The (not) dating introvert, #3: OK Cupid and the digital dating problem

29 May

The ascent of the internet and social media has graced humanity with some pretty funky tools that make the search for romantic partnership much more interactive and accessible, particularly for socially shy people like myself. As we have seen in the last blog, that hasn’t helped me much. Today I will report a bit on recent experiences with online dating, and particularly about the platform of OK Cupid. Don’t worry; it’s not all doom and gloom. I’ll throw in some humour, and finish on a high note.

Digital Dating

Online Dating has been on my plate for the past decade or so, but I’ve only given it any serious consideration after I moved to Toronto. That has nothing to do with the city itself; I just felt a bit lonely, and one of my more travelled friends encouraged me to create a profile on one of his favourite sites, OK Cupid. And that’s already the long and uninformative story of how I came to have a digital portfolio on that particular dating website.

I’m a cheapskate, so free dating apps and websites such as Plenty-of-Fish or Tinder have definitely received some unwanted attention from me. I will tell you more about that in my next instalment of “Goemon disappoints himself”. Today I will focus on only one occurrence.

Port of Alesund, Norway

While we proceed with my account of the dating world, we may keep in mind that this is our ultimate goal. No, not a port in Norway; to become a cute couple!

OK Cupid

Just in case you have never encountered this particular website, I will give you a brief description of its framework. Well, if you know the site, the following passage won’t vanish from your view, but feel free to skip it manually.

OK Cupid is one of the better dating websites. In stark contrast to other dating portals you can create a profile, search the list of available candidates using various delimiters, and write messages back and forth without supporting the host financially. You can ’like’ other profiles, and if the people behind them like you back, you can write messages without limitations. Should you decide to pay for their services you gain the ability to see who has ‘liked’ your profile. Otherwise you just get to see the number of likes, and are left to wonder who might be the peculiar wisecracks who indicated interest in you, despite your outdated profile picture.

Profiles that you ‘unmatch’ usually don’t show up in your feed again, unless they belong to VIP members, or the algorithm thinks you ought to take a second and twenty-second look. This is a very diligent way for ladies to shut up guys they grew tired of. Chat for a few days, and when some cuter guy comes along, click the ‘unmatch’ button to never see each other’s profile again. (Unless that guy is VIP, so I guess there are multiple advantages in paying the website hosts.)

I ran the test, and ladies really receive a lot of virtual mail. It is quite helpful that suitors they have not manually ‘matched’ are not able to send words to their inbox. Otherwise they’d be swamped within minutes. You can send a short message to someone, so as to pique their interest in you, but after that greeting their profile disappears until they ‘match’ you.

I created a fake profile featuring a mildly attractive woman whose photo I gleaned from some random online fashion shop. Just your regular, barely beautiful woman. Her profile, which basically said “Hi, I am Sarah, and I like beeches” received 100 ‘likes’ within one hour of me uploading it. After half a year my own profile did not receive that much attention, which just goes to show how incredibly selective ladies get to be.

After barely one week my fake female profile had accumulated more than 1000 ‘likes’, and after two weeks that number had doubled again. Many of her suitors sent messages as well, although their creativity never exceeded the frivolous boredom of “Hey! Let’s skip the chit chat, and grab coffee some time.” I wish I was making that up, but this is literally the Copy & Paste attitude with which most guys try to fetch ladies.

And those lazy asses still win out against me! Every one of my messages is handcrafted, funny, insightful, and compliments on something specific to their profile. And still I receive less attention than the cute guy who puts her feet to sleep with blunt phrases like “I want to go out with you.”


Some of the best company I ever had. Amps don’t run away, you know.

Goemon5 on OK Cupid

Goemon5 aboard the ABC RypMeOff


When I created my profile on that dating website, I was still naively excited about this technology. I hand-selected a few portrait photos, showing my marvellous moustache in various creative environments; I filled in every single text box with engaging descriptions of my strong characters suits; and answered some 150 multiple-choice questions, to improve my virtual compatibility with the seeking ladies.

After two months on that site I have ‘liked’ some 1500 profiles, and wrote some 600 messages, which wasted more than 100 hours of my precious time. Those were not the cheapo kind of messages. Whenever a profile revealed any kind of information, I made sure to respond to that. After a few weeks I became quite efficient at it, but it’s still work, especially when you get next to no feedback.


The virtual harvest

Here is the catch of my prolonged efforts, the result of 600 handcrafted, engaging messages: A total of 24 women liked me back. Two even ‘liked’ me before I ever visited their profiles, which just goes to show that miracles happen, and my portrait photos are not a complete turn-off.

Out of the 24 ladies who entered direct communication with me eleven actually messaged me back at some point. The remaining thirteen are dead weight in my feed; despite various efforts and invitations they never wrote me back.

Out of the eleven women that I had some kind of correspondence with two were so excited to meet me that they unmatched my profile just before we could set a date for said meeting. Four others wrote me back twice or thrice, and then migrated to the “dead weight” category outlined above. They are still regularly marked as ‘online’, which means they spend a significant amount of time communicating via OK Cupid, just not with me.

This could be utterly depressing, considering that I am actually a human being myself, and initially was kinda hopeful about this whole dating ordeal. You know by now that introverts are emotionally involved in just about anything they do, and even more so with issues involving social interaction. When one in fifty lassies likes me back, every single one of them becomes worthy of her own celebration. When more than half of them never interact with me in any way, those celebratory balloons deflate pretty quickly.


Before you ask: yes, my profile pics are interesting.

Finally, Dating

That leaves us with five contacts that actually developed into dates. [This is the point where you break out into excited cheer and long overdue applause.]

I was surprised as well. 600 messages scored me five solid dates, with beverage, and face-to-face communication, and all. In and of itself that is a terribly inefficient ratio, but when you’re aging, lonely, and introverted you take what you can get.

Five dates does not sound like much, but it’s getting even less impressive when you consider that one of these ladies turned out to be a fellow scientist, who made it very clear beforehand that this was to be a friendly meeting, with no chance of romance in any of our quantum universes. To tell the truth, I have not heard back from her in three months, so it is difficult to tell how deep our friendship goes after the single meeting we had.

The other four dates went rather well, if I may judge so myself. We talked, we laughed, and compared our commonalities. Within 24 hours two of these four lassies told me that they had a nice time, and saw absolutely no chance of any romantic relationship between us. The third lady held back for a week, and when I asked her for a follow-up walk through the park to see the famous cherry-blossom trees she first rejected, and two days later ‘unmatched’ me.

That leaves me with one lady who I am now friends with. It’s a bit discouraging that she recently reposted a meme saying ‘hopefully five years from now I will still be single’, but I’ll even take that as a good sign. Afterall, we read and comment on each other’s Facebook posts, so she definitely enjoys my virtual company. Right?! I’ve been told positivity is key, so we better retain all the sweetness that this tiny harvest has boiled down to.

Fjord Town Geiranger

This photo has no relevance here. I just like Norway.


Alright, I promised you a happy bit, and Goemon always keeps his word. As I pointed out in previous posts on the matter, it is very difficult for me to talk to pretty women, if my intentions involve any kind of romance. That’s not just general introverted insecurity. (Or maybe it is – I am no psychiatrist.) Words literally drain from my mind when approaching a cute lass. Being able to score any date at all is already an achievement for me, and it would not have happened at this rate (four dates in two months!) without OK Cupid.

Now, if my somber self might get a few words in edgewise, I’d like to add that there are few things that I hate more than inefficiency, and this virtual dating thing is one of the least efficient experiences I ever had. Imagine you read the profiles of 600 ladies, and in direct response to their personal information you asked them out for coffee, and only five of them said ‘yes’ (for a 1:120 ratio; told you we’d be doing math), you would probably find limited consolation in the fact that four out of five women offer you virtual friendship in return for your efforts.

1500 profiles read and liked, 600 messages sent, 11 interactive responses, 4 dates with ladies who are “looking for something else”, one confirmed second date.

Alas, one out of six hundred women found me so sympathetic that she went on a second walk with me. Seeing that this is the only second date I ever had, we shall now celebrate and rejoice in the miracle of digital dating. The statistics of this endeavour remain terribly discouraging, but the quality company I received is worthy of at least some of the effort I poured into this.

Also, 47 people liked my profile, without me liking them back, which tells you that I have standards that preclude me from certain relationships. But I will tell you more about my prevalence against homosexual affairs with the ring bearer in a later episode. Today we celebrate.


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