So by now, you’ve probably read part one of this indelible
gimmick series, but let me catch you up: My goal was answer the questions: “Why are people afraid to online date?,” “What are people REALLY looking for on these sites?,” and finally “Why do people respond the way they do?”
I had some fun on Match.com & was totally creeped out by SeekingArrangement, but the real testing of my hypotheses came from this batch of dating sites–ok, namely OkCupid.
It’s been SO fun to read everyone’s reactions! Several of y’all have since commented and told me that you’ve met YOUR significant other from online dating–which makes all this a bit more intimidating! ha, I don’t want to somehow disavow the entire system, because, hey, it actually works for lots of people!
Let’s get the reviews of the boring sites out of the way so we can focus in on the good stuff/research. FIRST, listen to John Mayer’s new song which oddly works with online dating, “Who You Love.” Because John Mayer.
While I must give eHarmony points for having the best design & layout, as well as really interesting profile questions, it was the worst site for my experiment. Why? Even with the free trial period of a week or so, NOTHING HAPPENED. I had about 8 matches, but other than a stray wink (like I told you, it’s online dating currency), nothing happened with any of them. I learned in this experiment that an “unspoken rule” is that girls don’t message guys first, but with eHarmony, you have to pay to do ANYTHING but wink. I’m not sure if it’s because I couldn’t see my matches pictures or the fact that none of them were even remotely close to my age or city, but I quickly stopped liking eHarmony. Maybe it’s best for people who are looking for a super serious relationship–not just random 22 year olds doing a bog experiment.
Highlight: Well, the design WAS pretty cool.
YAWN. An affiliate of match.com, I decided to try it in order to learn “world-renowned biological anthropologist” Dr. Helen Fisher’s “scientific formula” to love. I also love personality tests, so I was all about filling out that profile. The test is awfully similar to the Big 5 personality test, so sadly, that was kind of unrevolutionary. Chemisty.com shows you people who, based on your personality results, would be THE perfect match for you. Unfortunately, the whole site was one big commercial. Although affiliated with Match.com, you have to pay EVEN MORE MONEY in order to actually see your matches. I’m not buying your tricks, Chemistry.com (literally AND figuratively.)
Highlights: None whatsoever. Figure out your Myers-Brigg type to have even more fun than this site. (I’m an ENTJ).
“Christian Mingle is the Club Penguin of online dating” by my partner in crime, Katie Foust of Artistical Thoughts
Or at least that was my first thought about the site because it was so… safe. Too ‘safe,’ actually. The about me section was a series of drop-down menu options so there’s no room for explanation or personalization there. You do get to type out which TV shows you enjoy watching.
When you upload pictures you have to wait at least 24 hours for them to be approved. You could also mail in a physical copy of the picture and they would scan and upload it for you.
When someone was interested in me they could send me a “Smile.” I could either respond with a smile or choose one of their responses. These responses allowed you to show interest in the person, turn them down, or throw a Bible verse at them. I got the occasional message, but I couldn’t read it unless I paid to upgrade.
I eventually decided that using Club Penguin was a better way to meet people online. You can talk to people without paying, be a penguin of your favorite color, choose your favorite activities and where you want to spend your time. You have the opportunity to earn and be responsible with finances. And you also get to decorate a house the way you’d like (which speaks volumes about who you are and your personality).
AT LAST, here’s the real research I found, all thanks to a little site called OkCupid.
Oh, OkCupid. Very free (minus an unnecessary “A-List” optional fee to help you sort people by body type, etc), extremely popular, and SO FUN (if you enjoy trolling like me). Out of all my accounts, I still have this one…I know I should probably delete it, but it’s just so intriguing.
I’ll show you a few screenshots of my profile, which were pretty normal & totally representative of me. Some people (namely my brother) thought that maybe I lied on profiles for this experiment, which is totally untrue. Each profile was 100% me!
(My profile name was pretty horrible, I know.)
*(Okay, I’ll tell you what an MPDG is–Manic Pixie Dream Girls is this stupid film writing trope that classifies women as “that bubbly, shallow cinematic creature that exists solely in the fevered imaginations of sensitive writer-directors to teach broodingly soulful young men to embrace life and its infinite mysteries and adventures.” Think I’m being weird? Case in point–every guy who ever is in love with Zooey Deschanel. I personally don’t ever want to be typecast into the “quirky, adorkable” MPDG girl just because it is such a limited understanding of a person and connotes misogyny. Andddd now I’m rambling.)
There were many, many hilariously serious profiles I found (and apparently, there are also several tumblrs devoted to weird OkCupid profiles! Check them out, but know that some content is probably NSFW. People are sketchy.)
I got a LOT of strange messages (and some gross ones which I shall not include), the majority of which I never responded to:
Then there were questions that really helped me out with my research, namely WHY IN THE WORLD did some people say what they said!? This one guy started a great, normal conversation with me and then three messages later, BAM: literally asked me about my preferences for oral sex.
….Seriously? I know that the Internet adds anonymity and thus, eliminates some of the social fear of rejection, but come on.
And you also get a lot of “Hey”s and “how r u?”s. Seriously, I’m not even sure how a person ought to respond to that. Online Dating Tip: The BEST messages I ever got were from men who asked me questions about the things I wrote about in my profile. So, please for the love of Cupid, do that. Don’t just compliment or say hi awkwardly.
Then I got…THE STRANGEST MESSAGE IN THE UNIVERSE.
…WHAT?! Why is this a thing!?
Naturally after, I wondered what would happen if I–a pretty girl–was in turn the creepy one. How would the tables turn? Or would they at all!?
And then I would just message random (and I mean RANDOM) guys and just say “Hi” or “Hi. You are cute.” Sometimes they responded…other times, the creepy factor might have won out. We shall never know.
All in all, I had great fun with this experiment. I learned a LOT about the enigmatic world of online dating, had actual genuine (as in, not just “Hi, how are you?”) conversations with some pretty cool guys, and definitely abolished the stigmas in my own head about online dating.
Why are people afraid to online date? Before, I was really nervous I’d be judged or seen as desperate (remember that cat lady post? Yeah…), but everyone I told this idea to was really on board! They thought the satire element was really awesome and plus, many of my friends were just as curious about it all! I think that ultimately, people are afraid of the stigma. They don’t want to be seen as unable to meet “real life people.” But that’s not true! EVERYONE online dates. I’m not kidding. Even celebrities and other public figures! Online dating is great if you’ve moved to a new city and want to meet new people or if you’re bored with the people in your city already! There’s really no need to be ashamed.
What are people REALLY looking for on these sites? As I was talking about this experiment to some friends and brought up what I thought was the big, social message–that everyone just wants community–they all groaned at the cheesiness of that idea. But honestly, we do! Everyone wants to find someone or a group of people who they can say “Oh my gosh, me too! I thought I was the only one!” And sometimes, online dating is the easiest way to figure that out! So, I don’t care if that’s trite, I believe it!
Why do people respond the way they do? Oh my gosh, I have NO idea still. You saw some of those outlandish messages…weirddddd. Internet anonymity and lack of personal accountability really makes people do and say crazy things. Think of all the mean, trollish YouTube commentors. Would they say that to a person IRL? Nope. Would some of those online dating guys say disgusting things to a stranger? Hopefully not.
Online Dating Tip: If you want to try it, go for it! If you’re serious about it: use match.com. If you just want to have fun: OkCupid or Tinder, a new app which somehow I missed in my experiment…Maybe I’ll need to try this all again? ;)