When it comes to dating in college, or “cuffing,” the most convenient time is around the holidays, as it gets colder and body heat is a rarity.
When it comes to dating in college, it isn’t as easy or attainable as most would initially think. In my experience, a loaded schedule with work and classes, being picky, and a sprinkle of social anxiety make a great recipe for not being able to find one fish here at a school like NYU, in a sea of 55,000+ fish… or in this case, peers.
Luckily, dating sites and apps exist to make the search for the “one” a tad bit easier. Not only has online dating become a dating norm, but to some, like myself, it is a necessity. We’ve all heard of sites like Plenty of Fish, Bumble, Match, Eharmony, etc—but the users of these sites usually belong to an older demographic. Amongst younger adults, particularly college students, Tinder seems to be where it’s at. I am here to tell you guys why Tinder isn’t only the only option.
I’ve been in a very happy and successful relationship for almost a year now. One of the first questions my boyfriend and I encounter from other people frequently is, “Where did you guys meet?” We have always been very honest with our answer, which always seems to elicit a surprising response depending on the person. “We met on OkCupid” I always confidentially respond. A puzzled face often accompanies friends’ responses along the lines of “Isn’t that site super sketchy…I heard it’s just crawling with creeps”. Suffice it to say; no exclamations of encouragement are uttered. So what makes OkCupid any more “sketchy” than Tinder? This is a question I’ve given lots of thought to.
OkCupid (abbreviated OkC) was founded in 2004, and was initially launched as a dating site. To generate matches, OkC applies data generated by users’ activities on the site, as well as their answers to questions ranging from “Do you want your partner to be kinkier than you?” to “Which superpower would you rather have?” When answering a question, a user indicates their own answer, the answers he or she would accept from partners, and the level of importance he or she places on the question. The answers to these questions can be made public by the user’s discretion—which makes the compatibility percentage and personality traits they formulate for each match more believable and reliable. I’ve found that if a person answers a question with a response that catches me off guard, but otherwise displays compatibility, asking them to elaborate on their answer is great conversation starter.
I’ve found that millennials are so apprehensive when it comes to letting anyone know that we crave anything deeper than the ephemeral. Why is it frowned upon to casually mention to your peers that you’ve been talking to a really nice guy or gal you met on OkC, and are currently in the process of planning a meet up for a bite to eat later on in the week? Yet it seems cooler or easier to say something like, “I’m talking to a dude on Tinder that asked me what my favorite sex position is. What a creep, right?” I have seen time and time again that people are less likely to throw shade at the latter. Apparently being a social and sexual deviant is the normal thing.
What it really comes down to is that OkC is more geared towards committed and long term dating in comparison to Tinder, which warrants quicker hookups. People aren’t baffled by the concept of OkC, but rather by the fact that OkC can lead to a serious relationship. And you know what that means… you’ll become one of those people who are on the receiving end of the puzzled looks.
But for those of you sticking to your guns that still believe OkC is nothing but an online pit compiled of creeps, catfish, and doubt, here are some tips I’ve gathered from my experience, and from commentary of fellow users (both men and women). Hopefully, these tips, along with persistence and a little trial and error, can help one navigate through the unfamiliar, less “acceptable”, terrain of OkCupid.
- Make sure you actually utilize the profile space and answer the questions. This means providing detailed responses to all of profile headers: self-summary, favorite books and shows, things you could never live without, etc. You may think writing a lot will just bore whoever is reading, but if that’s the case, wouldn’t you prefer to correspond with someone who is genuinely trying to learn more about who you really are? From experience, the “You should message me if” profile section is a great way to filter out unwanted messages. It’s just as important to be honest when answering questions as it is answering as many questions as possible. When you meet with these people IRL, you should be ready to talk about anything listed on your profile. If you really aren’t a GOT fan…then why list it?
- Piggybacking on filtering unwanted questions, when browsing potential matches, OkC allows you to refine your search, which is great for those who have certain dating preferences. You can filter by race, religion, vices, education, whether or not they have pets, and more. You can also filter by attractiveness, for those of you who are proudly superficial (that is if you upgrade to their A-list membership).
- OkC is just as LGBTQ friendly as other popular dating sites/apps. There is someone for everyone and get this: They have an option you can check if you do not want your profile to be made available to people who identify as straight. Many of my friends who identify as anything other than straight really dig this feature, because it is a filter that isn’t used on many other sites, if any.
- When messaging please PLEASE be original. It is very obvious when I read a message that has clearly been well crafted ahead of time and copy and pasted in the inbox of plenty of other women. For example, I once received a message and immediately remembered seeing a similar message elsewhere. Turns out, I was sent the same exact message…on my older and disabled OkC account…over 8 months prior. While it is true that first messages can really make or break an interaction, try not to make the message too lengthy, and more importantly, do not send a message again if the person has clearly read your message and has chosen not to respond. I cannot tell you what a first message should say verbatim, because everyone like different approaches, but it should be something fairly simple. Perhaps, you can introduce yourself and follow up with a question about something they listed on their profile. When my boyfriend first messaged me, he complimented my music taste, and started to speak to me about Mexican food- one of my favorite things (also helped that at the time he was working as a chef).
- Last, but definitely one of the most important tips on this list, your choice of photos. RUN if a user messages you and their profile is empty with a picture of any body part (abs, pelvis, arms, toes). Yes, I have seen profile pictures of toes. These users are the creeps that give me the jitters. Instead, ladies, choose pictures that show off different aspects. For example, you may have one full body photo, another of just your face, one with a group of friends, and another that pictures you at an event or doing something you love. Men, avoid the typical douchey gym or skating photos, and go with photos that include you smiling, and maybe even one of you cuddling with a cute animal. It is also important that you all use updated photos. I’ve met with people who look visibly older in person, and even some that completely altered their hairstyle since their last photo. Luckily, OkC now allows users to link their profiles to their Instagram accounts. This provides an extra measure of security and enables snooping— everyone’s favorite.