Thoughts on the Okcupid experiments from three reluctant guinea pigs

Happy Friday, readers!

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.

ts rain


Sure enough, soon after the news broke, LSD received this fun email from Okc’s evil masterminds:




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 was scorpions, 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:

Pues no hay nadie perfecto..


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.


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.

love is blind

Of the new conversations that were started in that period, people responded more often, and allegedly exchanged contact details more often. 

compared to a typical tuesday

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. 

convos in progress when pics came back 

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…)

have a lot of feelings


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:

  1. You can screen out a lot of crazy by looking at a profile. One of our mottos here at StuCu is “live every day like it will be your last because there is a good chance you’ll meet a murderer when you’re online dating and he’ll kill you.” Believe it or not, there are a staggering number of potential murderers (as well as womanizers, mentally unstable trainwrecks, perverts, and general fools) who actually just admit to being these things on their profiles. And no matter what a guy looks like in his pictures, if there are major crazy flags in his profile, I screen him out.
  2. 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. 
  3. 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


Then my answer is YES YES YES.


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.

happy hour



Mmmmm happy hour. Focus, S.

Anyway, if Okcupid had instead polled the people involved in this experiment and asked what they actually thought of their match after four messages, or checked back with them a week later, then that data would be much more revealing and accurate. I suspect that for many people it just took that long for the other person to share some detail about themselves that horrified them (and that could have easily been discovered earlier if that person’s info. had been provided truthfully and accurately in the first place). Maybe five messages is how long it typically takes for people to casually reveal whichever of their answers are deal breakers, like that they hate gays or love nuclear war.

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!

But then there’s the other part of me, the painfully single part who accidentally goes out with bros, cries in public after being dumped, and experiences fade aways on an alarmingly regular basis. That part of me is

not impressed

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.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Confessions of a private investigator: J, C, and me

If you couldn’t already tell, I consider myself a woman who wears many hats. (Not literally. I look terrible in hats. Mediocre bone structure.) But figuratively, I do a lot of things besides my day job. There is blogging, there is book clubbing, there is babysitting, there is some serious Pilates devotion. Am I good at all these things? Not necessarily. But you know one side hobby I’m quite good at? INVESTIGATING. (Some people call it online stalking). Now, I have to give credit where credit is due. I learned 30% of my tricks from Law and Order and CSI Miami, which is why I have conferred on myself an honorary police academy degree.

And, I learned most of my skills from watching this chick:

veronica mars


Seriously Veronica, I won’t stop it, because you’re a goddess among mortals. For those of you who  were, sadly, deprived an adolescence, that beautiful, brilliant vixen you see is Veronica Mars, star of the self titled UPN series about a teenage, butt-kicking detective. Who my friends and I worshiped, and to this day, strive to be (minus all the near death experiences she has). 

Anyway, here’s the deal with investigating these days. It’s SO FREAKING EASY PEOPLE. I mean, remember how easy it was for S’s current dude to find our blog? 

Usually my investigation into my dates begins and ends with what I like to call “a little healthy googling.” Usually, the guy has shared enough with me via messages and his profile that I can perform an accurate enough google search to find his last name, and from there, perform another google search to learn everything about him. For example, if someone named Harry tells me he works at the World Bank and has 1984 in his username, I just search Harry, World Bank, DC, and, if needed, add the words graduated 2007 or 2006 and see if anything comes up. Once I realize his last name, I perform another search which usually reveals any letters he ever wrote to the editor, an old Myspace profile, his profile, and, if I’m lucky, perhaps some wonderful biography in his college alumni newsletter. Or I’ll get to listen to some wonderful tracks he and his band uploaded to Soundcloud.

Now, please don’t get all Judy Judgmental about “a little healthy googling.” First of all , information is POWER (and safety. You’re welcome mom. Told you I was taking care of myself). I am not meeting these guys through my cousin or mutual friends, I’m meeting them through the internet, a “place” where you can pretend to be anyone you want, including a bisexual Chechen with gastrointestinal problems. I want to make sure the guys I’m chatting with are who they say they are.

I understand that people often associate romantic things with mystery and surprise, but I believe that stuff belongs in the movies, or an at anniversary party you plan for your grandparents.

Now, the only thing about online stalking before your first date is that you learn things your date might want to tell you in a first meeting, such as where he went to college, what he does for a living, what his hobbies are, etc. And, for the sake of the conversation, you need to be able to nod along  as if you’re interested and ask interesting follow-up questions. It’s no good for your chemistry if you act like you know more about his background than he does.



Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to stalk J,a guy I first went out with in mid-December, before our first date. Every once in awhile, a guy has a  very common first name, and a nondescript job like “analyst at a think tank,” which describes 40% of the men in DC. So, I went into my first date with J blind. Fortunately, the date was super fun. He made a reservation at one of those exclusive little speakeasy places I’d be been wanting to try. And in addition to being really handsome, he was smart and a gifted conversationalist. We talked for two hours, and he asked me out again for a second date before our first date was over. He sent me a couple of texts over the weekend, reiterating what a great time he had, and confirming our date for the following week.

Of course, on the date, J had revealed his undergrad university and his hometown, which provided me with more than enough information to do a Veronica-esque internet search on his background, which basically confirmed all the facts he told me on our first date.  

Or so I thought…

Enter second date, which happened two weeks after our first date due to Christmas vacation. We met up a bar in his neighborhood for drinks, dinner, and another great conversation. I mean, I will admit that while J was interesting and smart, he wasn’t the nicest person in the world.  But, I figured, I was on the market for  a fun date, not like, new candidates for pope.  So I ignored that part of his personality for the time being.  

At the end of the evening, J asked me if I wanted to come over for “a nightcap.”

Now here’s the thing people. I know I talked a bit about how I wanted to run a longer game in 2014. But you should have seen J’s body. I mean, I could see it under his shirt. His button down, preppy shirt. I swear, it was in the neighborhood of this:



So, I hope you will not judge me when I tell you that I said yes to the nightcap. And when we got up to his apartment and he said, “Actually, I don’t even really have any alcohol. We can split a beer if you want.” I stayed. I wasn’t in it for the beer, friends.

So, an hour later, I am using J’s restroom, and I decide to do another investigator move called, “a little healthy snooping.”  Before you get all Jay-Z on me and tell me I’m gonna need a warrant for that, let me explain the parameters of this exercise:

  • Anything in plain view is fair game. Always. If you don’t want me to see your DVD copy of “How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days,” put it away.
  • If I’m staying over, the medicine cabinet and under the bathroom sink are fair game. I mean, don’t you want me to brush my teeth? Change the toilet paper roll? C’mon.
  • Thou shalt not inquire about any prescription bottles that she finds. (Googling prescriptions surreptitiously on your phone is allowed, however.)
  • Never ever ever open any dresser drawers or that bedside table drawer. Just don’t.

Per rule #2, I was staying over and therefore had grounds to access anything in the bathroom. (Don’t you like all my legal jargon? I told you I had an honorary police academy degree!)  PLUS, J had just moved apartments and his stuff was in little boxes all over the floor. And what did I see on top of a box but a hair dryer? Now, J had pretty short hair, so I was guessing the hair dryer wasn’t his. But who knows? Maybe he kept it for guests, or used it to dry his socks? But then I opened the medicine cabinet (ostensibly looking for toothpaste and face wash). And, sitting on one of the shelves was an open pack of Neutrogena Eye Makeup Remover wipes.

My spidey senses told me something was off here. So, what did I do? First, I used the makeup wipes to take the mascara off my eyes. Nobody wants to go to bed with that on. But then, I went back to J’s room and said, “Why do you have makeup wipes and a hair dryer in your bathroom? Did you just break up with a girlfriend or something?”

J looked a little caught off guard. “Uh…yeah…that’s it.  I just broke up with my ex-girlfriend. How did you know?”

“Why else would you have feminine products in your apartment?” I replied.

But then, without missing another beat, J said, “I kept the hair dryer because I might need it again someday. And I use the make-up wipes for camping trips.”

Maybe I was tired. Maybe I wanted to believe him, just for a few hours, because we were having so much fun. But I dropped the subject and we got back to business.

But the next morning, I couldn’t shake the feeling that something was up. When he kissed me goodbye, and said, “See you later, right?,” I decided to take a stand and not respond like a normal, conflict-averse person. I said, “Listen J. It’s fine if this was just a fun fling, and you don’t want to see me later. But there is no reason to tell me that if you have no intention of calling me again.”

Now, between last night’s investigative plunge into his bathroom supplies and this aggressive statement, J’s spidey-senses were probably going off too. And, while, they may have said, “This lady is CRAY,” they most certainly must have said, “This girl is ON TO ME.” Of course, J, was like, “No, I really want to see you again. As long as you want to see me too.”

When I returned home, I decided to find out a little more about who J’s ex girlfriend was. So, I returned to his facebook page, and examined the public posts on his wall, and who had liked and commented on his photo. I noticed one girl commenting and liking photos again and again. Her name was C. I clicked on C’s profile and what did I find? A picture of her and J, together, arms around each other.

Now, some of you may be thinking:That means nothing. C could be a sister,  a cousin, a friend. But J didn’t have any sisters. And if she was a relative, he was holding her a little too close for comfort. 

Now you still may be thinking: Maybe that’s an old profile picture. But she had just posted it a week ago. And someone had commented, “Is that you two at Christmas?”

Our old friends Benson and Stabler would call this circumstantial evidence. And indeed it was. So I decided to dig deeper. And what did I find? C had a wildly public online presence, complete with a blog, public Instragram, Pinterest, and Twitter account. Instagram featured a bunch of pictures of her and J together. On Twitter, she was promoting some articles J had written. And, on Pinterest, C had a Pinboard dedicated to J, and one dedicated to, presumably, her future wedding.

So, what’s an investigator’s next move? Bring in a trusted team of consultants, of course. I immediately g chatted my friend K and asked her to review the evidence:

k and l chat about j                            

Of course, I reached out to S for a good old reality check:


So what was the result of these investigations? I never contacted J again and he never contacted me either. Maybe it was just a regular old fade away, but I like to think that I avoided an untimely death by a hot, Gos-bodied sociopath.  And, for the record, while C’s obit hasn’t appeared in the paper yet, she has not updated her social media in awhile, indicating a possible disappearance. I mean, when you put all the evidence together, J was one sketchy individual. And, after a careful review of the evidence, even S came to that conclusion:

j serial killer

So cheers to being alive readers, even it’s alive and going on lots of first dates. See you next week, unless J gets to me first.

Trending: Dating Trends

Hello loyal readers! Before I get to my post, just wanted to share a quick social media update: you can now follow StuCu on both Facebook and Twitter!


As you can see, we currently have exactly one twitter follower (thanks, E!) and zero Facebook followers, so if we get 5 total out of this little PSA we will feel like the coolest girls at band camp. We’ve also had some questions about sharing the blog on Facebook (you guys are the best) since we’re trying to stay anonymous, but these pages aren’t connected at all to our personal accounts so please feel free to share away!

All three of us will be tweeting, possibly even live tweeting during dates (okay that admittedly would be a tad rude, but I can’t promise there won’t be bathroom tweeting if a date is awful), talking about upcoming posts, doing a lot of unnecessary (slash totally necessary) hashtagging, and sharing super interesting tidbits about our exciting single lives…

#LizLemonforever (don’t say I didn’t warn you!) Now without further delay, here is Friday’s post on dating trends:

When we started this blog a few months ago, I opened a fresh Google doc and made a list of everyone I’ve been out with for reference/story purposes. As I reviewed my past dates, I started to notice certain…similarities. Trends, if you will. It turns out the guys I’ve been seeing definitely have some random things in common. Unfortunately I don’t mean that I’ve dated multiple socially conscious millionaires with hearts of gold, or multiple guys who look like this:

ryan shirtless

My examples are slightly weirder…

Number of journalists I’ve dated: 4

Two of these guys were print journalists, an ALLEGEDLY dying profession, but I somehow managed to find a few. To be clear I was not a journalism major, I don’t work in journalism (unless you count my prestigious blogging career), and I don’t mention anything about being an aspiring writer on my profile. Please know that two of these guys also literally attended the same (out of state) school for journalism. Possible Explanation: I obviously like to write, and I definitely value that talent in others. I also think I’m drawn to well written and witty profiles since that’s legitimately all you have to go off of in the beginning. Plus I totally judge people on spelling and grammar. And not to toot my own horn (too late) but I think I’m a pretty decent writer, so maybe that’s how these dudes are finding their way to my profile. Either that or they all know each other and this is some sort of elaborate ruse for an article in the Chicago Sun Times.

Damn, I forgot about Michael Vartan. He was a delicious treat.

Number of former DJs or guys who claimed to DJ “as a hobby”: 3

Is this a thing I wasn’t aware of? Does everyone suddenly have a turntable in their living room? One of these dudes allegedly messed around with it for fun, but the second was a well known DJ in Philly for a while (my friends and I refer to him exclusively as DJ A___) and the third had a podcast that he DJ’d every Sunday and apparently was often hired to “spin at house parties” (PS who the eff is hiring a DJ for their house party? College frats? Hipsters? Weird ravers who didn’t get the memo that it’s no longer 2001?) So there’s that. And PS I always found out about this in person, on a date, not beforehand… it’s to the point where the last guy said “DJ” and I literally thought my friends were punking me. Possible Explanation: I love music, and I definitely mention that in my profile, but it’s interesting that I’ve never been out with an actual musician/member of a band. Just, you know, MCs spinning jams.

Fun useless pop culture fact: that scary DJ is none other than Justin Theroux, aka Mr. Jennifer Aniston. So apparently I’m in good company.

Number of guys who claimed I was their first or second OKCupid date ever: 4+

Yeahhhh. This one is… troubling. I mean, how do I not interpret this as guys are asking me out because they think I’m super obtainable as a date/not out of their league/someone they want to “practice” on? I know I certainly thought that about my first date ever… I literally looked at his profile said out loud, “WELP, gotta start somewhere.” I also do feel like I’m more nice/polite/friendly than your average jaded single gal, so maybe that just comes off as approachable? I hope? #Laugh/cry. Possible Explanation: I’m the dating equivalent of training wheels. In the interest of not wanting to kill myself, let’s just chalk it up to me being super awesome and guys not wanting to waste another second before meeting me. Or alternatively, that they’re all lying (wouldn’t be the first time) and are actually seasoned online dating veterans.

Number of “actors”: 3

I live in Philly, so obviously we’re not talking card carrying SAG members who are gunning for soaps and Old Spice commercials (remember this gem?). I wish. These three guys all had day jobs but acted locally on stage as a hobby. I believe the the term “regional theater” was used more than once in conversation. So actually that “ironic” 30 Rock clip from the beginning of the post could LITERALLY apply to me if I dated one of these guys long term. One of them had also recently joined an improv group…

Possible explanation: I honestly have no idea what this trend is about. I mean, one of my dating pet peeves is guys who are bad conversationalists, and these were definitely three of my more outgoing dates, so in that way it makes sense.

Conclusion: Apparently I date dramatic musical writers who are just looking to write headlines, spin some vinyl and get their feet wet in the dating world before moving on to greener pastures. Hmm. Well. I think I need to call on the wisdom of my spirit animal, Liz Lemon, once again: 

Have a great weekend, guys!

Message Monday, or the one about why D has no fun date stories lately

So, dear readers, you may have noticed that I haven’t been posting any date stories lately. And this is a dating blog after all, so what’s the deal? Well. I wish I could say it’s that all my dates recently have been with cool guys and they went really well (and thus weren’t blog worthy). But I can’t say that. The real reason is that I have not had a conversation with anyone worth meeting in person in awhile. Discouraging, yes. Blog worthy, most definitely. So today, we have a Message Monday on steroids, if you will.

These have been some of the recent interactions I’ve had:

1) This fine fellow had messaged me and then talked about the weather (literally). And, at one point, in response to a sarcastic question by me to spice things up, he honestly stated that he thinks the T is great. I don’t trust anyone who doesn’t harbor a healthy amount of hatred for Boston’s public transportation. So I was already losing my patience with this fool. And then, this happened:

are you freaky at all

Excuse me? Topics we have covered so far: the weather, the T, the fact that you like pizza, and a trip you took to Puerto Rico. I don’t even know your name. You know nothing about me thus far, other than the fact that I would like to go to Puerto Rico because I have a friend that lives there. And the first thing you want to know about me is “Are you freaky at all?” Why are questions like this becoming socially acceptable?

2) Casual fun:

casual fun

I … I don’t even know how to respond to that. First, what other kind of fun is there? Second, and maybe I’m wrong, but I feel like what he’s really asking is “are you open to casual sex?” Again, WTF with this line of questioning? Third, emoticons. Sigh. The only thing I’m open to is ignoring you.

3) When a guy sends me a message on OKC, I obviously check out his profile, but I also check out his answers to all the user-generated questions. A quick crash-course in OKC questions. You can answer as many or as few as you want. But you can only see a guy’s answer if you also answered that question. And when you answer, you also indicate which answers you will “accept”, and which answers are “dealbreakers”. Whenever an answer is not one the other person would accept, it shows up in red. Two great examples (from the same guy):

I'm employed full-time

This fine gentleman is unemployed. Times are tough, so you’ll notice that I’m ok with that answer. You will also notice that my answer of “I have a fulltime job” is unacceptable to him. Besides the inherent sexism or the fact that I will never be a housewife or stay-at-home mom (nothing wrong with that, just sooo not me), what exactly is your life plan sir? Because I’m pretty sure if you don’t work, and your partner doesn’t work, that pretty much leaves old refrigerator box down by the river as your only option. Oh wait, this clears things up for me a bit:

I don't live at home with my parents

First – his answer of yes. Like I said, times are tough, so I can imagine scenarios where this wouldn’t necessarily scare me off, but as a general rule living with your parents sets off alarm bells for me. Are you unable to hold down a job, and thus unable to pay monthly bills? Do you have any life ambition? Does your mother still do your laundry? Is it your dream for them to build an apartment over the garage, so you never have to leave home? Etc. Second, my answer, the one that indicates that I’m a fully functioning, self-sufficient adult (haha, I can’t even type that without cracking up) with a job and an apartment, seems to be the opposite of what this guy wants. He wants me to still be living with my parents at the age of 28? I don’t understand. Aside from a whole host of more serious questions about this answer, if you live with your parents, and I live with my parents, where do we go to make out? The car in the driveway? Just – NO.

4) This delightfully hypocritical fellow messaged me. This one isn’t actually funny, it’s just super offensive.

he's a bigot

There’s no way I will date someone who thinks anything other than “it’s all fine by me” is an appropriate answer. There’s not really much else to say about this.

5) Gettin’ Friskay

friskay booty

EWWWW. I feel dirty just reading that. Also, why are you adding extra letters to some words, and eliminating necessary letters from others?

6) This guy sent me a funny message related to my love of the Die Hard franchise (really all things Bruce Willis). But his profile was completely blank, with the exception of 1 picture. Where I normally ignore blank profiles, I decided to find out what the deal was.

blank profile

Why are boys so stupid? This is either 1) a really bad lie, or 2) you’re the kind of person who routinely starts things, but lacks the competence and/or focus to complete them. I’m leaning towards a combination of both, because you’ll notice that this conversation happened back at the end of February. As of 10:03 p.m. on April 7th, his profile is still blank.

7) Motorboat all day!!

motorboat all day

His profile mentioned that he’s in the Coast Guard stationed here in Boston, and his ship routinely patrols down in the Caribbean. I thought it was a totally normal question. What a delightful response. For a number of reasons, this one included, I should know by now to stay away from the Coast Guard. It’s my own fault.

Now – I said that I hadn’t had a conversation with anyone worth meeting in person in awhile. That’s not entirely true. There was one promising guy. C sent me a really funny message and seemed cool. But his profile said he was from Ft. Lauderdale. So I responded, and also inquired as to why he was messaging me up in Boston when he was down in Florida. He answered that he was in the process of moving up here. Ok, made sense to me. No point in meeting people in Florida if you’re going to leave, and why not get a jump on meeting people up in your new city? So the conversation continued, and C asked for my number. I gave it to him, and for a few days we texted (a healthy amount – it’s possible!). Then, this happened (please note the date stamp):

won't be in Boston until May

MAY? It’s early March! What the hell are we supposed to do until then? I mean, he seemed nice and all, but I can count on one hand the number of guys who could ask me out 2 months in advance that I would actually wait for. Sorry to break it to you C, but unless you’re really an undercover Ryan Gosling or Jack Reacher (the Jack Reacher in my head, not the Tom Cruise variety), you’re not on that list*. And I’m not looking for a pen pal either. So while I wouldn’t mind you looking me up when you do finally arrive in this fine metropolis, I don’t have time to chat it up with a total stranger 1,500 miles away for the next 60+ days. I’m super busy re-watching all 3 seasons of Veronica Mars in preparation for the new movie.

*There are technically two other individuals on this list, but a girl’s gotta have a few secrets, right?

What D’s Perfect Relationship Looks Like, According to Science

Get comfy everyone, maybe even grab a snack, because this post is loooong.

To maximize blogging dating potential, I’m on a few different sites (all free ones because I’m cheap). One of them offered a “relationship needs assessment.” As far as I can tell, they don’t use the results to actually match you with other people on the site who meet your relationship needs, it’s basically just a psych assessment by a computer algorithm based on 100 statements and my responses of “Not at all Like Me”, “Somewhat Unlike Me”, “Somewhat Like Me”, or “Much Like Me”. A few samples:

I feel loved when my partner celebrates my birthday with a gift. DUH! Who doesn’t?
I worry that my romantic partners will not care about me as much as I care about them. Sounds like something I should be talking to a therapist about,  not a dating website.
As a sexual partner, I try to be neat. I don’t even know what this means, but I’m pretty sure being neat is pretty far down on the list of things I’m thinking about…
Love comes but once in a lifetime. Santa and the Easter Bunny are real too.
I feel loved when my partner helps me out with chores. I guess I feel loved, but mostly I just feel annoyed we’re doing chores.

Obviously I sat down and filled that shit out. The results were broken down into nine categories. As with most things like this, my results were a mix of accurate and hilariously inaccurate. Behold:

Interdependence: how much you need dependency or a “couple identity” with your partner.

We started off pretty accurate. It said that I need someone who reciprocates a strong feeling of attachment to a partner, but who also respects and copes well with the fact that I like some independence (or as they called it, “physical and psychological space at times”). Truth. Both because I think it’s important and healthy to have a separate identity from your partner, and because if I spend too much time with just one person, even someone I love, I tend to want to throw them off a cliff. I once spent a week with my two best friends at a beach house in Rhode Island, and I still go into a blind rage at the mention of Block Island. What should have been a minor disagreement (that I was unfortunately on the wrong end of) turned into a huge fight, and the underlying issue was 80% cabin fever on my part (and 20% my hatred of being wrong). They’re both laughing as they read this (luckily they’re still friends with me). It was ten years ago, and I’m still not laughing. Block Island was very lovely, but I legitimately hate that place. I hate an island that I visited for one day. So a bit of independence in a relationship can only be a good thing for me.

Intimacy: how much you need emotional closeness with your partner.

Allegedly, I am very comfortable with being intimate and vulnerable with a partner and people like me have big hearts and an impressive openness to our partners, including extending trust. Not to get too serious or all therapy session on you, but this is pretty off, at least as far as trust goes. I’m definitely not comfortable being vulnerable or extending trust, for a variety of reasons which aren’t very interesting. I’m working on it. The results also said that I am willing to act on the belief that my partner’s feelings are equally as strong/important as mine, and though I’m not perfect I do try never to belittle or invalidate other peoples’ feelings just because I don’t agree with those feelings. We broke even here.

Self-Efficacy: your self-image, stability of mood and level of motivation.

This one is my favorite. My answers apparently gave the impression that I am “patient”, “calm, cool and collected most of the time”, “likely do not overreact to circumstances as others might do”, and am “able to maintain a balanced perspective on situations.” Excuse me while I go change because I peed myself laughing. Recent examples of my calm, cool, collected, balanced perspective include: 1) texting two EMTs and an orthopedic surgeon (?) because my eye was twitching “weird” and I was convinced that I had an unruptured brain aneurysm that was pressing on my optic nerve and WHAT SHOULD I DO?; 2) spending the better part of an hour researching causes of throat cancer because my throat was scratchy and they had discovered some mold in the drywall and insulation of my office; 3) drafting an (unenforceable) last will and testament every time I get a sinus infection; 4) laying down in the hallway of my apartment building, crying because there was a bird in my apartment; and 5) throwing away an otherwise perfectly good garbage can because the bag had leaked leaving the bottom of the can gross, and buying a new garbage can was more appealing than the more responsible act of simply cleaning out the old one. And that’s all within the last year four months. I’m 28, that’s just a drop in my very composed bucket… I call shenanigans on this test.

Relationship Readiness: how prepared you are emotionally, psychologically and pragmatically for a committed relationship.

I have a good foundation and appear pretty much ready and willing to find a committed relationship. Go me! But maybe I got this result only because I tricked the test into thinking I have a balanced perspective and am generally calm, cool and collected. Whatever, I’m going to take this as a sign that I’m navigating being a grown up somewhat well, which was actually pretty unclear to me based on things like #s 4 and 5 above. Since I’m such an emotionally mature person, they told me that I need someone who is also awesome at life and wants a relationship, rather than needs one to feel personally fulfilled. Accurate. I don’t ever want to be something someone needs. I want to be something they want, but can survive without. Maybe we’re getting back on track…

Communication: your approach to interpersonal interactions and level of emotional intelligence.

Breaking News: I need someone who will not put up emotional barriers as to their thoughts and feelings, but will communicate with me. Correct – I do need that. In fact, I’m pretty sure every healthy relationship needs that.

Conflict Resolution: your stress management and problem solving skills.

I scored in the range of people who do not “consistently consider the Proper Atmosphere when addressing relationship problems.” More specifically, I neither consistently arrange for a mutually acceptable time and setting, nor choose my opening statement carefully to establish positive yet realistic expectations. So I need someone who is actually calm, cool and collected and is willing to address issues spontaneously (read, when I decide it’s time to address them). Perhaps I was a little premature calling shenanigans…

Sexuality: your needs (frequency, boundaries, expressions) related to physical intimacy.

My sexual needs are apparently “best described as fairly conservative compared to most other people, yet you are no prude.” I need someone who sees sex as romantic and fun and especially who will like to be submissive to my sexual desires. I’m not actually going to comment on this assessment, not because it’s right or wrong, but because I’m virtually incapable of talking about anything sexual. But I felt like I’d be somehow deceiving all you readers if I omitted this part, so there you have it.

Attitudes Toward Love: your level of needs for romantic love and friendship love.

I was informed that there are two types of love: romantic love and companionate love. Turns out I’m a hopeless romantic with a touch of realist. But it goes on to say that people in this range commonly view their partner as their soul mate. SOOOO, that “touch of realist” line was a load of crap then. Despite my deep love for The Princess Bride (Columbo! Kevin Arnold! And most of all, Westley! Dreamy Westley saying “as you wish”, which is like the most romantic thing any guy could ever say to me), there’s no such thing as destiny or soul mates. Shenanigans again (unless Ryan Gosling shows up at my door, then I’ll have no choice but to believe in both).

Preferred Expressions of Affection: your likes and dislikes for different ways a partner can express love and devotion.

My answers indicated that I need someone who expresses love with gifts. I don’t like how materialistic that makes me seem, but I also love gifts, so I can’t pretend like they’re wrong about me. My results went on to say that when it comes to my partner expressing affection, I like simple things such as them telling me how they feel, spending time with me, or remembering special occasions with a thoughtful gift. There we go with the gift thing again, but this time it sounds nicer.

So – did I learn anything new about myself or what I need from a relationship? Nope. Even though I’m no psychology expert, and have barely managed to stay alive since my parents stopped putting a roof over my head and food on the table, I am self-aware enough to already know that I need to be in a relationship with someone who 1) can communicate, 2) is calm to balance out my batshit-crazy, and 3) buys me presents. Which is pretty much the gist of that lengthy assessment. But it was entertaining enough reading all the questions and what my answers “said” about me, so it was time well spent I say. And bonus – in addition to all the above insights, I was provided with some very helpful questions that I could ask dates to determine whether or not they fit the bill of what I need. They were so awesome that I need to feature them all on their own, so look forward to that!


The downfall of N

Where we last left off, N and I had been on a successful first date . But texting in moderation seemed to befuddle him. He either texted for hours, or not at all. He seemed to get the hang of it a few days after our date, because midweek we exchanged a few texts about Rafael Soriano leaving the Yankees (yes, I’m a Yankees fan living deep in Red Sox territory, my life is hard yo). This is the kind of texting I’m open to! Then, Thursday morning he asked if I was busy Friday night. It was a little last minute, but my only plans revolved around streaming The Wonder Years, so I said I was free and asked what he had in mind. This is the exchange that followed:

N: I was thinking a movie.

D: Sure. That sounds good.

N: Cool.

Then five hours went by. FIVE HOURS. No suggestion of a movie, a theater, a time. Nothing. Just “cool”.

I would be lying if I said this didn’t infuriate me a little. Even just the shell of a plan shouldn’t be too much to ask for. I don’t think it should be too much to ask ever, but especially by the time you’ve reached your late 20s you should be able to plan a basic movie date. It had been like pulling teeth the last time, and I had been the one making location and time suggestions. This one was on him, he asked me out so he was going to have to do the work this time. So I waited. I’m stubborn like that. Finally, late that afternoon, he asked if there was any movie in particular that I was dying to see. I said no, but prompted him to look up what was playing at the theater in our shared neighborhood. I was hoping he would check out the options and make a few suggestions. It was nice that he was offering to let me pick the movie, but do some legwork dude. Nope. He just sent me a list of what was playing.

I was rapidly losing interest in N. I’m not looking for extravagance, or even creativity at this point, it’s only the 2nd date. And I don’t mind making the plans sometimes. But I want more than this. I want some semblance of Dating with a capital D. This lackadaisical crap that seems to pass for dating these days is not ok with me. I want more initiative.

I suggested two options from what was playing, and since he had already seen one of them our choice was finally made – Gangster Squad. I got to the theater Friday night, and he was waiting with tickets in hand. A good start. I sprung for the popcorn. We were there about 15 minutes early, so we chatted, mostly about sports and our taste in movies. Again, conversation was pretty easy (and free of anything law related this time!), but I still wasn’t really feeling anything more. I was pretty sure this would be our last date.

About 20 minutes into the movie, we had polished off the popcorn. I leaned down to put the empty bag on the floor. When I sat back, his arm was there. I was startled, and actually said “Ohh!” I also got a sinking feeling in my stomach. He clearly felt differently than I did – he was interested. And he was also fumbling. Since he reached across while I was leaning forward, his arm was too low. Instead of resting on my shoulders, his arm was down across my shoulder blades. I didn’t really want it there, but I also didn’t want to make the next 90 minutes unbearably awkward for us both. So I tried shifting, in an attempt to get him to at least move his arm up into the right place. This did not work. So we sat that like for 10 minutes or so, with his arm serving as my backrest. It could not have been comfortable for him, because eventually he whispered “this isn’t working” and pulled his arm away. And went to hold my hand. My hands were clasped together in my lap, so I just pretended like I didn’t see him offer his hand. So he opted to rest his hand on my knee instead. This was getting more awkward by the second.

He tried again a little while later to take my hand, but my hands were still clasped together. At this point, my right arm had fallen asleep, but I was too afraid to unclasp my hands. I didn’t want to give him the chance to snatch one up. I felt bad, but I also didn’t want to encourage him or give him any sort of false hope. He settled for my knee again. I was so uncomfortable. There we sat, watching Sean Penn swear a lot (what happened to his face by the way, he used to be attractive), with N rubbing my knee and me trying not to cry because my arm was doing the pins and needles thing.

He eventually stopped, so I thought he had gotten the hint (I still didn’t free up my hands though). But as we were leaving the theater, he asked if I wanted to grab some food. I politely declined, and we walked to my car. Conversation wasn’t so easy this time, so I took to pointing out some of my favorite local spots (he hasn’t lived in the area long), and then went on a rant about how awful Citizen Kane is (a diner named Rosebud was the catalyst). I was SMOOTH. When we got to the side street my car was on, we said goodnight, and he started to go in for either a kiss or a hug. I didn’t wait long enough to see which, I made sure it was just a hug, thanked him for the movie and for walking me to my car, and said goodnight.


P.S. N is a movie talker. I hate that.

Date rating: 3/10. 1 point because N is truly a nice guy, and 2 points because Ryan Gosling is just delightful. Staring at him for 2 hours is never an unwanted or unpleasant activity. This was definitely our last date.

Lesson Learned: Going to the movies with a guy you’re not sure you’re interested in yet provides too many opportunities for physical contact for my liking.