An OkCupid Retrospective

Laters, OkCupid

UPDATE – Strongly tempted to go against my better intentions and continue this blog after all. I’m bored without. Keeping myself entertained vs not looking like a massive wally? Tough call :-/

A little over a year ago, I stood in my flat, heart palpitating, palms clammy. I gave myself a pep talk. I downed a shot. I was psyching myself up for my first ever internet date.

As luck would have it, the date went well. We talked some rubbish. Gradually, our nerves dissipated and we began to talk marginally less rubbish.Β He leaned in to kiss me at closing time. By which I mean, he leaned in with the intent of kissing me, the barmaid shrieked “Closing time!” and we both jolted backwards as though discovering a bad case of mutual halitosis. But we saw each other again. And then I ditched him for someone else I thought would be a better bet.

This is the problem with online dating. With such a candy-store of possibilities, there’s always the suspicion that what you have can be upgraded. It may be that your upgrade, like mine, ends up sending you a dodgy answerphone message in which he’s audibly pleasuring himself. But it’s a scenario frequently encountered. You like the person you’re dating; they’re dating someone else who is better and hotter and cooler and thinner and an altogether shinier prospect than you.

In May 2010, when I was a newbie, I thought OkCupid had the goods. Fit men, funny men, buff men, brainy men; musicians and firefighters and stockbrokers and comedians and many such men who didn’t need to resort to online cyphers. Sure, there were plenty of crazies,Β but no more than you’d find on the average bus.

Initially, I applied the scattergun approach. This resulted in a series of godawful micro-dates rendered bearable only through tequila. There was the guy whose hot-pink cocktail was taller than he was. There was the guy who insisted on dragging me into a Soho sex shop to observe the biggest dildo in the world. And there was the guy I’ve subsequently christened ‘seventeen seconds’, which luckily has nothing to do with what you think.

That stuff is relatively amusing to recount. Less amusing are the ones who seemed promising at the time. Whenever this happened, I had a horrible tendency to put my eggs in one basket. It was always fantastic until the eggs got smashed by a gigantic rock-hard turd.

I enjoyed OkCupid as much more than a ‘means to an end’. But if I’m honest, I was hoping for that end in the same way that a writer wants a book deal. The only people I know who found meaningful relationships on OkCupid are the ones who found meaningful relationships while simultaneously dating me. On the plus side, I got talking to some dirty old men in Arizona, so I guess everyone’s a winner.

It’s been fun, but it’s time to go. Online dating encourages you to ricochet from one person to the next; a kind of Brownian motion of emotions which every now and again you need a break from. I plan on sourcing my next man from the real world. Sleazy old men attempting to grope my bum by the cash machine? Bring it on.

In the meantime, I’m young, free and untethered; in possession of a duvet nobody’s going to hog and unlikely to be subject to a Dutch oven. What could be better in life than a fart-free sleeping arrangement? Especially coupled with the fact that you never know who might be just about to come your way.

This will (probably) be my final post. I will miss this blog; thanks to everyone for all your input and feedback. New creative venture coming soon (check back for the link). In the meantime, you can contact me at If you’re sticking with OkCupid, I wish you all better luck than I had.


About Abi Millar

British freelance journalist living in the Netherlands
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34 Responses to An OkCupid Retrospective

  1. jonathan says:

    I truly enjoy your writing. It looks like you learned a lot from OkCupid despite hating the shit out of it in the end. It’s good to move on when you know you may not get anything else out of it. I’m happy to know that I look completely normal compared to those weird dates you went on. I’ll sign back onto the service taking what I’ve learned here to see if anything can materialize. It may or may not work out, but it’s not the be all, end all of meeting people. So it’ll be all good in the hood. I wish you luck and await your next creative venture.

    • Abi Millar says:

      Thanks – good luck to you too. I think it can definitely pay off for some people if you give it a fair shot. If you avoid dragging a girl into a (gay) sex shop on a first date, you’ve definitely cleared the first hurdle!

      • jonathan says:

        what the what. how is that something to do? man that guy was like, well if she goes for this, she’s the one. so it just wasnt meant to be….

  2. ZAK says:

    Congrats on a year and out Abi.
    This is exactly the reason I closed out my account, and subsequently closed out my facebook account. It encourages the wrong kind of approach, thinking and expectations.
    With OKC the situation is as you describe, the in-person meeting of people and the possibility of a relationship takes real effort as well as risk. I think it’s exactly that heightened engagement that make the connections solid, durable, worth-while.
    As for facebook, while it’s a great tool for keeping in touch with mates from afar it also encourages the wrong kind of behavior. Instead of calling up friends and having a real conversation you can simply browse their latest updates, like some, then carry on oblivious to how they are thinking or feeling. Friendship by proxy in tweet sized doses.
    Is that what passes for someone we want to call a friendship?

    No, I much prefer real life, real connection, and real companionship. So I’ve taken a small behavioral step and disconnected from the popularly beloved social networking sites.
    We’ll see if the experiment works.


    • ZAK says:

      egad. Pardon my terrible proof reading, hopefully the intent still comes across. Damned no edit functionality…

    • Abi Millar says:

      Yeah – it’s definitely worth a shot! Social media can be great if used judiciously but they always seem to encourage a kind of shallowness of connection. Which isn’t a great way of expressing it, but you know what I mean. Online dating encourages things to move too fast; there’s always so much distraction there’s never time to put down deep roots or to invest too heavily in any one relationship. Oh, and don’t get me started on Twitter…

  3. Mark says:

    It was a great blog while it lasted… I look forward to your next ones πŸ™‚

    Good luck in your future blogs and love!

    • Abi Millar says:

      Thanks very much; I’m going to miss it. Best of luck to you too (let me know if you do ever find that winning format for a copy-paste message!)

      • Natalie says:

        He already had it with the Duke Nukem lines πŸ˜€

        I do wonder if I’ll reach exactly the same conclusions as you a year from now, but glad you’ve had fun πŸ™‚ Good luck Abi!

  4. Nick says:

    A sex shop? You’re quite right, not first date material, wait for the third date, at least! It’s only polite.

  5. Ilya says:

    Abi, don’t lose faith in our gender. We’re getting better, I swear. I know you’re fond of your British heritage and in particular its drinking culture, and if not for your fabulous writing I’d be only reading the blog for those bits of Britannia[*] but would you like to tell your kids in the not so near future (ok, ok, so it’s sooner than you think)– anyway, would you like to tell your kids you met dad getting buzzed in a pub? They probably wouldn’t have pubs in the future, and your kids will pronounce “pub” with a horrid American accent cause they’ve only seen it in the movies.

    * Is that how you call the British Americana?

    • Ilya says:

      P.S. Love the Mad Men avatar-maker-artwork!

      Here’s my own one, dedicated to one of the top 10 nightmares young adults around the world are having:

    • Abi Millar says:

      Hmmm. But that rules out a major player in the triumvirate of options. At work, friend of friend, and in a pub really are our only three. How do you do it elsewhere? I don’t want to be condemned to doing evening classes as penance for being single.

      What’s happening to pubs in the future and do I want to live in this dystopia? I’d almost rather live our your Mad Men nightmare…

      • Nick says:

        God, that’s depressing.

        You see I am not entirely convinced by online dating these days, so let me consider the options that you present.

        Work – non-starter for me, the rate of churn is such I’d still be seeing them twenty years from now if things didn’t work out, and some friends elsewhere are being hit with US style no relationship clauses. I think there’s a saying, not to dip your pen in the company inkwell.

        Friend of friend – possible, but complicated, still not a reason not to try, but the dynamics can be awful.

        Pub – when I was at uni, perhaps, when everyone was doing it.

        This begs a question though, are there any such places as singles bars in London? I’ve never looked for one, because I think they would, if they exist, be truly hideous, but am curious.

        I’m not sure these options are much better than joining a book group, or taking up amateur dramatics – ugh!

        • Abi Millar says:

          The whole evening class thing strikes me as so cringey. What if you want to spend your free time doing things you yourself enjoy, alone, or hanging out with existing friends? It’s good if you have ‘hobbies’ that are inherently sociable (I’m going to join a running club for my part) but otherwise it’s an ordeal you put yourself through on the basis that you *might* meet someone you like. Might as well cut to the chase and try online dating!

          Obviously most girls get chatted up a fair bit, but then difficulty is finding someone who is looking for more than a temporary diversion. I’m not sure any longevity ever comes out of met-on-night-out situations; a quick run through my friends in relationships would suggest that work/uni was by far the most common way to meet.

          I guess the problem would go some way to being resolved if people could drop their reservations about talking to strangers in normal (i.e. sober, daytime) situations. But in London everyone’s so suspicious and defensive, the only people who actually start conversations are the tourists.

          Perhaps we should all just move abroad…? πŸ™‚

          • Nick says:

            Yes and when someone starts talking to me on public transport, and they are not a tourist – the nutter alarm goes off.

            This does happen to men too, believe it or not. And we don’t enjoy it any more than women in confined quarters. Or at least, I don’t.

            But perhaps this goes to the point about leaving the country, perhaps to France/Italy, where everyone seems a bit more free and easy…..see many serious references, plus “A Fish Called Wanda”. I think this is what might be called peer reviewed research!

            Met on the night? As far as I am aware, this did happen a lot with me/friends during the uni years – but now, older, in the big, bad, city, not really – and for women I know, it’s been uncomfortable at best.

            And, while a lot of men might envy women for being chatted up, I don’t, because women don’t get to choose who might approach – what sort of predatory adolescent….

  6. Anonymous says:

    Well I’m gonna miss seeing your profile in my match searches.I hope to see more of your musings on modern life ,here on the interwebs. Don’t know if I’m gonna keep my profile on ok Cupid,but I need Facebook for gigs ( I perform stand-up)… the lie I tell myself.

  7. Nick says:

    You won’t look like a wally. OKC was just a jumping off point for this blog. So do keep sharing your thoughts on your life if it entertains you, as it certainly entertains the rest of us πŸ˜‰

  8. Alex says:

    What!? I got the notification of your “I’m coming back to OK Cupid” post and clicked on it to realise it had been removed.

    Haha. I don’t think you embarassed yourself with the post itself, but almost immediately deleting again may have done the trick. πŸ˜› (Sorry.)

    • Abi Millar says:

      Reposted. Wrote it somewhat drunk, realised I should probably sleep on it, deleted, went to sleep, neglected to repost. I forgot about the fact people got notifications :-/

      • Alex says:

        Hehe. Fair enough! I look forward to reading your future musings, whatever they be. Just watch out for the notifications now eh!

        I want to see if this blog can actually be turned into a profitable venture too at some point. πŸ™‚

  9. Natalie says:

    Come back! You can still look for a meaningful, proper relationship in real life, and take advantage of all those exciting opportunities to have your arse groped by drunk work colleagues, but in the meantime carrying on dating on OKC and regaling us with your excellent stories and observations!

    • Abi Millar says:

      You know, I think I may have to. Real world options that have presented themselves this week: assorted drunk men attempting to dance in a bar. Bloke in a passing white van yelling something incoherent out the window. Creepy old man in a sauna. Hate to say it, but I’m missing OkCupid!

      • Natalie says:

        And it is exactly these kind of posts that make me love you, because those pretty much reflect my real-life romantic encounters! Gave my number to a man I didn’t fancy much in a club on Saturday night; he has since called me 35 times and sent 15 texts, without me giving him a single response. Surely he can’t think I’m playing hard to get…?!

        • Nick says:

          Why, oh why, would anyone do that? I am sure that you are irresistible, but one message, maybe two is quite enough.

          He can’t seriously imagine that volume of messages will change your mind; that with message number 36 you will slap your forehead and realise that you are meant to be together….

          I’m going to cross my fingers here and hope that he was a teenager, because I’d like to believe that past the age of 19 no-one would do this. Please tell me he was a teenager! Not that it would be an excuse, but it would help my mental view of my own gender.

  10. Natalie says:

    He was not a teenager, mid-twenties at the youngest. I know it was silly to give my number to someone I didn’t fancy that much anyway, but that was a little mistake. He has been calling and texting ALL day – keep in mind last time I saw him was Saturday night!

    • Nick says:

      Oh well, so much for that. But here’s a little tip, do what a friend of mine does, when she wants a quiet life – don’t give out your number, but ask for his number instead, and then delete it. Problem solved.

      • Alex says:

        Here’s an even better tip: just tell him you’re really not interested, and you’ll consider it harrassment if he contacts you again! Simple solution. πŸ™‚

        • Natalie says:

          I know, I know! I have issues with rejecting men, I know I need to be more brutual. He has stopped calling (for now) thank goodness πŸ˜€

          • Alex says:

            Oh, that’s good news at least. And don’t worry about being “brutal” – I think the expression is “be cruel to be kind”. You’re actually saving both yourself an him time and anxiety. πŸ™‚ Good luck eh.

            • Abi Millar says:

              My sister once accidentally gave out her number on an escalator. Yes, the man behind her managed to wangle her number out of her in between getting on the escalator, and getting off the escalator. It’s hard saying no.

              For my part, I used to give out the Flirt Divert number from Radio 1 (don’t know if they still have that, but was an excellent concept). Nowadays I just death stare ’em, which seems to do the trick. Good luck Natalie in fighting him off!

  11. Maureen says:

    Soooo soooo true. I could write a book. Honestly. But I’m not a writer. The whole “candy store” principle is right on. Last two dates I had? The first guy immediately started with the whole “i’ve known you in another lifetime, this was meant to happen at this time” etc. etc. Then I find out he’s recently gotten out of prison, is separated from his wife, and has two kids.

    After a few dates with that guy (until I found out his story), there was mean guy. Mean guy had major anger issues. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen the Seinfeld ep where Elaine breaks up with a guy who is a bad-breaker-upper and says something mean to the person right when they end it? Yeah, that was this guy. I had only gone out with him twice, and upon realizing he was, um, CRAZY, I decided to not see him anymore…he then proceeded to throw everything but the kitchen sink at me (basically using anything and everything i had EVER told him about myself in the short time I’d known him against me).

    Kudos, well done to all those for whom internet dating has worked. I know it has worked for a few people I know…one or two even married their “date.” But for me? I think I am throwing in the towel at this juncture. Yes, as you said, people are entertained by my hilarious renderings of dates gone wrong … and while i can laugh at them later.. they still make me sad.

    Good luck!

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