I have been a huge advocate of the dating site OKCupid for some times now. I like the functionality, I like the questions and I like that it’s free (though I pay for it.) You’re not shooting off messages to a bunch of people who very well might not be paid members and therefore can’t respond. There’s very little deceptiveness behind the OKC business model, which is why I use them.
However, in the past few months I have found my patience with the members of that site growing thin. My frustration has ratcheted up a few notches since posting profiles in other nearby cities. That means that I’m dealing with three times the average online dating annoyances.
I want to do a quick run down of things that people do that, unbeknownst to them, make people feel uncomfortable or irritated.
1. Repeatedly viewing someone’s profile - If you don’t want to pay the membership fee for OKC, then create what the kids call a “stalker profile” so you can cruise anonymously. Making daily pit stops on someone’s profile – when you know that they can see you visited – makes you seem odd. Or weak. I so, so , SO wish OKC users had the ability to prevent someone from viewing their profile. Alas, they don’t. Consider how it would make you feel if you were walking to work and, every day, you saw the same person peeking around a corner at you. Weird, right? Yes, it’s weird. I’ll give someone a couple peeks. That’s normal. But to look at them every day or every other day for weeks straight? Creepy. Stop it. Also cease repeatedly viewing someone’s profile while you know they’re online. That’s just a way to get someone curious enough that they’ll message you. Either message them or don’t. Constantly looking at their profile while they’re online makes you look like a pest.
2. Admitting that you recognize someone from the offline world - Maybe you know them from a job or through friends or, you know, their blog. It’s never a good idea to open with, “Hey, I saw you on the subway last week. You got off at Union Square.” That is going to make people wonder if it’s just a random coincidence that you found them or if you’re stalking them. To speak more specifically, you will NEVER win points with me if you send me an email and say, “I love your blog.” Ever. Ever ever ever. The typical regular male reader of a dating blog usually falls in to one of two categories: the white knight or the PUA/Manosphere types. While there are a handful of guys that come here that I know genuinely come here for the discussion, a lot don’t. I will always err on the side of caution on that one.
3. Including your phone number or email address in your intro email – Sorry, but that reeks of desperation and social cluelessness.
4. Posting only photos of yourself taken by a cell phone or laptop – You’re a social recluse and have no friends.
5. Completely disregarding the user’s stated preferences - Trust me. If I wanted to date a 25 year old, I’d have set my desired age range to include 25 year olds. If I wanted to date women, I’d list myself as bisexual. If I wanted to date someone in Scarsdale, I wouldn’t have said in my “You should contact me it” section that I wanted to hear from people who live in the city or was looking for a city-minded guy. Pay attention to the clues, because they’re there. When people who fall not just outside someone’s stated preferences but well outside them contact you, they’re telling you one of two things. One, they didn’t read your profile. Two, they think they’re so god damn special and unique that you should make an exception for them. People have to remember that if they’re ignoring someone’s preferences, other people probably are too, causing that user to be barraged with a shit ton of useless, annoying messages. Change your username to SpamIAm, because that’s essentially what you are if you disregard someone’s preferred criteria.
6. Making inappropriate comments in an intro email - I once had a guy open his message to me by saying, “Good Morning, Horny SoandSo.” Mind you, there was no mention of sex in my profile, nor did I have the casual sex option checked off. He explained that he addressed me that way because of some of the questions I answered. So I cleared all of my questions out. Of course he had to email me again after doing that to tell me that that was probably a smart move. Again we have an instance of total and utter social cluelessness.While I put myself in the position to be approached that way by being so forth coming with my answers to those questions, that doesn’t mean it’s a good rule of thumb to be that brazen in your approach. Bottom line? It’s gross. If you’re smart and experienced, you know the best way to get what you want.
7. Jumping on to IM or emailing someone as soon as they log on - I know with OKC it used to be that, when someone logged on, a little dialog box would pop up alerting you to that. Give someone a few minutes before you try to contact them. Immediately trying to reach out makes you look like you’ve been sitting online and waiting for them to appear. Le Creep.
8. Ignoring common signs that someone is trying to end a conversation - The main reason why I am hesitant to respond to folks who continuously view profile is that, once you respond to them, they won’t leave you alone. If someone’s conversation gets shorter and shorter, or they talk about how busy they are, or they actually sign off an email with “Have a good one!” they’re trying to leave the conversation. If they don’t return your questions with questions, they’re usually replying to be polite.
9. Picking fights – I was reading this article last week and was blown away by the blatant hostility of the men writing them. Obviously, some of these messages were part of larger conversations. There’s no doubt in my mind that some of these guys were somewhat provoked into being assholes. However, some of these messages are written with the intention of offending the woman so that she will respond. You know how, in grammar school, boys would tease the girls they like. This is the adult version of that. However, if you’re going to insist upon including hot button topics in your profile, learn to expect some people to try and debate you. If you can’t have a rational or mature dialogue about the subject, don’t include it in your profile. If you’re just going to trade insults, you’re no better than the person who picked the fight.
OKC used to offer members the ability to filter messages. That way they wouldn’t have to constantly respond to that little ding notification on their phone and learn that yet another person who in no way meets their explicitly stated preferences has emailed them. OKC got rid of that feature once Match.com bought them. The logic, I assume, is to drive people so batty with messages from people they don’t want to hear from that they’ll head on over to Match. I’m not going to slag on OKC for that decision, because that’s business and everybody needs to make a living. However, I want to plead to people who shoot off messages to people without reading profiles and to folks who think they’re some kind of unique case to stop and consider how soul-sucking it can be for someone to have to slog through messages from people that aren’t what they are looking for. Please. Just stop and think before you send that message.
Stop screwing with other people’s experience online. Just stop.
Post Script: I’m going to suggest something kinda daring. I wouldn’t even bother reading your OKC emails anymore. I am starting to think that the people who view your profile and don’t write are the only people you should consider contacting outside of the occasional unsolicited cold call message. I actually believe some people now consider viewing a profile the same as sending a message. It’s like relying on Caller ID to let someone know you called without leaving a message.