Several months ago, not long after ending my most longterm relationship to date, I decided to reenter the world of online dating. It seemed like as good a hobby as any, especially when I felt like making out with someone would be a fun thing to do. It's not like I had much else going on, and most of my friends seemed to be spending their evenings watching TV shows on Netflix with their very committed significant others, which frequently left my single ass drinking beer at home with my cat. I didn't really know how to go about meeting girls in real life, because I'm terrified of talking to strangers and girls certainly never come up to me. (I like to blame femme invisibility, but I have also been called stand-offish plenty of times.)
I don't claim to be an online dating expert. If you are going into online dating with some specific goals (and I don't really think you should), you might actually see my experience as remarkably unsuccessful. But I feel like I've learned some things along the way I would like to share with you.
OkCupid is where the queers are at.
Maybe they are someplace else too, but I haven't found it yet. You can let me know, though.
OkCupid needs to learn some stuff about their queer market.
Now that I've convinced you to open an OkCupid account, are you pissed that you are required to choose between two genders and three sexual orientations? I know, me too! You totally shouldn't have to. Write them an angry email.
Also, if you're a woman mostly interested in dating women, you're going to get more messages if you choose gay and not bisexual, according to my very unscientific findings. I don't identify as gay or bisexual, but when I listed myself as bisexual and explained on my profile that I identified as queer, I mostly got messages from dudes asking me what queer meant. I would probably only date a guy if he was super feminist, looked just like Pacey Witter from "Dawson's Creek" and loved performing oral sex, and I feel like I am not going to find this guy on OkCupid, so gay it is. You can have intense theoretical discussions about biphobia and the queer community and OkCupid—I sure have. But I'm just going to tell you what works.
You should probably just hide your ex-girlfriend's profile.
OK, fine. I give you permission to turn on anonymous browsing and then look at it once. Just once, though! Then you have to stop. OK, maybe one more time. But then you're going to hide it. Right?
The point of a profile is so people can filter out people they know they would hate.
I am convinced that profiles are not that important. Maybe this is a controversial statement. Profiles exist so you can filter out racists and other assholes and figure out something you can message that girl about. (I almost exclusively write messages that start with, "I like cats too!" This works surprisingly well.) Pictures are important but no one actually looks like their pictures. Just accept it. You probably don't look like your pictures either. My main point here is don't stress about your profile. Just write it. I'm sure it's fine.
Just message people. You can do it.
Oh, so you wrote a profile? Now what are you going to do? Sit back and wait for the messages to roll in? This could totally happen. Maybe you have way cuter pictures than me. But in my experience, if you really want to go on lots of dates, you have to start messaging people yourself. What should you message them? Well, I already told you. You should message them about cats. Done.
OK, really I don't know. Messages are hard. I think super long intense messages that mention everything on your profile are a little creepy, so don't do that. Keep it short. Also don't just message one girl at a time and then check constantly to see if she's messaged you back. Message a lot of girls at once! Then you'll totally get some replies and feel super good about yourself.
Don't just keep messaging them forever.
So you messaged her about cats, and she messaged you back about cats...what do you do next? Message her again about cats? No! Make a plan to talk about cats in person. Preferably at a bar or coffee shop. You don't want to be stuck with someone horrible for an entire meal. The whole idea of OkCupid is getting to know new people and it's a lot easier face to face. Intense messaging that goes on for weeks is a waste of your time and just leads to disappointment when you finally meet her and realize you don't think she's that cute in person.
Sometimes, the first few times you go on an Internet date, you might start hyperventilating before you're supposed to meet them and almost turn back.
Well, sometimes if you're me and possibly one of the most anxious people on the planet. I tell myself the following things: I don't know this person. I don't need to impress this person. I never have to see this person again if I don't want to. (This one is a total lie, which I will get to eventually.) This is not a big deal. We're just going to hang out for a little bit. I look really pretty right now. (You do too, I bet.)
OkCupid is one of the rare ways that shy and awkward people end up on dates with each other.
Certainly not everyone I've met on OkCupid is shy and awkward. I've also been very directly propositioned. (Her: So, can I come home with you? Me: Umm I'm not even done with my fries yet.) But a lot of shy people end up doing the whole Internet dating thing. I've dated a lot of extroverts in my life, because extroverts are the ones who are going to ask my shy self out. Thanks to OkCupid, I've actually made moves on girls! OK, I did that once, and I was pretty drunk, but it's still on my resume.
Keep your expectations low.
After I got over being terrified of meeting a stranger from the Internet, I realized it was kind of fun to get a drink with someone totally random! You get to learn about someone new, hear their stories, and especially if you don't think you're that interested in seeing them again, you can pretty much be whoever you want. Also, sometimes you will get free drinks.
If the date goes really badly, you'll have a good story to tell on future dates. It's not a failure if she's not girlfriend material or make out material or take home tonight material or whatever you're looking for. You got to connect with another actual human being! Cool! I mean, what would you have done otherwise? Watched "The Bachelor" while eating stale crackers? Then when you get home, go message someone else!
Sometimes people on OkCupid just want to be friends.
There are a lot of queer girls who specifically say they are looking for friends. That's cool, because new friends are great! There are also a lot of queer girls who specifically say they are looking for new friends but then when you meet them that is so not what they are looking for. There are also girls who you go on dates with and then you keep hanging out but you have no idea if they want to just be friends or if you should just try and make out with them or something.
How do you know if someone wants to date you or be your friend? I HAVE NO IDEA. Like, unless they put their mouth on your mouth at some point (harder than it sound—see “OkCupid is one of the rare ways that shy and awkward people end up on dates with each other”) this is an unsolved mystery to me. Please tell me. Unless you're going to tell me that the answer is to communicate in some sort of direct, honest fashion, because you've obviously never met me.
You will probably run into every single girl you've gone on a date with again, so plan ahead to reduce awkwardness.
Let's be honest, most queer people pretty much hang out in the same places. So if you're not interested, maybe tell her that in a super nice way instead of ignoring her texts. I'm bad at this so I just try to avoid eye contact when I run into people.
If you recognize yourself in this guide, I apologize.
You are a lovely person. You looked just like your pictures. I will totally say hi to you next time I see you instead of avoiding eye contact and running away.