In which OkCupid is almost forgiven

No. Just no.

When I reactivated my OkCupid account, about a month ago, I was pleased to see that some things never change. “We live in a world of flux,” I reminded myself. “Our circumstances shift from day to day. The economy ebbs and wanes. The circle of life continues. Even the bloody Sugababes can’t keep the same lineup from one minute to the next.”

OkCupid, by contrast, was reassuringly similar to how I remembered it. Admittedly, I’d only deactivated my account three months previously, which wouldn’t really have given them time to tweak the typeface, let alone to, say, pimp out the domain name to a provincial firm of painter-decorators. But when you’re looking for bedrocks of constancy, you’ll take what you can get.

This comfort was boosted further by the fact I’d also joined Plenty of Fish. I don’t know if you’ve ever encountered Plenty of Fish, but if you haven’t, I would recommend you open that tab right now and count your blessings. Look at all those typos. Look at that low-budget use of Arial Bold. Heed the slightly unsavoury whiff emitted by that name, which, let’s be honest, sounds less like an endorsement of limitless romantic potential and more like a ‘blind lesbian in a fish market’ gag. And then tell me that OkCupid isn’t the best, the classiest and most clued-up free dating site you’ll get.

Honestly, Plenty of Fish is bafflingly bad. A mishmash of ominous looking mugshots and poorly targeted advertising:

‘England Flat Belly Tip: If you are 25 you can cut 3 kgs of belly fat every week by using this 1 weird old tip’

the fun really kicks in once the messages start. And I can’t speak from the guys’ perspective, but if you’re rocking an extra X chromosome, start they will.

The messages are so lame, so abundant and so generic, they make the worst message ever sent on OkCupid look like the musings of Oscar Wilde’s wittier twin. A good 80% are some variant on ‘hi how r u’. The remainder are split between the illegible, the ultra illegible, the cat-walked-across-their-keyboard illegible and the downright offensive:

‘See I couldn’t get your sight away from my eyes ..and last night I had this dream of you singing alongside pussy cat dolls ..dontchya wish your girlfriend should be hot like me..dontchya wish your girlfriend should be sweet like me ..dontchya dontchya ..and jadey I literally woke up yelling I DO I DO lol hahahah ok ok Yes I do intend to bring you roses when we will meet because I want those roses to realise what real beauty is 😀  So me and you going out is on cards? Or you don’t like to date brown breads lol’

Truly weird. I’m still on that site, and plan to stay, purely because I can’t not look.

Anyway, despite their marketing spiel, I’m fairly certain my putative ‘soulmate’ is not hanging round on a website named after a bad smell.  But I do know for a fact there are some decent guys on okcupid. And when I rejoined, and the inaugural message came from a man who’d actually bothered to read my profile, I could have kissed my computer screen.

OkCupid, I thought, all is forgiven. Here be actual human beings, with actual cognitive abilities. Admittedly all my reservations about online dating came flooding back too, but it was nice to feel at least like I wasn’t alone in my bemusement.

You see, this is the downside of that familiarity. Everything that troubled me about online dating before still perturbs me now. I still think it’s  all about the quick fix. I think for men, it’s a royal route to frustration; and for women, to cynicism and distrust. I think it encourages superficiality on both sides. It leads people to see each other as commodities that can easily be replaced, and over time it corrodes a part of you, leaving you feeling like your soul’s been eaten by the Staff Robot.

On the other hand, far be it from me to turn down a social opportunity involving half-decent conversation and malt scotch. We’ll see how long I last this time round before the soul-destroying element trumps the scotch…


About Abi Millar

British freelance journalist living in the Netherlands
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12 Responses to In which OkCupid is almost forgiven

  1. thedatingleprechaun says:

    Ohhhhhhh I don’t know, I still think OKStupid wins for having a really poor ‘signal to noise’ ratio compared to Guardian Soulmates, I get lots of emails but the vast majority are inappropriate and I think like just about everyone else there I spend way too much time pressing that delete button but I hang in there because there are some really nice folk there and I live in hope.


  2. Nick says:

    There are really nice folk on GSM, for sure. Cultured, and intelligent, but a little joyless and uptight on occasion.

    As a liberal in the truest sense, with one life to live, OKC and real life are still the ways to go.

  3. Natalie says:

    You’re back! 😀

    This is hilarious because I’ve recently reactivated my PoF profile to see if I could find someone in the immediate vicinity for a date. In the first 24 hours I received 230 messages. They were unanimously poorly-written, generic, unimaginative, weird, and just plain boring.

    I’ve received the good old ‘polar bear’ line seven times in the last two weeks. My PoF profile is significantly more defensive than my OKC profile (in an attempt to ward off idiots), and the men of PoF seem to find me rude, offensive, judgemental and aggressive, and are happy to tell me so.

    I’ve also put a rant on the “first date” section at the bottom saying:

    “By the way, men of PoF, I’ve yet to encounter any man EVER who thinks going to the cinema on a first date is a good idea. When you write something in this section along the lines of “anything except going 2 cinema wots de point in starin at a screen 4 2 hours n not talkin??” you’re not making an insightful observation, you’re stating the bloody obvious.”

    As a result of this, I now get at least three messages a day from men telling me that they agree with me in believing that the cinema is a bad place for a first date. Talk about totally missing the point.

    My love affair with OKC continues, and I am glad you are back 🙂

    • Abi Millar says:

      Haha, glad it’s not just me! Am truly baffled to see how PoF could ever work – to all accounts, it has a fairly good hit rate, but who has time to reply to hundreds of messages reading ‘hi how woz ur weekend?’, let alone send them? We’re not just being insufferably snooty, right – it is actually as bad as we make out?

      Anyway, I’m glad you’re feeling better about OkC. I’m still trying to ease myself back in – I think my lingering apprehensions are holding me back from fully enjoying it still, but it’s a work in progress!

      What’s the polar bear line, by the way? The good menfolk of PoF have yet to send me that…

      • Natalie says:

        It is the worst dating site on the internet in my opinion. Not that I want to sound like an elitist (I am) but I suppose it must work for people of that er, quality, with regards to finding a nice girlfriend of a similar standard. It is TERRIBLE. The ones I find most baffling are the ones that say:

        “hi, wonna chat???” What on earth are you supposed to say to that? How about actually starting a conversation rather than asking if I’d like to have one. An utterly bizarre approach.

        The polar bear line:

        How much does a polar bear weigh?

        I don’t know, but it is enough to break the ice!

        I cracked a smile the first time I heard this a couple of years ago. After 7 times in two weeks, it now makes my eyes nearly roll out of my head.

        • matt baker says:

          Natalie – so you’re the girl with the polar bear.
          where do you keep it?

          Seem to get more replies on POF but a better class of girl on OKC – I think its becoming a game of two halves.

    • Anonymous says:

      Maybe the men that email you to agree with you about the cinema are just trying to start a conversation?

  4. Daniel says:

    Plenty of Fish is truly a horrible website but the one advantage it has is the number of users. On OkCupid if you don’t live in or near a big city then the pool of local users can be so small that it’s not a viable option, leaving POF as the only (free) alternative that I know of.

    And there are in fact some nice people on there. I have met a few very nice girls from that site, so I guess there are also decent guys there if you can find them, although indeed finding them may not be easy.

  5. Mark says:

    Hello Abi,

    I have profiles on both OkCupid and POF. OkCupid does seem slightly better, but there are fewer people on it.

    One great… erm… dodgy feature on POF is when you log off it leaves you on a page of so-called dating advice (along with a link to more advice – presumably chargable). In essence it says lie on your profile by simply copying the settings (smoker, drinks etc.) from someone you are interested in before sending them a message. That sounds nice and trustworthy, doesn’t it?

    I hope you enjoy yourself on OkCupid and the next time you deactivate your account it is because you are dating someone.

  6. nancy says:

    ok cupids isnt a good dating site cause it stay mess up half the time and you cant get login in cause it would say having trouble chris need to take ok cupids off the web sites for good

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