful of the opposite sex, if my father ever heard me being rude I’d get a 3 hour lecture. Most of my friends are of the opposite sex and they say I’m “too nice” and “not aggressive enough”. Your classification of me is insulting because it’s based on one post and honestly it’s wrong. But I guess every guy would say that!

          • says

            While it may be true that Esteleth has an unfairly negative opinion of you, that seems to be how you came across to them in your comment. And it’s true that it sort of reads like you think women are a “code” to be “cracked,” rather than unique human beings with unique personalities, interests, needs, and desires. And maybe that’s not at all what you think about them! But that’s how it comes across when you talk about things like cracking codes.

          • AhmNee says

            Individuals are unique human beings. People, on the other hand can be found to respond to certain stimuli as a demographic, ask anyone in marketing.
             
            While I could be completely off base, I think the “code” Deke is talking about is what you mean when you vaguely say “you need to make your actual personality shine through”. What makes one’s “personality shine through” isn’t easily quantifiable and for some men is equivalent to reaching for the moon with a ladder. It took me quite a bit of refinement and research on what seemed to work and what didn’t. For example, that pictures of yourself doing things with out with your friends, showing that you have a life of your own seem to be more appealing than selfies.
             
            Meeting people and making first impressions is difficult enough in person. Communicating online can be a minefield where an innocuous word can be misconstrued, offend and cut communication without even a chance to explain oneself. There is both an art and a science to communicating with people, and navigating what does and doesn’t best highlight the parts of one’s personality, those little dos and don’ts, can definitely seem like a code when you’re just not getting it right. You can be the nicest guy in the world and completely fail to communicate your personality effectively.

    • Edward Gemmer says

      Getting your personality to shine through is kind of important. Online dating does favor really good looking people and people who can write pretty well. The old adage “show, don’t tell” is important. There are zillions of people out there looking for dates, and most of their profiles are indistinguishable from each others.

  12. josh lipson says

    Hahahaha, that disclaimer is AAAmazing! Love you and good luck! And thanks for being someone who takes (wastes) your time trying to help people understand the error in their ways. I appreciate you.

  13. ghostrail says

    I don’t think that’s an unfair response to Deke at all. Your approach the “situation” is calculating (which I guess is typical). It’s not about being decent, it’s about being attractive (whether it’s in your presentation physically or otherwise) to a human being. It’s not even about you, really, it’s about what someone wants and being worth the risk. On OKC, hetero women get a lot of messages like you said, and someone of them are decent, but just because they’re decent, doesn’t mean you have a lot of free time and energy to respond to someone who just doesn’t meet what you’re looking for, or even if they do, they don’t meet it enough. It’s not about breaking through but creating that environment that’s comfortable and interesting enough for particular people with diverse and particular needs/desires. But Miri said it all and more very well

    ANYWAY, I originally wanted to comment to say that even if someone’s looking for casual sex, it doesn’t warrant messages like that. People looking for casual sex still have a lot of the same hang ups, traffic, respect issues. If anything, you get even more of those messages. You have to be more selective sometimes for casual sex because the risks are higher, nad if you put anything on your profile, you want people to read it and connect with it, even if only for casual sex.

  14. themann1086 says

    In all my years on OKCupid (an entire decade, holy crap!), I have received a grand total of 1 (one!) unsolicited “concerned” advice message, and it was about how I include my past struggles with anxiety/depression in my profile [the advice was basically "don't do that, it puts people off"; that's the point, I don't want to date people who are uncomfortable with mental illnesses!]. But at least she read my profile.

    I don’t get upset/annoyed/bothered/frustrated that my messages aren’t answered. It’s not the other person’s fault that she gets inundated with dozens of messages daily and has to be very selective about what she responds to! The only people I get upset with are my fellow straight bros who are the ones doing the inundating. Guys, don’t do that!

  15. Jared H says

    I feel like I should put “I am not entitled to sex with you” somewhere in my profile, but, sadly, I think that would sound weird(er than I normally do).

    • says

      There’s actually a good way to signal that in messages, which is to say something like, “If not, no problem!” or “Don’t feel obligated to respond to this, but–”

      Honestly, I feel much more at ease with all sorts of messages/requests–from strangers, from friends, from partners, from anyone–when people make it clear to me that it’s okay if I’m not interested/able to respond.

  16. Deke says

    Well thank you everyone for you advice and I truly appreciate all the constructive comments and criticism. I appreciate those of you that are not writers who would look at my comments and read them for what they are. I have many friends who are writers and they tend to over analyze words, they know the exact right word to use, I’, not a writer, and I don’t so they tend to get up my arse pretty bad about it!

    I wish I had my old profile for you all to really see and give me an honest opinion of how bad/good it was. Pretty sure it was more bad than good but learning from others is important.

    I also live in a San Francisco, the women in SF are very different to those in other states, and this is not MY opinion, it’s what my out of state friends say, so maybe there is a different answer for everyone but my east coast friends tell me that West Coast Girls ( no wait WOMEN) need to be treated a different way!

    I still believe that nothing is simple, there is complexities in this that I don’t understand, and some of you seem to…. it’s been interesting and would love to hear more opinions from both women and men (see, I’m learning)

    Anyway… keep the advice coming… I’m truly listening!!!

    • Seven of Mine, formerly piegasm says

      You’re still talking about women as monolith..just multiple smaller ones instead of one big one. There is no east coast women vs. west coast women. As long as you have that thought process, you’re going to struggle dealing with women. Women, being people and all, can tell when someone isn’t being genuine. And, if you have ideas like “this is how I need to treat west coast women” rattling around in your head, you’re not being genuine; you’re following a script.

      • Deke says

        @ Seven of Mine – I realize every person is different and I treat everyone differently. Every message I sent on OKC was personalized to that person. Your opinion that I see women as monoliths is VERY wrong.

        There are cultural differences in different countries and they often apply as to how people will act in a certain situation. How men act, how women act. The United States is like 7 different countries. Culturally people from NYC are different to those in SF to those in LA, Florida or the Midwest. There’s a book about this and the name of it escapes me but it explains how the US is so culturally diverse that it’s like 7 different countries not one. I’ve been to 42 states and while there is a common currency, going from one state to another can be as different as going from London to Paris (sans language).

        There’s also another great book called “Watching the English” by Kate Fox an anthropologist who compares the Brits to Americans. In order to do this she found commonality within each culture and pointed out the differences. That’s not considering people from either country monoliths, it’s looking for trends and comparing them and that’s exactly what I was doing in regards to online dating.

        I’ve lived in Europe, Australia and now the United States. I can tell you that people (men and women) have different approaches to dating in each of those countries. For example, in Australia I would never date more than one person at a time, yet in the US this is often acceptable. Someone who had two different first dates with two different girls in the same week would be what you guys call a “player”. Where I’m from, that’s actually not a cool thing to do and is disrespectful to the people you’re seeing. I was brought up in a culture where you dated one person, if it didn’t work out you then dated someone else. But you would never be dating more than one person at a time even in the early stages of dating.

        It’s unfair and incorrect that you think I consider women monoliths just because I am pointing out trends that I saw when I tried online dating or because I REPEATED that I have East Coast friends who say that West Coast people are flakes and those on the East Coast are more direct. I don’t know this for sure, I was repeating something I was told but when I lived on the East Coast for a short period, dating seemed easier because I found that people were more honest and up front. I have a small sample size and cannot be sure but the point resonated hence why I repeated it.

        But this goes back to my original point. The United States and the world have different approaches to dating, men and women. I’ve lived in three different countries and I can tell you that there are differences and there are commonalities when it comes to dating in each country. In the same way there are trends and do’s and don’ts when it comes to online dating. Which is what my original question was.

    • says

      Deke… the best advice anyone can give you is to stop treating women as a monolith. How would you feel if a woman lumped you in with all other men? It’d suck, right?

      This is the point of the profile. Find the women who you match with to a great degree (I tend to only look at profiles with a 90+% match to me), and then read their profiles. Find things in common and them message them about those things.

      I’m a big fan of Led Zeppelin, for example. If I find a profile of a woman that I think I might like, and I read her profile, and it says that she is also a big fan of Led Zeppelin, I might send her a message quizzing her a tiny bit. You know… what’s her favorite album, her favorite song, stuff like that, just to start.

      I’m also a big fan of Doctor Who. If she doesn’t mention that she likes Led Zeppelin, but love Doctor Who, my first question will be who her favorite Doctor is.

      And so on.

      You’ll get a lot further by reading each profile and treating each individual woman as a unique individual, exactly, as I imagine, you might want to be treated by her. Are some profiles very long? Yes. But that’s the point. Longer profiles are a really good way of weeding out those you know you wouldn’t be interested in, because they don’t actually take the time to read. So they’re hoping that if you’re actually interested in them, you’ll have actually read, and understood, their profile before trying to message them.

      • AhmNee says

        You’re still talking about women as monolith..just multiple smaller ones instead of one big one.

        Multiple smaller groups isn’t monolithic. It’s demographic. Look, I know that everyone likes to think they’re a unique and beautiful butterfly. However, to borrow from Tim Minchin. You’re special, but you fall within a bell curve. The point of messaging someone on a dating site is to be interesting enough to elicit a response. Once you’ve made contact, that’s when you can engage on a personal level. Before that, you’re both just an advert on a website. Your “job” is to market yourself well enough for someone to engage with you so that you can begin to learn about each other, see if there’s chemistry. That doesn’t imply lying but it does imply highlighting your “attractive” qualities.

        How would you feel if a woman lumped you in with all other men? It’d suck, right?

        Are you actually suggesting this doesn’t happen?

      • hereandreal says

        A question I still have after reading all of your comments thus far, Deke, is what YOU are actually looking for. Are you looking for whichever “girl” will respond positively to you based upon your strategically created profile and messages, or are you looking for someone with whom you have shared interests, values, priorities, etc.? Honestly, your comments lead me to think it’s the former that you’re after, which is probably why you’re getting so many responses about treating women as a monolith. I would actually characterize the attitude I’m reading as treating women as essentially interchangeable. You haven’t mentioned one thing about the kind of person you’re looking for, other than that she should respond positively to your advances. I think you need to do some honest thinking about what you’re hoping to find through online dating (casual sex partners, dates, potential long term partner, etc.). Once you’re clearer with yourself about that, you can be clearer with others via your profile and also have a better sense of direction for your profile. Perhaps a bit of introspection is due before you can have more “successful” online dating experiences, however it is you define that success.

        • Deke says

          @ hereandreal, thanks for asking!

          I think I mentioned a couple of times that I’m never doing online dating again. I didn’t feel comfortable with it, everything I wrote seemed cliche and I was terrified putting myself out there in such a personal way that someone I knew would read my profile and judge me for it.

          My initial question was never intended to help me find anyone online, more like “what the hell did I do wrong?”. Was there some formula that makes people respond? The answer just isn’t common interests, that’s absolute total crap, I’m sorry but it is and as AhmNee says demographics of people respond to certain things and I was curious as to what I was doing wrong with online dating.

          I wasn’t connecting with women online but clearly others do. I also mentioned earlier that in an NPR story they said that if a guy put an emoticon in his profile he was 60 something percent less likely to get a response. Things like that made me wonder if there were other things I was doing wrong that meant people I felt I had a lot in common with, didn’t respond. Were my messages too long? Too short? Did I not compliment her enough?

          AND you’ll notice I’m not blaming anyone other than ME here!!! I was curious as to what makes people respond to another person online?

          But to answer your question as to what kind of person I’m looking for? I was/am hoping to find someone not exactly like me, someone who shares some common interests but also someone who I could learn from and they could learn from me if they wanted to. I want someone to compliment me, not be like me. Maybe there is something she’s not good at that I am and things I’m not good at that she is… so together we are pretty awesome!

          I would like to meet someone reliable, honest and not flakey. Someone who is creative and likes the outdoors. But like I said, someone with interests OTHER than mine so I can learn from them is important to me too. Someone earlier mentioned they would be interested in someone who also liked Led Zeppelin for me I’d like to meet someone who liked a completely different genre of music and I could learn about it. I once dated a classical pianist and learnt all about classical music and loved it. I dated a stand up comic and learned a lot about comedy. My last girlfriend was a tattoo artist and I loved learning about the creative process she would go through and see the amazing work she would do every day.

          I don’t want someone who is female version of myself, common interests are somewhat important to me but what’s more important to me are common values. Honesty, Integrity, Kindness to people and animals…

          The idea of online dating was that I could find someone with some similar interests but also learn from them… it just didn’t work out for me so I’m back to the more traditional dating methods!

          Hope that answers your question… but again… my question was more philosophical in nature around what makes some people more successful at online dating and others (like me) complete failures.

  17. Falls Down Grunting says

    Nothing to say other than I’ve been there and just love your post … as well as all the added commentary from others.

  18. Ariel says

    My dating days belong to the past but I have an online friend who is active on okc. From time to time she sends me samples of ‘first messages’ she receives, together with the follow-ups (if any). I must confess that at first I found these exchanges quite funny. Well, not any more. Now all of this looks to me sad and rather appalling. At the moment I’m also not able to tell who deserves more compassion: the senders or the receivers.

    I am not arguing “wow huh I can’t imagine why people would do this wow such surprise.”

    Yeah, it’s not difficult to imagine why they are doing this. What still eludes me however is why they become (often enough – that’s at least the impression from my friend’s correspondence) so angry and hurt about not receiving a reply – alternatively, about receiving a dismissal. What’s the mechanism? What sort of people are they? Or perhaps there is no single explanation here?

    I can understand someone playing a numbers game, sure. However, it’s completely obvious that in such a game you will be ignored/dismissed very often. Surely the players understand it as well, don’t they? But if so, what’s there to be angry about? What’s the mechanism? Any ideas?

    Is it because the numbers game doesn’t work for them (too low success rate)? Or maybe they think that their impersonal messages deserve a favorable reply? Do they feel hurt because they form a category of people who generally feel like failures and every drawback comes like a blow to them? Is it still something else, perhaps having to do more specifically with sexual rejection? Or perhaps a good, sufficiently general answer to my question simply doesn’t exist?

    Abbreviated version: I don’t get it.

  19. Brian Yee says

    It’s a problem with the way online dating works. Men must send mass messages. Even the good, nice, response-worthy men. It really is the best way to get results. This results in women getting too many messages to reply, getting annoyed, and pissed off. They then, don’t reply to an inbox full of thousands of copy pasted messages. This leads to men not getting enough replies, which furthers the need to send more mass messages and play the “numbers game” as you put it. They have no other choice. It’s a never ending cycle.

    I speak from experience. I’ve tried both methods. Mass copy-pasted messages produces MUCH better results than writing long personalized messages for each one. I would much rather not do that, but if the system is such that this method is what will produce the best results, that is what I will do. The bottom line is if men took your advice, they would fail to get dates.

    I’m not saying you shouldn’t be annoyed or pissed off. You should. But just know that it’s mainly a problem with the dynamic of online dating, not necessarily the men.

    Also, my comment may get deleted for disagreeing with you, but in my opinion, deleting well written, polite comments is just as bad as your example where the guy didn’t take kindly to your advice about casual sex.

    • hereandreal says

      The thing is, in a sea of one line (or half line) messages, the even slightly longer, more personalized messages actually do stand out a bit, in my experience. When I was using online dating sites, I read all messages that went past the preview (i.e., were more than 2 lines) and were not obviously copied and pasted. Some were from people I thought I might have a connection with, and I usually wrote back to them. Some weren’t, and I usually didn’t. I always appreciated the more personalized messages, though. BUT – whether I chose to write back or not was just that – my choice. No one is, by default, “response-worthy,” and it’s exactly that kind of attitude that I think prompts so many of the angry and abusive messages in response to not getting a reply or getting a “no thanks” reply. To be clear, I’m not saying you write those types of messages. I do think, however, that your comment is indicative of an attitude held by some that they are, for whatever reason (good looking, wealthy, polite, “nice guy”), entitled to a response. No one is entitled to a response, and it is 100% up to the recipient of a message to decide how “response-worthy” any individual message/massager is to them.

      • says

        Mass copy-pasted messages produces MUCH better results than writing long personalized messages for each one.

        Of course, this depends on how you define “results” and whether you have any other goal than simply to get as many women as possible to respond to you.

    • says

      @Brian Yee

      Also, my comment may get deleted for disagreeing with you

      No. I do not delete comments “for disagreeing.” You may see my comment policy here.

      but in my opinion, deleting well written, polite comments is just as bad as your example where the guy didn’t take kindly to your advice about casual sex.

      Absolutely not, and that is a ludicrous equivocation. One involves pestering and being rude to a person for politely telling you that you have been pestering and being rude to them. The other involves deleting comments. I do not have an ethical obligation to publish comments from you or anyone else. I do have an ethical obligation to treat people courteously and kindly unless I have a good reason not to. This OkCupid guy was not courteous or kind, even though his message seemed polite enough on the surface.

      The bottom line is if men took your advice, they would fail to get dates.

      Then I’m very curious how all my male friends and partners who use OkCupid have not only not failed to get dates, but have in fact gotten many.

      Also, if the only way to get dates is to irritate the shit out of people, then, sorry, but you need to find another way to get dates.

  20. Chaos-Engineer says

    It’s a problem with the way online dating works. Men must send mass messages. Even the good, nice, response-worthy men. It really is the best way to get results. This results in women getting too many messages to reply, getting annoyed, and pissed off. They then, don’t reply to an inbox full of thousands of copy pasted messages. This leads to men not getting enough replies, which furthers the need to send more mass messages and play the “numbers game” as you put it. They have no other choice. It’s a never ending cycle.

    That’s not even internally consistent. If they’ve already gotten thousands of unread form letters, then sending them even more form letters isn’t going to encourage them to work through the backlog.

    I’m 10 years out of the on-line dating pool, so I don’t know what things are like now. But back in my day, the best-known services were Yahoo personals and match.com, and they were both horrible cesspits of spam and inanity. The trick was to look for lesser-known services with fewer members. I had the best luck with Spring Street Personals. They’re not around anymore, but they advertised on various lefty websites – I found out about them through salon.com – and they charged you a quarter to initiate contact with someone, which blocked most of the mass mailings. The response rate wasn’t that bad; I was sending 1-2 initial messages a week and averaging 1 meet-for-coffee a month.

    There are probably similar services around today. If there aren’t, then keep in mind that there are lots of unattached women who want to be in relationships, so they must be trying something. Back in the pre-Internet days they’d get their friends and relatives to set them up, or talk to people at invitation-only parties; maybe they’ve gone back to that?

  21. says

    A lot of guys will claim that the reason women get angry at messages like this guy’s first one is because they hate sex and hate men and especially hate male sexuality.

    I suspect that if a woman on OKC is not interested in men, sex, or sex with men, she will indicate this with something less oblique than “I’m not looking for casual sex.” Something more like “I’m not interested in sex” or “looking for a woman” or whatever.

  22. Bouncing says

    This whole conversation is a great one for the world to be having. What exactly ARE the “rules of etiquette” in this whole internet-based society? Obviously, it’s better to not treat a person you’ve never met like they “owe” you a response. It’s also better to not treat someone who found your profile (and after all, you did put it out there so that people would find it), and chose to respond to it, as a nonexistent person or a spambot. Obviously if I get a mass message, I can tell it’s a mass message. But there are careful, specific messages sent to me sometimes too, and the internet makes it disturbingly easy to just ignore those if I don’t find the writer’s photo to my liking.

    So I guess my main contribution to the conversation at the moment is to just add, in case anybody is wondering: men looking for men are also quite likely to not respond when messaged by men.

  23. mattyarbrough says

    I applaud your intestinal fortitude on undertaking the task. My experience on OKC was, from what I understand, fairly typical for an average white guy. I wrote polite, relevant messages to a handful of women who were high matches and whose profile made me think we might have a lot to talk about. I ran those messages past female friends to be sure I wasn’t coming across poorly, and the number of times I heard “I would totally respond to that if I were on there” well, I stopped counting. It is in fact a numbers game because women are so inundated with messages, mostly from guys spamming everyone in a 10 mile radius as you note, that it’s easy to get lost.

    This is not the fault of the women, however. Guys getting upset that women aren’t responding at all are unfortunately probably also the type that do the spamming. A free online dating site is going to be heavily biased in favor of a) women* and b) extra good looking men. Getting mad that you, a perfectly nice looking guy and a nice guy, to boot, aren’t drawing attention in that context is a failure to understand the arena. Use a pay dating site, network through friends, join local meetup groups of interest and perhaps you will meet someone there (or a friend of someone there).

    *biased in favor of women in the sense that women are much more likely to get a response to messages, the awfulness they have to wade through to for that benefit is arguably not worth it. Also note that “much more likely” doesn’t mean “definitely”. I know plenty of women who are attractive, and intelligent, and outgoing, but got not responses when they messaged people on OKC.

    TLDR: OKC is a terrible place for most people to find what they want.