Lara Torii downloads us on what it’s really like to use dating site OkCupid and shares her online dating tips
During a post-dinner group discussion on the landscape of modern dating, our college mentor and her husband admitted their fascination with 20-somethings and online dating. “When they were our age,” they met potential matches through friends, and the concept of online dating was completely foreign (despite the start of social media sites like MySpace and Asian Avenue). As the conversation continued, everyone weighed in on their personal experiences with dating sites and apps. Lara brought a unique perspective to the group as she’s a girl looking for girls on OkCupid. Here she gives The Single Diaries the ins and outs of her experience with the site, and offers her top tips for using OkCupid and for online dating.
I joined OkCupid last year while I was traveling in Asia. After being abroad for two years and a long-distance break-up, it was interesting to hear that online dating had somehow become trendy. Several friends told me they had good experiences with OkCupid, so I set up my profile. I didn’t intend to date anyone halfway around the world, but I was looking forward to slowly getting myself out in the dating world.
OkCupid (or OKC) is set up similarly to Facebook, which some may find to be a turn-off, but I didn’t let that faze me. I dutifully set up my “about” page, my photos, my details. Then there are the Questions. These Questions delve deeper into your habits, psyche and preferences. The Questions range in topic. How important are politics to you? Do you like to cuddle? What are you looking for in your next relationship? How often do you brush your teeth? After you answer each question, you can indicate what answers you will accept from potential matches and how important it is to you that they answer in that way. These questions and my answers are visible to other users under a tab on my profile.
When browisng other people’s profiles, they show you a compatibility percentage based on your answers. For example, I am 86% compatible with this girl, but only 45% compatible with this one. This function is helpful to narrow down the sheer volume of OKC users. It also means that OKC sends me personalized matches each week—another way to interact with the site without necessarily having to check in everyday.
After being on the site for a few months, here’s what I’ve learned from my experience on OKCupid… and what I recommend to anyone looking to start online dating.
Three Lessons I’ve Learned From Online Dating
1. Online dating is a great supplement.
Some of my friends who don’t use online dating sites have said that they would rather dating happen more “organically.” I can understand that. Especially with a site like OkCupid, where I don’t necessarily have mutual friends with other users, I never know where potential matches are coming from. But the way I see it, OkCupid is like the random bar or coffee house or club or wherever people meet each other these days. Sure, going up to people in person to introduce yourself is a lot different from sending a message to introduce yourself, but they both involve thought, risk-taking and communication.
I don’t go out all that often and living in a spread-out city like L.A., it’s fun to have another platform to meet people. When I was in Asia, I clearly stated where I was on my OKC profile, so the messages I received from other girls mainly led to interesting conversations. One of the details on the OKC profile also asks what kind of relationship you’re looking for. At that time, I answered ‘new friends.’ Now, I have ‘new friends’ and ‘short-term dating’ marked.
OkCupid is a nice little supplement in my dating life. I especially appreciate that I was able to start talking to new girls while I was abroad. It felt like practice! I was still nervous when I finally went on my first OKC date upon returning to the US but, because I had already been putting myself out there, I knew I would be okay.
2. It’s not personal.
I’ve sent plenty of messages that have gone unanswered. At first, it was a little disheartening. I mean, I spent a good five minutes just trying to decide whether or not to send a message and then another good five minutes deciding on what to say and then… nothing! But as time went on, I found myself also leaving messages unanswered. For me, sometimes it was because I just didn’t have time and space, both physically and mentally, to respond. Other times it was because I just wasn’t interested. In those instances, I always wonder if I should say something to acknowledge that person’s reaching out. But usually, all I can think of to say is “thanks but no thanks” which doesn’t sound very nice, so I just let silence do the talking.
Which all leads back to lesson number 2: it’s not personal. At the end of the day, it is an electronic message. Heck, I don’t even answer all my emails sometimes! Don’t take it personal, guys.
3. Know yourself, and stay true to yourself.
No, I don’t want to be the third party for the woman looking for someone to please her hubby. Nor am I interested in someone in Iowa. But, hey there are a lot of cool and different people out there! Being on OkCupid has reminded me that I am also a cool and different person. I have a lot to offer. I tend to think of OKC as a form of self-expression and as such, whenever I look at my profile again, I automatically and quickly reflect on whether my profile is being true to myself in that particular moment. I’ve only changed my profile picture and details one or two times since joining but, if I stay on the site over time, I know I will shake things up accordingly since I am a creature of change!
I’ve been out with a couple girls now and they have all had different outcomes, no matter our compatibility percentage. One girl and I hit it off right away, but later decided to keep our relationship at friendship. Another date just wasn’t right at all. Another girl and I started with friendship in mind and have kept it that way. Through these experiences, I’ve realized that I really have to know myself. I’ve had to make sure that I am being myself, as much as I can, online. Sure, other people will interpret my profile and messages as they will, but I think that if I’m as real as I can be, that will attract better matches into my OKC world. At the end of the day, a percentage based on multiple choice answers isn’t going to determine anything—it’s my heart and mind that will.
For now, OkCupid is fun. The site provides a lot of different functions. I use them according to my mood. Sometimes I don’t feel like reading profiles and just want to judge people based on how they look (yes, I said it; we all do it). Other times, I do like to go through profiles because people can be creative and have interesting things to say. I’m not expecting to find my 100% match, but it’s been great to go on some fun dates and meet people. If someone like me, someone who has been out of the dating scene for several years, can get out there and have a good time, then anyone can!
Lara’s 5 Tips for Using OKCupid
- Fill in as much of the profile and answer as many questions as you are willing and able to. This will help OKC send you better matches.
- Give people ratings. Then OKC will see what kind of profile you are attracted to.
- Refine your search when browsing profiles. You can specify everything from location and age range, to whether or not they smoke and height.
- Look at your visitors tab. Those people were compelled to click on your photo and may be worth checking out.
- Just send that message.
Lara’s 5 Tips for Online Dating
- Convey yourself in a way that is true to yourself, not because you think people will be attracted to a certain way of expression.
- Get your friends to look at your profile. They will tell you if your profile can be interpreted in any way other than what you intend.
- Be confident! Your presence is important and special. You have a lot to offer!
- Stay safe. Use a user name, don’t give out personal information like place of employment, address, birthday, etc. When you meet people for the first time, do it in a public place like a coffee shop or restaurant and tell your friends/family where you will be.
- Have fun! We are young and free and need to enjoy the here and now.
Have you used OkCupid? Share your experience with us!
Lara Torii is enjoying life in L.A. after being in Asia for two years. She is wide open to the many possibilities the future holds.