Life Lessons Learned from OkCupid

I never thought I'd try online dating, but then again, I never thought I'd end up in business rather than in equine surgery either. Since the latter was one of the best decisions I've ever made, I'm coming to realize that the things we're adamantly against can become some of the most rewarding things we try.

Given that, here are 35 takeaways (in no particular order) from my adventures on OkCupid:
  1. According to statistics, 80-90% of all messages are completely ignored. If you do better than that (i.e. more responses), you've beaten the odds
  2. Gut reactions can tell you a lot about a person. If your immediate reaction to a profile is, "They could be an asshole," but then after a second reading, you determine you actually like them, when you meet them, chances are you'll go back to the "asshole" vibe
  3. Contrastingly, if you get a "This is a genuinely awesome person" vibe (emphasis on the "genuinely"), that'll probably be true
  4. It's never a good idea to tell someone on a first date, "I like the sound of my own voice.
  5. Similarly, comments that promote rape culture, such as "You're going to be really fun to f**k," are never a good idea and will not be tolerated. Even if they're intended innocently-enough as talking dirty (and likely are lines pulled from porn), they perpetuate both the objectification of women and rape culture, come across as not respectful, and will leave an impression of "I feel used" rather than "Around you, I feel sexy and adored." Short version: respectful talk = sexiest talk
  6. When it comes to money, some people are "stuff" people and others are "experience" people. Generally, you get along better with those that align with your perspective on spending
  7. Per above, if we spend 40 minutes talking about your sense of fashion and grooming habits, the odds of us working out aren't good
  8. You never know who will try online dating. I've easily met some of the most fascinating people I've ever met in the past few months--people I never would have expected to try online dating. You never know why someone will be single, so if that's your reasoning for not trying it, either look at yourself (because really, you're awesome and single too, right?), and/or get over it
  9. The perfect message is a combination of humor, intrigue, and a good question. The percentage of each completely depends on the person - sometimes you get it right, sometimes you don't
  10. If you don't get a response, don't take it personally. People get busy, online dating is surprisingly time consuming, and they may have met someone before you that swept them off their feet. Don't let it get to you
  11. The number of people out there that could be a fit for you is pretty incredible. While you feel like there may be a shortage when it comes to people in your "circle," it's quite likely that you'll have the opposite problem online
  12. Some people will look for the best in everyone. Other people will look for the worst. It's up to you to decide what you want (or, at worst, can tolerate) in someone you date
  13. For your profile to be the most attractive to those you want to attract, it has to be an online version of you. If you're playful, make it playful. If you're intense, make that clear. Play with it until it feels good to you - this is your chance to try it out with people you'll (likely) never run into in person-- and once it's right, it's right. It took me about three tries to make it "me," and once it did, it switched from attracting people I wasn't necessarily into to those that I was
  14. Talk to people first to sort out the crazy. Some people you jive with, others give you you weird vibes. While it may sound hippie, pay attention to the vibes. They're scarily accurate
  15. Conversation should come easily. If it's forced, it's probably not a good fit
  16. OkCupid's algorithms tend to be pretty good. If it's a 90%+ match rate, chances are you'll have a great conversation, whether it's romantic or platonic. Below 80% and you're better off ignoring it
  17. Sometimes ignoring is better than responding. This one took me a while to get (if someone put thought into a message, I wanted to reply, regardless of if I was into them or not), but replying to someone gives hope and not replying can be easier to justify for the other person
  18. When you make the jump to meeting someone in person, meeting in public is always a good decision. Let your friends know where you are going, who you are meeting, and what to do if they don't hear from you (safety first!)
  19. You don't want a first date to feel like a job interview. Yes, it's nerve-wracking, but either get a hold of yourself or think about questions to ask ahead of time. One sided conversations are really awkward
  20. The friends you are introduced to are completely dependent on what the other person wants to know about you. Yes, those friends will be asked to give input on you
  21. What you think you want and what you actually want may be different things
  22. Shiny, perfect profiles may be hiding something. Genuine profiles tend to belong to those that are confident and secure enough in themselves to not need a hidden agenda
  23. Similarly, don't try to be a version of yourself to those that you meet. Phony is easy to see through, whereas vulnerability is really attractive
  24. As a part of your dating process, you need to decide which aspects of yourself you want your date to bring out and which you'd rather lay dormant. If you play things out mentally with that person, what do you want your life to look like? Where does this person fit in? Who will you be with them? Do you like the person you see yourself being because of them? Regardless of if you're looking for someone for a few weeks or a few decades, these are essential questions you need to answer
  25. Honesty is the best policy. It takes a crazy amount of courage to do, but you will never regret being upfront with someone
  26. Rejection can be wonderful. It makes you both self-assess and get over yourself, plus each time you get rejected builds a little more of your resiliency muscle. Hello real world lesson
  27. It can take a few dates to "get" a person and feel out if they're a fit for you
  28. No matter what someone does, you don't owe them anything because of something they've done. If they're not a fit, get over your guilt complex
  29. If a lady insists to pay for herself (versus the classic reach-for-her-wallet-and-then-when-you-offer-she'll-ask-a-variation-of-"you sure?"-followed-by-a-grin-and-a-genuine-"thank you"), let her pay. It's probably her way of not wanting to owe you anything if she'd not interested in a second date, so you not letting her isn't going to do you any favors
  30. While similar, "I had a great time with you" and "I enjoyed myself" have completely different meanings. One may lead to a second date, one will not
  31. You shouldn't have hesitations at the beginning of a relationship. If you do, chances are something that you haven't yet determined is off
  32. That said, don't look for things that aren't there. Sometimes it's easy to come up with excuses for why someone isn't a good fit, when really, you're just scared of what you're starting to feel
  33. The stories we tell say more about us than the qualities we use to describe ourselves. If you want someone that's caring and self-aware, look for positive stories about past relationships and admittance of fault. If you know jealousy and being controlling are deal-breakers for you, listen for hints of those in the stories that you are told
  34. The more creative the date, the more likely you are to transfer that creativity to the way you view the person
  35. (the cliche) You never know until you try