How to OkCupid Step 1: Get Out There!
This is step 1 in my patented 6-step series on How to OkCupid. This step focuses on actually making the choice to put yourself out there. Step 1: Get Out There! Step 2: Be Good-Looking! Step 3: Be Interesting! Step 4: Find Other Interesting, Good-Looking People Step 5: Make Contact! Step 6: Date!
One of the most common questions that I get asked about polyamory is where to meet partners. Franklin Veaux would tell you that meeting partners is easy if you're out doing things you love and you're open about polyamory. I find this prospect highly dubious, mostly because I do both of those things and hardly ever meet anyone I want to date AND because the numbers don't really add up. I suspect he's either been very lucky, or he meets in inordinately large amount of people during his daily life. I primarily meet partners on OkCupid. Aside from my wife, who I met 10 years ago in college (we were both monogamous at the time), I've meet all of my other long-term partners on OkCupid. It's a fantastic resource for connecting with potential partners in a transparent, information-driven way. That is, if you do it right. What follows is a step-by-step guide to how to go about meeting quality partners on OkCupid.
You can't even see the pink area!Setting up an online profile is important because it's hard to find poly people. It's difficult to find reliable estimates for how many polyamorous people there are in the country (the US, that is), but most estimate around 500,000. That's .16% of the population. Now further reduce that number by the percentage of people in your age range, that you find attractive, that are attracted to you, that are in your area, who are mature enough for healthy relationships, etc. and you get a very, very small percentage of people who would be suitable dating partners. Thankfully, a small percentage of people doesn't actually mean a small number of people. There are still probably thousands of people who could make good partners for you. You just need to find them. OkCupid lets you take the millions of people who are looking for partners, and whittle that giant dating pool down to a much smaller number who meet your basic criteria.
This guide is adapted from a presentation that I've given at several polyamory conferences around the country.
Disclaimer 1: this guide is intended to help you meet good partners for close, meaningful relationships. If that's not what you're looking for, a lot of these strategies won't work.
Disclaimer 2: this guide, like OkCupid itself, is rather heteronormative. OkCupid forces you to use the gender binary and most of the data available is about the way things work in heterosexual connections. I'd love to see some data on other types of relationships, however, and I'd particularly love to compare how the strategies are similar or different.
STEP 1: GET OUT THERE
Step 1 is easy. You just go to okcupid.com and create a profile. That's it! Now you're out there!
This is often the hardest step, because putting yourself out there can be scary. Also, it's hard for people to admit when they actually want to meet partners. It's important to remember that it's ok to pursue the things we want. If you want relationships, you are encouraged to use all the tools available to create them.
A few warnings: starting now, the experience is going to be vastly different depending on whether you indicate you're looking for men, or looking for women.
If you're looking for men:
You'll get tons of unsolicted messages, especially when you first join
Many of the messages you receive will be creepy or disrespectful. This increases by orders of magnitude if you indicate that you're looking for casual sex
Most of the messages you get will be from bad matches
If you're looking for women:
You will hardly get any unsolicted messages
Most messages you send will not get answered (as we'll get to later, this is a good thing)
Just like in real life, women will be suspicious of you until they get to know you. And they should be. Expect it, and don't be a dick about it
PROTIP 1: If you're finding yourself overwhelmed by messages, you're getting creepy/disrespectful messages, or you're getting too many messages from bad matches, OkCupid has recently instituted an option where they allow you to filter your messages by match percentage. DO IT! Almost all terrible messages also come from people with low match percentages. As we'll get to in Part 3, your match percentages are going to be an excellent indicator of how well you will get along with someone. If you're looking for men, I suggest you only accept messages from 85% matches or higher.
PROTIP 2: DO NOT TRY TO MAXIMIZE THE AMOUNT OF MESSAGES OR DATES YOU GET! Most online dating advice will give you tips on how to broadly increase your appeal. Don't fall into this trap. I'll probably write a full post on this topic later, but for now, remember: you are a unique person, with strengths, weaknesses, quirks, and weirdness. Don't try to make a profile that appeals to everyone. Instead, try to make a profile that appeals to only people who would actually be good partners for you. In other words: be honest about who you are. Instead of trying to make a good impression, try to make an accurate one. To the right people, that will be a good impression. You'll also waste less time on bad matches, because they'll all be scared off after finding out that you're not what they're looking for.