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Why Nobody Wants You On OKCupid 473

Hugh Pickens writes "Social awkwardness has the most opportunity to shine in your very first message to a potential sweetheart, write Andrea Bartz and Brenna Ehrlich at CNN. Bartz and Ehrlich enumerate and humorously describe seven types of message senders: the generalizer, the autobiographer, the 'eccentric,' the creeper, the gusher, and the wordless wonder. Our favorite: the generalizer, whose typical first message may be 'hey, wuts up?' Why does no one want the generalizer? 'You're probably stupid. Or possibly illiterate,' write Bartz and Ehrilich. According to OKTrends, bad grammar and bad spelling are huge turn-offs in a first message. 'Our negative correlation list is a fool's lexicon: ur, u, wat, wont, and so on. These all make a terrible first impression. In fact, if you count hit (and we do!) the worst 6 words you can use in a first message are all stupid slang.' Other tips from OKTrends' analysis of successful keywords and phrases from over 500,000 first contacts on OKCupid: Avoid physical compliments, bring up specific interests, and if you're a guy, be self-effacing."
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Why Nobody Wants You On OKCupid

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  • "if you're a guy, be self-effacing." Like we didn't already know that women want men who believe they're greater than we are. Maybe I like women who aren't threatened by my knowing what I want...

    • by wjousts ( 1529427 ) on Thursday August 25, 2011 @08:24AM (#37203906)
      Self-effacing? Won't that make you go blind?
    • Maybe I like women who aren't threatened by my knowing what I want...

      It is exactly this attitude that the fine article addresses. By demanding that the woman concede to that huge demand (don't be threatened by $something) right at the first message, you are automatically pushing away a large portion of women many of which may be able to concede to that demand later.

      The aggressive, self-confident girl of XKCD is _not_ looking for love online.

      • The aggressive, self-confident girl of XKCD is _not_ looking for love online.

        Well, I'm in a happy relationship now, so neither am I. And if I were, I wouldn't be looking on a dating site. I'd just be blogging and chatting more. It always worked for me in the past...

      • The aggressive, self-confident girl of XKCD is _not_ looking for love online.

        That depends on their situation. The smart, "aggressive, self-confident" girl who has just moved to a new area might find OKcupid an efficient way to meet new people.

        Even the women that are "aggressive" and have an outward air of self-confidence, aren't usually like that on the inside. Most people have insecurities of some form.

      • by dyingtolive ( 1393037 ) <brad.arnett@n o t f orhire.org> on Thursday August 25, 2011 @12:40PM (#37208004)
        The problem as I see it is this (on Match):

        Women wants:

        - I want someone, right or wrong, to start a family with now now NOW NOW NOWNOWNOW.
        - He must be making at least above median salary for a professional in the area.
        - His hobbies must exactly parallel my own.
        - He must be as much a dogmatized zealot as I am.
        - He must be athletically built and be "smart, witty, and able to surprise me". (this is usually in conjunction with three or more of the other wants as well).
        - "I want a man who knows what he wants." I've actually seen it spelled out that plainly, and all I can think to say is "no, no you don't"I still don't know what it means, because women who have said that have absolutely come to hate me for expressing my expectations honestly.
        - HE MUST LOVE BASEBALL AS MUCH AS I DO. (note, this means watching professional baseball, not actually PLAYING a sport. No, that would be interesting and show some character of the person.)

        My wants:
        - I want someone technically minded that I can communicate with, on even a simple level. I don't expect the person to be able to read circuit diagrams or understand packet captures, but PLEASE at least understand to check to make sure the mouse is plugged in before complaining that "it's broken".
        - I would prefer someone who can read and speak at a level above that of an eighth grade junior high school student.
        - At the risk of being superficial, I would prefer to not be able to wear her jeans and they be baggy.
        And I'm not even stereotyping, I mean, I am, but this is literally how it is. Half of them appear to be looking for at immediate meal ticket/family man, and the other half are looking for the male lead from their favorite romantic comedy. I just want someone who will at least nod, smile, and pretend to care when I'm talking to them about my day, who can figure out how to change the remote batteries on her own, and who isn't cutting off the circulation to my legs when she's on top. If those are huge demands, then I guess I'm just an misogynistic, judgmental asshole.

        My big realization was that, due to societal norms, there's maybe 1% of the female population out there that fits my criteria. That's one of the reasons why I stopped going to bars for women and started trying the online thing. I figured I could expose myself to a larger pool of candidates. I should have guessed that there was a very specific type of people that have to resort to such measures.

        The aggressive, self-confident girl of XKCD is _not_ looking for love online.

        True, but she's not looking for love in bars either. She would have already found hers long ago.

    • by swalve ( 1980968 ) on Thursday August 25, 2011 @08:55AM (#37204206)
      The reason is because honest self-effacing shows a cool confidence. Making a show of confidence, however, actually shows insecurity. It's not what you say, it's what you display.
  • We've got no chance , no matter how much theory we know.

  • by Stumbles ( 602007 ) on Thursday August 25, 2011 @08:22AM (#37203884)
    Speak intelligently.
    • by pasv ( 755179 )
      Right on the money buddy. If you're trying to attract intelligent and stable partners it should only be obvious you should present yourself like that as well. Common sense right? But some people can't figure out what they want.
    • Speak intelligently.

      I HEARTILY agree!

      I've gotten plenty of private messages here and there, and well, they usually only contain one or two sentences, with any kind of punctuation completely missing, jumbled-together words, god damn obvious spelling mistakes...Those all turn me off instantly, but the one thing that irritates me even more is this: it's clearly evident that the senders didn't bother to waste more than 2 seconds putting their messages together. Why would I take the effort of even responding back to you if you didn

  • I'm marrying the sexy librarian I met on OkCupid next May. They're out there guys, just rarer than diamonds.
    • Re:Says you... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by nschubach ( 922175 ) on Thursday August 25, 2011 @08:44AM (#37204086) Journal

      They may be out there, but the unfortunate part is that none of them initiate the conversations. I don't consider myself an unattractive person, but I've never had a woman wink/poke/etc. or initiate conversation. It's like they all just post their profile and hope someone picks them. I may as well go out to a bar with that sort of "dating". As usual, it's always up to the guy to start the conversation and the woman gets to weed out the candidates.

      It's not like I don't start conversations. I've had many on these sites and sometimes we meet up, other times we call it before. It's mainly that I have to do all the legwork to get things rolling. For once, It would be nice to have someone else start the ball rolling.

      • That's the way it is everywhere; get used to it.
      • by swalve ( 1980968 )
        It would be nice if women did that, but they don't. It isn't in the genetic mating handbook.
        • Re:Says you... (Score:4, Interesting)

          by iolarah ( 1033958 ) on Thursday August 25, 2011 @11:11AM (#37206720)
          Yes we do. Not all women do, you're right, but some do. I've been on OKC since October, and up til about a month ago, I was sending out between two and six messages in a given week to start conversations with guys. I don't wink or poke or "sup" because I think that's lazy (implies that I'm not interested in a specific guy, just any guy who'll respond), and I don't respond to those messages for the same reason. But women who initiate _do_ exist, and we _are_ on the dating sites. And actually, I initiate conversation IRL too. The problem is that some guys get unnerved by it or make judgments about what kind of girl we might be, so we get reluctant about making the first move. Me, I treat it like a filter--any guy who'd get freaked out by my making the first move is probably not someone I'd get along with in the long run anyway.
      • As usual, it's always up to the guy to start the conversation and the woman gets to weed out the candidates.

        That's human nature. Get over it, or get used to being alone.

      • Out of the 4 women I've met up with so far on OKcupid (and meeting another next week), I think 3 of them contacted me first. Maybe all 4, I can't remember. Likewise I've been chatting regularly to someone who lives thousands of miles away (and would date her if the opportunity came up - she has moved around a lot with her job, and actually did her Masters degree in the city where I live right now), and she contacted me first.

      • I met my girlfriend of four years now on okcupid. We've talked about this very thing. So one day she logged on to show me her inbox. She was getting like 2-3 messages per day even though her profile was marked with her no longer being single. When she was single, she was getting like a dozen messages per day.

        So yeah, she didn't feel the desire to respond to most of that, and didn't need to spend a lot of time looking around at random profiles.

  • Impressive stats (Score:5, Interesting)

    by dargaud ( 518470 ) <slashdot2@gdarga[ ]net ['ud.' in gap]> on Thursday August 25, 2011 @08:25AM (#37203908) Homepage
    I'm not on OKcupid and I'm not looking for dates, but I read OKcupid's statistics blog [okcupid.com] regularly with a lot of pleasure. The guys who run the site have fascinating insight and great data analysis skills. And they are also good at explaining things simply. Well worth reading for geek minded people. Especially if they don't have a mate yet !!!
  • by dmgxmichael ( 1219692 ) on Thursday August 25, 2011 @08:26AM (#37203920) Homepage
    is your weight. If you are overweight online dating will not work. In person dating might work if you carry yourself well, but in the online world where the next profile is a click away you less of a chance than a snowball in Hell.
    • no: height (Score:5, Insightful)

      by circletimessquare ( 444983 ) <circletimessquare&gmail,com> on Thursday August 25, 2011 @08:34AM (#37203992) Homepage Journal

      women complain men are obsessed with t&a but women are exactly the same: if you're not tall, it doesn't matter if you are a CEO and run 3 charities: she'll pick the tall guy who still lives with his mom

      • by Cowclops ( 630818 ) on Thursday August 25, 2011 @09:00AM (#37204256)
        And I am that tall guy that still lives with my mom! VICTORY!
      • Re:no: height (Score:5, Insightful)

        by kaliann ( 1316559 ) on Thursday August 25, 2011 @01:29PM (#37208908)

        I found my lovely ChemE, Dr. Who-loving, intelligent geek on a free dating site. He is inches shorter than I am.
        He was also thrillingly literate in his profile and our email exchanges (I initiated). We shared interests and ideas. It was lovely.

        Height is nice, but it's more like good hair than IQ: a bonus, not a value with "above average" as a minimum. I've dated men taller than I am and some who are shorter. Tall is not a requirement. I know several guys who are shorter than average who all have girlfriends or have dated successfully.

        If you think that your height is sole the thing keeping women from you, you are classifying your whole dating pool as shallow. It isn't complimentary, and it's demonstrably inaccurate. Your bitterness will not help you get dates, and your insulting view of women will not get you a relationship with a healthy woman.

        Women who will disqualify someone just for height are obviously prejudiced in a way that should be a turn-off for you anyway. It's a good weed-out. Focus on improving and highlighting the things that are positive about yourself in order to find the lady that will be interested in you for who you are, what you've accomplished, and how you present yourself, rather than just deciding that all women are shallow and you have no chance.

        Also, check your expectations: if you think that a woman you date has to be a super-hottie and a rocket scientist, well, you may want to consider that hot rocket scientist ladies have a much broader field to choose from. I recommend lowering standards to the more achievable: someone you find attractive, finds you attractive, and is smart enough that you enjoy talking with, and someone you share interests and a sense of humor with.

        And maybe be a little less obvious about your opinion that women are shallow, irrational creatures.

    • What the fuck are you talking about? My wife and I are both overweight and we met each other just fine.

  • I get the impression the article was written by someone who thinks they're "quite good" at understanding this whole e-dating concept. The fact that they make fun of religion (despite it apparently affecting your reply rates negatively) on a dating site comes across as quite arrogant:

    "But ideally you should just disbelieve the whole thing. It can help your love life, and, besides, if there really was a god, wouldn’t first messages always get a reply?"

    I suppose they had to end the article in an e
    • It's not arrogant to make assertions that are backed up by data. It's even less arrogant to make those assertions in a humorous way.

      • And here I was thinking that relationships were all about compromise and opening yourself up to another persons world view. Ideally I should disbelieve the whole thing, might improve my love life.
        • The blog article should not be construed as an attempt at courtship, and should not be used as a model for communication within a relationship.

          • Oh I see, so it's one of those "we're serious but not" deals. It certainly is enjoyable hiding behind the proverbial tongue and cheek.
    • I'll just have to stick with the one wife.

      How do you start with atheism and end up at polygamy?
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polygamy#Religion [wikipedia.org]

      • by slim ( 1652 )

        Non-sequiturs seem to be rife when religious people talk about this kind of thing.

        An acquaintance the other day, apparently parroting his minister, jumped straight from the subject of homosexuality, to that of paedophilia, as if they were inherently related.

      • Implying I must have done something right, if you take another gander at the post you may detect a hint of sarcasm.
  • by rednip ( 186217 ) on Thursday August 25, 2011 @08:34AM (#37204000) Journal
    After all my time spent in online dating this looks like everything that I know, but what I'm really interested in is 'what works'. I'm guessing that the reality is that 'winning' submissions as often exhibited one or more of these mistakes, yet still were acted on. To me, based on what I might call my 'successes', it's timing more than anything.
    • I can tell you what has worked with me (a reasonably typical actual geek female) in the past:

      - As TFA suggests, communicating well. If you don't care enough to express yourself well then why should I care enough to listen?

      - Don't be an egotist (again, the TFA suggests this). If you're wonderful, I'll figure it out; don't brag to me.

      - Be interesting, not generic. By this I mean why say, "I like to read books" - well, no shit, Sherlock, but what books? Why?

      - Don't be cynical. "This probably won't work/this is

      • by NeutronCowboy ( 896098 ) on Thursday August 25, 2011 @12:47PM (#37208104)

        Do be employed, don't live at home.

        Ugh. I'm responding to this just because I've had this exact discussion with my girlfriend (full disclosure - I met her on a dating site). My question always is: I've been unemployed in the past. Sometimes for more than a few months. I've had shitty night-shift jobs to cover living expenses. Yet I'm apparently awesome enough that she sticks around. So why let a temporary situation that has nothing to do with who I am dictate whether to get to know me? The answer I got back was the same as yours - that the quality of the nest is an important part of women being attracted to men. Well, fine, but then don't go bitch to me about how there are no good men around. You're artificially reducing the pool of available men based on a criteria that is utterly temporary and is only marginally related to who that person is.

        Furthermore, why stop at a man being unemployed? Why not just flat out say "He has to make at least 50K a year and own at least 800 square feet of home? Why not 100k? Why not a 2000 square foot home? Because those are just material things that are not important to a person? Yeah.... if that's your response, you're just papering over the fact that you have decided that someone like that is probably out of your league. You decided your price was employment and their own place, others decided that their price was 100k and 2000 square feet.

        I'm not going to date an out-of-work guy and I think he probably shouldn't be dating either as he has bigger problems to work on than being dateless.

        Really? The only thing he should be doing is to find a job? No social life, no meeting new people, no going out on a date in the park? You do realize that the only people who work like that are people who don't socialize to begin with, right? Not to mention that the social network is what keeps people going in tough times? And don't feed me the line that dating is different from socializing. Dating is just socializing with a different end-goal in mind.

        The point of my post, and the larger point of TFA, is that without getting past that first part you can't get to the part that involves timing, spark or luck.

        And my point to you is that I'm tired of hearing women complain about the lack of men, when their selection criteria contain items that have nothing to do with what makes a relationship successful. Unless, of course, your measurement of a successful relationship is the number of digits in your bank account.

        • You think it's about numbers, it's not.

          Having a job vs. not having a job is a phase change. Making 35k vs. making 350k is, to me at least, not relevant.

          I've dated men who were poor - my most was a social worker who made 25k a year. To me, what's important is that they have SOMETHING gainful to do in their lives, and by "gainful" I mean useful, important, purposeful going on. Employment status is often - not always - but often - a good gauge of whether someone is an adult and whether they are the kind of per

  • Andrea Bartz and Brenna Ehrlich are regular contributors to CNN - and every single one of their articles are this kind of drivel. A drinking game could involve their weak attempts at inserting every possible hipster keyword in every article. Their idea of snark is including the sentence 'Not.' at the end of a paragraph. Maybe I'm just getting old, but if this is what passes for humor with people their age, I'm not looking forward to the post-hipster generation one bit.

  • While I too feel that bad spelling and grammar make me think someone is an idiot, wouldn't a professional writer expressing this be a little biased?
  • but they'll have a lot less fun boasting about it!
  • by jez9999 ( 618189 ) on Thursday August 25, 2011 @08:43AM (#37204082) Homepage Journal

    I'm in the UK, not exactly in the middle of nowhere (a medium sized town) but not exactly London either. There are virtually no women on the site within a reasonable distance of me.

    It helps to live near New York or Los Angeles.

  • From the last article referenced in the summary:

    The site said that self-effacing men have greater success rates, with words such as "awkward, apologise, kinda" and "probably" likely to increase success because "appearing unsure makes the writer seem more vulnerable and less threatening".

    Let's see how many guys put all of these words in their first messages! :)

    From my experience with online dating (been using it mostly on-and-off for a few years), I don't think this is the biggest reason why some (many?) guys have problems finding anyone on these sites. Instead, I think the real issue is two-fold: bad (boring) profiles and bad (boring) pictures. Besides the fact that lots of guys online come off as horribly desperate or think a bathroom pic

  • I highly recommend it. I did move to the US from Canada to be with her, so whether or not you can find someone who'll match you well within your city is questionable, but seriously, give it a try before pay sites like eHarmony. (Not to mention that just by its nature, it's far more geek-friendly; the people behind the site code a lot of C++ and are big math people.) Protips: Answer as many of the questions as you can, since that's how it matches you. More questions answered equals better matches. Ask q

  • self-effacing (s lf -f s ng). adj. Not drawing attention to oneself; modest.

    Yes, be self-effacing because women don't like successful, rich, powerful, well-known, flashy guys. That is why rock stars, movie stars, professional athletes, etc. find it so hard to meet women and get laid.


    Hey, OKCupid, why don't you do a study about the physical characteristics of those who get the most messages and most replies? Say, height, weight, body type, fitness level, rated appearance, and appare

  • According to the tips, I get the following text would be perfect:

    How's it going. I'm sorry I'm an cool atheist, but I noticed that your name pretty much shows a good taste, haha. I also apologize that my favourite movies are awesome. I'm think vegetarian zombie metal bands are pretty good, but grad school physics literature is kinda fascinating, too. I'm curious what pretty awkward tattoos you probably won't mention, lol.


  • by Jay L ( 74152 ) <jay+slash&jay,fm> on Thursday August 25, 2011 @09:14AM (#37204472) Homepage

    I try to be self-deprecating, but I suck at it.

  • This being slashdot, I don't expect that many of you will understand this advice. Nevertheless, here goes:

    A big turn-off is someone who does not know how to communicate well. A relationship and a marriage are all about communication. This article is about a written introduction that makes a first impression, so you want to look your best. It's the same reason you would think carefully about what to wear and where to go on a first date.

    Starting off with sexy talk is typically a turn off to a person lookin

    • by slim ( 1652 )

      Besides, trolling for sex in a place that advertises relationships isn't very honest.

      From what I've been told, OK Cupid is very much used by people of both genders, looking for low commitment hook-ups.

      Though not exclusively -- a friend of mine married someone he met on OK Cupid.

  • by mwvdlee ( 775178 ) on Thursday August 25, 2011 @09:26AM (#37204676) Homepage

    The author is single ;)

  • Met my current relationship on OKCupid, our match ratings (if you put weight on that, I do put some) are 94% Match, 76% Friend and 9% Enemy. She and I answered 454 (264 public) and 537 (527 public) questions respectively, with 337 in common. Here's what I opened with:

    "Taking a short break right at work and noticed that you looked at my profile so I looked at yours too. :) Hi! :) Randomly, what's your take on Monty Python, There's Something About Mary and O Brother Where Art Thou? :)"

  • a first glance at TFA title I thought it said: OKStupid.
  • by elrous0 ( 869638 ) * on Thursday August 25, 2011 @09:38AM (#37204950)

    I love your mind, am fascinated by everything you say, and think your interests are amazing. And also, I suck, and am not worthy of someone as amazing as you. And yes, I *do* agree that that bitch at work has no business talking shit about you behind your back.

  • by reashlin ( 1370169 ) on Thursday August 25, 2011 @09:46AM (#37205108)
    I'm an ugly bugger. Now I know better.
  • by dutchwhizzman ( 817898 ) on Thursday August 25, 2011 @10:02AM (#37205422)
    Saying they want their report back. Mindless rehashing of something OKcupid themselves already published 2 years ago is not journalism.
  • by swb ( 14022 ) on Thursday August 25, 2011 @11:11AM (#37206710)

    ...two theories from e-dating users. They're somewhat contradictory.

    1) The gender balance is skewed, leading to women shopping from a large pool of available men. This makes sense, as it seems to follow typical mating behavior in American culture (ie, men solicit women, women choose which man to accept) as well as following a sort of larger skew of technology use.

    It was also thought that younger women (under 35?) of average or better appearance generally have more real-world dating options than men do as they are more likely to be solicited by men than women in day-day life, thus reducing their interest in online dating.

    The first opinion came from a friend of mine who'd I'd describe as generally attractive and in great physical shape but overly picky. I think he used match.com and e-harmony. I think if he had been less picky, or had taken profile answers with a grain of salt (ie, assuming that some answers may have been weakly held preferences instead of assuming they were zealously held beliefs, cast in stone) he might have had a bigger pool to draw from.

    2) Once you get outside the pool of women looking for a husband (ie, over 35-40, with white-collar careers and either never married or divorced, the chances of getting dates goes up significantly.

    The theory behind this is that this pool of women are (no longer?) interested in the fairy tale of husband, kids, house in the suburbs, etc and are more interested in general companionship, casual dating, etc. They have good paying jobs and are generally comfortable in their single status and don't "need" a man for economic and social security. They're also on the declining side of physical attractiveness, and thus are less likely to believe they can be picky, especially if they are competing with women 10 years younger. I've heard this theory before and it makes some sense.

    The second theory was from a guy who I would describe as of below-average appearance -- moderately overweight, and neither a snappy dresser or well-groomed. He seemed happy and said he went on "first dates" every couple of weeks and occasionally second and third dates but said he was more interested in having fun than finding a life partner.

    My guess is that if you choose from the right pool and aren't overly picky, you'll do OK. It probably sucks to be 29 and trying to use online dating as I think the expectations of young women are really unrealistic.

  • by sootman ( 158191 ) on Thursday August 25, 2011 @11:58AM (#37207406) Homepage Journal

    ... and I start all my messages the same way: "I put on my robe and wizard hat..." [albinoblacksheep.com]

...there can be no public or private virtue unless the foundation of action is the practice of truth. - George Jacob Holyoake