S mentioned that one of us was moving to the ‘burbs. That would be me (which you probably already figured out from the color-coded comment “the ‘burbs is a generous description for where I’m headed.”) That comment was maybe a liiiiitle exaggerated. Poughkeepsie, NY isn’t really a little podunk town. Technically speaking, it’s actually a city, so our tagline can probably stay as is. But it feels a lot like a podunk town. I can say that, because it’s where I grew up.
That’s right folks. I moved home. Specifically, into my younger brother’s childhood bedroom (he took over my bedroom when I was off at college – teenage boys are disgusting, and also I’m too lazy to swap rooms). This move transpired really quickly, and very unexpectedly, so my parents are letting me stay at home for a a little bit to give me enough time to find a place I like, rather than just whatever was available in the couple weeks between accepting a job back home and moving back home. They’re the best. (It’s not lost on me that I once said that a guy who lives with his parents raises a red flag, and here I am, 30 and living with my parents (though just for 2-3 months, max) At least I’m employed, right?)
It feels really strange to be back here. I left for Boston when I was 18. That was 12 years ago. The only place I’ve ever lived as an adult is Boston. And even though I’ve come home plenty over the last 12 years, it’s so different to be living here again. I’ve only been home for 2 weeks, but in that time I’ve re-lived a lot of forgotten memories running errands and being down on Main Street for work. It’s really bizarre to live and work somewhere so familiar, but at the same time so in the past. This is going to be really fucking weird. Weird in general, and weird for dating. And that’s what you all come here to read about, now isn’t it?
I had 3 weeks between when I accepted this new job and gave my notice, and when I actually moved. Getting matches and viewing profiles of eligible bachelors in the greater Boston area, when I was packing to move over 3 hours away, got real old real fast. So I changed my location on OKC, Coffee Meets Bagel, and Hinge.
It took 24 hours before Hinge matched me with someone I went to high school with.
First of all, I knew that would be coming, but christ it happened fast. Is that some sort of sign? I didn’t have a horrible high school existence, but still. What a jarring start to my transition home. Secondly, there are actually a handful or so of guys that I went to high school with that I would happily date. Sadly, none of them were this match. At first I just knew that he looked familiar. And then, perusing his pictures, I saw someone else that I immediately recognized, and it hit me who the match was. A nice enough guy, but not someone I would ever date for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is the other person I recognized in the photos. The two have always been close. And as I explained to one of my closest friends from high school, I would rather die alone and be eaten by 408 cats than live a life that includes that asshole friend in any capacity.
I also started messaging with a guy on OKC who seemed really cool and who I was actually excited about meeting. And then, the week we intended to plan a date, he informed me that he had just accepted a job down in Maryland and would be moving out of the state. Right as I was moving in. Oh universe… Lastly, on the online front, there was a guy who texted me to death, without making any attempt to actually meet me in person. I just wasn’t interested enough to ask him out, so that faded out.
There is a guy offline that I’ve been interested in for a long time. But since we lived 4 hours away from each other, I never did much about it. By never did much, I mean drunkenly texted him about my feelings once last spring at 1 am after having been out with him and a bunch of others all night. Can you say sloppy drunk?
Although nothing came of that text, I have a feeling that had more to do with distance than anything else. We’ll see if that feeling is right or not, now that I live a lot closer and will be seeing him a lot more. Cross your fingers, ’cause he’s definitely got a little Tim Riggins in him (the good parts, not the emotionally unstable parts).
So – I’m back in New York. This is going to be verrrrrrry interesting. Guys find race car border wallpaper sexy right?
Tonight, as I was going through my inbox to prep a Message Monday post for you, dear readers, I realized that nothing noteworthy stood out to me.
Sure, there were plenty of lame/nonsensical things to choose from, such as:
Brought to you courtesy of Jdate, of course. This message is extraordinary in that it manages to be vaguely creepy but also rather unintelligible. Is my “book” my picture and profile? And what would it mean to curl up and “read” me?
So, rather than craft our 100 blog post about how most messages leaving us shaking our heads in a combination of confusion and fear, I decided to dedicate this post to tackling a frequent question from fellow online daters.
However, I do have some well formed theories why people don’t return most of the messages they get. I’ve sent my fair share of messages over the last year, and much to my dismay, some of them never got returned. I used to get pretty bummed by this, but now it doesn’t faze me at all.
Based on my experience sending and returning/not returning messages, I share the following nuggets of wisdom with you about why people aren’t replying:
1. They are not attracted to your pics.OKC’s Nobel Prize Winning scientists (oh, what’s that? Not a Nobel Prize? Just a Gold Medal of Douchery for experimenting on their users?) have conducted research to prove what we already know. Online dating is a shallow pursuit, where most users judge other users on their looks. I mean, if you have NEVER met a person, heard their voice, or seen them interact with other people, pictures are the most concrete things you have to go on. And if someone doesn’t like the way you look in the pictures you’ve carefully selected, which I am assuming were taken on a good day, when you were a few years (or at least a few months) younger, in some flattering, low lighting (MINE WERE), they probably won’t be attracted to you in person. Sadly, we online daters don’t get the luxury of getting to know each other through late nights in the dorm studying and eating pizza, or dinner parties with mutual friends. So, we make snap judgments. It’s by no means a good thing, but it’s a necessary evil. I am sure that some men don’t reply to my messages because they just don’t find me attractive. I mean, I recently suggested “an older version of Dora the Explorer” as the actress who would play me in a movie. While a surprisingly large proportion of men find this attractive, others don’t. And I’ve made peace with that.
If somebody can’t appreciate what you got going on, oh well. Just move on, and eventually, somebody will. (In the meantime, it doesn’t hurt to find an animated monkey to be your BFF and follow you around.)
2. You have some weird dealbreaker in your profile that they’re not willing to compromise on.
Remember our series on OKC question dealbreakers? There are just some things that you might put in your profile or in your questions that might cause another person to press delete. For example, let me remind you that I hate cats, and I’m deathly allergic to them. So if you write about your multiple cats on your profile, I’ll likely take a pass for my own safety (and the safety of the cats). Same goes for vegans. Or people who like Billy Joel. Am I missing out? Maybe. But that’s my choice. And it doesn’t mean you have to change. Unless of course, your profile reveals you are an avowed woman-hater or homophobe. Then, you should change, because you suck.
3. Whether people reply or not probably has very little to do with you. Now, this is assuming you write something a) SANE (so, not this) and b) vaguely original (no form letters) and c) more than hi. The majority of times I don’t reply to messages that would pass a basic normalcy test, one of the following is going on with me:
I’m traveling/working a lot and just don’t check them that often.
Due to the traveling/working, too many messages build up and I get tired just sorting through all the crap (see a,b, and c above), get discouraged after 10 minutes and decide to watch The Daily Show instead.
I’m sorta seeing somebody, and I want to see where it goes, but I don’t want to jinx it by disabling my profile.
I just had a bad date and I’m too demoralized/terrified/irritated to interact with other strangers for awhile.
I am messaging with a couple of promising dudes, and decide it’s not worth it to engage in additional pen-palling at that time.
I burned my mouth on a pizza bagel and got distracted mid-reply.
The key takeaway here is that we’re all just really animals who have no idea what we’re doing. So you might as well message people who sound cool, because honestly, what do you have to lose? And just remember:
Thank you Stuart Smalley. for the Sunday night self esteem boost. Have a great week readers!
I’d like to kick off this doozy of a post by quoting…myself:
“If hell freezes over and a date actually makes a non-bar suggestion, unless that suggestion is ‘Tea Party rally’ or ‘anonymous orgy’, I’m going to throw caution to the wind and just say yes.” —S, 9/2/14
Will I never learn to just keep my mouth shut? It’s like I was asking the universe to present me with an insane first date scenario that I’d be forced to say yes to. And the universe did not disappoint.
Let me back up for a second. When I wrote the above line in myfall dating to do list, I’d been chatting a bit with a reasonably smart, cute and nice dude on Okc. We had no plans to meet up yet, but less than 24 hours after publishing my post, that changed. I have dubbed this guy “Grouchketeer”, and you will find out why later in this post.Anyway, when the Grouchketeer texted me this:
I thought, well look here; a challenge. Bring it on, good sir. Fringe Fest is known for being kind of….alternative, but how weird could this “idea” be? An art exhibit? A play?
Oh, it was a play. But not just any play.
I read that description approximately 8 times, thinking I just wasn’t getting it. Then as the words “explosive”, “frenzied”, and “anatomically complete” sunk in, along with, you know, “physically disabled”, I began to panic. Why did this guy pick this bizarre puppet show out of all the Fringe Fest events and all the things we could do in the world? What would this even entail? Would we be watching wheelchair-bound puppets have sex? Did this mean my date was into puppet porn? IS PUPPET PORN A THING I DON’T EVEN KNOW ABOUT?!?!?
Then another thought occurred to me: clearly this “guy from Okcupid” was L and/or D in disguise fully catfishing me for shits and giggles. Well played, co-bloggers. Well played.
Except L and D, while positively DELIGHTED to hear about this date proposition (a little too delighted, honestly), assured me it wasn’t them. They also reminded me of mycomically recent promise to be open to non-traditional datesand I was all, “I KNOW, DAMN IT, I KNOW WHAT I WROTE” in a howler monkey voice. Because I knew they were right. I had baited the universe, and the universe dared me to go back on my word. Hell, it triple dog dared me.
I had no choice, dear readers, but to stick my (proverbial) tongue to the (proverbial) flagpole.
So many adjectives, Gouchketeer. So many. And then he upped the ante:
Saturday arrived, and Grouchketeer and I met at the restaurant. He was just as cute in person (score), but had committed the classic single guy act of2+ inch height fraud. Dinner was pretty good, actually… he was witty and interesting, and the conversation flowed pretty well. One thing that made it more awkward was the fact that he was kiiiind of a mumbler. He was one of those people who would start a sentence off at normal volume and then sort of trail off as he talked. The restaurant wasn’t exactly quiet, either, so I found myself repeating, ‘What?”, “I’m sorry?” and “Excuse me?” an uncomfortable number of times, and homeboy would not take a hint to speak up.
Beyond the mumbling, there were a few…red flags.
Red flag #1: College drop out. He allegedly went to a few different schools, one of which was Ivy League so clearly he wasn’t stupid or lacking opportunities, but “hated it” and never finished. Oh, Philadelphia bachelors (without Bachelors–hiyooo).
Red flag #2: No actual 9-5 job. According to Grouchketeer, he did “a lot of things” such as: concert booker/promoter for a local music venue, had his own landscaping business…? and (drumroll please) was training to be a “rescue diver”. No, I don’t know what that means, either.
Red flag #3: Rest assured, there’s a #3, but it was revealed later in the date. Stay tuned.
So at this point I know Grouchketeer kiiiiind of sounds like a zero. Believe me, the same thought crossed my mind. But I could tell he was really smart. He was clearly self sufficient (didn’t live with his parents THANK GOD), loved to travel and had been all over the world, and had a lot of interesting things to say. And he was cute. So I ignored these flags for the time being and just focused on understanding what the hell my mumbling date was actually saying. And against all odds, I was actually having a good time.
Such a good time, in fact, that we both lost track of time and almost missed the, ahem, show (and what a…pity…that would have been). Unfortunately Grouchketeer realized what time it was (damn him) and we cut dinner short. While we waited for our check, I took the opportunity to ask what I had been wondering for the past week:
Me: So, can I ask why a puppet show? What made you pick that out of all the Fringe Fest events going on?
Grouchketeer: I don’t know, it looked like it could be interesting and also, I’ve always had a thing for puppets.
Me (thinking): Oh God. Ew. Does he mean, like, a sexual thing? So puppet porn IS a real thing, then. I KNEW IT.
Obviously my date must have caught the horrified/alarmed look on my face.
Grouchketeer: Oh man, no, not in like, a creepy way! I actually was a child actor for a few years. I was on Sesame Street, so I’ve always thought puppets were kind of awesome.
Who has two thumbs and has seen WAY too many episodes of Law and Order: SVU?
This girl. My date was trying to tell me about his childhood stint on Sesame Street, and mama’s brain went right to ‘puppet porn’. Not my most sane moment, readers.
Me: Oh! That’s awesome! What did you do on Sesame Street?
Grouchketeer: I was a member of Oscar the Grouch’s posse. We were like a spoof on the Mouseketeers.
Me: Oh my God, yes! I remember! You guys were covered in trash, right?
(Lest you think I’m exaggerating, check out a Google image of these poor, pathetic kids smeared with dirt, wearing low budget DIY t-shirts and trashcan lids ON THEIR HEADS.)
The Grouchketeers were basically Mugatu’s Derelicte campaign for kids, and my date was a part of this elite club. Maybe he had some sort of puppet Stockholm syndrome.
Okay, readers. Now that you know the origin of my date’s nickname, it’s time for today’s main event: the puppet show.
We walked, almost ran to the theater since we were late. I was secretly hoping the show had already started but alas, when we knocked on the door to the tiny, nondescript South Philly theater, they let us right in.
A woman handed us two programs and ushered us towards the entrance. “Don’t worry,” she assured us. “He hasn’t started.”
We walked in and found two seats in the back row. The theater was full, and by “full” I mean the 20 seats in the theater mostly had people in them, presumably all family members of the puppeteer or possibly people on equally bizarre Okcupid first dates. I was just opening my program when the lights dimmed and a booming male voice announced:
“Welcome to this evening’s performance of ‘Incongruous’. If you need to use the restroom, please do so now, as you will not be permitted to leave during the show.
We trust that you have had the chance to read your program and are well versed in the disabilities we’ll be discussing tonight.
Enjoy the show.”
Then, to add to the already uncomfortable vibe, someone came into the theater and TURNED OFF THE AIR CONDITIONING. In case you were wondering, here’s what the weather in Philly was like on the day in question:
So there I was, readers, trapped in a tiny box of death, sweating, barred from using the restroom, unable to see the program which was apparently required reading beforehand, on a first date with an ex-child star whose parents allowed him to be covered in trash in exchange for money.
Just when I thought shit could not get weirder, a man dressed in all black appeared on stage, and produced a puppet from behind a table. The puppet was a naked woman with one leg. He then produced a baby puppet and proceeded to make the mom breast feed the baby. Then he started to sing. A lullaby. In Spanish. This continued for an UNCOMFORTABLE amount of time. I’m not talking 30 seconds. Like, for at least 3 minutes we all sat there in sweaty silence, watching a puppet breast feeding another puppet while being serenaded with a creepy Spanish lullaby.
One piece of good news (the only piece, really): I glanced over at my date during this spectacle, and he appeared to be just as baffled as I was. He was literally mouthing:
Good, I thought. At least he’s equally freaked out and isn’t thoroughly enjoying this insanity.
Speaking of insanity, the puppeteer finally spoke, in a heavy accent. I understood maybe 20% of what he was saying. There were four different puppet…vignettes, and not for a million dollars could I tell you what any of them were really about. I can tell you the puppeteer flubbed his lines about 10 times and he kept trying to make the puppets do things (pick up a tiny coffee cup etc.), except their limbs were getting stuck… so he would literally break character in the middle of the show and say ‘sorry, hang on a sec’ so he could FIX THE PUPPET. I can’t.
The longer this went on, the funnier it was to me. The whole thing was so nuts, such an out of body experience, that it started to become straight up hilarious. Grouchketeer nudged me a couple times at weird moments, and we kept exchanging half terrified, half bemused ‘WHAT IS HAPPENING??’ glances and trying to stifle our LOLs. I may be the first person in the history of time to say this, readers, but that nude puppet show was oddly conducive to flirting.
The show continued, with puppet genitalia galore but mercifully, no actual puppets doin’ it. (Score?) There was a triple amputee puppet, a little boy puppet with prosthetics, a model puppet with short arms (at this point the puppeteer verbally reprimanded us for not reading our programs and knowing what the disability was called), and then came the piece de resistance: a gimp puppet in full S&M bondage gear. This puppet, called “Mr. Sick”, delivered the final monologue which was a truly unhinged amalgamation of political buzzwords. Literally it went something like this (clearly paraphrasing, please no one sue me):
Mr. Sick: YOU ARE SICK. I AM SICK. VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN, GMOs, CAPITALISM, ANTI-ABORTION LAWS, GLOBAL WARMING, THE MIDDLE EAST, ALL OF THESE THINGS HAVE MADE US SICK. WE ARE ALL SICK!
The lights came up. That was the end. There was stunned silence and then confused applause. Having had to pee for the past 40 minutes, I jumped out of my seat and ran to the bathroom, where I texted L and D this picture of my program as proof that I’d actually attended:
When I emerged, Grouchketeer was waiting for me in the lobby, looking appropriately sheepish.
Grouchketeer (chuckling): Well that was…interesting.
Me: Um, yes.
Grouchketeer: So wait, why were the puppets naked?
Me: Wait, you didn’t know they’d be naked? Didn’t you read the description before you bought the tickets? It definitely said they’d be nude.
Grouchketeer: I skimmed it, but I guess I didn’t read it carefully enough.
Me: Clearly you didn’t!
Grouchketeer: Yeah, sorry about that. Also, they’re selling Mr. Sick shirts over there with his monologue on them. I genuinely considered buying you one.
I was actually pissed that he didn’t buy me one, and I told him so, because I thought after such an insane first date experience I at least deserved a souvenir. I would have worn that Mr. Sick shirt with pride, readers.
We walked back towards the restaurant, giggling about what we’d just seen, quoting Mr. Sick to each other. Grouchketeer asked if I’d like to go somewhere else to chat more.
Me: Sure, sounds great. I know a few good bars that are right around the corner.
Grouchketeer: Oh, uh, sure, we can totally go to a bar, but I feel like I should just mention so you know… I don’t drink.
***Red Flag #3 Alert***
Ugh. So many red flags, you guys. I asked Grouchketeer why he didn’t drink, and to his credit he was very frank and forthcoming: he was drinking to the point of abusing alcohol a few years back, decided to take a break and realized it was the best thing he ever did, so just stuck with it. He assured me he had zero problem being around alcohol and was totally cool with others drinking, he just didn’t want to make me uncomfortable for being the only one doing it (I hadn’t even noticed he didn’t drink at dinner–I was too busy hearing about his days as a human trashcan).
So….that made the night take a serious turn. I mean look, everyone has their shit, and he appeared to be very open and mature about the whole thing, and it’s not like I’m some huge binge drinker, anyway. And I told him all those things. But honestly, what do two near strangers do on a Saturday night when they’ve already gone to dinner and watched naked puppets prance around on a stage? They GO TO A BAR.
I was at a total loss for what to do next; homeboy was not being invited to my place, and it was starting to rain. Luckily Grouchketeer suggested dessert (something mama is always up for), so we got gelato. And talked some more/LOL’d some more about Mr. Sick. Then he drove me home. We kissed a little bit in his car (he was a good kisser but we were literally parked in a bike lane with hazards on, so it was quick) and I said goodnight.
Phew. That was quite the marathon. If you actually stuck with me through this insane recap right until the bitter, booze-free end, I’d like to offer you an appreciative and frankly, impressed, round of applause.
Date rating: 7/10. Given the fact that I attended a nude puppet show with a total stranger, it was a surprisingly fun night. Despite multiple red flags, my date was smart, interesting, and cute, and Mr. Sick (bless his heart/bondage gear) gave us plenty of things to talk about.
Time for a little ‘where are they now/why the eff aren’t they posting new content’ Stucu update, with the help of my girl D.Grab your (slightly more appropriate than last week) pumpkin-themed beverage andtake a seat, dear readers.
One of us posted a fall dating to do list which included a goal to be more open to alternative date suggestions. Not four hours later, her resolve was tested when she was asked out on a…unique date. The activity? (Drumroll please…)
A puppet show.
I know what you’re thinking. ‘Oh, like Avenue Q!’
If Avenue Q were darker, creepier, more troubling and with less of a clear plot, then yes. Exactly like Avenue Q.
Translation: an epic first date post is on its way. Prepare yourselves.
Some of us are currently more excited about fall TV than boys:
One of us is moving! To the ‘burbs. (The ‘burbs is a generous description for where I’m headed)
Official announcement pending. In the meantime, we’re accepting submissions for a new tagline. So far the best we’ve come up with is: “3 single girls, 2 cities, and 1 podunk town.”
We’ve gotten some really insane, seemingly fake but apparently real media “requests” lately. First, from someone working at Larry King’s new show (didn’t even know he had a new show…congrats, Larry?) at the end of August:
Being the paranoid cautious single ladies that we are, our first response to an email like this is always: “who is trying to trick us, and why?” However, some preliminary stalking confirmed that good old Larry King does indeed have a new show on some network called Ora, and his verified twitter had posted this tweet:
So it seemed legit. Legit and totally last minute (we received this email at 1:08pm and they needed it by 3pm… when all three of us were you know, at our actual jobs.) Still, we quickly opened up a group gchat and got busy brainstorming questions and submissions because #priorities, and sent them off in the nick of time. And then… nothing. (God damn it.)
Next up, we received this delight:
WHAT???? My first thought was, “L is definitely NOT interested in this.” Followed closely by “WTF?!” (My first thought was, “God, I enjoyed the movie ‘Think Like a Man’ more than a white girl from South Jersey has any right to.’) Maybe it was the over-sized bottle of red wine that my roommate and I killed while watching, but to me this was a cinematic triumph.
Also, can I just point out that Gabrielle Union continues to be one of the hottest, most amazing leading ladies of our time? I’ve been following her career since 10 Things I Hate About You and Bring it On and…where was I? Steve Harvey? Oh, that’s right. Back to you, D.
I mean, first of all, we write an anonymous dating blog. National TV doesn’t seem like a great way to stay on the DL. Also, what is the premise of this/what’s going to happen? I fly out to Chicago for dating advice from Steve on how to find Mr. Right? Or Steve’s production team Steve actually assists in finding my Mr. Right? Is my Mr. Right in Chicago? Is that what I’ve been doing wrong all this time? Or do they come out to Boston my podunk town/Philly/DC and … what? interview potential dates? While I’ll admit that letting Steve Harvey give me antiquated and sexist dating advice while I parade my sad single self on national TV is tempting from a comedic standpoint, this is a no go.
We came so close to fame. Twice. Not necessarily a noteworthy or dignified type of fame, but fame nonetheless. (Stucu Almost Famous Tour 2014–coming to a podunk town near you!)
And here is our solemn vow, readers: if we ever do make it big, we promise not to let it go to our heads.
Narrow brushes with fame aside, all of us have been feeling a bit of writer’s block lately and would love your opinions on future content. What would you like to see more of? Less of? We all know that my mom thinks we should tone down the whining, but some additional (non-mom) opinions would be helpful. Leave us a comment if you can, or fill out this handy dandy survey:
Per usual readers, I have a confession to make. No, this confession doesn’t feature me deeply offending a date or flagrantly breaking my first date rules. Instead, I’m about to tell you something about which I am a bit more ashamed. But I have to tell you, because I don’t like secrets between me and the internet (unless it’s my search history after a night of binge drinking that includes things like “what to do about underarm fat?” or “what can I catch from a toilet seat?”)
Now that I’ve begun gradually embarrassing myself, I’ll just come out and say it:
But then, a few days ago, I decided I wanted to get back out there. But I wanted something new (ish). OKC, while still my favorite dating site, has allowed me to indulge in some bad patterns, which can be summed up in one run on sentence: I love to go out with guys who are cute BUT 1) not that nice 2) have a serious drug problem, or 3) I have nothing in common with, or 4) all of the above. This is what happens when you’re too shallow and make your decisions based on looks, folks.
After a couple days, I’ve learned that, of course, the problem was not that I was too hard on Jdate. It’s that I wasn’t hard enough on Jdate. It’s fertile soil for mockery and complaints, my latest of which include:
2. They still can’t figure out where I live. Even though you have to indicate your current city of residence in your profile, and, EVEN THOUGH I have marked 50 times that my preference is to see guys in the DMV area, my Jdate homescreen is usually populated with “Member Spotlights” featuring men (and sometimes women) from as far away as Columbus, Ohio. I am sure this is especially heartening news to those suckers out there who shelled out the extra $5 to have a “member spotlight” feature.
3. They continue to run a fascist ship, uncomfortably reminiscent of some very dark times in our people’s history. When I rejoined Jdate, I decided to freshen up my username a bit. Turns out, if you change your username, you have to undergo a highly scrutinized review process (similar to a CIA level background check or when the Bar Association makes you submit character references). Until your new screen name is approved, Jdate assigns you a MEMBER ID, which is a nine digit string of numbers. Jdate, COULD YOU THINK OF SOMETHING IN SLIGHTLY BETTER TASTE than assigning me, granddaughter of a Holocaust survivor, an ID that involves a string of numbers? POOR TASTE, JDATE. POOR TASTE.
But my biggest complaint about Jdate right now is the presence of a stupid little feature called the “flirt.” Flirts are basically the equivalent of facebook pokes, but for single adult strangers, which makes them all the more sad.
Basically, flirts are something a Jdate member can send another member to indicate interest without having to go through the trouble of typing 2-3 sentences based on the other user’s profile. Instead, Jdate crafts some dumb one liners that make you sound lazy or cheesy, or if you are lucky, both. Behold some examples:
Wait? WTF? You are sending me a message to “get the conversation started” and your way of getting the conversation started is to tell me to do it myself? Does it get any lazier than this?
If I knew why I was still single, dude, I wouldn’t be on here in the first place.
Finally, they say there is no such thing as a stupid question. Unless of course, Jdate is generating the question. Behold:
Again, WHAT IS HAPPENING? You are already writing me! That is presumably why we both signed up for this online dating service! How do I respond to this? With a simple, “Yes????”
Now look, it would be depressing enough if these men were crafting these messages themselves. But what sets Jdate apart is that they actually craft these absurd pick up lines, and then encourages members to send them.
But in all seriousness readers, does one respond to these sort of things? I know guys are probably sending them because they are too scared/lazy/sick of being ignored to craft a personalized message. On the one hand, I don’t want to hold this against them, but on the other, I feel like I am worth at least a two uniquely crafted sentences. And, as you can see, these flirts are actually really hard to respond to, since the questions/statements are so senseless. So if you have advice for me, leave it in the comments section, and I’ll let you know how it goes.
This message is actually not as random/nonsensical as it probably seems. I mention in my Okcupid profile that 1. I kick ass at the music round of quizzo (I do) and 2. I’m always on the lookout for a good bagel place, since there seem to be none in Philly (seriously, where can a girl find a good bagel in this foodie town??)
So while this message was an incomplete sentence, at least the guy read my profile. And gave me a bagel rec! Could be worse.
Also, I can’t not respond. I know it’s a waste of time and who cares if a complete stranger is being a shady Mcshaderson and I should just move on with my life… and yet, I can’t seem to help myself.
Suck it, asshole.
I could just drop the mic and be done here, but this guy’s profile is just too good. Plus it’s Monday, and I can’t deny you lovely readers the lulz.
It’s like a computer compiled a list of the most cliched, stereotypical buzzwords about white suburban guys (literally including the phrase ‘white suburbanite guy’) and spewed them all over this profile. Football! Porn! War! Bacon! Beer! Cigars! It’s classic.
Also, our friend Joe Sixpack can’t count.
Also, orgasms and Splenda are equally important to him.
Oh, but he’s not done. Regular Joe decided to leave us with one final pearl of wisdom.
LOL INDEED. What. A. CHARMER! Good old Joe, just casually hanging out on Okcupid, being a married cliche, insulting the same women he’s looking to go out with. You really know how to make the ladies swoon, sir. Apparently it never occurred to you that 1. “a lot of us” are alone because we’d rather spend the rest of our lives with DVR and 12 cats than settle for the likes of you and 2. the only reason you’re not equally alone is because you’re already married.
Update: Turns out Regular Joe is maybe not the dim-witted cliche I made him out to be. Actually he probably (definitely) still is, but he was quoting a song by Dennis Leary in his self summary:
Thanks to our reader Chris for pointing this out, because obviously I had no idea. I mean, I post Dreamgirls clips on this blog; clearly I haven’t seen any early 90s Denise Leary music videos. But that line does sound like a complete joke, so it’s kind of a relief to know that it actually is. I still stand by this Message Monday, though, because 1. married and 2. unless there’s an accompanying skit about Splenda and orgasms (Chris, help us out!), this guy is still a tool.
Speaking of the end of summer, how much do you hate me for putting the word ‘fall’ in my post title? I’m like those ill-informed Starbucks executives who think people want to drink pumpkin spice lattes when it’s still 90 degrees out. I know I may be rushing it, but I’m just so. excited. for fall.
So yeah, mama’s excited to move on from all that (and to stop designing my date outfits/hairstyles around how much I’ll inevitably be sweating. East coast humidity is no joke, people.) Fall always feels like a fresh start, and it’s a great opportunity to hit the reset button on my tired dating practices. With that in mind, I’ve outlined my fall dating plan for you lovely readers because 1. posting it here will hold me accountable to actually do these things, and 2. I currently have no actual dates to tell you lovely readers about #datelessdatingblogger.
S’s Fall Dating To Do List
Update the ol’ profile pic–I have an assortment of cute pictures from this summer where I look arguably tanner than my pasty self has ever looked, and as we’ve covered previously, profile pics are pretty much the only things Okcupid users pay attention to. So why the hell haven’t I uploaded those babies? I’ll change that ASAP before I go back to looking like a Vitamin D-deficient basement dweller. Done.
Brainstorm new first date locales, and be open to unorthodox suggestions—I’m not saying I plan to retire my go-to first date suggestion, because it’s convenient and I love it. But there’s something to be said, I think, for throwing out a fresh location, mainly because at this point in my online dating…career… I have a lot of history in my standard bars. For instance, I couldn’t help but think, while being fist-bumped by the Good Message Unicorn outside Strangelove’s, that just over a year beforehand I was having the best first kiss after the best first date of my life. Right there in that very spot. Oof, was that depressing. Depressing and unnecessary. There are plenty of bars in the city and damn it, I’m going to try some new ones (I realize I have to actually secure a date first, but shhhh details). Also, if hell freezes over and a date actually makes a non-bar suggestion, unless that suggestion is ‘Tea Party rally’ or ‘anonymous orgy’, I’m going to throw caution to the wind and just say yes.
I really only started to think about this after reading L’s tale of downgrading her first date location and remembering that I’ve also pulled that move (making two out of three Stucu bloggers the worst!) Last year my ex, D, who was an unusually thoughtful planner, suggested go karts for our second date. I remember thinking at the time that this suggestion was totally random and weird (which let’s be honest it kind of was) so I pushed for a bar instead. But looking back now, all I can think is, what the hell was wrong with me?? A cute guy was attempting to plan shit, fun and different shit, for us to do. I should have done it! I should have capitalized on dating a planner while I could, loosened up and had some fun, because Lord knows I may be waiting a long ass time (read: forever) for that to come along again.
Try Hinge, because co-blogger D is having wild success on it–Okay, “wild success” might be a slight overstatement, but co-blogger D’s been thrown some seriously eligible bachelors in our extended social circle in the week that she’s been using Hinge, including a college friend of L’s who she and her friends refer to as “the one that got away”. Okay, Hinge. I’ll bite. Let’s do this (comically, I just tried to download the Hinge app while writing this and it made my phone semi explode. Foreshadowing?)
Don’t be an asshole about replying to messages and then complain incessantly about messages–Real talk, I will never not complain about messages. That’s just a totally unrealistic goal. But I am going to work on being a more decisive replier. Example: sometimes I will get a message from someone who seems kind of meh, and I’ll mentally earmark him as a ‘maybe’, but really I only mean ‘maybe if I’m bored or there’s no one else promising or I stalk an ex on social media and feel bad about myself’. L revealed a similar pattern of hers in her delightfully real post last week (seriously can we all tell how inspired I was be her realness?) As my girl pointed out, this is kind of a dick move, and if we’re going to call dudes out for being dicks, well, we’re going to put ourselves on blast, too. In the future, I’m going to try to give every message a simple yes or no, and move the hell on.
Stop taking everything so personally–If you online date, you know how easy it is to take “I’m not getting any good messages” and twist it into “I’m not getting any good messages…
In other words, just because it’s been a slow, shitty summer date-wise doesn’t mean this is about me. People have been outside, on vacay, enjoying the beautiful weather and living their damn lives. Everyone is on Okc and other sites less, and the people who aren’t tend to be looking for a casual summer fling/jump off. It’s been a slow summer for almost every single person online dating that I know, and if it hasn’t, congratulations/I hate you/please don’t tell me about it and just let me live in ignorance believing this theory. Thanks!
Continue to gleefully boycott and malign eHarmony–You didn’t think my to do list included giving that wretched site my money, did you? HA! I’ll see you in hell, Dr. Neil Clark Warren, before that happens. What I can promise is to follow up on my original post with some more hilariously awful things I encountered during my tenure as a fake free member of the site. Because as L said when I asked her if a second eHarmony post was overkill: “Hating on eHarmony will never go out of style, on this blog or in life”. Wise words, Lady L. Wise. Words.
Repeat the affirmation:your time will come. This is some serious zen shit, am I right? It goes hand in hand with one of my favorite quotes that I may need to have tattooed on my forehead by the time I turn 30: “Comparison is the thief of joy.” God damn, Teddy Roosevelt, not only were you a bonafide badass, but you also threw down some sage advice. Seriously, though, I have to stop focusing on what everyone else has (successful relationships/boyfriends/fiances/husbands) trust that things will work out some day, and just continue to do me. While I wait for someone else to do me. HAHAHAawkwardsexjokethatmymomwillread. Basically…patience. I need some. And now this beautiful song is in my head:
Lest you think I’m making a wildly ill-advised attempt to compare my silly little dating woes to the Civil Rights Movement, let me assure you that I really just love the Dreamgirls soundtrack. A lot. And I wanted us all to rock out to this amazing jam. So enjoy, maybe with a pumpkin spice latte?
I’ll admit we have a pretty formulaic party line here at StuCu which is basically: “Men. They’re the worst.” While our man-hate and complaining may be a little excessive at times (a certain reader recently called us whiny COUGHMrsSCOUGH), we’re not about to stop it anytime soon. However, today is a brief respite from the usual “they’re the worst,” theme so I can tell you that sometimes, I’m actually, kinda, the Worst.
I was at my worst most recently with an unsuspecting victim date who we shall call The Kid. The Kid was a 26 year old bro who shares a name with a famous criminal, and also with another guy I “dated” in high school who was a few years younger than me. What can I say? The youths think I’m hip.
The Kid was attractive, and we shared the very unique interests of: traveling, basketball (sort of), and going out with friends. (This is the stuff love connections are made of, folks). Perhaps it was our uninspiring list of shared interests, or his boring, bro-y messages, but, sadly for The Kid, he brought out the worst in me. Behold….
I’m the Worst Exhibit A: Prolonged messaging
How many times on this blog have I declared that I hate prolonged messaging? And that I love to just cut to the chase and go out dates? Because, after all, I hate to waste people’s time. Well, the Kid literally started messaging me in June, and asked me about after about three messages. However, I I stalled on going on a date with him until mid July. This was partially due to the unfortunate timing of vacations and work travel, but also partially due to the fact that I had met GPU around the same time, and was determined to follow my New Year’s Resolution to date one guy at a time (especially because I was convinced he was the Elton John to my Kiki Dee. In a purely musical sense of course).
BEST. DUET. EVER.
I digress. (But what is more digression-worthy than these two British chums, belting out what would become one of the defining karaoke duets of the 21st century? Nothing.) The point was, I took my sweet ass time getting back to this guy’s messages, until I decided to stop being such an asshole bite the bullet and grant The Kid a date. (Oh yeah, and by this time, GPU had come down with a fictional summer cold that rivaled the Ebola virus.) Oh, is it TOO SOON for Ebola jokes? Sorry, I’m the Worst, remember?
I’m the Worst Exhibit B: Downgrading date location
The Kid was very excited our date was finally happening and immediately suggested dinner. Now, if you are a devout reader of this blog, you will remember that very early in my dating “career,” I set a “no meals on a first date” rule. After a few bouts of drunkeness/dizziness/starvation, I’ve relaxed this rule considerably, and, if after 1-2 drinks I’m having a decent time, I will certainly agree to dinner or some apps if suggested. But unless the guy is a unicorn, or taking me somewhere amazing where I can literally sip chocolate and inhale cheese, I like to start off in a bar-like atmosphere. So, I gently redirected The Kid to a dive bar near my office. And yes, in retrospect, I realize that I just traded a nice meal for a few pints of Yuengling and some wings. But I’m not sorry. That’s just how I roll.
I’m the Worst Exhibit C: Persistently talking about how old I was
Anyway, as the date neared, I have to tell you, I was less than excited. I was still stinging from the GPU fadeaway, bummed that the Balkan vacay was over, and just in an all around man-hating mood (yes, more than usual).
So when I arrived at our date (to which the Kid was 15 minutes early, and texting me enthusiastically to fill the minutes until I arrived), this was kinda me:
Did that temper the Kid’s enthusiasm at all? NOPE. I mean, today’s youth have lots of energy! And gumption! Theycannot be discouraged! He immediately jumped out of his seat, gave me a big hug, and started asking me lots of nice polite questions. The Kid was outgoing. The Kid was as tall as he claimed to be on OKC (6’2). The kid was blond haired and blue-eyed. I decided to let his youthful optimism (and good looks) inspire me, and have a good time. Apparently, my version of a good time involved me talking about how old I was for a good 10 minutes without stopping.
Weirdly, this did not seem to be deterring The Kid. He kept saying, “We’ll, you’re as old as you feel.” To which I’d reply, “I mean, I feel really old. My knee can tell when it’s about to rain.”
I’m the Worst Exhibit D: Bringing up painful childhood memories
Me: “How many siblings do you have?”
The Kid: “None. I’m an only child. “
Me: “Ew. I hate only children. I have like, two friends who are only children but otherwise, I avoid them at all costs.” (Insert half hearted apology to only children friends here. Sorry, most of your peers are selfish weirdos.)
The Kid (nervously): “Hehe, why?”
Me: “I mean, they’re weird. They grew up playing checkers against THEMSELVES. Their toys were their best friends. And they tend to be selfish. They don’t understand the needs of others! I mean, why didn’t your parents have more kids??”
The Kid: “My father passed away.”
Me: (HUGE GULP. SLIGHT SILENCE.) “OH. GOD. I am SO SORRY.”
The Kid: “Nah, no worries, you didn’t know. But I bet you’ll think twice the next time you bash only children on your dates.”
I mean, you gotta give it to the kid. Laid back and a sense of humor. This exchange happened about five minutes into the date, BTW, and my rudeness, though accidental, certainly gave him cause to chug his drink and leave. But he didn’t. He stuck around. And was super friendly and nice to me. Even when I ate more than my share of wings. And basically all of our nachos.
As we finished our 4th drink, I told The Kid I had to get home. The truth was, I couldn’t stand myself much longer. The Kid however, due to some cruel twist of fate, seemed to be enjoying my worst-i-ness.
The Kid: “I had an amazing time. Can we get together this weekend?”
Me. “No, I’m busy.”
The Kid: “Aww, why not? You’re not free at all? Not even for breakfast?”
Me: “Wellll….my friend is having a house party on Saturday night in Dupont. So, if you are in the city, and you text me, and I’m by my phone mayyyybeeeee I can meet up.”
The Kid: “Great! I’ll plan on that!”
The Kid walked me to my bus stop, and went in for a first date kiss. Apparently, my lack of eye contact, one word responses, and literal insults hurled at his family were a complete turn on for him. Because I’m the Worst, I turned my head and the poor guy got a mouthful of face.
Date Rating: 6/10. The Kid was actually a good date. If he had been on the date with someone else, it is likely it would have scored a 8 or 9. But I’m the Worst, and all my insane behavior made it a bit more unpleasant than one would hope for a first date.
Epilogue: The Kid reached out to schedule another date, and I sent him a gentle rejection text. I’m not proud of the way I acted that night, but I figured I could salvage some karma by politely and directly letting homeboy know I was not in a place to date right now, rather than subject him to another round of theatrics.
The moral of this story is this: nobody is perfect. We all have our bad days, even those of us who are self proclaimed dating gurus. The funny thing is, life is so unpredictable and strange, someone just might find you charming anyway.
(You’re welcome for that gratitous clip of an angsty Jake Gyllenhaal.) It’s a mad world, readers. If you figure it out, let me know.
Well hello there everyone. Happy Monday! I know we’ve been a little delinquent on our posting lately. We’re working on it, we promise! And to prove it to you, on this Monday, rather than a standard Message Monday post, I’ve got a post about a real date! That I went on! This is a dating blog, after all, so we should probably tell you about these things. This particular date was awhile back. In fact, this post is actually long overdue. Remember that time I alluded to the time I went on 2 dates in 1 day? Well, today’s the day I finally tell you all about it.
Back in mid-April (sidenote: how the F is it already the end of August?), I was dating D. As you may recall, following what ended up being our last date, on a Saturday afternoon, I went on an impromptu first date with another guy. We’ll call him Gillette. As luck would have it, the ultimate take away from my date with Gillette was that I really did like D. Annnnnd then D dumped me 4 days later. I don’t know if that’s karma, or what, but I know I probably won’t ever go on 2 dates in 1 day again.
To backtrack, earlier that week I got a message from Gillette on OKC. A really, really great message. Of the unicorn variety. And even though I was seeing D, that was still new, and I admittedly had a few reservations about getting involved with D. So I responded to Gillette, because unicorns are such a rare and mystical thing, and we hit it off immediately. He was a fantastic texter, and I’m super picky about texting. He was really funny, and there was a LOT of banter. I love banter. So when he texted me late Saturday afternoon and asked if I wanted to get dinner, I rolled with it. (By rolled with it, I mean called S AND L panicking that accepting made me a super slut somehow).
He’d never had hibachi, and there’s a hibachi restaurant at Patriot Place, the outdoor mall built around Gillette stadium. His pictures, though not an outright lie, were misleading. But as soon as we got into the restaurant, the charming, witty banter began, and I had a blast with him. I thought it would be a little awkward at first, because when we got there, I remembered that hibachi is typically shared with strangers, but we had such a good rapor that that aspect wasn’t weird at all.
When we had finished our meal, he asked if I wanted to take a walk. I agreed, but wanted to head to my car first to grab a coat, and to drop off my leftovers. Long story short, we ended up driving over to the parking lot by the nature trail and cranberry bog that are behind the stadium, under the guise of taking our walk there. We didn’t even get out of the car. Well, that’s technically not true. We did get out of the car, but only to the get into the backseat for more comfortable make-out conditions. Also, I did a little re-arranging of stuff from the backseat to the trunk, because as Norman Bates can attest, the interior of my car is “not bad,” but also not great. My trunk is full of a bunch of random shit, including a sleeping bag I affectionately call The Sleeping Bag of Broken Dreams (which has actually come in really handy on more than one occasion). Which made the task of moving the junk that had accumulated in my back seat to the trunk comical. But I digress.
Now, to give you the full effect, let me just describe to you the conditions. This parking lot is more just like a gravel pit. There were maybe 3 other cars parked, and about 20 or so dry-docked boats in shrink wrap. Can you say romance? It was still light out, and I parked my trusty little Corolla in the most conspicuous spot possible. AKA right out in the open, rather than tucked in between two boats.
We ended up making out in the back of my car for awhile. I knew almost immediately that I was not into Gillette at all, despite the genuinely good time I had had at dinner. He was not a very good kisser. I know the existence of bad kissers is a hotly debated topic (actually, it’s not, because everyone knows bad kissers exist in this world), so I’ll rephrase and say that his style was not my favorite – he was of the sloppy variety. Also, all I could really think about the whole time was that I really wanted to be making out with D. But, Gillette wasn’t a totally terrible kisser either, and it was nice to be making out with someone (D was getting over a cold so there had been no making out earlier in the day while I was with him).
The next day Gillette texted me asking to see me again. I felt bad letting him down, but he was super awesome about it. I figured that was the last I would hear from Gillette.
I left the whole thing feeling a little bad about both Gillette and D, and kind of skeezy for going on 2 dates in 1 day. It’s not something I’ll likely ever repeat. I can barely handle going out with multiple guys in a week when there’s a chance that I’ll see at least one of them again. I know there’s no reason to feel bad about that, but it’s just not my style.
I wrote the bones of this post awhile ago, but had yet to finish it until this past weekend. Cut to a little over a month ago. I was seeing someone (who I’m no longer seeing, womp womp, and I’m not really ready to address it on the blog yet). Gillette texted me out of the blue and started chatting me up. He asked if I wanted to “hook up” again. I told him I was seeing someone. He said that he had started seeing someone too, but they weren’t exclusive yet, and I had been fun to hook up with. “Are you and your guy exclusive yet?” Ohhhh, Gillette, how the mighty have fallen. I mean, at no point were you actually mighty, but you had been a pleasant memory until that question.
I have a bunch of stuff to post about in the near future. I promise to be better about actually posting, rather than just thinking about it on the commuter rail. In the meantime, I know L has a date story to regale you all with later this week. We’re getting back on track folks (you know, if “on track” means going on dates that are blog worthy for all the wrong reasons). Good job us!
When the story of Okcupid’s experiments broke a few weeks ago, the Stucu ladies were already in a bit of a dark place. Dating-wise, it’s been a wildly unsuccessful summer for the three of us, so it was total insult to injury when Okcupid plopped a big cherry on our shit sundae by announcing that we may have been unwitting, unwilling participants in some… experiments. If you haven’t read up on what happened, check out some of the coverage here, and here and here. Awesome. We appear to be dating in The Truman Show! Which come to think of it would explain a lot.
If you’re scratching your head after reading that and saying, “What the fuck?” then that makes four of us (five if we include Janis Ian). First of all, I’d just like to point out that this company clearly has a fetish for dehumanizing its users by comparing us to gross, thoroughly un-cute animals. In January it wasscorpions, now it’s large rodents. Okcupid, if you’re going to compare single people to animals, can you at least use cute ones? Or funny, nostalgic ones? These guys seem particularly appropriate:
Anyway, next time you have something controversial to tell us, maybe don’t let a 17 year old unpaid summer intern put together the “artwork” in MS Paint and fire it off to your users. You fools.
Before my rage bubbles over too much, let’s get to the point of this post, which is to share our thoughts on the experiments themselves (SPOILER ALERT: we’re not thrilled). If you’re Bill Nye or something, and want to read the full, original text about the experiments before you take our incredibly unbiased words for what they are worth, check them out here. Three of them, three of us. #winning.
Experiment #1: LOVE IS BLIND, OR SHOULD BE
Quick summary: for a period of time one day back in January OKC declared it Love is Blind Day and hid all user profile pics. What they “found out” shouldn’t surprise anyone. At all.
First, while profile pics were hidden, there were WAY less first messages sent, compared to a “typical Tuesday.” It looks like an average of around 3,000 messages per hour for the entire time the experiment was running, when it’s normally around 20,000 – 30,000. Essentially, most people didn’t want anything to do with Love is Blind Day.
Of the new conversations that were started in that period, people responded more often, and allegedly exchanged contact details more often.
I wasn’t surprised by this either. Far fewer conversations were started. So it makes sense that of the ones that were, they progressed further/faster. The people who participated in Love is Blind day were the very types who don’t place a really heavy emphasis on looks. Or at least the ones who don’t think they do. More on that in a little bit.
As an aside, while I had a depressing personal reaction to some of the results (see below), this is actually the only part of this experiment itself that bothers me. Are the people at OKC routinely monitoring the contents of all messages exchanged, like some creepy big brother matchmaker? Or was it just during this “experiment” to see what happened? I mean, I know I’m using their service, so I don’t expect that messages are totally private. But the idea that rather than just policing messages that people report as inappropriate, someone is over at OKC headquarters watching conversations progress and timing how long it takes for phone numbers to be exchanged, makes me never want to send another message.
Lastly, OKC kept track of how many of the conversations started during the Love is Blind period actually continued once profile pics were restored. The trend was overwhelmingly to abandon the conversation. No matter how deep into the conversation people were. Even after the exchange of 12 messages, there was still a more likely chance that the conversation would end rather than continue.
This is one of those results that surprises me, but also doesn’t. I mean, on the one hand, I don’t routinely exchange 12 messages with someone who I don’t find interesting. And yet, even those conversations that were going seemingly well tended to end once profile pics were restored. But, on the other hand, we live in a world that places a high value on certain kinds of physical attributes. So basically, Love is Blind day proved that the majority of people who claim “personality is more important to me than looks” are big fat liars. Because like I said above, those are the people who were much more likely to give Love is Blind day a chance. OKC users are big fat liars? That is SHOCKING.
I’d like to think I’m open-minded enough that if we were having a good conversation, but the person turned out to not be my type physically, I’d continue the conversation. i’ve responded to great messages from people whose pictures didn’t strike my fancy right away. Because, despite my tendency to form extreme crushes on total strangers (just last week I fell in love with a stranger on the T), physical attraction is also something that can build for me. Obviously, there has to be some baseline attraction. But much like a hot guy can become hideous based on his personality, a normal guy can become really attractive once I get to know him. And similarly, I’d like to think that there are others out there with the same outlook. But then I read about this experiment, and quite frankly, it made me super sad about the future of my dating life. I’m not especially attractive. Now, I don’t think I’m hideous either. It’s just that I would categorize myself as fairly plain. At least as far as looks go. I’m far from plain personality wise. I’ve got that in spades, and I like who I am. But if looks really are as important to online dating as they appear to be, then I don’t know why I’m bothering with this in the first place. Lord knows I get fewer messages, and go on fewer dates, than L and S. That’s never really bothered me before. I mean, we’re all different people with different tastes, living in different cities. And I tend to be more attracted to country boys (read: hicks), which is not the most populous type of guy in Boston. But then this “experiment” came out, and all I could think was, “well now I know the real reason I’ve been so unsuccessful.” (Oh man, D, now I’m sad. I’m going to resist the urge to throw out a patronizing “Ra-ra you are so amazing I wish we were both into women so I could date you right now”, even though that’s what I genuinely think. Instead I’m going to agree that the dating game can be a serious self esteem crusher. Show me a person who online dates and doesn’t go to this place at some point or another:
and I will show you a liar. Or possibly just a straight man (badum-ching!). Anyway, D, I just wanted to say I love you. Publicly. On our blog. And totally derail this post. Sorry, readers…)
Okay, I think I’ve gotten a hold of myself. Carry on, ladies.
I mean, the take-aways here are essentially: 1) virtually no one is interested in pictureless online dating; and 2) the world is a shallow place.
Experiment #2: SO, WHAT’S A PICTURE WORTH?
Did someone say shallow? L here, LSD’s admittedly most shallow contributor, ready to take on experiment numero dos. Basically, OKC asked a sample of users to rate other users’ profiles and pictures separately, and here is what they found:
In case, unlike me and S, who had a high school statistics teacher who was so amazing that his last name actually RHYMED with a deity, you have trouble interpreting scatter-plots, let me break it down for you: OKC users, by and large, rated people the same rating for looks and for personality. Now, this means one of two things:
1. People are truly as nice, kind, funny, and cool as they are good looking. Naomi Campbell is a good example of this. She is not only beautiful, but a really nice person.
That’s why she just hit Oprah with her cellphone. OPRAH, PEOPLE!
And before Gandhi passed away, “People Magazine” was frequently putting him on their “50 Most Beautiful People” list. I believe that Paul Wellstone will be remembered not as one of the most compassionate, progressive legislators of our time, but as 2008’s “Sexiest Man Alive.”
2. What’s that you say? The above paragraphs reek of sarcasm? You’re right, dear readers, they do, because the much more plausible explanation for this graph is that OKC users are just really shallow and care WAYYY more about what you look like than what you write in your profile. Clearly, the mad scientists at OKC had this hypothesis as well, so they decided to take their experiment one step further: Remove profile text altogether and see if users’ rankings of people differed at all from when they could see profile text. And sure ’nuff, what did they find?
Yup, same basic trend: profile text had very little to do with rankings.
Is this surprising to me? No. As the mastermind behind Tacosdelish, I’ve actually seen firsthand that many people could care less about what you put in your profile, or even what you say when you’re messaging with them. But does that mean that we should all give up unless we have really hot profile pics to post? Not at all, and let me tell you why:
A profile gives you something to message about. How many times have we complained on this blog about getting generic messages? Or messages just about our looks? Or messages that were actually intended for Angela Merkel? Your profile gives people the ability to start some sort of conversation with you, or, at the very least, make a witty joke before they ask you out for drinks.
Most people are just average looking. I’m not trying to pretend I’m better then the average OKC user. I didn’t message a single person or return messages on “love is blind” day because love is not blind. I am actually legally blind in my left eye, so I know what it is to be blind, and LOVE IS NOT. I need to be attracted to the person I’m going out with, and he needs to be attracted to me, or otherwise the date is a huge waste of time (unless we end up starting a book club or write a plan for world domination or something). Now, I know that attraction can develop over time, but I do think this is only true up to a certain point. That is why, when I’m evaluating people’s profiles and deciding whether to message them or message them back, I put them into one of three categories. (See, now do you understand why I’m the shallow blogger?) :
Category 1: I can’t get past his looks. The pics they posted are just not attractive to me. (15% of men)
Category 2: They look passable. This means they have at least one picture that I find attractive, and no pictures that scare me. (65% of men)
Category 3: They look super hot. Every picture they posted is attractive to me. (10% of men)
So here’s the thing. Most men fall into Category 2. (I actually think even MORE men could graduate from Category 1 to Category 2 if they stopped posting idiotic bathroom selfies or creepy pics of them in bed.) And, if you’re Cateogry 2, I read your profile to get more information. Because I believe there is a chance we could have a decent date/you could be the love of my life. So, if there is nothing in your profile, or if it is full of stupid adjectives and not so subtle digs at women, then I will GTFO and move on (sadly, I’d say more than HALF of the Category 2 guys weed themselves out this way). But, if we have even a little bit in common and you are not a She-Man-Woman-Hater, I’ll message you back.
Now, if you’re Category 1, I do just skip your profile and continue on my way. Sorry. I’m not as nice a person as Naomi Campbell, ok? And, Category 3 guys do get a VERY LENIENT read on the profile, and I’ve been known to go out with a couple Category 3 guys whose profiles have expressed thinly veiled chauvinism or some pretty egregious spelling errors. But this has almost NEVER turned out well for me, so honestly, I do this less and less.
The big takeaway here: Most of us look like average, Category 2 people, and so what people think of our looks is pretty subjective. So keep on writing those profiles boys. Unless of course, you’re so hot, you look good even when you’re pumping gas.
I actually asked L and D if I could take this one, because I think it’s the most brazen (and therefore, offensive) of the three experiments. While the first two covered looks and how much they matter (shocker: they matter a lot. I could have told you that, fools) this third one was about compatibility. Basically Okcupid attempted to figure out whether people’s behavior on the site could be influenced by being told they were “good” or “bad” matches when in reality they were the opposite. They did this by manipulating the match percentage of a sample of users and watching what happened. Here’s what the Okc nerds say about match percentage in their blog post:
“By all our internal measures, the “match percentage” we calculate for users is very good at predicting relationships. It correlates with message success, conversation length, whether people actually exchange contact information, and so on. But in the back of our minds, there’s always been the possibility: maybe it works just because we tell people it does. Maybe people just like each other because they think they’re supposed to? Like how Jay-Z still sells albums?”
Um, let’s leave Jay-Z out of this, shall we, Okcupid?
Anyway, I’ll come back to my thoughts on match percentage in a sec. For part one of this experiment, Okcupid told people with low match percentages (30%) that they were super compatible by making the percentages appear as 90%. Unsurprisingly, those people sent more first messages than those who saw the actual lower percentages.
Then they wondered, does this perceived compatibility cause people to actually hit it off and send more than just a first message?According to their data yes, it does:
Anyway, these results were stressing the Okc peeps out, because they basically suggested that their match percentage algorithm was worthless. So they flipped it and reversed it: this time around they told actual “good” matches (90%) that they were “bad” matches (30%) and saw the same general trend. Here are all the results displayed all together:
In summary, according to Okcupid, users can be influenced to message more often if they’re told they’re a good match, and less often if they’re told they’re a bad match. Unsurprisingly, people have the best chance of hitting it off if they appear to be a good match and actually are a good match (bottom right number).
My one real beef I have with the experiment itself is: for bad matches who are displayed as good, why is four messages considered some magic number of compatibility? Okcupid had this to say about it:
“The four-message threshold is our internal measure for a real conversation. And though the data is noisier, this same “higher display means more success” pattern seems to hold when you look at contact information exchanges, too.”
True, four messages technically constitutes a conversation, but you can’t then conclude that those people actually hit it off. I’ve exchanged four messages with plenty of dudes and decided that I actually hate/could never date them. Same goes for exchanging contact information… if I had a dollar for every time I seriously regretted giving someone my phone #, I would have enough to cover happy hour later today. Which would be awesome.
Also, not to get all ‘big brother is watching/NSA is listening’, but I’m with D on that last quote from Okc about “looking at contact information exchanges”. The idea that some 23 year old statistics nerd may be reading my messages to see whether I exchanged phone #s with a dude is gross. And creepy. And gross.
So, regarding experiment #3, my first takeaway is that dudes appear to actually look at match percentages, which given the two above experiments and L’s own experiments with Tacos Delish, I wasn’t entirely sure about. Hurrah! Second, I’m not surprised that people can be influenced to some extent (as you can see we’re not talking huge numbers here) by match percentages. Because, if I may remind the nerds of Okcupid, match percentage is not some random, arbitrary number. If you really want to get nerdy, check out their formula for calculating it here. Basically the number is representative of two people’s answers to questions and how important or unimportant they consider the questions to be. The Okcupid people themselves insist that some of these questions are a very reliable predictor of compatibility. Some questions are stupid and meaningless (I hate camping and horror movies, but they’re certainly not deal breakers), but others, likes these, are pretty big deal (you can literally mark them as ‘mandatory’, and I do):
Yup. A guy’s answers to these matter to me just a smidge. It’s true, a 30% match could probably make me laugh, or we could have off the charts chemistry or even really like each other. But at the end of the day, if he answered his questions truthfully, we’d still disagree on some fundamental things, and odds are those things would become an issue somewhere down the line.
Now on the flip side, a high percentage is no guarantee that I’ll actually be into the person. I look at a guy’s stats (age, location, education level, height etc), then profile and pics. Then match percentage. Then if we message, he could be ass numbingly boring, or reveal that he has only a basic grasp of the English language, or be mean-spirited. Or we could meet and have zero chemistry. There are a million different reasons why a 99% match could still not be the guy for me, but the point is at least I know when I message a 99% match (or even an 80% match) that we’ve presumably cleared the hurdle of agreeing on things that are important to both of us. In short, it saves time. Unless, of course, you’re an Okcupid guinea pig, and like I said above, I have a sneaking suspicion that these poor souls came to the exact same conclusion, just not as quickly. Such is the life of a lab animal.
I’ll admit, there’s a part of me, the secretly nerdy psych major part, that finds this all fascinating. We spend so much of our time on this blog being utterly baffled by people’s behavior, so anything that may shed some light on why people do what they do is, on some level, really cool. People are cool! Human behavior is fascinating! Science! Discovery! Progress!
That part of me thinks that online dating is hard and confusing and ridiculous and soul crushing enough without some Harvard BA in applied mathematics fucking with my user experience for sport. Yes, I realize that I signed a “user agreement” and it basically says Okc can do whatever they want with me. And I think it makes total sense for Okcupid to study the data they already have (and they have plenty) to draw lots of interesting, informative and helpful conclusions. Experiment #1, while stupid, was at least clear cut. Everyone realized what was happening. Nobody was being deceived. Experiment #2 was more deceiving, for sure, but still an A/B test (two versions of something with info. included or left out).
But when these assholes start changing match percentages, now people are just straight up being lied to and that’s when I hop onto my soapbox. Because you, Okcupid, an online dating service that people use to meet their significant others, may have legitimately prevented people from crossing paths who would have otherwise seriously hit it off. Many of us, LSD included, are using your service to hopefully meet the person we want to spend the rest of our lives with, sparing a lot of time, money, misery, humiliation and heartache in the process. Maybe that sounds dramatic, but if you were looking for a blog free of drama and ended up here, you clearly took a wrong turn somewhere.
Believe it or not, Okcupid, we’re not thrilled to sign onto your site day after day and cruise for thoroughly undatable sociopaths and illiterate weirdos, while our friends get engaged and married around us. It sucks. It’s the worst. And your comical disregard for that fact is not only infuriating, it sort of makes me want to stop using your site and go elsewhere. Except as we’ve covered pretty well here…. there is. no. elsewhere.
Plus the site’s arrogant, flippant tone throughout this whole thing (go reread that email above), combined with the way they’ve been dressing it up as if 1. if we’re on the internet period we should expect to be lied to in the name of research on a daily basis and 2. it’s some benevolent way for them to help us have a better experience, is also totally gross to me. This WSJ interview with Okc co-founder Chris Rudder sums it up pretty well:
Blech. Sure, Chris Rudder, we’re in control, but we base who we interact with on certain criteria. And if we’re given the wrong criteria or you withhold information from us, then that control is a fallacy. Don’t patronize us, buddy. Also, you’re lucky, so lucky, that a Stucu blogger didn’t wind up in one of these experiments, because you and our poor readers would probably never hear the end of it.