So far in the world of internet dating, I have found that OkCupid works the best for me. There’s another site still in beta, that has huge potential, and I will write about it when it officially launches. Till then, I recommend OkCupid as a great place to start.
I have met some amazing people through OkCupid. Some have become lovers, some have become friends. Some have even become amazing networking contacts! OkCupid really helps make it easier to find the people who will grok you. Its also free (though naturally you can pay a subscription for extra features). You can browse publicly or anonymously. And it’s very user friendly.
Unlike less sophisticated sites, your OkCupid profile consists of three parts: Your photos, your essays, and your questions/quizzes.
Putting yourself out there for online dating is a lot like applying for a job. Be prepared to be scrutinized Don’t lie or exaggerate on your ‘application form’, cos you want people contacting you who are the right fit for who-you-are-showing-up-as-right-now, not who you fantasize of being three or six months down the line. A healthy dose of humility and vulnerability goes a long way. Also, remember the following motto: KISS. This stands for Keep It Simple, Silly!
And so, I present you with the Polysingleish guide to creating an awesome OkCupid Profile!
Step One: Write Your Resume.
OkC has these great essay boxes to fill out. Think of this as your resume. You can toot your own horn, highlight some of the most interesting and important facts about yourself- for example, if you are poly, say so; if you are married, say so; if you have green skin, say so. Into geeky sci-fi? It’s absolutely worth a mention.
“My Self-Summary”. I recommend filling this out after completing the rest of the essays. The idea here is that visitors could read that little blurb and decide right then and there if they need to read the rest of your profile. To that end, its a good idea to include any important ‘deal-breakers’ for you, eg if you could never date someone who drinks.
“What I’m Doing With My Life” What are you working towards, and what do you do when you’re not working towards it? In my profile I talk a little bit about what I do for work, for fun, and the things in life I’m passionate about. It’s this section where visitors get a snapshot into who you are and attempt to get a feel for whether or not you intrigue them.
“I’m Really Good At.” Some people get cheesy on this one. Keep it real. Keep it fun. Try to avoid the corny. This is a great place to offer up things that visitors could message you about. Maybe you cook an amazing aloo gobi, or brew up a phenomenal pot of chai, or go swing dancing every Thursday night, or can sew the best curtains in the world!
“The First Thing People Notice About Me.” Most people say eyes. Avoid the cliche! if you’re not sure, ask your friends! I mention that I have a slight non-specific accent. It boggles my mind how many people I’ve gone on dates with from OkCupid who, half way through the conversation, look at me and go ‘oh my god, you have an accent!”. Yes, I do. I said so on my profile- didn’t you read it? Le sigh. It’s like that job interview situation where you wonder- did they even read my resume?
“Favorite books, movies, music, shows, food.” My best advice to you here is SUMMARIZE Keep it relevant and concise. Long essays can be a deterrent unless they are impeccably penned. Rather than list every movie in your DVD collection, maybe some of your top favorites from a variety of genres. Listing every single science fiction ever made makes for a long winded essay Instead, you could say something like “I love sci fi. Dr.Who and Stargate especially” to highlight your favorites. For music, maybe include a link to a song you have been enjoying recently (I have discovered so much awesome new music thanks to cruising OkCupid profiles). Bottom line here? Try to show your range of interests in as concise a manner as possible.
“The Six Things I Could Never Do Without”. Like it says- six things you could never do without. Yeah, OkCupid makes you think about the deep stuff! This will be very revealing about your priorities in life.
“I spend a lot of time thinking about”. So how does your brain work? Do you doodle squiggles on your blotting pad all day during boring lectures, or are you mapping out your plans for Saturday night? Are you a philosopher, a scientist, a kinkster, a geek, an artist- or all of the above? Everyone gets OCD about something or another- what’s your thing?
“On a typical Friday Night I am”. What’s your scene? Parties? Clubs? Folding laundry? Travelling to visit your long distance lover? Keep this answer as short and concise as possible.
“You Should Message me If”. This is a great place to re-iterate any deal maker and deal breakers. For me, being poly, being single-ish, being spiritually-inclined are big deal-makers. I make sure that my profile reflects this not just in this part of the essays, but in the others as well.
As a general note: shorter, concise essays are easier to read and sift through and will likely get more responses. You do not always have to use full sentences- bullet points are good, when used appropriately. Maybe try switching up the format with each individual essay? Be creative in how you express yourself- your essays will form the basis of inspiring the potential messaging exchanges you will have. Less is more.
Like any good resume, revisit your profile every few months and make sure it stays relevant. If you were in India years ago but your profile says “last fall”, you might come across as either a) senile or b) a time traveller.
Step Two: Create a Captivating Cover Letter.
A good profile photo is what will get you the most clicks. Reality check: yes, online dating can be vain. One day we might have the ability to send smells through the internet, and when we do I think dating profiles will need to include that as an option so we can check each other’s pheromones out in advance. Till then, without a face-to-face meeting in which you can smell one another out, the photos are really the main draw for someone to read your profile when you are listed as one of many potential matches.
Four photos seems to work best.
Photo 1: Your main photo. If you are a guy, you might want to try a black and white photo, as statistics show this is more effective in getting men responses. Personally, I think the first photo needs to be something that intrigues. Maybe its only part of your face. Or perhaps its an angled artsy shot. Avoid anything that might totally obscure your face. It has to show who you are, and yet, intrigue. No sunglasses!
Photo 2: A full body photo. You can’t lie or hide your figure. You are who you are, be it slender, curvy, short, tall, cuddly or muscular, or anywhere in between Something where at least two thirds of your body is visible is advisable here.
Photo 3: You doing something you love. Maybe playing a musical instrument. Or, dressed up for a costume party. Perhaps its a shot of you in the old growth forest, or DJ-ing at a music festival, or covered in dust after Burning Man.
Photo 4: Regular every day you. This is what people will, hopefully, get to see if you go on a date. Nothing too glamorous or show-off. Nothing too plain and ordinary either. A photo of the most magical you.
1. Make sure your photos look like you!
2. Do not use your acting or modelling headshots!
3. Avoid having anyone else in the photo with you (exceptions only for incredibly cute animals)
4. Keep photos current. (I don’t think I have yet told the story of the date I went on with the guy whose main photo was eight- yes EIGHT- years out of date.) To encourage all users in keeping their photos recent, I like to add in the approximate date of the photos, eg “Summer 2012” to give some context.
Step Three: The Pre-screen Interview.
Ok Cupid has these great- and infinite- set of questions you can fill out. Answer as many or as little as you like- though bear in mind it is these questions and how you answer them that help OkCupid determine your Match/Friend/Enemy percentages.
A good rule of thumb is only answer the questions that matter a lot to you. If you feel like politics are something you could take or leave, just don’t answer the questions on politics. If questions about diet and lifestyle are very important to you, mark them as mandatory.
ADDENDUM: There’s a great list of poly-specific questions thanks to Swiss Poly 101. If you are already logged in to OkC, clinking on the question will link you directly to its page on the OkCupid website! Thanks Swiss Poly 101!
And feel free to wax lyrical in the comment sections for the questions when you feel so inspired. Many OkCupid users I know say they find this can be one of the most helpful ways of getting a feel for someone- and it also opens up the door to some good conversation topics.
Wowee! There you go. These are the core basics of creating your profile. And, you will likely find that you write a more effective profile if you sit down to do it on a good day, when you feel positive about yourself, than on a day when you feel low in confidence. A great profile doesn’t magically appear overnight- it will take a bit of work and effort on your part. I encourage you to approach it with an attitude of playfullness, and see it as an opportunity to discover how well you know yourself!
In the next section, I will look at how to go about refining your profile, searching for matches, and some different ways to start up conversation with total strangers on OkCupid.
CHROME Users can make use of this amazing plug in: Ok Cupid For The Non-Mainstream User