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Alli Reed's OKCupid Experiment
January 7, 2014 4:11 PM   Subscribe

Alli Reed, occasional writer for cracked.com, attempted to create the most horrible woman OKCupid could imagine. She got 150 message within 24 hours. Here's the article. Here's the CNN interview. Here's the related commiseration.
posted by Navelgazer (278 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite

 
Is this really a surprise?

There are some guys whose only standard they have for women is that they possess an orifice in which they can stick their penis.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:22 PM on January 7 [10 favorites]


There are some guys whose only standard they have for women is that they possess an orifice in which they can stick their penis.

Yet had he made her overweight, over-30, and not white, he would have dramatically cut down on the number of messages she got, so not exactly.
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 4:23 PM on January 7 [76 favorites]


Braced myself for "but, but, not all menz.." Very first comment. That was easy.
posted by Space Coyote at 4:24 PM on January 7 [1 favorite]


I was shockingly fond of
THE MONEY PART. I LIKE MONEY. I DON'T LIKE SEX AND THINK IT SHOULD ONLY BE USED AS A WEAPON.That said, I think the thing that depressed me the most about this was actually that the profile didn't seem completely out of the ordinary to me. There are definitely people who represent themselves like that and completely mean it.
It's also true that the fact that she was absolutely gorgeous probably (as she pointed out) had a lot to do with her responses. I also assume that this meant that a number of people were willing to overlook the craziness or racism. God, how depressing.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 4:25 PM on January 7 [1 favorite]


...she's also a model...

uh huh.
posted by 2bucksplus at 4:25 PM on January 7


You know what they say: plenty oafish in the sea.
posted by ckape at 4:25 PM on January 7 [22 favorites]


("She" being the profile picture in this case.)
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 4:26 PM on January 7 [1 favorite]


There are some guys whose only standard they have for women is that they possess an orifice in which they can stick their penis.

And even that can be negotiated.

But more seriously, I don't think her profile was as repellant as she seems to think it is. Sort of airheaded maybe, but that's not a red flag to a lot of people (men as well as women). Or rather, sure, her profile would be super uninteresting to someone like me who would want an intellectual who could spell but that's a minority of users. Her profile says "I'm a goddess and I do me" in the first sentence -- trust me, there's no chance she's not going to get hundreds of responses.
posted by Dip Flash at 4:27 PM on January 7 [5 favorites]


Well, that was depressing.
posted by rtha at 4:27 PM on January 7 [1 favorite]


This has TOTALLY BEEN DONE BEFORE. Help me find the link metafilter. The girl wrote about terminating a pregnancy and having a fake arm. It was a couple of years ago.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 4:28 PM on January 7 [8 favorites]


Yet had he made her overweight, over-30, and not white, he would have dramatically cut down on the number of messages she got, so not exactly.

Surprisingly, as an overweight, over-30 (though white) woman on OKCupid, I still get a fair number of messages from men looking for orifices. Not 150 a day, by a long shot, but definitely some.

It's easy to tell the difference between those ones and the few I get from men who are genuinely interested in my profile, mainly by the lack of punctuation.
posted by jacquilynne at 4:28 PM on January 7 [12 favorites]


Some of this is so over the top that they must have thought she was joking (and in fact some of their responses make it clear that they do in fact think that). For example when she directly tells a guy that she won't have sex with him unless she's planning on tricking him into thinking that he has impregnated her. Or the whole "can I pull out one of your teeth" thing. These are virtually completely unbelievable, and it's pretty clear that in fact they're not believed as being anything but jokes.

With that said, I'd enjoy seeing the profile of the guy who was listed as an 82% match.
posted by Flunkie at 4:28 PM on January 7 [17 favorites]


Wait, Aaron Carter? Wasn't that kid last popular in like, 2001 when he claimed to beat Shaq?
posted by Redfield at 4:29 PM on January 7


here it is from 2012 when someone else did it.. and it is much funnier
posted by St. Peepsburg at 4:29 PM on January 7 [23 favorites]


When a profile is so intentionally bad, a lot of people are going to key in on it. Some of those people are going to want to date someone who would make a deliberately horrible profile for lulz. I wonder if that was part of the cause?
posted by Mitrovarr at 4:29 PM on January 7 [8 favorites]


Maybe there was a woman so awful, so toxic, so irredeemably unlikeable that no one would message her, or if they did, at least they would realize they never, ever wanted to meet her.

Interesting idea, but she really didn't make an awful woman that most men wouldn't want to date. She created what she thinks is a horrible person. Instead, she comes off as a partying, good time girl who promises never to be dull, is hot and looking for a certain type of alpha male. She pretty much covered herself with catnip (for a certain kind of guy), thinking it's repellant.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:29 PM on January 7 [87 favorites]


Braced myself for "but, but, not all menz.." Very first comment.

Were you talking about mine? If so, I sure as fuck ain't lettin' those guys off the hook because I have to deal with them too, and I apologize if it came across that I was making excuses.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:30 PM on January 7 [1 favorite]


I did something like this once. Results were the same.

Except my hypothesis was that if the photo was attractive enough, men would message "me" without reading.

I was wrong.

What I found was that if the photo is attractive enough, men's brains would just bend what they were seeing to fit what they wanted to believe. They would assume that whatever I said that was too horrible for them to fathom must certainly be a joke, and that whichever parts were benign or inoffensive...well, those must be the serious parts. So it didn't matter how clear I was that I coughed up blood every hour on the hour and that I was looking for someone who would incorporate that into our lovemaking. Dudes didn't care.

And you know, I could have lived with it if they just hadn't read the text at all, and sent a message to a pretty face. That would have supported what I already believed. But they did read the text, they were informed in plain terms that I had several horrific communicable diseases that would, at the very least, wreak havoc upon their upholstery, and they just didn't give a shit. I was pretty and that's all that mattered.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 4:30 PM on January 7 [27 favorites]


Also, thrillingly, this ad just showed up in my Twitter feed:

Why do men date bitches? #MindOfAMan

So that was delightful.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 4:30 PM on January 7


She created what she thinks is a horrible person. Instead, she comes off as a partying, good time girl who promises never to be dull, is hot and looking for a certain type of alpha male. She pretty much covered herself with catnip (for a certain kind of guy), thinking it's repellant.

Exactly.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:31 PM on January 7 [5 favorites]


Were you talking about mine? If

No, sorry, I meant comment under the article. Sorry that wasn't clear.
posted by Space Coyote at 4:34 PM on January 7


Yeah, I'd like to see what would have happened if she'd used a picture of a plain woman and said she sat at home watching TV all night.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 4:37 PM on January 7 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I'd like to see what would have happened if she'd used a picture of a plain woman and said she sat at home watching TV all night.

Well, I believe that's more or less her personal experience anyway (note: I don't actually believe that Reed is "plain" at all, but she's clearly different from the type used for her AaronCarterFan profile.) And by her CNN interview, well, she found her current boyfriend on OKCupid around the time she was doing this experiment, so there's a little bit of good.
posted by Navelgazer at 4:40 PM on January 7


Not to mention that profile says she's looking for casual sex. So men messaging her for casual sex shouldn't be a surprise.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:41 PM on January 7 [7 favorites]


Not to mention that profile says she's looking for casual sex. So men messaging her for casual sex shouldn't be a surprise.

And when you are looking for someone to help relieve your urges, you don't care what they think -- so long as all the parts work and they deliver...
posted by Alexandra Kitty at 4:44 PM on January 7 [1 favorite]


I don't get it either. There are plenty of men looking for exactly this kind of woman. Just hang out in the East Village any given Saturday night, the place is full of couples just like that.
posted by monospace at 4:47 PM on January 7 [3 favorites]


I'm surprised more small towns don't regularly erupt in scandal thanks to someone setting up a honeypot account like this and publicly posting all the messages from local men of note who sent them messages. Seems like such an easy way to troll entire communities at once.
posted by Space Coyote at 4:48 PM on January 7 [17 favorites]


Fake profiles aren't cool. Intentionally wasting people's time with false pretenses is wrong, regardless of how low you think their standards might be.
posted by anonymisc at 4:48 PM on January 7 [19 favorites]


If you are spamming 300 accounts to get a date, chances are you gave up reading profiles a long time ago.
posted by BrotherCaine at 4:49 PM on January 7 [9 favorites]


There are some guys whose only standard they have for women is that they possess an orifice in which they can stick their penis.

Absolutely true and totally sad.

There are literally pages and pages of google hits for "horrible OKCupid tumblr" or variations of that theme.

Honestly, I agree with almost everything EmpressCallipygos is saying here.

This is, to me, a combination of the dehumanization of the internet and general male dehumanization of women. I find it incredibly depressing.

Don't get me wrong, you can, if you look around, find female OKC profiles that embody every negative stereotype of golddigging, shallow, needy insanity that you might want to compile into a list. But they're a lot rarer than douchey male profiles.

And the behavior contrast is appalling.

The upside, for me, is that as a man who can write reasonably well, and who's made a point of cultivating emotional intelligence as a result of being humiliated as a teen for not having any, everyone of those horrendous OKC men helps put me at a huge advantage.

Basically, if you aren't out of shape, and you communicate like a human, and you aren't abominably boring, OKCupid can be absolutely great for men. As much as I wish there weren't so many douchey men in the world, I have a hard time not being grateful that they give me an opportunity to use them as a contrast.
posted by MeanwhileBackAtTheRanch at 4:49 PM on January 7 [10 favorites]


So it didn't matter how clear I was that I coughed up blood every hour on the hour and that I was looking for someone who would incorporate that into our lovemaking

Woohoo!!!! La boheme cosplay FTW!
posted by Pudhoho at 4:52 PM on January 7 [31 favorites]


Basically, if you aren't out of shape, and you communicate like a human, and you aren't abominably boring

That counts me out, then.
posted by Faint of Butt at 4:52 PM on January 7 [9 favorites]


create the most horrible woman OKCupid could imagine

Yeah, this looks more like a profile for a woman that enjoys partying and engages in racist and rude behavior to be "one of the boys". I think she should have tried adding stuff about left/liberal politics, feminism, be a single mother, be 40+, or maybe even try to be a minority. I think those traits would be something that OKCupid finds "horrible".
posted by FJT at 4:52 PM on January 7 [21 favorites]


Fake profiles aren't cool. Intentionally wasting people's time with false pretenses isn't right, regardless of how low their standards might be.

I dunno, I was totally tempted to create a profile of the worst man I could imagine, based on my leftist values, but make the character rich, well bred, and handsome, and see if it yielded any answers about gender and behavior.

We're talking about one online profile on a site with millions of users. Wasting 5 minutes of anyone's time in the name of social science is not exactly the most terrible sin I can imagine.
posted by MeanwhileBackAtTheRanch at 4:53 PM on January 7 [4 favorites]


That counts me out, then.

I don't know which variable you're talking about, but for what it's worth, obviously on OKC men are a hundred times more body-judging than women.
posted by MeanwhileBackAtTheRanch at 4:54 PM on January 7


This is nothing more than a clickbait article successfully designed for social media.
posted by MillMan at 4:56 PM on January 7 [11 favorites]


Thing is, we can trap shitty men being shitty all week.

What is infinitely more interesting to me is the question of how we raise the next generation of boys so that they grow up to be better men. For that matter, how can we fix the men who are already grown? And how did they get this fucked up in the first place?
posted by MeanwhileBackAtTheRanch at 4:56 PM on January 7 [3 favorites]


This really isn't such a terrible dating profile relative to what's out there on OKCupid. I've seen much worse from both men and women. This profile just seems to show that the person behind the profile has a weird sense of humor. I've seen e.g. a totally serious (and apparently fairly successful) woman's OKC profile where she has a photo of herself dressed in Nazi uniform, with the rest of the profile not being much better.
posted by Bwithh at 4:59 PM on January 7 [4 favorites]


I dunno, I was totally tempted to create a profile of the worst man I could imagine, based on my leftist values, but make the character rich, well bred, and handsome, and see if it yielded any answers about gender and behavior.

A friend of mine did just that several years back on Match.com and ended mostly being contacted by Ayn Rand groupies.
posted by indubitable at 5:00 PM on January 7


I wonder if the profile would have gotten all of those hits if it contained the phrase "I defecate uncontrollably".
posted by dr_dank at 5:03 PM on January 7 [7 favorites]


This isn't a surprise once you see the pic. I opened the article, saw it, said, "Oh. Duh. She's hot!" and then started reading the actual profile. It's funny, and I think most people would think it was funny, but would have their own check-out points where it stops being funny; for me, it was the racism, followed by the homeless-bashing. Understand: I would presume this was all a joke, because it's written that way, but when you start making jokes about how racist you are or how much you hate the homeless, I start to feel like that's probably not too far removed from the truth, and we're done. Plus, that's not funny anymore. But I doubt anyone took it seriously.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 5:03 PM on January 7 [1 favorite]


For that matter, how can we fix the men who are already grown? And how did they get this fucked up in the first place?

To look at it from the other direction: how did the men who aren't fucked up about dehumanizing women get that way, even in a sexist and patriarchal culture? That's got to yield at least a few clues as to how we can fix/prevent at least some of this "females are merely life support systems for the body parts we fetishize" shit.
posted by scody at 5:03 PM on January 7 [7 favorites]


If the internet has taught me anything, it's that there's no universal standard for horrible in anything, and most certainly not when one party wants to hook up. Leprosy/seeping head wound/giant spider facial tattoo? Overlooked. Racist? Hell, for some folks that's a value add. If she was really trying to make herself unappealing, she did a poor job.
posted by mosk at 5:04 PM on January 7 [2 favorites]


I wonder how many of the messages were "Hey, cutie!"

In other words, how many are the result of someone undescriminating and with little personality of their own just messaging every attractive woman he sees without bothering to read the profile at all?
posted by Sara C. at 5:05 PM on January 7 [3 favorites]


Yeah, the profile is really too funny to be horrible. She obviously got some replies from morons, but I could almost imagine laughing reading the profile and messaging her assuming it was a fairly well-played in-joke. I've known a couple real people with (mostly) joke profiles who are some of the awesomest people I know.
posted by crayz at 5:08 PM on January 7 [1 favorite]


You know, IIRC, OKC has a little light next to each user profile indicating how often this user replies. For most women, it's red. I wonder if by responding more, she kind of put a finger on the scale, and tipped into yellow or green, giving more incentive for others to write in.
posted by FJT at 5:09 PM on January 7 [6 favorites]


We're talking about one online profile on a site with millions of users. Wasting 5 minutes of anyone's time in the name of social science is not exactly the most terrible sin I can imagine.

It's just being a(nother) dick on the internet. It's not up to you whether it's five minutes wasted or hours. Lonely people are not there for your amusement. Exploiting people's loneliness for your own little games is not the correct way to do social science. For the right way, see: OKtrends blog.
posted by anonymisc at 5:13 PM on January 7 [7 favorites]


… dehumanizing women get that way, even in a sexist and patriarchal culture?

What's dehumanizing about going after people you think are beautiful? That's the most basic, biological imperative.

Other things might be harder to guess based on a profile.
posted by esprit de l'escalier at 5:15 PM on January 7 [1 favorite]


I wonder if the profile would have gotten all of those hits if it contained the phrase "I defecate uncontrollably".

Yup, and maybe more, once you consider all the ignoramus numb-nuts who would have read that line and thought: Nymphomaniac!! Score!!!
posted by Pudhoho at 5:15 PM on January 7 [3 favorites]


What's dehumanizing about going after people you think are beautiful?

It's not going after them that's dehumanizing, it's the tendency of men on OKC to send one sentence copy-paste messages to dozens of women in a night that's dehumanizing.

That said, I agree with others above who point out that this profile is far from the worst that one could cook up and still be believable. To be a more effective experiment, I'd think it'd need to create multiple profiles, with controls for race, body type, physical attractiveness, along with a bunch of personality traits.
posted by MeanwhileBackAtTheRanch at 5:21 PM on January 7 [2 favorites]


This is stupid.

Any profile with that picture, claiming to be looking for "Guys who like girls/Ages 18-60/Near me [Los Angeles, population 16 million metro]/For new friends, long-term dating, short-term dating, casual sex" is going to get a lot of responses.

What's the surprise?
posted by Sys Rq at 5:23 PM on January 7 [3 favorites]



Yeah, I'd like to see what would have happened if she'd used a picture of a plain woman and said she sat at home watching TV all night.

Well, I believe that's more or less her personal experience anyway (note: I don't actually believe that Reed is "plain" at all, but she's clearly different from the type used for her AaronCarterFan profile.)



I looked up her pictures, and from a strictly superficial viewpoint, she's not leaps and bounds plainer than the girl whose pictures she used. She doesn't wear makeup (and seems to openly disdain it) and comes off as a proudly nerdy tomboy. If she were to present herself the way the AaronCarterFan model did, I'm sure she would be swimming in a veritable cesspool of propositions, proposals, and ... can you send weiner shots on OK Cupid messages?


Don't answer that.
posted by louche mustachio at 5:24 PM on January 7


… dehumanizing women get that way, even in a sexist and patriarchal culture?

What's dehumanizing about going after people you think are beautiful? That's the most basic, biological imperative.


Not reading the profile is what is dehumanizing. I've put up jokey profiles and sincere ones (all with my nonwhite over 30 not overweight self) and get the same amount of comments, most of which seem to have read any of the profile at all. It's not a small amount of comments, but still depressing and basically I quit OKC. Dating in real life is much less depressing.
posted by sweetkid at 5:24 PM on January 7 [4 favorites]


From the other direction, in 2006 I did my own craigslist experiment. I posted one genuine personal ad for myself, seeking a lady friend, describing myself as living alone with my dog, in a house that I owned, describing my steady job, and so on.

Then I posted another ad - filled with grammar and spelling errors - explaining how I'd just gotten out of ten years of jail because my previous girlfriend had had a friend beat her up and then called the cops and told them I did it and I got twenty years for domestic violens but I had only served ten and now I have a job working at Taco Bell and I want a girl.

I wanted to see who would get more responses. The final score was 13-11 for me. The other guy got some creepy ones, including a girl who said that she'd, "always had a soft spot for prison boys because [her] dad had been in for a long time". I got more than one from married women who assured me that they only wanted to chat.

I am now married to one of the eleven who messaged me.
posted by Hatashran at 5:29 PM on January 7 [14 favorites]


Not reading the profile is what is dehumanizing.

I understand what you mean, but our external selves are just as much us as our internal selves. There is no sense in hating anyone for the vulgar and commonplace behaviour of chasing their carnal dreams.

I'm with you that real life definitely has the advantage over online interactions in that energy and personality is much more emotionally apparent.
posted by esprit de l'escalier at 5:30 PM on January 7 [1 favorite]


In the early days of the internet, I tried an experiment. I'd heard about the Weird Creeps of the Internet from female friends, and wanted to see how weird and creepy it could get. This was before dating sites were much of a thing, and the site I chose was pretty much an old-style newspaper "personals" column thrown online.

I put up one sentence. "Petite blonde kitten willing to try anything once wants to see the world."

Boy howdy.

The outcome was...eye-opening.
posted by Harvey Jerkwater at 5:31 PM on January 7 [5 favorites]


The profile is obviously someone doing some mid-effort blatant trolling. The poor English, some of the tryhard tone, and a little of the content would have put me off but all in all the idea is sound, I could imagine a profile v. similarly done that I'd message. I have friends who help keep me on my toes mentally with all sorts of light IRL trolling (& sometimes I get them), could be good for dating.
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 5:31 PM on January 7 [1 favorite]


I am now married to one of the eleven who messaged me.

Wow! Congratulations! You mean one of the 13? Or one of the 11 who messaged the ex-con?
posted by esprit de l'escalier at 5:32 PM on January 7 [8 favorites]


I think this says more about how online dating works for men versus women than it does about these particular guys.
posted by Nothing at 5:33 PM on January 7


I could imagine a profile v. similarly done that I'd message.

When I first signed up for OKCupid, the very first person I contacted was someone whose profile was basically a cavalcade of ironic crazy. Her pictures were all weirdly, badly, obviously photoshopped, and one of them was a collage of her face making different expressions, with a caption about how now the reader could imagine what she would like in their wedding album! When we did switch from OKC messaging to e-mail, I still didn't know her first name, as her gmail address name said she was Dorothy Zbornak.

Anyway, she was great! We went out a couple of times, and although neither of us felt any intense chemistry, we liked each other a lot, and still keep in touch occasionally. Mildly insane liars are fun.
posted by Greg Nog at 5:38 PM on January 7 [14 favorites]


What's dehumanizing about going after people you think are beautiful? That's the most basic, biological imperative.

That's not at all what I meant, but thanks for putting words into my mouth.
posted by scody at 5:42 PM on January 7 [3 favorites]


What's dehumanizing about going after people you think are beautiful?

Not going on to read what else there is about the person APART FROM the beauty.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:47 PM on January 7


our external selves are just as much us as our internal selves

The problem is not that not reading the profile is "shallow" and it's not fair that attractive women get more messages on dating sites.

The problem is the number of men looking for literally any orifice to put their dick in.

I've recently returned to OKCupid after a ~ 2 year hiatus. I completely revamped my profile with a bunch of new pictures, and I'm getting a lot more attention lately.

Some gems from my inbox (in their entirety, with nothing cut, each quote is a different message):

"Hello my names Robert"

"Nice smile"

"Hi! :D What's up? I'm nick, how're you!"

"How often do you hear that your eyes and your smile are absolutely gorgeous? I bet it's all the time!"

To be completely fair and in a spirit of disclosure, this type of message only barely edges out the number of presumably earnest messages from dudes who are at least trying, but which I'm not interested in for one reason or another. So it's not like this is the only thing I ever get. But it's a lot of what I get, and every time I get one of these messages I feel slightly more discouraged about the state of humanity. These guys don't see me as a human, they see me as meat.
posted by Sara C. at 5:47 PM on January 7 [6 favorites]


What I found was that if the photo is attractive enough, men's brains would just bend what they were seeing to fit what they wanted to believe. They would assume that whatever I said that was too horrible for them to fathom must certainly be a joke, and that whichever parts were benign or inoffensive...well, those must be the serious parts. So it didn't matter how clear I was that I coughed up blood every hour on the hour and that I was looking for someone who would incorporate that into our lovemaking. Dudes didn't care.

*jaw drops*

I won't out you, FAMOUS MONSTER, but I just looked up my old blog and me circa 2003 considered you to have 'the best website on the internet' and tried to encourage my tens of readers to visit your site before you hit your number and went away forever.
posted by Kwine at 5:49 PM on January 7 [7 favorites]


It's also frankly embarrassing how many messages I've gotten over the years that just say

"Hey"
posted by Sara C. at 5:49 PM on January 7 [6 favorites]


I won't out you, FAMOUS MONSTER, but I just looked up my old blog and me circa 2003 considered you to have 'the best website on the internet' and tried to encourage my tens of readers to visit your site before you hit your number and went away forever.

Oh wow. Shit. Uhh...hi!

If it's any consolation, some recent events have conspired to make me come back. This time probably without a number limit. Expect things soon. I know I've been saying that for a while, but really...expect things soon.

And thanks for not outing.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 5:51 PM on January 7 [1 favorite]


I think I've mentioned this before but a friend and I once created a Craigslist ad looking for the panda bear in Target Women who brings her smokes. We got something like ten responses from men who wanted to dated whatever possible creature would make a personal ad for a flying toy bear with a smoking habit. They included real photos and actual pictures of humans who were probably them, because we did some Facebook stalking!

I don't know if humans are a land of contrast but man, I think some people are closer to those cane toads humping their road kill kin.
posted by jetlagaddict at 5:51 PM on January 7 [4 favorites]


hooray!
posted by Kwine at 5:52 PM on January 7


I also recently got a message that was just a straight up neg based on something written in my profile. So I guess it's nice that the dude read my whole profile, but it was really only to tell me that my favorite band sucked, so to speak.
posted by Sara C. at 5:52 PM on January 7 [1 favorite]


FWIW, Sara C., I think a big part of the problem with first messages on OKCupid is that in the App version of the site, messaging and chatting are not distinct activities. So while you might be expecting something that's analogous to an email, they might be sending something analogous to an IM where "Hey" as an opening to see if the other person is actually around right now isn't so terrible.
posted by jacquilynne at 5:52 PM on January 7 [4 favorites]


Instead, she comes off as a partying, good time girl who promises never to be dull, is hot and looking for a certain type of alpha male.

Yeah, I thought she sounded like she fit quite neatly into the PUA model -- that she was constructed to secure resources by way of a mate pretty much ties into the core process of most of them, and apparently being superficially manipulative and assertive yet kind of dumb are icing.

Not that "I see prospect of orifices, therefore send message" was entirely not involved, but I suspect at least some of those dudes at least thought they knew exactly what they were getting.
posted by sparktinker at 5:52 PM on January 7 [2 favorites]


jaquilynne, I'm permanently signed out for IM purposes, and these messages don't tend to pop up when I'm actually online.

Do people actually use OKCupid as a real-time hookup site, trolling for people currently online to chat with a la Grindr?
posted by Sara C. at 5:59 PM on January 7


Her profile wasn't horrible, just kind of crazy or kooky or pretending to be crazy or kooky.

Or "edgy".

Or something.

I mean, haven't many of us dated at least one or two people who are insane lunatics, but who are also kind of.... fun?

Ok, maybe it's just me....
nevermind...

posted by freakazoid at 6:02 PM on January 7


"Nice smile"

"How often do you hear that your eyes and your smile are absolutely gorgeous? I bet it's all the time!"


I get a fair amount of messages in my OKC inbox that are just like this. The best part is that there's only one photo on my profile, and it's a photo that literally shows nothing of my face. And it's taken in a reflective surface not unlike a funhouse mirror, so my body is a bit distorted to boot. And yet I get messages all the time that compliment me on my beautiful smile or my beautiful eyes, things that are not visible in the only photo of me available to these dudes, which just goes to show that a whole lot of people send out spam-like messages to anyone that fits their dating criteria. I figure these dudes are looking for single white women in a 5-mile radius of them, and anyone who measures up to that gets the same "nice smile" message.
posted by palomar at 6:04 PM on January 7 [4 favorites]


The message that was just sent to me via OKCupid just yesterday, in its entirety:
Hi babes, love your smile
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:07 PM on January 7 [2 favorites]


Yeah, in the guys' defense, if I ran across this profile there's no way I'd read it as serious. Probably still not someone I'd want to date, but definitely that it's just some mix of self-parody and deliberate provocation/surrealism. And the guys she quotes definitely sound to me as if they think she's joking, and that they realise they're not completely getting the joke.

And why not? Her profile says she's looking for casual sex, and it definitely sounds like she's not interested in a relationship. So getting messages from guys interested in a hook-up, and therefore happy to overlook her presumed weird sense of humour in favour of her looks, sounds like the system working as intended.

Obviously I'm not questioning that women get plenty of inappropriate messages from guys who're just after sex, but creating a profile that reads as just being interested in hookups and then mocking the responses isn't a great way to demonstrate it.

Not reading the profile is what is dehumanizing.
It doesn't seem dramatically worse than simply ignoring friendly-but-uninspiring incoming messages, which (based on AskMe responses and the OKTrends blog) seems to be the standard in the other direction. And for similar reasons.
posted by metaBugs at 6:09 PM on January 7 [6 favorites]


Hi babes, love your smile

Oh good, you got my message. I was starting to wonder.
posted by The Hamms Bear at 6:09 PM on January 7 [18 favorites]


There was no mention in her profile that "I am equally comfortable in jeans or a cocktail dress" (or variation thereof). That alone disqualifies this from being the worst online dating profile ever.
posted by The Gooch at 6:11 PM on January 7 [5 favorites]


Eh, to be perfectly honest, there is one photo, and not my main photo, which is a full-face photo that is pretty heavy on the eyes/smile factor.

I just generally dislike when I get messages that are all about my looks with no evidence that they looked at my profile at all or even care about me as anything other than a fuck toy.
posted by Sara C. at 6:15 PM on January 7 [2 favorites]


The best thing about that eyes/smile photo is that it also shows off my freckles and crooked teeth, and was taken in my bathroom.

So I guess I should be flattered?

Ugh, either way.
posted by Sara C. at 6:17 PM on January 7


But it's a lot of what I get, and every time I get one of these messages I feel slightly more discouraged about the state of humanity. These guys don't see me as a human, they see me as meat.

Yeah, I periodically log onto OKCupid for some of the profilebuilding in Chat, and every time, I am surprised with an inbox full of...shit. I think I even updated my profile to say "I'm married and not really looking for anything" and I still get "how r u girl"

I just opened it up specifically for this and have 36 new messages, most of them one-liners, from people with names like I kid you not "FunStallion", "TantricWarrior" and "Conquistador"

"Happy New year you are beautiful, check out my profile "
"hey miss how's life treating ya"
"I think you are cute"
"hi what's uo"
"Hablas espanol si lo hablas contestame​"
"Hi you are cute and smart"

and various variations on same, with only 2 messages that actually mentioned anything about themselves, and only 1 that mentioned anything I'd referenced in my own profile.

OKCupid is full of shit that makes me despair for humanity.
posted by corb at 6:17 PM on January 7


The other guy got some creepy ones, including a girl who said that she'd, "always had a soft spot for prison boys because [her] dad had been in for a long time".

It's almost like prisoners are real people outside of TV shows and news and stuff. Like entire social strata actually live in communities where it is relatively common to know people who go away for shorter or longer times... some of whom are decent, some of whom didn't do anything wrong, and some of whom just didn't even do it.
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 6:21 PM on January 7 [13 favorites]


How the other half dates. (a perspective from a guy)
posted by Apocryphon at 6:22 PM on January 7 [1 favorite]


I was tempted to chime in to say the same thing, but there's a clear difference between "sees former prisoners as human beings worthy of love" and "has a soft spot for ex-cons".

"A soft spot for" usually implies that you especially like something or are prone to seeking that out. Like I would say I have a soft spot for beards, accents, and people with useless liberal arts degrees.
posted by Sara C. at 6:26 PM on January 7 [2 favorites]


To be fair, I should probably mention that for the past couple months I've been regularly emailing back and forth with a pretty fascinating guy I met via OK Cupid who sounds funny, sane, and smart, and has even let slip a little conversational vulnerability - but then has also cracked awesome jokes about geeky stuff and gave me a great recipe for roast duck. And we're finally going to meet in person in a couple days. So it is possible.

But man, I did have to go through a lot of "luv ur smile" emails to find that guy.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:27 PM on January 7 [5 favorites]


Interesting idea, but she really didn't make an awful woman that most men wouldn't want to date. She created what she thinks is a horrible person.


I think in general this sort of disconnect between genders comes into play all the time. Often what women think is horrible is --tragically-- what a certain fairly large percentage of men think is sexy. And sometimes when women don't understand how so many men could just want empty meaningless random physical coupling....cause would they want to be treated that way?

Why yes. Yes, many of them would. The whole 'do unto others thing' doesn't always work if the cognitive dissonance range is that wide.
posted by umberto at 6:28 PM on January 7 [3 favorites]


Oh yeah, I mean, I had good times and even flirty fun times and even a couple good dates from OKCupid - but the amount of guys who are just trying to broad base spam their way to dates is really shitty.

I think some of this has to do with the matching algorithms, though. It used to be they were very particular - very few people got 90% matches, even 80% matches were pretty good. A few years ago they bumped everything up, though, so matches that would have been 60% started coming up to 80%. I'm not sure why, but it removes a lot of the utility of the matching.
posted by corb at 6:29 PM on January 7


I wonder if the profile would have gotten all of those hits if it contained the phrase "I defecate uncontrollably".

Mine does, and uh...oh God...I c-can confirm th-...ooh, ooh...that I don't get as many...dammit, fuck...don't get as many hit as...aaaaahhhhh...as I would like. Shit.
posted by turbid dahlia at 6:29 PM on January 7 [7 favorites]


I have known many people, some terrible, some nice, who have an irresistable attraction to fucked-up others when it comes to dating. As in walking right past "nice good-looking person who is totally compatible and would never screw you over" to get to "okay-looking person with a history of throwing her girlfriend's shit out the window and screaming about how she was going to kill herself after a long argument over who ate the last doughnut."

Some people just like it that way. Maybe they only feel alive when they are always secretly wondering if their SO is going to knife them in their sleep or steal their car, I don't know.

Some of these guys were clearly not paying attention to anything but looks, some thought it was a joke, and others were probably on the prowl for a new fucked-up relationship, because the old one ended when she went to jail, or ran off with someone else, or went to rehab.
posted by emjaybee at 6:51 PM on January 7 [5 favorites]


'Attractive girl posts photo on Internet and asks for casual sex, gets responses'. Hardly anything close to an experiment - it's like calling fishing with dynamite a sport. Also, not the most horrible woman imaginable - my first thought on seeing that profile would be that it was a joke. Not particularly funny, but it wouldn't occur to me that it was at all true. Not the sort of woman I would want to date but, if I was looking for casual sex, sure.

Having said that, there's no doubt that dating sites, for women, seem to inevitably turn into a cesspool of unwelcome attention (although I didn't need this 'experiment' to tell me that). A worthless data point - I set up a profile on OKCupid six months ago (because I was feeling bored and lonely, not really looking) and since that time, I have received one message. One.
posted by dg at 6:53 PM on January 7 [1 favorite]


What if there's some poor guy out there who really just wanted a mermaid tattoo and a tooth pulled?
posted by kyrademon at 6:56 PM on January 7 [6 favorites]


dg: from my experience, I think OKC shows your profile more often the more active you are, so your low rate of response might actually just be due to inactivity.
posted by Navelgazer at 6:57 PM on January 7


OKCupid has been pretty much a "look first, read later" site for the last seven years or so (in Boston, Fresno and Seattle anyway). The protocol is "I like your pic, so check out my pic." Only then do profiles play any role. The long introductory missive has too low a return on investment. A guy can shotgun 20 messages in 20 minutes and expect 3 or 4 quality responses. For the most part, this method quickly identifies the most active and interested members.
posted by Ardiril at 7:01 PM on January 7 [1 favorite]


Not really looking for someone anyway, Navelgazer - was more of a time-waster and some curiosity. But yeah, I'm not exactly active and I know that makes a difference. Also, it's possible that women in my age group are more likely to expect me to make the first approach, or that women generally may be reluctant to make a first approach to men because it could be misinterpreted by some men. When I'm in a better place to consider looking around than now, I'll be interested to see how more activity changes things.
posted by dg at 7:04 PM on January 7 [1 favorite]


I did something like this too. My fake profile wasn't as hyberbolic in making the woman awful, but I threw in a few red flags. I got tons of responses, but none that asked for sex or boob pics. So there's that.
posted by reenum at 7:18 PM on January 7


But it's a lot of what I get, and every time I get one of these messages I feel slightly more discouraged about the state of humanity. These guys don't see me as a human, they see me as meat.

I think that it's impossible to know that. They could be pursuing you out of lust or loneliness or even boredom. Just as their messages demonstrate a lack of understanding about your emotional reality and what you want, I think your crass analysis reeks of the same ignorance of their reality and what they want.

Is it really that hard to imagine how someone might send out copy-paste messages or "hi", etc.?
posted by esprit de l'escalier at 7:25 PM on January 7 [6 favorites]


Do we need to bring the focus to the plight of the lonely looks obsessed man again?
posted by sweetkid at 7:31 PM on January 7 [7 favorites]


This is dumb. I know plenty of smart, funny people of both genders who come across basically exactly like that online because they think they're being witty and ironic and silly. I mean, I don't think it's actually funny. But there is NO ONE who would look at that and think it was 100% truthful.
posted by miyabo at 7:36 PM on January 7 [2 favorites]


What's dehumanizing about going after people you think are beautiful? That's the most basic, biological imperative.

That's not at all what I meant, but thanks for putting words into my mouth.


No one's putting words in your mouth. It's a question. You went on to say that we should 'fix/prevent [the mentality that] "females are merely life support systems for the body parts we fetishize"'. That does seem like you're denigrating the carnal urge when it's present to the exclusion of others. I can see how such a person is useless as a partner to you, but I don't think that such a person needs to be "fixed". People can't help what they want. If someone isn't ready for a relationship, is too afraid to forge meaningful connections, I think it's arrogant to suggest this person needs to be fixed by society. Maybe these people will have experiences that make them want other things and maybe they'll change. Maybe not.

What bugs me, ultimately, about this experiment is that it seems to imply that there is a fundamental problem with humanity that needs to be socially corrected. I think that it's humanity that is fundamentally divine — that this is a case where one should love one's fellow man the way he is.

Do we need to bring the focus to the plight of the lonely looks obsessed man again?

It's not about anyone's plight: neither the man who sends such messages nor the woman who receives them. It's that the way things are is something that can be accepted as the basic negotiation of dating.
posted by esprit de l'escalier at 7:37 PM on January 7 [3 favorites]


You mean one of the 13? Or one of the 11 who messaged the ex-con?

One of the thirteen, of course. D'oh.

I never responded to any of the 11.

I sometimes joke that I know mathematically that I am 18.2% more desirable than a guy who just got out of prison for beating up his girlfriend.
posted by Hatashran at 7:38 PM on January 7 [7 favorites]


Her profile says "I'm a goddess and I do me" in the first sentence

Hey, that's great. Now stand over here on this pedestal and help bring in the harvest.
posted by octobersurprise at 7:39 PM on January 7 [2 favorites]


They could be pursuing you out of lust or loneliness or even boredom.

Which implies that they don't see me as a real person.

Is it not dehumanizing and shitty to realize that most people on a dating site only want you because you possess a certain type of orifice, to fill a hole in their own life, or because hey why not? Not because they actually find you attractive as a specific individual human being?
posted by Sara C. at 7:39 PM on January 7 [4 favorites]


Do we need to bring the focus to the plight of the lonely looks obsessed man again?

Might need to if women are getting an overwhelming amount of negative attention on dating sites.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:43 PM on January 7


Oh I see, you meant "filling a hole" metaphorically. Sure, I'm with you. Then it's almost universally true that the impetus for online dating is going to be "filling a hole" in one's life for people who write messages and people who put up profiles too. The spontaneous connections based on let's say "spiritual resonance" is difficult to build online — I'm with sweetkid there.
posted by esprit de l'escalier at 7:43 PM on January 7


Do we need to bring the focus to the plight of the lonely looks obsessed man again?

Might need to if women are getting an overwhelming amount of negative attention on dating sites.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:43 PM on January 7 [+] [!]


What do you mean?
posted by sweetkid at 7:45 PM on January 7


I suspect that many people have formed an overly romanticized notion about online dating from what they saw in movies like "You Have Mail". It just doesn't work that way for many users. For us, it's about chatting and/or sending out messages on Sunday evening, meeting responders Monday through Thursday, and setting up date(s) for the weekend. The system works best for those who aren't afraid to get out and actually meet people. Applying the term "dehumanizing" to online dating introductions is absurdist to the max.
posted by Ardiril at 8:05 PM on January 7 [1 favorite]


Applying the term "dehumanizing" to online dating introductions is absurdist to the max.

I met my partner through online dating. It's not online dating that's dehumanizing; it's not men trying to meet women (or women trying to meet men) that's dehumanizing. It's women being inundated with thinly veiled "wanna fuck?" messages just by virtue of the fact that we have vaginas that's dehumanizing.
posted by scody at 8:09 PM on January 7 [13 favorites]


I think the key to the success of her profile was the bowl of fruit in the picture.
posted by srboisvert at 8:11 PM on January 7 [15 favorites]


And cue the obligatory declaration from some male participant that, actually, he'd love to get a "wanna fuck?" message in 5... 4... 3...
posted by scody at 8:11 PM on January 7 [4 favorites]


2... 1...

The messages I get from women are almost always direct references to things in my profile, inviting conversation, and I love that.
posted by Navelgazer at 8:13 PM on January 7 [1 favorite]


What do you mean?

I take this to mean that if we are going to work on the problem of men being dickbags to women then some nuanced understanding of what's happening in said men's heads wouldn't be out of line.
posted by wemayfreeze at 9:05 PM on January 7 [1 favorite]


Then it's almost universally true that the impetus for online dating is going to be "filling a hole" in one's life for people who write messages and people who put up profiles too.

No, I was speaking to your "loneliness" angle.

While I guess I'd agree that people go on dating sites in general because they are lonely and want to meet people, there's "I'm looking for someone special to make a part of my life", and there's "Hey".

I mean, is it really a lot to ask to assume that someone who wants to date you, while attempting to put their best foot forward, actually try to convey that they give even the slightest shit about you as a person?
posted by Sara C. at 9:06 PM on January 7 [2 favorites]


For us, it's about chatting and/or sending out messages on Sunday evening, meeting responders Monday through Thursday, and setting up date(s) for the weekend.

Sure, but is it really too much to ask to expect that, in doing that, I'll get more than a "Hey" by way of message?

I don't need a love letter. I'd just appreciate some hint that the person sending the message gives a shit about me.
posted by Sara C. at 9:08 PM on January 7


Yes, of course, you'd appreciate that. But empathy takes time to mature and many people just aren't there yet. There are many women too who see men as a ticket to a relationship, a cute guy to show their friends, a source of validation, a necessary step to building a family, etc. It's no less dehumanizing.

Because online dating has no barrier to entry, you are the filter. I think the vitriol in your messages is unwarranted.
posted by esprit de l'escalier at 9:17 PM on January 7 [8 favorites]


You do all realize there are bots which will spam every single new profile, with "hey", right?

I tried this experiment years ago on Craigslist. At least 50% of the responses were bots. 25% were scary human beings, and 25% were people who got the joke.
posted by benzenedream at 9:43 PM on January 7


Okay Imma take the bait and pen some thoughts on the plight of the lonely, looks-obsessed online dating man. As a feminist man I feel it's critically important for us (feminist men) to try to understand where our lost and lonely brothers are coming from.

N.B.: I don't mean in any way for this to serve as an apologia for anyone's behavior. In our world what one man may see as a harmless line delivered to a woman on OkCupid often instead reflects and perpetuates patriarchal domination and, as such, ain't okay.

So: I think there's a lot of things going into the kinds of messages we're talking about.

1. Many people aren't comfortable or adept at communicating via the written word. Writing something charming is very hard for many many people, especially for folks who may have grown up not reading or writing.

2. Relatedly, I see in the messages from men and in many women's responses a real perception gap vis-a-vis how online dating is supposed to work. I think some men think it works like at a bar: you think someone's cute, they think you're cute, you use a simple line to start a conversation and you see where it goes from there. I see lines being used in some of the messages Sara C. posted upthread that would totally fly as an opener in a bar or at a party.

Many women (and many men, too. Me, for instance :) see online dating as a much more complex process of artful presentation via profile and subsequent written conversation.

2b. The internet is amazing in how it brings people from disparate backgrounds together. The internet is terrifying in how it brings people from disparate backgrounds together.

3. Is it any wonder that men are "looks obsessed" when they grow up in our world? Much progress has been made in the last 100 years thanks to feminist movement but good lord do we still have a long way to go, especially in the beauty obsession department.

4. Men have desires (emotional and sexual) and most men have no workable framework for understanding how to get those desires met. Between the mars/venus essentialist bullshit we've grown up with and the way men are discouraged from knowing themselves and their emotions there is serious confusion about folks across the gender aisle*. The PUA world is a shitty response to that. The nice guy/friendzone phenomenon, too.

I see in so many of the messages a kind of floundering, a flopping about trying anything to make a connection. Dudes are so, so lost :(

* I use gender binary here as shorthand 'cuz we're talking about some pretty solidly straight dudes. I don't believe in a gender aisle† but I bet 99.9% of these guys do.

† Or maybe I do and the gender aisle is like an aisle at the grocery store and there are a million genders to choose from but maybe instead of choosing we're just dancing in the gender aisle instead. ♫

posted by wemayfreeze at 9:53 PM on January 7 [12 favorites]


floundering, a flopping about trying anything to make a connection. Dudes are so, so lost :(

Let's be honest here: there are also plenty of women who are so, so lost when it comes to making connections. Just as you imagine that many men wish that women "fit their fantasy" without any understanding of how to connect with them, there plenty of women that are pointlessly wishing that men fit their fantasy without any understanding of what that hypothetical guy would want from them.
posted by esprit de l'escalier at 10:03 PM on January 7 [10 favorites]


As a feminist man I feel it's critically important for us (feminist men) to try to understand where our lost and lonely brothers are coming from.

The actual feminist thing would be to recognize that this is a conversation about women's experiences on dating sites, and therefore take the derail about men's motivations and feelings somewhere else -- a new FPP on the topic, MeMail, your own blog, or anywhere else. Turning every conversation about women's experiences into a conversation about men is itself hostile and honestly at this point simply boring.
posted by Dip Flash at 10:07 PM on January 7 [7 favorites]


Oh, now I remember this post. Almost wish I hadn't.
posted by Valued Customer at 10:11 PM on January 7


The actual feminist thing would be to recognize that this is a conversation about women's experiences on dating site

Aren't we talking about an article that ends with a message directed at men on dating sites telling them to change their behavior? We shouldn't talk about men's behavior in that context?
posted by 0xFCAF at 10:14 PM on January 7 [13 favorites]


Much progress has been made in the last 100 years thanks to feminist movement but good lord do we still have a long way to go, especially in the beauty obsession department.

What are you talking about? The feminist movement is not the antithesis of aestheticism. People are obsessed with beauty when they're young. Experience usually brings other things to the fore. The feminist movement has nothing to do with people's tastes. It's not as if they're going to have Not Conventionally Attractive Pride marches.

I don't think any social movement can affect taste. What is renounced in cultured society is encouraged in vulgar society. What society censors, pornographers produce. What people are told not to desire overtly, they desire secretly.
posted by esprit de l'escalier at 10:14 PM on January 7 [3 favorites]


Dip Flash I have to disagree. The original article's entire concluding section is directed at men and is in fact a positive affirmation that men deserve and can get better (than her fake profile). My comment reflects a desire to continue that conversation.
posted by wemayfreeze at 10:15 PM on January 7 [5 favorites]


What's dehumanizing about going after people you think are beautiful? That's the most basic, biological imperative.

The most basic one is peeing on stuff to mark your territory, and yet I assume you use a toilet occasionally? And your iPhone remains dry.

I keed. I keed.
posted by discopolo at 10:34 PM on January 7 [2 favorites]


So Sara C. when I've used OkCupid & women I've known IRL who've gone on it they have usually turned incoming chats off because of the barrage of spam. Like I saw my roommate only fill out her (faraway) location and (half his) age and uploading one attractive headshot, no other profile, and get this dude chatting on her with a pic of him in an inappropriate-for-his-gut grubby wifebeater. Might have been a troll now that I think of it, but sadly most likely not.

Outgoing still works though, and I'd have women occasionally send me "hey."

It doesn't make sense to invest too much in these messages. A couple sentences of mail, a line of chat...

These sociologist bloggers have this crazy-sociologist bullshitting theory going about a drone sexuality, quadcopter & security panopticon as Male Gaze, possibly relevant, this is the kind of academic social justice I wholeheartedly support.
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 12:30 AM on January 8


The actual feminist thing would be to recognize that this is a conversation about women's experiences on dating sites

Correct me if I'm wrong but are not men involved in those interactions?
posted by empath at 1:27 AM on January 8 [3 favorites]


Looks like she put out an awful, ignorant vibe and got awful, ignorant people interested. Spoiler alert: awful, ignorant people are single too.

Floating the idea that you think sex should be used as a weapon won't put off guys who explicitly or implicitly think that sex can be used as a weapon, which I think covers a large swath of the fellows who would come within 40 feet of this profile. I'm not saying that casual misogyny and overall creepiness isn't a huge problem on okcupid or the internet in general. I'm saying that this profile is misogyny bate.
posted by es_de_bah at 4:21 AM on January 8 [2 favorites]


"He said 'hi' to me" -> "He sees me as nothing but a hole" = quite a leap
posted by Flunkie at 5:09 AM on January 8 [6 favorites]


Do we need to bring the focus to the plight of the lonely looks obsessed man again?

Might need to if women are getting an overwhelming amount of negative attention on dating sites.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:43 PM on January 7 [+] [!]


What do you mean?
posted by sweetkid at 10:45 PM on January 7 [+] [!]


If a group of men are repeatedly participating in problematic behavior, then at some point attention should be paid to said group to educate/convince/whatever them of their problematic ways.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:33 AM on January 8 [2 favorites]


This would have been much more interesting with a fake control. A headshot of an equally beautiful woman, in the same location and of the same stated age, but tied to fully respectable profile -- say, a first-year law firm associate looking for a long-term relationship and with a typical-hipster set of hobbies and interests, and no off-putting religiosity or teetotalling -- and with an anodyne set of responses to incoming contacts.
posted by MattD at 6:10 AM on January 8 [7 favorites]


I think some men think it works like at a bar: you think someone's cute, they think you're cute, you use a simple line to start a conversation and you see where it goes from there.

ENTER, MESSAGING

H: hey
S: hey
H: how ya doin?
S: fine u?
H: fine
...
...
H: come here a lot?

... |

posted by octobersurprise at 6:23 AM on January 8


This would have been much more interesting with a fake control. A headshot of an equally beautiful woman, in the same location and of the same stated age, but tied to fully respectable profile -- say, a first-year law firm associate looking for a long-term relationship and with a typical-hipster set of hobbies and interests, and no off-putting religiosity or teetotalling -- and with an anodyne set of responses to incoming contacts.

Or an averagely attractive guy over 30 with a 'nice' profile who will get exactly 0 messages.
posted by empath at 7:16 AM on January 8 [2 favorites]


okcupid seems to have changed the way it displays matches recently. It used to show a picture along with an excerpt of text from the person's profile. Now they've moved to a "gallery" format where all you see when you are looking at matches is a bigger picture, and zero text. I personally hate it. I use scanning the text as much more of a quick filter than whether or not I like the picture.

I'm sure they're doing it to appeal to younger people and to all the many people who primarily filter based on pictures, but I feel like it is bound to increase the amount of messages women get that are based solely on what they look like. The new format invites you to consider only the picture and almost nothing else.
posted by aka burlap at 7:37 AM on January 8 [1 favorite]


I answered an ad similar to this, on the assumption that it was put together by a brilliantly funny woman who was hoping someone would get the joke. The pictures on the ad I answered continued the joke, though--she was making ugly faces and used photoshop to make them even worse. I figured it was like the "brutally honest" ads we discussed years ago.

Look, there are a lot of ads out there that are just a bit better than this one. I saw "I hate reading!!!!!" just yesterday. Women who specify minimum income and penis size, who have appalling taste in music, whose only interests are watching sports and Real Housewives of Atlanta, who say, straight out, that they want to find a man who will support them financially. Her ad isn't nearly as bad as she thinks it is.
posted by MrMoonPie at 7:48 AM on January 8 [4 favorites]


It used to show a picture along with an excerpt of text from the person's profile. Now they've moved to a "gallery" format where all you see when you are looking at matches is a bigger picture, and zero text.

Seriously? That's terrible! Talk about a meat market! They have all this technology at their disposal, and we're back to using the same process we used at the seventh-grade Homecoming dance?
posted by The Underpants Monster at 8:36 AM on January 8 [2 favorites]


Thank GOD I am 35. This literally doesn't happen to me.

Also, unfortunately the relativity standard of dating doesn't actually work mathematically: if my life without you in it > my life with you in it, then you don't get welcomed in, and it is totally irrelevant if my life with you in it is >>>> my life with one of the guys described in this thread. I think a lot of women with a certain combination of maturity, self respect, intelligence, etc. think this way. So if that's what you want to catch, and it's not working, maybe do a little self-examination and look at the bait you're fishing with. Or accept that you're actually looking for something different.
posted by susiswimmer at 8:39 AM on January 8


What do you mean?
posted by sweetkid at 10:45 PM on January 7 [+] [!]

If a group of men are repeatedly participating in problematic behavior, then at some point attention should be paid to said group to educate/convince/whatever them of their problematic ways.
Brandon Blatcher at 8:33 AM on January 8 [1 favorite +] [!]


The reason I said "again" in my original comment is that this is well trod territory. Every time women share experiences in one of these threads people come along to say how we should be educating men, empathizing with men.

That's not to say men can't share their experiences, but I think it would be better if instead of "hey women talking about their experiences, some men, not me but some men, act like this because biological imperative, loneliness, etc" people could talk about their actual experiences not launch a defense of a certain kind of man because they can imagine it.

Also, the whole "men seek the most beautiful women because biology and procreation" is evo psych territory and really, really well trod and boring at this point.
posted by sweetkid at 9:32 AM on January 8 [4 favorites]


Or an averagely attractive guy over 30 with a 'nice' profile who will get exactly 0 messages.

FWIW a couple days ago I messaged an averagely attractive guy (well, I think he's totes adorbs but on a scale of Elephant Man to Ryan Gosling I'd say he's probably a "6") over 30 with a "nice" profile.

We've exchanged a few messages back and forth. I think we're probably headed toward a date. In fact, I should go check OKCupid because it's Wednesday, which is the perfect time to make weekend plans.

I'm actually thinking of just ignoring virtually all unsolicited messages I get on the site and instead taking it upon myself to reach out to people who are up my alley, as a rule, going forward. Because on this go-round of OKCupid-ing, I find that the signal to noise ratio for unsolicited messages is fucking miserable.
posted by Sara C. at 9:32 AM on January 8 [3 favorites]


The new format invites you to consider only the picture and almost nothing else.

Not really, because you have to click on the picture to go to the profile in order to send a message. There is no way to send someone a message on OKCupid without seeing their profile.

There is seriously no excuse for the "hey babe nice smile" phenomenon. While it is an understandable thing, it is not online dating best practices and nor is it something men are forced by the site to do.

At the very least, men should expect to be mocked and derided for such shitty internetting. I get that dudes are scared off by the notion that this shitty internetting is in any way connected to larger over-arching gender dynamics, but well, guys, seriously, everything is connected in some way to larger over-arching gender dynamics, so, you know, deal with it.
posted by Sara C. at 9:43 AM on January 8 [3 favorites]


Oh, I absolutely don't mean that the new design forces people to send "hey babe nice smile" messages. And yeah, you still have to click through to profiles to message someone. I just mean that in terms of how people decide what profiles to click on in the first place, OKCupid has made the decision much more dependent on pictures, and I think that encourages more interactions based on "hey she's hot" instead of "hey she sounds interesting."
posted by aka burlap at 9:49 AM on January 8


I've messaged over 30 I guess average looking guys. And I'm 35 and not white and get lots of hey babe messages.

Take that people who think a thing is a thing! Here I am with alternative evidence.
posted by sweetkid at 9:50 AM on January 8 [1 favorite]


Except yeah I quit OKC.
posted by sweetkid at 9:50 AM on January 8


Oh, I'm perfectly OK with the idea that the site assumes people are starting with looks/photos. I think that's absolutely true, and there's nothing at all wrong with that behavior. Regardless of what I think of your favorite band, the objective here is romance/sex.

While I thought it was nice when the site gave you blurbs from the profile, I think it's equally fine not to include that, because let's face it, I'm not deciding to go out with you based on your affinity for standup comedy and burritos. What you look like/what is in your photo is the first hurdle.

My main issue with the removal of the blurbs is that I have to click through to the profile to discover that the really cute person I thought would be a great match for me actually "loves to laugh" and enjoys both Ayn Rand and Phish.
posted by Sara C. at 9:55 AM on January 8 [3 favorites]


guys, seriously, everything is connected in some way to larger over-arching gender dynamics, so, you know, deal with it.

Maybe you're the one who should just deal with the gender dynamics and their effect on your inbox?

…problematic behavior, then at some point attention should be paid to said group to educate/convince/whatever them of their problematic ways.

The point is that it's your opinion that the behavior is problematic rather than merely immature. People have every right to immaturity. A war against immaturity is futile.
posted by esprit de l'escalier at 10:04 AM on January 8


Maybe you're the one who should just deal with the gender dynamics and their effect on your inbox?

I do. Every minute of every single day.
posted by Sara C. at 10:31 AM on January 8 [5 favorites]


Let's not make it all about ourselves, shall we?
posted by planetesimal at 11:31 AM on January 8


Yeah, god knows the real problem here is LADIES making the sexism ALL ABOUT THEM!
posted by corb at 11:38 AM on January 8 [3 favorites]


If a group of men are repeatedly participating in problematic behavior, then at some point attention should be paid to said group to educate/convince/whatever them of their problematic ways.

If we're both talking about the list wemayfreeze posted, it didn't come off to me like "Gentlemen, here's what you need to avoid doing." It read more like, "Ladies, you should be more understanding of why the men who do this are doing it."

Intellectually I know that the two situations aren't perfect analogs because we're not on a schoolyard and there's no physical violence involved, but I got the same feeling reading it that I got when my Kindergarten principal told me that the boy who was beating me up was doing it because he really liked me, and that if I was just nicer to him and smiled at him more, he'd probably stop doing it.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 11:41 AM on January 8 [2 favorites]


Maybe you're the one who should just deal with the gender dynamics and their effect on your inbox?

Other than a cry of pique, what does this even mean?
posted by octobersurprise at 11:46 AM on January 8 [5 favorites]


The entire process of online dating is dehumanizing. First, the way it's referred to as a "marketplace" or "meat market", and how site design reflects this by having users search and compare, as if people are goods and services that are taken off of Amazon. Then after the search people are placed into what is basically a line-up, where you scroll down or go to the next page. I mean, in all of human history, when has gathering people into a line-up resulted in something good? And finally, if Facebook is evil because the "customer" is not the user, then a similar scrutiny should be placed on dating sites. I mean, I think the point of dating sites is to get to people to use them, so dating sites where people get into stable relationships for long periods is not in their interest. This is because then people stop using the site and they can't get ad revenue. Note, they want you to have a good or interesting date (or at least think you'll do), so you'll return, but anything else is not really the purpose of the site.

And, I'm not defending the old ways at all. I don't think meeting people through common locations or being introduced by friends is better, but online dating is another choice. And having choices in general is good, but it's still an equally crappy choice compared to others.
posted by FJT at 11:50 AM on January 8 [2 favorites]


The Underpants Monster: "Yeah, I'd like to see what would have happened if she'd used a picture of a plain woman and said she sat at home watching TV all night."

Is... is she single?
posted by IAmBroom at 12:24 PM on January 8 [6 favorites]


I can't really get behind the idea that anyone deserves to be, or should expect to be, mocked and derided for making inane comments on OKCupid. It just feels too much like the flip side of women getting harassed just for being vocal online (which we're discussing in another Mefi thread right now).

Maybe I am missing something here, but once you make a profile on OKCupid, you are bound to get responses, right? And it's really easy not to respond back to someone you don't want to go out with, isn't it?

Mocking these men for their generic messages, or assuming they just want an orifice to stick their penis into because they said (in toto!), "you have a nice smile" seems mean-spirited at the very least.

It should go without saying, but that is an example of sexist thinking, too. I'm not super psyched at how quickly the feminists in this thread leapt to embrace toxic patriarchal, "All men want is sex!" ideology.
posted by misha at 1:02 PM on January 8 [8 favorites]


Maybe you're the one who should just deal with the gender dynamics and their effect on your inbox?

Other than a cry of pique, what does this even mean?


What I'm saying is that everyone has an individual progression of values, which is beyond judgment. You wouldn't castigate your fourteen-year-old for flirting naïvely. Neither do your values benefit from others' judgment. Do you really think that you're the pinnacle of maturity? So what's the motivation behind all of this hate?

I know it's difficult to find the truth out about this question, but I think you'll find that understanding this is going to be better for you. If you're angry, maybe the world isn't the problem. Maybe that anger is the result of a deep-seated insecurity. Where does it come from?

Is it really the frustration of getting a lot of stupid messages or the frustration of not getting many good ones? Is it that online dating makes you feel marginalized compared with some people, and so you rebalance your sense of self-worth by coming down on people you imagine are below you? Is it that the messages make salient the primacy of carnal urges, a primacy that might be responsible for inequities in dating?

The idea that a group of people who only want you for your body have somehow demeaned you is I think a convenient lie. You've been in love before, right? You know that what you're looking for exists. A million asteroids don't make the sun stop shining.
posted by esprit de l'escalier at 1:04 PM on January 8


benzenedream: "I tried this experiment years ago on Craigslist. At least 50% of the responses were bots."

How would you know that? Seriously asking.
posted by IAmBroom at 1:15 PM on January 8


the "hey babe nice smile" phenomenon
Hi babes, love your smile

While I understand that as a volume issue this is probably 95% men sending those to women, I have received similar messages from women. I think some of that may be the IM/email thing mentioned, or the shotgun approach, or whatever. Of course, I'm sure its way more annoying if thats like 95% of your messages! Not trying to downplay that, but it feels like people always claim this is exclusively a male thing.
posted by wildcrdj at 1:23 PM on January 8 [2 favorites]


sweetkid: "Also, the whole "men seek the most beautiful women because biology and procreation" is evo psych territory and really, really well trod and boring at this point."

Strawman. What was actually proposed in this thread was that people go after attractive people, as "the most basic, biological imperative." The latter is hyperbole, but tje first clause is undeniably factual.

Also, Association Fallacy: that "evo psych" is often trash science in no way implies that people aren't attracted to beautiful sex/romance partners.
posted by IAmBroom at 1:31 PM on January 8


Well....she's ticked the box for casual sex, which barely any women do. Yes other boxes too, which may have upped the numbers a bit, but that's probably the main draw.

I'm really not at all horrified that people would have casual sex with someone hot but with an iffy personality*. I wouldn't have casual sex with e.g. a racist but I know a lot of people who are 100% indifferent to the personality of a one night stand, and I'm not sure there's anything wrong with that.

A more interesting experiment would have her marking only "long-term", taking out all the statements implying she's likely to have casual sex, and also making it less over-the-top and more genuine so people actually believe that she has an unappealing personality.

*And yes, I bet many of them assume (or are giving her the chance to show) that she's joking. It's just TOO over the top. I've seen >5 very similar profiles from dudes who I assume are intending to be funny (failing for me, but hey, there are worse things than a lame sense of humour, and if they think they're being funny, maybe they'd find her similarly funny).
posted by randomnity at 1:40 PM on January 8 [1 favorite]


The entire process of online dating is dehumanizing. First, the way it's referred to as a "marketplace" or "meat market", and how site design reflects this by having users search and compare, as if people are goods and services that are taken off of Amazon. Then after the search people are placed into what is basically a line-up, where you scroll down or go to the next page.
This isn't really all that different to 'traditional' methods of meeting people, though, is it? People go to a venue, be it a bar, nightclub, church social, the roller skating rink or whatever and everyone covertly checks out those who appear to be suitable mates, then the dance begins where one (traditionally a male) makes an advance and things go from there. For example, a male might say to a female he is interested in 'hey, I think you have a nice smile' and it goes on from there or not.

Online, things don't seem to be that different except that you know up front that someone is looking and you know a bit about them (assuming they're honest in their profile). The same dance happens with one party making an advance etc. Where that advance is simply 'hey, I think you have a nice smile', it's possible that, rather than being code for 'you look like you have a suitable orifice for me to stick my dick in', this is someone that doesn't understand you are looking for someone to use the information you have provided to demonstrate that there's more than just an 'eyes met across the room' connection. That, in fact, you've already had the conversation that establishes the possibility that there is sufficient common ground to explore a bit further. Effectively, the information in both parties' profiles is that first awkward conversation and the next step needs to be more specific to you as a person rather than just 'do you come here often?' I mean, it should be obvious, but it's a big jump for many people, I think. Yes, there are some (many? I don't know. It seems that way) men who are looking to get laid and nothing else. But that's not confined to online dating sites, is it? These guys are the same ones that use corny pick-up lines in bars non-ironically.

One thing that online dating does is allow those with enough social anxiety or fear of rejection that they literally are unable to approach a woman they don't know with the intent of trying to get to know them or, if they manage to approach them, turn to jelly and can't put a coherent sentence together, to take that first step in a much less risky environment. That's got to be a good thing. The down side is that it allows those looking for a quick fuck to trawl through a large number of targets in a very short time, in the belief that throwing out enough hooks will get you a bite.

Of course, there's no way to tell the difference from the woman's perspective, so it's understandable that they assume 'hey, nice smile' means 'got a cock here for you'. I guess the only saving grace is that guys who have trouble approaching women they don't know are maybe more likely to present a more fulsome message in the first place. That is, as long as they manage to avoid imitating the alpha males who appear to attract flocks of women with nothing more substantial than a smouldering look.

As usual, I've probably offended at least half the population with this, but this wasn't my intent.
posted by dg at 1:42 PM on January 8 [2 favorites]


See also: Jon Millward's experiment on hetero male/female attention using profiles differentiated only by their pictures. This is the only thing (of its kind) I know of.
posted by Apropos of Something at 2:48 PM on January 8 [3 favorites]


Where that advance is simply 'hey, I think you have a nice smile', it's possible that, rather than being code for 'you look like you have a suitable orifice for me to stick my dick in', this is someone that doesn't understand you are looking for someone to use the information you have provided to demonstrate that there's more than just an 'eyes met across the room' connection. That, in fact, you've already had the conversation that establishes the possibility that there is sufficient common ground to explore a bit further. Effectively, the information in both parties' profiles is that first awkward conversation and the next step needs to be more specific to you as a person rather than just 'do you come here often?' I mean, it should be obvious, but it's a big jump for many people, I think.

That's like sending a fan letter to the author of a book and telling him how nice the picture on the cover is. It's insulting; you may as well make the subject line, "I Didn't Read The Profile You Put All That Effort Into."

Frankly, I have a hard time believing that the proportion of adults on OKCupid have such a serious cognitive impairment that they can approach that question honestly and respectfully and still find it a "big jump."

All this information is laid out for them - if they make the decision not to make the slightest effort use to use any of it, they're like the person who walks into Pizza Hut and asks, "So, like, what kind of food do you serve here?" Will it be a big jump for them when they find out it's pizza?
posted by The Underpants Monster at 3:20 PM on January 8 [4 favorites]


The Underpants Monster if that's the sense you got from my post then I clearly need to work on my rhetoric skills. I in no way intended to suggest that women need to or should accept men's behavior. I had hoped my NB would cover that but it seems it wasn't enough.

I think part of what you may be picking up on is that I personally feel extremely empathetic towards men who exhibit the various behaviors that are under discussion — I can see so clearly the confusions of contemporary masculinity and see many behaviors as responses to that. That's my own bag and I don't expect others to see it the same way or that others should see it the same way. That's why I self-identified as a man in the post — this is men's responsibility to work on, not women's.
posted by wemayfreeze at 3:22 PM on January 8


Sorta related, I guess: twitter comedian Rachel Millman took over @okcupid_TXT today. It's good because it's horrible
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 3:27 PM on January 8


I'm not super psyched at how quickly the feminists in this thread leapt to embrace toxic patriarchal, "All men want is sex!" ideology.

I don't know that all men want is sex - I have no clue what they want - but judging by the "u r pretty" responses, I can categorically say that what a majority of respondents don't want is any kind of intellectual connection. I don't think this is really a patriarchy-embracing leap.
posted by corb at 3:53 PM on January 8 [3 favorites]


Is it that online dating makes you feel marginalized compared with some people...

Ladies, maybe the problem is that you're jealous! Also, you'd be so much cuter if you stopped being angry and just smiled!

Anyway, finding someone attractive and wanting to message them is the whole point of online dating. But "attractive" means more than just "hot" or "has a vagina". I'm attracted to smart people who make me laugh. I like men with big noses and floppy hair and kind of a counter-culture vibe. These are all unique qualities to that person, even in small ways.

The problem with the "men pursue beauty, deal with it" argument that esprit and some others keeps posting is the extremely limited, superficial definition of attractiveness. Like, "is a woman on the internet" levels of superficial. Attractiveness, true attractiveness, comes in many different forms and for the most part requires looking at the other person as a unique individual even if that just means reading the flippin' profile before sending a message.
posted by jess at 4:34 PM on January 8 [2 favorites]


wemayfreeze, pretty sure The Underpants Monster was responding to me. I wasn't trying to defend the 'big jump' but to suggest why this may be the case for some men. Honestly, I think that most are probably baiting a whole stack of hooks to try and get a bite for a quick roll in the hay. But, remembering that most men refuse to read even the simplest of instruction manuals, I'm sure there are a lot of perfectly nice guys that are acting online the same way they would somewhere like a bar - a brief opening comment to get the ball rolling. I don't think it's fair to always ascribe to malice what could be a failure to read instructions.

As wemayfreeze suggests, it's not the responsibility of women to sift through the crap just in case there's a clueless but nice guy on the other side. It's the responsibility of whoever initiates the conversation to start it off correctly. Maybe it's confirmation bias at work, but a lot of guys are new to online dating and a lot are back 'on the market' after years or even decades and are literally clueless. Again, this is their problem and they need to work on it. Unfortunately, like so many other things relating to interactions between genders, things have changed and a lot of men haven't figured that out yet.
posted by dg at 4:42 PM on January 8


In that case, how is it a problem at all? I guess inbox clutter, but the sense of scale here is off by a good bit.
posted by planetesimal at 4:44 PM on January 8 [1 favorite]


But why do dudes need instructions to treat women like humans?
posted by Sara C. at 4:56 PM on January 8 [5 favorites]


The same reason women do.
posted by planetesimal at 4:56 PM on January 8 [1 favorite]


back 'on the market' after years or even decades and are literally clueless

My experience does not bear this out. A good proportion of the "ur so pretty lol" messages I get are from men in their 20s. Virtually every message I've ever gotten from a guy older than about 40 (speaking as someone who has used OKCupid from my late 20's through early 30's) is actually much more verbose and carefully worded than average.
posted by Sara C. at 4:58 PM on January 8 [1 favorite]


I guess I just don’t see the point of either a detailed list of passionately sympathetic explanations of why Group A engages in Problematic Behavior B towards Group C, or a long, passionately sympathetic paragraph explaining just how hard it is for Group A to figure out Perfectly Simple, Non-Problematic Behavior D towards Group C, without then moving on to Conclusion E. What is Conclusion E? What’s the takeaway here, and who’s the audience it’s meant for? Because without Conclusion E, all we’re left with is Implication F: “Group A’s behavior is so sympathetic and understandable that whoever’s reading this should give them sympathy and understanding.”
posted by The Underpants Monster at 5:15 PM on January 8 [1 favorite]


When I get a message consisting of just "Hey" or whatever, I interpret it as shorthand for "I want to let you know that I liked your profile, please check out mine and 'hey' me back if the like is mutual!"
I think it's ungenerous to assume that any message that fails to adequately prove that my profile has been looked at, indicates the worst in the sender. I understand that it is practical to act as though seemingly-generic messages mean your profile wasn't read (I likewise understand it can be practical to just say "Hey" for people whose messages mostly get ignored no-matter how many hours they pour into them), and I understand that in many cases people aren't paying attention beyond pictures, but to assume the worst and then let those assumptions influence how I feel about my fellow humans, that's a vicious cycle of cynicism, it would scar my worldview. Fuck that shit.
posted by anonymisc at 5:24 PM on January 8 [4 favorites]


shorthand for "I want to let you know that I liked your profile, please check out mine and 'hey' me back if the like is mutual!"

But then like... what?

Do we just ping "Hey" messages back and forth forever until somebody cracks and says something of substance?
posted by Sara C. at 5:40 PM on January 8 [1 favorite]


[Folks. Please. Can we have this discussion without "Men are like this, women are like that AMIRITE?" and associated grar that comes with those sorts of statements? Please?]
posted by jessamyn at 5:53 PM on January 8 [1 favorite]


But then like... what?

Arrange to meet in person so you can see if you might like them.
In my experience, if you both like each other's profiles, then emailing back and forth is a worse-than-worthless waste of time compared to spending less time simply going out and meeting face to face. Intuitively, it feels like messages are an easier and quicker way to filter, but over time I've come to the opposite view. It's pretty rare for a (properly filled-out) profile to leave me unable to decide whether I care to meet someone, it's pretty rare (for me) that email would reveal some hidden dealbreaker or vapidity that wasn't in the profile.
About the only thing that email consistently achieves is that it draws things out over days or weeks - long enough that one of us will get distracted by some other shiny thing and we'll never actually get around to meeting.
Hmm, when I put it like that, I guess I think messages are primarily a security blanket that usually do more harm than good.
posted by anonymisc at 6:03 PM on January 8 [2 favorites]


But why do dudes need instructions to treat women like humans?
At the risk of upsetting jessamyn, I don't think that's the case. Well some do, sure, but it's also truthful to say 'some people need instructions on how to treat other people as humans'. In my 52 years, I've been treated as something less than human plenty of times (by both male and female persons) and this will no doubt happen again. People suck, basically, as a species. I'm still optimistic enough to think that not everyone sucks, though.

It strikes me that this issue is associated with the broader issue of women being treated poorly on the Internet and it saddens me to hear that it may be younger men that are the worst culprits, because they are the ones that don't even have the (inadequate) excuse that they were brought up that way and change is hard blah blah blah. Is it possibly an image problem more generally that Internet dating has - that it's believed to be an easy way to 'pick up chicks'?

Slightly off topic, I'm interested in what it is that makes someone look at a particular profile? I wondered this when I see that a 26 year-old woman from Texas viewed my profile and I wondered why on earth that would be. Also, when you have a user name of 'HoldMyAnkles' I wonder what your expectations are ....
posted by dg at 7:32 PM on January 8 [1 favorite]


I guess I just don’t see the point of either a detailed list of passionately sympathetic explanations of why Group A engages in Problematic Behavior B towards Group C

I want to understand so I and others interested can better work on the problem.

or a long, passionately sympathetic paragraph explaining just how hard it is for Group A to figure out Perfectly Simple, Non-Problematic Behavior D towards Group C without then moving on to Conclusion E. What is Conclusion E? What’s the takeaway here, and who’s the audience it’s meant for?

I think you kind of nailed part of what I was saying above. Clearly for many men it isn't Perfectly Simple. Why is that? I'm interested in that question.

Here are some of my conclusions: the patriarchy hurts men, too, and they often turn that hurt around and do shitty things to women, sometimes intentionally, sometimes unintentionally; modern romance is confusing; the way the internet connects us is crazy and creates as many problems as it does exciting and productive opportunities.

My intended audience was anyone who also wonders why men behave they do.
posted by wemayfreeze at 8:25 PM on January 8


I like how this has evolved/devolved* into a forum on how to use dating sites. I love you metafilter.


*depending on your point of view. I vote the former!
posted by es_de_bah at 9:53 PM on January 8 [1 favorite]


I'm a 40+ woman who received mostly sincere messages, and I think age does play a factor. Match.com skews older and I found the vibe there is definitely different. One thing that worked really well for me on OKC was going back after a few weeks and unanswering almost every single sex question. Instead, I dropped a few specific hints in my profile (but hopefully not as cliched as listing The Secretary), including a reference to GGG. The quality of my messages increased immediately and dramatically, as did my matches.

Anyway, finding someone attractive and wanting to message them is the whole point of online dating. But "attractive" means more than just "hot" or "has a vagina"

To you. (And to me!)

There are many men and women who are looking for hot people to have sex with for no reason other than they are hot, and more and more the place people go to make that happen seems to be OKC. It's not automatically disrespectful or degrading, sometimes it's just casual sex. It's a little like joining eHarmony and being upset that there are so many religious people.

The entire process of online dating is dehumanizing. First, the way it's referred to as a "marketplace" or "meat market", and how site design reflects this by having users search and compare, as if people are goods and services that are taken off of Amazon.

[...]

And, I'm not defending the old ways at all. I don't think meeting people through common locations or being introduced by friends is better, but online dating is another choice


Defining a dating scene as a "marketplace" and "meat market" isn't exclusive to online dating. It's not even a new concept. In the 70s there was an entire part of L.A. (Marina del Rey) that was almost exclusively devoted to "single's bars" and discos that were the analog version of OKC. (Think The Regal Beagle.)

Instead, she comes off as a partying, good time girl who promises never to be dull, is hot and looking for a certain type of alpha male. She pretty much covered herself with catnip (for a certain kind of guy), thinking it's repellant.

This is the disconnect for me. There's nothing wrong with being a partying, good time girl, right?

It seems like since match.com bought it, OKC has been skewing younger and the site is being tweaked to cater to those users, at the risk of alienating others. (Maybe with the hopes of moving the 30-somethings to match.com? And maybe the 50-somethings to another site?) Unlike walking down the street, or, you know, simply existing, being a woman on OKC is opt-in.

Teens are leaving facebook, in part because they didn't like the way the user base was skewing. Facebook doesn't seem to care much, and other services have cropped up to fill that void. Maybe more women should leave OKC.
posted by Room 641-A at 11:24 PM on January 8 [3 favorites]


This is the disconnect for me. There's nothing wrong with being a partying, good time girl, right?

No. Assuming every woman is a partying, good time girl is, though.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:35 AM on January 9 [1 favorite]


No. Assuming every woman is a partying, good time girl is, though.

Who' is is assuming every woman is partying, good time girl?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:50 AM on January 9 [2 favorites]


This is the disconnect for me. There's nothing wrong with being a partying, good time girl, right?

Of course not. But the original fake OkCupid post was about a partying, good time woman and created by a woman who wanted to see if men would dislike a seemingly repellent person who likes to party and was up for casual sex.

Unsurprisingly, about 150 men were seemingly interested in partying and potentially having casual sex.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:57 AM on January 9 [1 favorite]


Who' is is assuming every woman is partying, good time girl?

The guys who just send out those spammy "hey baby love your smile" emails to everyone on OKC and don't bother to read the profile.

At least, that is what it feels like they think.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:01 AM on January 9 [3 favorites]


That's your interpretation, and if it feels that way, not responding is the best way to go. Generalizing about all men in OKCupid because of those few messages, though--what does that really get you? Seriously, how is it helpful or productive to do that?

Venting against, for lack of a better word, shallowness in your own inbox, that I can understand. Jumping from there to "just looking for any orifice to stick their dick into," is hateful and sexist.
posted by misha at 9:03 AM on January 9 [2 favorites]


But the original fake OkCupid post was about a partying, good time woman and created by a woman who wanted to see if men would dislike a seemingly repellent person who likes to party and was up for casual sex.

Right. To be clear, my question was to her, not to EC for the interpretation. If there's nothing wrong with it, then why make that trait central to your "negative character's" profile? It seems more like slut-shaming or victim-blaming to me, because why wouldn't a man who wanted casual sex not contact a woman who said they wanted casual sex. I mean, there's a check box for it!

Who' is is assuming every woman is partying, good time girl?
The guys who just send out those spammy "hey baby love your smile" emails to everyone on OKC and don't bother to read the profile. At least, that is what it feels like they think.
I disagree with this. I don't think they assume every woman is, I think they think it's just easier to find them this way. These are dumb people who took the adage "It's a numbers game!" literally. I think there are messages that are personally objectifying and offensive, but those usually contain some specific about your or about what they want to do to you. I think those Nice smile! spam messages have as much to do with me as the spam I get for weight-loss pill, or any junk mail you get IRL. If I recall correctly, when the non-profit I worked for sent out direct mail a 1% return was considered a success. (I do think some of the Hey! messages are are weird IM/app thing that needs to be fixed.)

Oh, I'm perfectly OK with the idea that the site assumes people are starting with looks/photos. I think that's absolutely true, and there's nothing at all wrong with that behavior. Regardless of what I think of your favorite band, the objective here is romance/sex.

So both men and women are basing their initial response on nothing more than a photograph. I think this is mostly normal and unsurprising. It's what happens next that I find fascinating.

A few months ago I excitedly texted a friend because I'd gotten a message from someone I "starred", someone very interesting-sounding, mature, and very handsome. And his message was well-written and interesting, until he got to the part about my "ample breasts." (I don't have any cleavage shots but I can't exactly hide them.) I never replied back. But it made me think about the double-standard: We agree that both men and women are basing their initial selection on looks but mentioning those looks is bad so we play this game where men pretend they didn't notice your looks and we pretend they're not pretending they didn't notice your looks.
posted by Room 641-A at 9:16 AM on January 9 [3 favorites]


I disagree with this. I don't think they assume every woman is, I think they think it's just easier to find them this way. These are dumb people who took the adage "It's a numbers game!" literally. I think there are messages that are personally objectifying and offensive, but those usually contain some specific about your or about what they want to do to you.

Well, not to be all contrary, but I disagree with this. I know that "it's a numbers game and I've gotta do it this way" is their conscious intent - but, I get the feeling that that conscious intent is coming from an unconscious assumption that women are all A Monolithic Groupthink Entity. I mean, anyone who starts with the baseline assumption that people are all unique would understand that "hey, the best way to get to know someone may be to find out a little about their personality, at least what they like and dislike and see if there's some common ground", and would understand that "tell as many women as possible that they look pretty, and then take your pick from the handful that actually respond to that" is the least efficient way of getting to know a person.

So I understand that they think it's a numbers game. But what I'm saying is, the reason why they're thinking this is because they have the mental block in place where they think that "women are all alike and so the same approach is valid for every woman on the planet".
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:25 AM on January 9 [3 favorites]


Generalizing about all men in OKCupid because of those few messages, though--what does that really get you? Seriously, how is it helpful or productive to do that?

It's just another way of being reminded, every minute of every day, that, as a woman, the world doesn't consider you fully human. Another reminder that, as a woman, you are your appearance, and nothing more.

I don't think it's something to get apoplectic about. It doesn't require action on my part (who has time to respond to 10-20 "u so pretty" messages every day?), and I'm not even in the camp who thinks that guys should specifically not do this ever.

But, it's just yet another reminder, grinding me down, every day. A microagression, to use a trendy term.
posted by Sara C. at 9:52 AM on January 9 [4 favorites]


There's a sort of race-to-the-bottom aspect at play as well. If the average response to sending a message, no matter the content, is silence, I can understand limiting your involvement with someone['s profile] to "Hey" or "Nice smile". Why spend 30 minutes crafting a careful message showing that you have read someone's profile and engaging with their interests if it's going to get the same non-response as a one-liner?

(My answer after repeated bouts of non-response to grammatical and friendly messages was to simply stop using OKCupid and complain that It Was Better In The Old Days. But I can understand if not necessarily agree with the "numbers game" approach.)
posted by fader at 11:14 AM on January 9 [2 favorites]


I guess I don't get how the examples you yourself gave are grinding you down or showing that anyone thinks you are not fully human.

EC, I do get where you are coming from a bit more, but I think the Monolithic Groupthink Entity goes both ways here.

I feel like a lot of is are guilty of expecting the opposite sex to read our minds.
posted by misha at 12:22 PM on January 9 [2 favorites]


The grinding-down is in the repetition, the experience of which obviously can't be replicated with a single example, or even a few examples. As for not the world not treating women as fully human: Cf. every sexism thread we've ever had, I guess
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 12:26 PM on January 9 [5 favorites]


EC, I do get where you are coming from a bit more, but I think the Monolithic Groupthink Entity goes both ways here.

Even when I took pains to say that it feels "to me" that this is the mentality on the part of "the guys who do that"?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:51 PM on January 9


OK, just got a message from an interested lady on a dating site this morning. The entire message was
Hello Good morning/
[sic] Since she self-identifies as a devout Christian, this puts a pinhole in the theory that short "Hi"-type messages are trolling for sex (obviously the "U R hot" messages are prob still trawlnets for hookups). (Since I specify that I'm not interested in dating Christians, this also bolsters the theory that short 1st-contact messages didn't read the profile.)

And now that I think about it, most of the 1st-contact messages I get from women are about that long. "Hi, your profile looks interesting" or something similar or longer make up maybe 10% of the contact messages I receive.

I'm thinking now that short messages are most likely/often from someone who is shy about showing too much interest too fast (which can be a kind of vulnerability). If Egmu Schmotts writes "Hi" 100 times, and no one responds, women or men just suck. If Egmu writes a two paragraph description of how your profile matches Egmu's interests, and you don't respond, you have rejected Egmu.

None of which erases the fact that there are a lot of creeps trolling dating sites, and most of the creeps are men. (I have had two women who got freaky enough in their attention to make me nervous - one went so far as to report back to me on my movements through a popular part of the city. So, creeps can be women, too.)
posted by IAmBroom at 6:42 AM on January 10 [3 favorites]


Hello Good morning/

She obviously wants to swipe your AmEx thru her Macy's POS terminal.
posted by 0 at 7:12 AM on January 10


Women drowning in floods everyday, and men argue on behalf of a single drop of rain.

Same as it ever was.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 7:27 AM on January 10 [3 favorites]


None of which erases the fact that there are a lot of creeps trolling dating sites, and most of the creeps are men.

....Then I question the need to remind people of the edge cases.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:38 AM on January 10 [2 favorites]


Endless waves of penis
waving hello

I am drain to their eye. There
water boards my lovespot
Ok, Cupid, I give up
posted by 0 at 7:43 AM on January 10


I mean, anyone who starts with the baseline assumption that people are all unique would understand that "hey, the best way to get to know someone may be to find out a little about their personality, at least what they like and dislike and see if there's some common ground", and would understand that "tell as many women as possible that they look pretty, and then take your pick from the handful that actually respond to that" is the least efficient way of getting to know a person. (emphasis mine)

This is indisputably true. If someone wants to get to know you. What I’m saying is that the guy that sends a U R CUTE message? He doesn't want to get to know you! He doesn’t think his method is an efficient way to get to know someone, he thinks it’s an efficient way to find women who are looking for the same thing.

Like most women, I usually ignore messages from people who don’t interest me, even if they are sincere. It’s not an efficient way to get to know men, but it’s an efficient way to avoid the one or two who will bother you if you politely turn them down. And I feel really bad about it, because I know a lot of decent men who give up on making first contact because it sucks to muster up the courage to contact someone, write a thoughtful message, and never hear from them. (This cycle is actually a very good example of how the patriarchy hurts men, too.) So…. The idiots end up being a very vocal minority, the nice guys are too bummed to write first, and the burden of first contact is ends up almost exclusively on the women. If I never contacted anyone the site would have been almost useless to me.

I signed up for match.com the same time as OKC, around three months ago. I get alerts almost every day telling me I have new messages, or “looks” and whatever else they do, but I’ve never seen a single one because I’m not a subscriber. I can’t even see who sent it. However, I suspect that most of those guys aren’t paying a monthly fee to send out HEY GURL messages. (Nonmembers can’t send messages, either.) I’ve also heard that nonmembers don’t get as many messages because people don’t think you’re serious about meeting people.

In support of my earlier theory that they may be trying to move 30-somethings to match.com, I just saw an ad for a new dating site for 50+ and it is owned by match.com. If I signed back up for a site again I would definitely try the paid match.com subscription instead of OKC. Women have a legal and moral right to not be harassed (and you should report it immediately if you are.) But OKC is a free dating site with a lot of very young users and a reputation for as a pick-up joint. It sounds like the 30-something demo in particular just isn’t a very good fit with the site anymore. I would suggest if you are not satisfied with the kinds of messages you get, or if they are making the site unpleasant to use then find another site, one where the users are looking for something more serious.

(You ≠ EmpressCallipygos specifically!)
posted by Room 641-A at 9:34 AM on January 10 [2 favorites]


What I’m saying is that the guy that sends a U R CUTE message? He doesn't want to get to know you!

Exactly my point.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:37 AM on January 10 [2 favorites]


I thought I'd previewed, but I'd like to emphasize something in my last comment:
Like most women, I usually ignore messages from people who don’t interest me, even if they are sincere. It’s not an efficient way to get to know men, but it’s an efficient way to avoid the one or two who will bother you if you politely turn them down. And I feel really bad about it, because I know a lot of decent men who give up on making first contact because it sucks to muster up the courage to contact someone, write a thoughtful message, and never hear from them. (This cycle is actually a very good example of how the patriarchy hurts men, too.)
posted by Room 641-A at 9:38 AM on January 10 [2 favorites]


Okay, that was glib - I mean, I do understand what you're saying. I think I'm making a tangential point, though, that the guy who thinks that doesn't get that he's basically ruining it for everyone else - because the handful of women who really aren't all that particular about who they pick when it comes to just getting their rocks off is probably not all that big, and the majority of women out there are at least a slight bit more choosy - at least choosy enough to want to feel like "we're going to at least pretend that he isn't only interested my pussy". And so he may be doing an efficient job of finding the small handful of "hell, I don't care, I'm up for a party too" people, but it's pissing off the huge swaths of people who may have also been interested in a casual fling as well, if he had taken even the slightest bit of time trying to at least pretend it wasn't just a zipless fuck thing.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:41 AM on January 10


Ah, okay thanks for clarifying.

Yes, I just restated the same thing. They are ruining it for everyone. I think the days of OKC being a fun dating site with cool and geeky blogs with stats and graphs and charts is long gone. It's interesting that on OKC you can pay for options that let you become more anonymous, while on match you have to pay to become less anonymous. I think they saw that the 20-somethings weren't really going to pay so they've just let it devolve into what it is today, which might also be a good way to get serious people to throw their hands up and pay for a match.com subscription.
posted by Room 641-A at 9:54 AM on January 10 [1 favorite]


....Then I question the need to remind people of the edge cases.

I know I've made my point, but this particular example is a good way to illustrate how the patriarchy hurts men. It's definitely going to be my go-to example next time I have to explain it.
posted by Room 641-A at 9:58 AM on January 10


which might also be a good way to get serious people to throw their hands up and pay for a match.com subscription.

The problem is that everyone on match (per profiles) is of the exact same "I love to laugh YOLO" ilk as the people on OKCupid who do the most crass driveby messaging in my experience. I'm not willing to pay for the privilege of mostly getting "nice smile" type messages when I could have exactly the same signal to noise ratio as a free service which has more users of the type I'm interested in.

If anyone has suggestions for a dating site with a business model similar to match but a userbase similar to OKC, I am seriously all ears as this is something I'm dealing with in a pretty active way at the moment.
posted by Sara C. at 10:28 AM on January 10 [1 favorite]


I know a lot of decent men who give up on making first contact because it sucks to muster up the courage to contact someone, write a thoughtful message, and never hear from them.

I think there's a lot of room fr variety between a 1,000-word essay and "U R cute."

Is it really so traumatizing to put in the tiny amount of effort required to write something as simple as, "I liked your picture, and we both like movies," or, "You have a nice smile, and your dog sounds funny." without a guarantee of a response? Just SOMETHING to indicate that you read the profile and believe that an actual human being exists at the other end and not just a picture?

Isn;t it selling men kind of short to assume they're not capable of something so small without the promise of a reward? What are they, Scooby-Doo or something? I don't think that's true at all.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 10:40 AM on January 10 [5 favorites]


Seconding The Underpants Monster. In fact (okay, full disclosure) it's how I got the guy I've been OKC'ing with for a couple months now to respond ("Hey - just noticed you moved near where I grew up, and you also say you like cheeseburgers. Check [restaurant] out.")
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:49 AM on January 10


Is it really so traumatizing to put in the tiny amount of effort required to write something as simple as, "I liked your picture, and we both like movies," or, "You have a nice smile, and your dog sounds funny." without a guarantee of a response? Just SOMETHING to indicate that you read the profile and believe that an actual human being exists at the other end and not just a picture?

This doesn't seem fair at all. So even when men write the exact kinds of sincere messages we're talking about and they get no responses they're not allowed to feel shitty about putting themselves out there over and over, only to be completely ignored? The men sending those messages, the good guys are also actual human beings.

Isn;t it selling men kind of short to assume they're not capable of something so small without the promise of a reward? What are they, Scooby-Doo or something? I don't think that's true at all.


What? Who is assuming this? We're talking about actual men who are actually sending these messages. They don't want a reward, they want a little common courtesy, once in a blue moon, in the form of a reply that says thanks but no thanks. But we know why women don't do it, it's because of the few assholes who ruin it for everyone. I have no idea why you want to take the piss on the guys who are doing it right instead of the assholes who create this dynamic.
posted by Room 641-A at 11:15 AM on January 10 [1 favorite]


I know a lot of decent men who give up on making first contact because it sucks to muster up the courage to contact someone, write a thoughtful message, and never hear from them.
I think there's a lot of room fr variety between a 1,000-word essay and "U R cute."
Note to self: set up a dating site for straw people.
posted by Room 641-A at 11:17 AM on January 10 [1 favorite]


So even when men write the exact kinds of sincere messages we're talking about and they get no responses they're not allowed to feel shitty about putting themselves out there over and over, only to be completely ignored?

Well, I felt shitty when I wrote a profile that actually indicated things about myself and just got "hey princess" comments in response.

Nothing in my profile indicated (or would ever indicate) that I like being called princess.
posted by sweetkid at 11:28 AM on January 10 [2 favorites]


Microrejection is the term I made up for the little twinge of pain and anxiety and self-doubt that comes whenever I don't get a response, and it very much has affected how much effort I put into my initial-contact emails. I'm an eloquent, charming guy, and I write damned-fine email when I care to, but, damnit, it hurts when I spend time writing something funny and insightful and sensitive, and I see she's visited my profile, and then...silence.

And I do it back, too--I've been told the general etiquette is simply not to respond, not even a polite "no thanks," so as not to encourage stalkers. Should I be sending "No thanks" emails?
posted by MrMoonPie at 11:32 AM on January 10


I would prefer no response to a no thanks.
posted by sweetkid at 11:42 AM on January 10 [3 favorites]


I agree with sweetkid. Admittedly, it feels rude to ignore someone you're not interested in, but who has clearly taken the time to put together a nice message. But the one time someone I initially contacted actually sent me a "not interested" reply, it felt much worse than the ones who I never heard back from, and who I eventually forgot about. So in accordance with the Golden Rule, I never reply to someone unless I'm interested. And only feel slightly guilty about it.
posted by Crane Shot at 11:55 AM on January 10 [2 favorites]


They don't want a reward, they want a little common courtesy, once in a blue moon, in the form of a reply that says thanks but no thanks. But we know why women don't do it, it's because of the few assholes who ruin it for everyone.

That's not my main reason. I never reply because I would strongly prefer no response to a "thanks but no thanks", and I tend to follow the golden rule unless there's a clear consensus that most other people feel differently. Since the guy friends I've talked to mostly share my sentiments, I don't think that I'm universally outvoted here. Although I recognize that some people are very hurt by a non-response, I think more people would be hurt by a "thanks but no thanks", so a non-response is what I will continue to do.

Note: I have sent lots and lots of messages to guys that were never answered, and not once have I ever received a "thanks but no thanks" reply. So I don't think it's a gender thing, it's more of a "attempting politest means of rejection" thing. It just happens more to guys because they tend to send more messages.
posted by randomnity at 11:57 AM on January 10 [1 favorite]


The problem is that everyone on match (per profiles) is of the exact same "I love to laugh YOLO" ilk as the people on OKCupid who do the most crass driveby messaging in my experience. I'm not willing to pay for the privilege of mostly getting "nice smile" type messages when I could have exactly the same signal to noise ratio as a free service which has more users of the type I'm interested in.

But that's just as assumption, right? See, I think of the fee as more of a barrier to entry that keeps away most of the trolls. That's also an assumption, but one I was willing to test for one month. Have you tried the MeFi group on FetLife? I was also going to join that but I didn't get the chance.

(And I wasn't debating whether or not women should respond -- people have different opinions on that -- I was pointing out that we really aren't given a choice because someone might flip out.)
posted by Room 641-A at 11:58 AM on January 10


This doesn't seem fair at all. So even when men write the exact kinds of sincere messages we're talking about and they get no responses they're not allowed to feel shitty about putting themselves out there over and over, only to be completely ignored? The men sending those messages, the good guys are also actual human beings.

I thought your thesis was that the men who once sent detailed, thoughtful messages and then got no reply then resorted to their only alternative, sending “U R Cute” messages. My response to that was confusion over why they didn’t try something in between. They wouldn’t be making such a large investment of their time and emotional energy, but they wouldn’t be guaranteeing themselves the negative or lack of response they get with the “U R Cute” messages. If I’ve misread your premise, then I apologize.

What? Who is assuming this? We're talking about actual men who are actually sending these messages. They don't want a reward, they want a little common courtesy, once in a blue moon, in the form of a reply that says thanks but no thanks. But we know why women don't do it, it's because of the few assholes who ruin it for everyone. I have no idea why you want to take the piss on the guys who are doing it right instead of the assholes who create this dynamic.

The “U R Cute” messages aren’t “a few assholes ruining it for everyone;” they’re the majority. Again, it seems to me that you’re saying that this army of assholes has been turned into assholes by the cruel women who didn’t reply to them. And that they would be turned back into “nice guys” if the cruel women would just start replying to the onslaught of “U R Cute” messages, which don’t deserve common courtesy, because they don’t contain any themselves.

I am having a lot of trouble seeing where you get the idea that I’m taking the piss on guys sending thoughtful messages, when my post suggests more thoughtful messages that guys sending “U R Cute” messages could send if they’re really sincere about making a connection. How could that possibly be directed at guys who are sending thoughtful messages in the first place? If I’d written suggestions for a way people who don’t eat cheese could incorporate more cheese into their diets, would you interpret that as me taking the piss on people who already eat cheese?
posted by The Underpants Monster at 12:25 PM on January 10 [3 favorites]


I would prefer no response to a no thanks.

I was brought up on, "If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything." And since you never know what a stranger is going to think is nice or not nice, especially without the benefit of nonverbal cues, I would also prefer no response.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 12:27 PM on January 10


And honestly, the majority of the messages that are responding only to the picture aren't anything I could muster up something nice to say about.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 12:28 PM on January 10 [1 favorite]


But that's just as assumption, right?

No. I signed up for Match a week or so ago, after having a big "I'm looking for a partner and not a casual thing and maybe I should stop using OKCupid and try a more serious site" come-to-jesus with myself. Pretty much every single profile I saw fit the pattern for "sees this as a numbers game" types.

It's very, very rare that I see someone sending out driveby messages who has a nice photo and a well thought out profile of their own. It's to the point where I'd consider universally blocking all profiles that mention the phrases "hanging out", "Lol" (with that particular orthography), or "I love to laugh".

I find it really weird that everyone is assuming we're just making this shit up and can't possibly have any real lived basis for what we're talking about.
posted by Sara C. at 12:34 PM on January 10 [2 favorites]


The “U R Cute” messages aren’t “a few assholes ruining it for everyone;” they’re the majority.
That the majority of messages are of the U R Cute variety does not imply that the majority of men on OKCupid are sending such messages.
posted by MrMoonPie at 12:40 PM on January 10 [1 favorite]


Uther Bentrazor: "Women drowning in floods everyday, and men argue on behalf of a single drop of rain.

Same as it ever was.
"

EmpressCallipygos: "None of which erases the fact that there are a lot of creeps trolling dating sites, and most of the creeps are men.

....Then I question the need to remind people of the edge cases.
"

Ah, gotcha. Because I'm a man, my experiences are invalid, "edge cases", and my inputs aren't valued.

Same as it ever was, indeed. The two genders talk past each other.
posted by IAmBroom at 1:05 PM on January 10 [1 favorite]


Ah, gotcha. Because I'm a man, my experiences are invalid, "edge cases", and my inputs aren't valued.

The only reason I called it an "edge case" is because you yourself said that this is something that affects women the majority of the time. I wasn't questioning the validity of your claim, I was questioning why you bothered to mention the instances where it happens to men if even you yourself admitted that women bear the brunt of this.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:13 PM on January 10 [1 favorite]


It's obvious that the cause of this disconnect is arseholes who are looking for nothing more than a quick leg-over and who see dating sites as an economical way to achieve that. It's obvious that the solution is that they need to stop doing that. It's also obvious that this problem is merely a subset of the shit that women deal with every day (albeit concentrated because, well, it's easy to be an arsehole on the Internet).

But. Does the 'etiquette' of ignoring people who go to the trouble of putting effort in to writing a thoughtful, genuine response maybe contribute to this specific problem a little bit? Yeah, that sounds like I'm blaming women for the flood of arseholes that swamp the good guys but I don't intend that and can't come up with a way to ask that question without it looking that way. Also, I haven't dived into the world of online dating at all yet so may be more than a little naive. I just can't quite get over the idea that it's acceptable to receive a genuine, thoughtful approach from a person who has taken the time to read a profile, think about whether that indicates there is enough common ground to move forward, drafted a thoughtful message and sent it and just go 'meh' and ignore it. No matter now many angles I look at this from, I can't see that as anything other than rude. Is there something I'm missing here?
posted by dg at 1:43 PM on January 10


When a woman doesn't return my email, I can always hold onto that shred of hope that she just hasn't read it yet, or is still formulating a response, or really wants to answer it but is too shy to, or something, while a "Thanks, but no thanks" is an explicit rejection.
posted by MrMoonPie at 1:50 PM on January 10 [1 favorite]


Well, a very few times I've received "no thanks" responses and I have to say they suck more than no answer, mostly because as said upthread, I've generally detached from the situation and then you're like "oh! thatguyNYC wrote" and open it and it's like "thanks, you're not my type though, hope you find what you're looking for" and it kind of sucks. It doesn't make me blame the guy for writing that, because that's the way he wants to communicate that he's not interested, but it's also why I don't write "no thanks" messages. It's not because "FIE! I care not for the heart of this guy and his thoughtful message! Now let me go preen in a mirror!" It's because I wouldn't want it, and golden rule etc as said upthread.

Also, other reasons I have not responded even when I might have been interested include
1) dating someone else but not long enough to take down profile
2) busy but did not take down profile
3) forgot
4) Really wanted to write a cool response, procrastinated and then something like 1-3 above happened.

Once I saw someone's message on my OKC phone app and started to look at their profile and then the app crashed. When I reopened it, I had like three messages from the guy that were like "What I'm not good enough for you? What's wrong with my pictures" and stuff.

I was like, "uh hi my app crashed, so..." and he was like "haha lol I guess I'm sensitive. Anyway drinks or dinner soon?"

I mean...no? Really?
posted by sweetkid at 1:56 PM on January 10 [2 favorites]


Also a lot of people have active dating profiles but aren't currently making the dating rounds for whatever reason.

It always kills me when I'm away from OKC for a few months and then go back for whatever reason and see a bunch of awesome people who messaged me, who I'd have loved to go out with at the time, but I was too busy/seeing someone else/bogged down with other things/traveling the world/whatever.

A part of me wants to send those folks messages that say, "YOU ARE AMAZING SORRY WE PASSED LIKE TWO SHIPS IN THE NIGHT I HOPE YOU FIND LOVE OR BLOWJOBS OR WHATEVER YOU WERE LOOKING FOR"
posted by Sara C. at 1:59 PM on January 10 [2 favorites]


Re the "no thanks" replies, what are we supposed to say, exactly?

"If you'd bothered to read my profile you'd know it would never work out between us"

?

"You have no personality, sorry"

?

"I'm not physically attracted to your picture"

?

There is just no honest way to send feedback without shitting all over someone needlessly.
posted by Sara C. at 2:02 PM on January 10 [1 favorite]


Also for the record I just got a very nice message that was under ten words.

It met the following conditions:

- Mentioned something about my profile/me as a person rather than just my looks.

- Was flirty without being crass.

- Correct from a spelling, grammar, and punctuation standpoint.

I don't need a New Yorker article. "You seem like a cool person to know" is 100% fine in terms of piquing my interest.
posted by Sara C. at 2:11 PM on January 10 [1 favorite]


But. Does the 'etiquette' of ignoring people who go to the trouble of putting effort in to writing a thoughtful, genuine response maybe contribute to this specific problem a little bit? Yeah, that sounds like I'm blaming women for the flood of arseholes that swamp the good guys but I don't intend that and can't come up with a way to ask that question without it looking that way.

There are always going to be outliers and exceptions in every situation. Their existence doesn't negate the pattern of the curve. When Pegasus flies over, he doesn't make all the horses disappear.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 2:24 PM on January 10 [2 favorites]


There is just no honest way to send feedback without shitting all over someone needlessly.
You write a lot of thoughtful, well-considered comments here. I can't and don't believe that you are incapable of saying 'thanks, but no thanks' politely.

I'm starting to think that online dating sites are going to be much more than my already sensitive to rejection psyche can handle.
posted by dg at 2:31 PM on January 10


I don't know, I kind of prefer to think that the person would be totally into me except they have the flu or are backpacking across the Greek islands or met the love of their life last Thursday.
posted by Sara C. at 2:37 PM on January 10 [3 favorites]


EmpressCallipygos: "I was questioning why you bothered to mention the instances where it happens to men if even you yourself admitted that women bear the brunt of this."

No, nothing at all discriminatory about saying, "women get this problem more than men, so why is a man bothering to talk about your experiences?"

Yuck.
posted by IAmBroom at 2:38 PM on January 10


No, I pretty much agree with Sara C. I mean, there are non-shitty things to say; I got this:
Impressive! However not being a traveler is sort of a deal breaker for me. I am antsy!
Didn't hurt my feelings, didn't make me feel bad, and was in direct response to my admission that I didn't much like world travel. But typically, yeah, an ambiguous non-response is the lesser of two evils. I was mostly doing a sanity check--I do the same in return, so certainly not judging.
posted by MrMoonPie at 2:38 PM on January 10


You write a lot of thoughtful, well-considered comments here. I can't and don't believe that you are incapable of saying 'thanks, but no thanks' politely.

But she and others have pointed out that they don't like getting even very nice, polite rejections, and try to apply the golden rule. There's just no way to win, is there.
posted by rtha at 2:41 PM on January 10 [2 favorites]


It's also not so much that rejections need to be rude, it's just... it's a dating site. At the end of the day, if someone doesn't want to go out with you, it's probably because they're not attracted to you or there is something about you that they don't like.

I don't really need to wallow in "some people on the internet don't want to date me", so I prefer not to get a rejection message, regardless of how politely worded it is.
posted by Sara C. at 2:57 PM on January 10 [2 favorites]


Horses for courses I guess. I'd prefer to get a brief 'yeah, um, no' than sit in the dark, endlessly refreshing into the wee hours of the morning, finally falling asleep with my finger still hovering over the F5 key, with dreams of dying alone in my bed and being discovered mummified years later flitting through the recesses of my mind.
posted by dg at 7:36 PM on January 10 [1 favorite]


Ask versus guess culture, eh?
posted by planetesimal at 7:41 PM on January 10 [1 favorite]



It always kills me when I'm away from OKC for a few months and then go back for whatever reason and see a bunch of awesome people who messaged me, who I'd have loved to go out with at the time, but I was too busy/seeing someone else/bogged down with other things/traveling the world/whatever.


I actually had a guy like this once. I wrote him years after he wrote the first message, seriously years. He was still single so we went out for a bit.

He was really negative and obsessed with Crossfit. It was weird.
posted by sweetkid at 7:52 PM on January 10 [1 favorite]


The Underpants Monster, let me see if I can untangle this:

ME: "This doesn't seem fair at all. So even when men write the exact kinds of sincere messages we're talking about and they get no responses they're not allowed to feel shitty about putting themselves out there over and over, only to be completely ignored? The men sending those messages, the good guys are also actual human beings.

YOU: I thought your thesis was that the men who once sent detailed, thoughtful messages and then got no reply then resorted to their only alternative, sending “U R Cute” messages. My response to that was confusion over why they didn’t try something in between. They wouldn’t be making such a large investment of their time and emotional energy, but they wouldn’t be guaranteeing themselves the negative or lack of response they get with the “U R Cute” messages. If I’ve misread your premise, then I apologize.


No, that isn't at all what I was saying. I was stating a fact: I have spoken to men -- good men, the kind who write sincere thoughtful messages to women -- who actually try to make real connections with people only to hear nothing back almost every single time, and after a while they just get dejected and give up on sending any messages. Maybe you don't realize that most of these guys have no idea why women aren't writing back. It's not that they expect women to respond to every message, or that they actually want a formal rejection message back. They're on a dating site, which is emotionally fraught to begin with, so they assume there is something wrong with them.

The “U R Cute” messages aren’t “a few assholes ruining it for everyone;” they’re the majority.

And I'm saying that I believe they are the highly vocal minority. Because a lot of normal guys have simply given up sending any messages at all.

Again, it seems to me that you’re saying that this army of assholes has been turned into assholes by the cruel women who didn’t reply to them. And that they would be turned back into “nice guys” if the cruel women would just start replying to the onslaught of “U R Cute” messages, which don’t deserve common courtesy, because they don’t contain any themselves.

Honestly, I'm kind of shocked that of all the ways you could have misunderstood what I said you made the worst possible assumptions about my comments, one that wasn't even close to the range of opinions being expressed here. I mean, I even took the time to re-post this part of a comment I'd just made:
Like most women, I usually ignore messages from people who don’t interest me, even if they are sincere. It’s not an efficient way to get to know men, but it’s an efficient way to avoid the one or two who will bother you if you politely turn them down. And I feel really bad about it, because I know a lot of decent men who give up on making first contact because it sucks to muster up the courage to contact someone, write a thoughtful message, and never hear from them. (This cycle is actually a very good example of how the patriarchy hurts men, too.)
I am having a lot of trouble seeing where you get the idea that I’m taking the piss on guys sending thoughtful messages, when my post suggests more thoughtful messages that guys sending “U R Cute” messages could send if they’re really sincere about making a connection. "

It was this part, but I see now this is probably based on your misreading of my other comment:
Isn;t it selling men kind of short to assume they're not capable of something so small without the promise of a reward? What are they, Scooby-Doo or something?
I am going to bow out of this thread completely because I don't have anything else to add to the topic and I certainly don't want to turn this into a derail. Sara C., EmpressCalypigos, good luck on your dates!
posted by Room 641-A at 11:41 PM on January 10


Ask versus guess culture, eh?

There's a reason it's not called "guessing someone out on a date."
posted by Dip Flash at 7:51 AM on January 11 [1 favorite]


In my experience, guessing someone out on a date is what lesbians do.
posted by rtha at 7:59 AM on January 11 [2 favorites]


I can't and don't believe that you are incapable of saying 'thanks, but no thanks' politely.

I tried doing the polite decline for a while, sending out responses that said something like "I don't think we're a match, but thanks anyway and good luck out there". I sent that to several guys. Out of about ten guys I replied to, ONE of them received it gracefully. One of them called me an ugly cunt, which sort of made me laugh, because... dude, come on, you're insulting me because I politely turned you down? I think I see why you're single. Most of the rest of the guys just tried to argue with me about why I didn't think we were a match, which isn't a winning strategy with me -- trying to convince me that I'm wrong about what I like or what I want does not get me interested in what you have to offer, sorry.

The real winner out of all of it, the guy who convinced me that sending polite replies is maybe more trouble than it's worth, was the guy who used his "looking for casual hookups, enjoy all these pictures of my clothed erection!" profile to message me. I was like, "thanks but no thanks, I don't think you're what I'm looking for but best of luck", and what I got back was a two day barrage of long, kind of scary messages from him, on multiple profiles. His whole deal was that he'd tried showing his personality, but women didn't like him and he wasn't getting replies, so he made a second profile geared towards just looking for sex (his words, not mine), and he had much better luck with that so if I didn't like it, maybe it's just because I'm uptight, in which case I should REALLY meet up with him because he can help me get past that. When I didn't respond to that, he started messaging me from his other account. The one that women didn't like. (I could see why they didn't like it, the guy was just plain creepy and it showed.)

I ended up having to block both his profiles because he wouldn't stop messaging me. And now I'm pretty wary of sending replies to guys I'm not interested in, because almost every time I've done that, it's backfired on me.

So, maybe you're one of the guys who can receive rejection gracefully. Kudos to you! However, there are lots of guys out there who are not capable of doing that, and if you message someone and they're not interested, they have no way of knowing if you're going to accept it gracefully, or insult them, or try to argue them out of the way they feel, or get super weird and force them to block you because you won't go away.

If you go into online dating with a thin skin and rigid expectations of the kind of responses you'll get, you're destined to be hurt and disappointed. If you take every unanswered message as a rejection of who you are as a person, then online dating probably is not going to be good for you.
posted by palomar at 8:58 AM on January 11 [5 favorites]


So what's the deal with "loves to laugh"? I see that on women's profiles all the time, along with the following: I have an OKCupid date tomorrow!
posted by MrMoonPie at 1:13 PM on January 11 [2 favorites]


I always loved when men wrote stuff on their profiles like NO CHICKS WITH CATS OR THERAPISTS because I could just ignore those people right off.
posted by sweetkid at 1:39 PM on January 11 [3 favorites]


Those bullet points are all horrible in my opinion Mr MoonPie. No idea why people write stuff like that.

Good luck on the date!
posted by sweetkid at 1:40 PM on January 11 [1 favorite]


Yeah, "love to laugh" isn't so much a red flag for misogyny or anything, it's just strong evidence that the profile's author put absolutely no effort into it.

For the record I also hate cliche non-answers to the Most Private Thing, Friday Night, and Thing People Notice sections. It's like... why did you even join a dating site if you hate online dating so much?
posted by Sara C. at 1:45 PM on January 11 [2 favorites]


All of those things are "no imagination" flags for me. Much like seeing someone say that they're looking for their "partner in crime", or that they want a woman who's as comfortable in an evening gown as she is in jeans. Yawn city. (Although the NO DRAMA thing is kind of a red flag, just because I've had enough experience with people who claim they hate drama and yet somehow they manage to generate a ton of it. But the rest of it is just super boring cliche stuff.)

Good luck on your date, MrMoonPie!
posted by palomar at 2:12 PM on January 11 [1 favorite]


Yeah, "love to laugh" isn't so much a red flag for misogyny or anything, it's just strong evidence that the profile's author put absolutely no effort into it.

For the record I also hate cliche non-answers to the Most Private Thing, Friday Night, and Thing People Notice sections. It's like... why did you even join a dating site if you hate online dating so much?


I think this is a pretty uncharitable reading. I can think of a number of explanations for cliche responses that aren't "hating online dating". Off the top of my head:

1. Describing yourself doesn't come naturally for a lot of people and I think OKC's prompts don't do a very good job at pulling out interesting stuff from those types of folks. And many folks are just not particularly creative in their language or in their lives. They do things that lots of other people do. And they do love to laugh.

2. By it's nature OKC doesn't encourage you or make it easy to see your competition's profiles. So while you see a bunch of people with similar responses they never see that they are in fact similar.

3. Many people are very private or at least wary of revealing things to the entire world. A somewhat hedgy or non-specific profile is a way to explore online dating without making themselves too vulnerable.

I don't dig those generic profiles either. But I think your projections are out of place here.
posted by wemayfreeze at 4:34 PM on January 11 [1 favorite]


In my experience, guessing someone out on a date is what lesbians do.

Rtha, that comment is awfully intriguing. Care to expound on it? I'm curious what you mean.
posted by misha at 4:50 PM on January 11


Describing yourself doesn't come naturally for a lot of people

Describing yourself is like 90% of how online dating works. If you want to do OKCupid you pretty much have to be OK with describing yourself. I agree that this can be intimidating, and I don't necessarily demand that everyone who uses the site be a copywriter or something, but like at least TRY. I see plenty of flat earnest "I'm a school administrator who has two cats and enjoys gardening, Top Chef, and going to the gym" profiles and that's perfectly OK. But if you rebel at the thought of filling out the profile? Sorry, no sympathy, it was your choice to sign up for this website.

By it's nature OKC doesn't encourage you or make it easy to see your competition's profiles.

What? I'd say it's the exact opposite. They have a blog where they do statistical analyses of what works in terms of attracting attention on the site. OKCupid is also easily the most open site when it comes to browsing others' profiles, of any permutation you like, for any reason. In my brief foray into Match, I found it much less flexible for situations like "show me a bunch of straight girls just out of curiosity".

I also find it fucked up that you think a hetero man's profile should be markedly different from a hetero woman's profile, to the extent that dudes who join OKCupid need to spend time checking out "the competition". A profile is a profile is a profile. And "actually fill this out for real" is pretty much a baseline assumption on dating sites. You don't need to do a shitload of research to discover that people on OKCupid who are not you actually bothered to fill out the profile. Hell, the site walks you through the process of making a profile when you sign up. It really could not be easier, and in comparison to most dating sites is one of the most user friendly web experiences I've ever had. My grandmother could make an OKCupid profile.

Many people are very private

Again, making a profile and sharing things about yourself on it in an open and non-obfuscating way is the whole point of the site. If you don't like that, you're welcome to not sign up. When I see profiles that begin, "Oh haha like I'm actually filling this shit out", I think "this person is a tool" and not "poor baby probably is just too stupid to know what the internet is". And even if I did assume the latter, why the hell would I be attracted to someone that dumb?

I view it sort of like the corollary to guys who wear stained t-shirts and gym sandals everywhere and get pissed off when women aren't into them. Talk about patriarchal entitlement.
posted by Sara C. at 4:52 PM on January 11 [3 favorites]


But if you rebel at the thought of filling out the profile?

This is where I lose you. Who are these people that rebel at the thought of filling out the profile? I see very very few profiles like this. Do you think generic profile = hate filling out profile?

I also find it fucked up that you think a hetero man's profile should be markedly different from a hetero woman's profile, to the extent that dudes who join OKCupid need to spend time checking out "the competition".

Where did you get this from? I never said this or anything like it. My comments about generic profiles apply equally to all genders.

When I see profiles that begin, "Oh haha like I'm actually filling this shit out", I think "this person is a tool" and not "poor baby probably is just too stupid to know what the internet is".

I agree. This is not what MrMoonPie was talking about and not what I'm talking about.

why the hell would I be attracted to someone that dumb?

I'm getting the sense that you expect people to put in the effort in their profiles to meet your standards and then get angry when they don't. That's weird to me!

Note: not talking about the men messaging. Only going off MrMoonPie's comment and yours about generic profiles.
posted by wemayfreeze at 5:19 PM on January 11 [2 favorites]



By it's nature OKC doesn't encourage you or make it easy to see your competition's profiles.


It's actually incredibly easy to look at profiles of people that are in the same demographic as you. All you have to do is go to the browse page and put in the gender, age, and location that you want to see. And if you want to see people that would most likely be your actual competition, in that they're the most similar users to you based on your match question answers, your basic age, and your location? Log out of OKC and then go look at the public view of your own profile, assuming that you don't have your profile set to only be viewable by OKC members. Along the right hand side will be links to profiles of people who are very similar to you, but who skew slightly differently in their answers to the various match questions. (You can get to your own profile by going to http://www.okcupid.com/profile/[insert your username here])

As for the generic canned answers... the thing about OKC profiles is that if you don't put in anything for your answer to a profile question, then that section doesn't appear on your viewable profile. For instance, I don't currently have anything filled out for the "6 things I can't live without" section. It doesn't show up as a blank section to anyone who views my profile, that section just doesn't show up at all. Putting in the effort to fill out every answer, which isn't even a requirement to have an active profile, but using mostly generic answers that thousands of other profiles use and that say nothing about what kind of person you actually are is just sad.
posted by palomar at 5:20 PM on January 11


By it's nature OKC doesn't encourage you or make it easy to see your competition's profiles.

Yeah I shoulda been more clear here. It's easy to do if you seek it out but I definitely spent months on the site before I looked at other dude's profiles. You can easily interact with the site entirely without seeing profiles from other people of your gender and I would bet that's lots of folks' experience.
posted by wemayfreeze at 5:29 PM on January 11


Do other dating sites show you profiles that are similar to yours, without your having to seek them out?
posted by palomar at 5:31 PM on January 11


Who are these people that rebel at the thought of filling out the profile? I see very very few profiles like this.

Virtually every profile of a person who just sends me a message that says "Hey" is almost completely blank, and almost every single time will include cliche non-answers to at least some of the questions.

"I love to laugh" isn't a superb example of that, I'll admit -- it's more of a personal shorthand for "didn't even try" profiles, in my own mind.
posted by Sara C. at 12:05 AM on January 12 [2 favorites]


You can easily interact with the site entirely without seeing profiles from other people of your gender and I would bet that's lots of folks' experience.

But why do you need to see profiles of your "competition" in order to discern that you're meant to actually fill out the profile? Is there something special and different about what hetero guys' profiles need to be like that is different from hetero women's profiles?
posted by Sara C. at 12:12 AM on January 12


Because a lot of people have no understanding of what is expected of them when filling these out? Not just men, by the way. It's not that people don't realise they are supposed to fill it out, it's that they don't know what to put there, I think. I don't know how common it is, but I was a bit thrown by being asked to answer a whole lot of questions about myself. Speaking for myself, I spend a lot of work time writing and am very comfortable with it. Writing about myself? Not comfortable at all. Imagine how someone feels if writing isn't something that comes naturally to them. Not trying to make excuses for anyone, just suggesting what the cause might be in at least some cases. Looking at what others are writing would help men get to the light bulb moment of 'oh, yeah, I should actually write something about myself, I guess'.

Is there something special and different about what hetero guys' profiles need to be like that is different from hetero women's profiles?
Honestly, yes, I think there is. I didn't used to, but I do now. My impression is that a 'man seeking women' profile needs to be a lot more polished than the reverse to be effective.
posted by dg at 12:28 AM on January 12 [1 favorite]


Sara C. all my recent comments were going off of MrMoonPie's remark regarding profiles featuring common tropes and your response to that, which seemed to be a tangent off the topic of short messages from men. I haven't been talking about people who literally don't fill out the profile and I didn't sense from your recent comments that you were, either.

I see now that you've been combining the topics in a way that has been confusing to me.

The "common tropes in profiles" topic is basically a derail from the topic at hand so it's probably best to drop it anyway.
posted by wemayfreeze at 12:52 AM on January 12


It doesn't, really. It just needs to be actually filled out.

And also preferably don't send people one word messages.

And a nice picture where I can actually see what you look like would be good, too, but I think that's less of a problem for most people these days.
posted by Sara C. at 12:52 AM on January 12


I dunno; I don't think "throwing together a half-assed profile that tells little to nothing about yourself" and "sending a bunch of one- to two-word messages based on nothing but the recipient's picture" are such unrelated topics. They're both ways to waste yours and everyone else's time on a dating site by failing to put any thought or effort into the experience. Obviously I don't have any way to obtain data on whether it's the same people doing those two things, but even if it's not they'rre very similar actions.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 12:39 PM on January 12


MrMoonPie: I have an OKCupid date tomorrow!
Hope she shows up! (The number of times I've been stood up... )
posted by IAmBroom at 1:03 PM on January 12


Per Jezebel; Man Poses As Woman On Online Dating Site; Barely Lasts Two Hours
posted by corb at 6:26 AM on January 14 [1 favorite]


I was stating a fact: I have spoken to men -- good men, the kind who write sincere thoughtful messages to women -- who actually try to make real connections with people only to hear nothing back almost every single time, and after a while they just get dejected and give up on sending any messages. Maybe you don't realize that most of these guys have no idea why women aren't writing back. It's not that they expect women to respond to every message, or that they actually want a formal rejection message back. They're on a dating site, which is emotionally fraught to begin with, so they assume there is something wrong with them.

Also, this is kind of classic Nice Guy. Look, sometimes "good men, who write sincere, thoughtful messages to women", suck as a potential partner. Maybe they're still living in their mother's basement with ten disabled incontinent cats (#truestory). Maybe they're sporting a hunchback and a Groucho Marx moustache. Maybe they've included some version of a "no fatties!" or "no crazy chicks!" on their profile.

If you are a guy, and your well written messages are getting no responses, then maybe there is something wrong with these guys - either with their profile, or themselves. And honestly, I think it would do the world a wonder if men would start acknowledging that maybe women who don't want to date them may actually have a good reason, and they need to work on improving themselves in order to get a partner, rather than it being all the woman's job.
posted by corb at 6:34 AM on January 14


Dating is a two-way street. Women and men can suck at writing replies and still be awesome people, too. Attraction definitely plays into this, and we all can agree, I think, that the self-assessments and the correspondence are only part of the whole profile, while a picture counts for a lot, too.

Rating guys for how they initially message you is not really any better than grading women on their initial photo attractiveness. In both cases, you are making snap judgments based on limited data. This is part of the weeding-out process. If it works for you, great.

But though you feel justified in stereotyping all those guys because of a few rotten eggs that lived up (down) to your expectations, you are still guilty of stereotyping. If you would have no problem with someone stereotyping you on similarly arbitrary criteria (I don't reply to girls who make faces in their profile pics, or wear the color blue, or weigh over 100 pounds) then that's also great. You are not guilty of going by a double standard.
posted by misha at 12:01 PM on January 14


In both cases, you are making snap judgments based on limited data.

It's dating. Internet dating. How else is it supposed to work? (Genuine question, as I have never internet dated, and all my previous dating experience basically was me getting together with friends/friends of friends.) Do you message back everyone who messages you in order to *not* make snap judgements or rely on previous experience, stereotyping, etc.? If you send someone a nice "thanks but no thanks" message after they've sent you a "hi" message, and then they write back to ask you why not, how long are you supposed to keep that correspondence up?
posted by rtha at 12:10 PM on January 14 [3 favorites]


Rating guys for how they initially message you is not really any better than grading women on their initial photo attractiveness.

When people put up their photo it is basically supposed to be "Hey here is one data point about me which, along with others, can help you determine if you think we'd be a match." When people are messaging each other, they've already (supposedly) gotten past the "I think we might be a match" place and over to the "I am trying to make a connection" point.

If the way you try to make a connection fails to make a connection with a person you are trying to make a connection with, then you are actually bad at communicating. If you put up a photo and other people don't like it, well that's actually the purpose of the photo.

If anything it sounds like the people described (men, in this case) are doing is using the messaging feature to cast a wide net of "Hey you're female which is all the criteria that I need to get to the 'I want to make a connection' point. Hi." and I think other people are assuming that by the time you've gotten around to messaging someone, there's more of a connection than just "You're in my age/gender preference" or whatever it is.
posted by jessamyn at 12:11 PM on January 14 [6 favorites]


rtha, honestly, I don't know. I don't have any good answers because I have never internet dated either. Like I said, everyone has to figure out what works for them, but there's no harm in being mindful as you are doing that. Probably good to explore your own reasons for picking and rejecting every once in a while, anyway. Introspection is helpful if things stop working for you, too.

That Jezebel link above is surprisingly good, and kudos for the guy for going that route. He will have a bit more empathy for what the women on dating sites deal with now. I feel like that's a good outcome.

Can anyone speak to this comment on Jezebel, by the way:

But also the big problem for guys dating online is the massive amount of fake women out there who are really people trying to scam you into this or that fake dating site, porn site, or just trying to social-engineer information out of you as part of some scam.

Is that true in your experience, internet dating guys?

Oh, and the comments are mostly okay, and some are awesome, but they also contain some really ugly stereotyping of Indian men. Ugh.
posted by misha at 12:24 PM on January 14


Maybe they're still living in their mother's basement with ten disabled incontinent cats (#truestory). Maybe they're sporting a hunchback and a Groucho Marx moustache. Maybe they've included some version of a "no fatties!" or "no crazy chicks!" on their profile.

Or maybe they're perfectly normal, but you just don't want to have sex with them. Which is totally fine.

I hate the idea that, by taking three minutes to write a substantive message that shows that you actually see me as a person, I am now required to want you, and if I don't, that obviously means there's no point and thus all women should be punished with messages that say "sup".
posted by Sara C. at 12:33 PM on January 14 [4 favorites]


But though you feel justified in stereotyping all those guys because of a few rotten eggs that lived up (down) to your expectations, you are still guilty of stereotyping.


I would just like to say that the last time I was on OKC, which was over five and a half years ago, I got several unsolicited photos and comments from this current News of the Weird figure: the Swiss Cheese Man. (So yes. That's over half a decade of this dude sexually harassing ladies on the internet and in person.) I have never found a guy who has dated online with a horror story that has come even close. I have never found a woman who has dated online who has ever doubted the story. I basically needed brain bleach to recover from him so yeah: I became very, very strict in the messages I responded to. Because I used to like swiss cheese.
posted by jetlagaddict at 12:33 PM on January 14 [1 favorite]


Rating guys for how they initially message you is not really any better than grading women on their initial photo attractiveness.

Two thoughts about this:

1. Sending someone a message is an action. It's perfectly appropriate to judge a person based on the things they do.

2. Nobody is opposed to men "grading" women on photo attractiveness. Nobody has a problem with the fact that people on dating sites decide who they're attracted to via looking at the photos people post. That's part of how dating sites work. Just as sending messages is part of how dating sites work.
posted by Sara C. at 12:36 PM on January 14 [4 favorites]


Jessamyn, just saw your comment above and agree pretty much with everything you've said. I do think that some people are more visual while others are more about the written word, though.

I'm a reader and a writer and so of course that's important to me. I don't really understand non-readers but they certainly exist and I am not sure that the majority of people on OKCupid are reading through profiles completely before reaching out with that initial email.

If you asked me, I'd say that they should be doing that, but then I think everyone should visit the links and read the threads before commenting here, and we know everyone doesn't always do that, either.

So, yeah, these guys are casting that wide net. Maybe because they're just looking for sex, or maybe they are taking shortcuts to weed people out. If they don't get a response, they don't read the profile.

Obviously, it is not a tactic that is working for them, either way.
posted by misha at 12:38 PM on January 14


Is that true in your experience, internet dating guys?

Can't speak for guys, but I still get messages (after something like 5 years) from a woman I once messaged on OKCupid who, I came to realize after several months of "hey so do you still want to meet up....?" messages, was either not a real person or was out for something beyond what most people turn to OKCupid in search of.
posted by Sara C. at 12:42 PM on January 14 [1 favorite]


though you feel justified in stereotyping all those guys because of a few rotten eggs that lived up (down) to your expectations, you are still guilty of stereotyping.

We are talking about a dating website here, right? A degree of discrimination that might be pernicious to live one's life by suddenly seems much less so when the whole point is to find someone to whom you are attracted. It's a little ridiculous to criticize people for using data provided to them to distinguish between those to whom they might or might not be romantically attracted, whether that data is visual or verbal, when that is the point of the being on the website.
posted by octobersurprise at 12:50 PM on January 14 [2 favorites]


That Jezebel link was an interesting read and it looks like an interesting experiment. I've wondered about the geographical context too. I've spoken to a statistically insignificant (maybe 10 or so) women about the harassment of women that often comes up on MeFi and have yet to find one that had said anything other than a variant of 'no, that's not my experience at all - while there are a few creeps around, most men are fine and don't do that shit'.
posted by dg at 1:13 PM on January 14


Rating guys for how they initially message you is not really any better than grading women on their initial photo attractiveness. In both cases, you are making snap judgments based on limited data. This is part of the weeding-out process. If it works for you, great.

Well... how else am I supposed to rate someone who contacts me via an internet dating site? I have only the information they've decided to share with me in that medium. If they've got a decent picture up, but their profile is barely filled out or only filled out with the boilerplate non-informational answers discussed earlier in this thread, AND the only message they send me says something like "Hi" or "LOL your profile is funny", then I've got only a couple of options: write back and try to coax an actual conversation out of them on the very minimal information they've given me, or ignore in favor of someone who actually filled out some info on their profile regarding what they're into and who they are as a person, and whose first message to me went a little further than "Hi" and maybe actually referenced something they read in my profile about what I like and who I am.

With online dating, you are your profile/first contact. Putting zero effort into either is sort of akin to showing up at a meet-market bar wearing ratty sweats and glaring at everyone.
posted by palomar at 1:28 PM on January 14 [2 favorites]


I've spoken to a statistically insignificant (maybe 10 or so) women about the harassment of women that often comes up on MeFi and have yet to find one that had said anything other than a variant of 'no, that's not my experience at all - while there are a few creeps around, most men are fine and don't do that shit'.

Definitely - both on OKC and in daily life, I think almost everyone would agree that "most men are fine" at least with regard to major, obviously creepy stuff. But even a single wormy apple can make you wary of blindly biting into another apple without checking it out carefully first. I haven't encountered anyone (female) who's never been bothered by a creep online - it sounds like your friends have run into a few as well.

I'm sure the number of creeps encountered does depend on things like local culture/size of online dating community as well as attractiveness and how often you reply - I never reply if I get a sketchy vibe from someone's profile and I never send rejection letters, and there's no doubt that's saved me some creepy/hostile messages.
posted by randomnity at 2:13 PM on January 14 [1 favorite]


So, if someone was interested in experimenting with this a bit and was looking for a photo of a 52 year-old woman (with no suitable friend or other to donate one), where would such a person look for a photo that doesn't have strings attached and risk having the subject of said photo horribly embarrassed?
posted by dg at 12:31 AM on January 15


i would suggest using a photo of a foreign politician and/or celebrity.
posted by empath at 2:00 AM on January 15 [2 favorites]


But also the big problem for guys dating online is the massive amount of fake women out there who are really people trying to scam you into this or that fake dating site, porn site, or just trying to social-engineer information out of you as part of some scam.
Massive is an exaggeration, but it does happen. It's usually pretty obvious.
posted by MrMoonPie at 9:00 AM on January 15


Decided to go with a not-real-face firstly. Just got the first 'nice smile' message a bit over 12 hours after setting the profile up. Two profile views, five messages ...

The profile linked above is identical to my own, with only one word changed. It was only initially filled in briefly with no real though to attracting people.
posted by dg at 4:00 PM on January 15 [2 favorites]


Hmm. You do say you are only looking for friends, though. I wonder if that makes a difference?
posted by misha at 11:43 PM on January 15


Oops, that's a mistake. Now fixed - should have been friends, short term dating and long term dating.
posted by dg at 3:42 AM on January 16


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