It’s Not OK, Cupid


Staff Writer Madison Choi learned about the struggle of online dating.

Two weeks ago, I challenged myself to join an online dating site for the first time. I’ve always viewed online dating like how I do sky diving. It looks interesting when other people do it, but is an experience I can live my entire life without having. However, after recently breaking up with my boyfriend of more than three years, I feel ready to get out of my comfort zone and be open to new experiences. Instead of dipping my toes into the dating pool, I decided to dive headfirst.

So, for four days (it was supposed to be one week, but I couldn’t last), I challenged myself to join an online dating site. Not to find a boyfriend or even a casual relationship, but to explore a dating subculture firsthand and maybe make a new friend along the way. But as a millennial woman with a fervent aversion to social media, this challenge of joining an online dating site was daunting to say the least.

The first step in creating my online dating profile was picking which platform I would use. Due to the fact that I don’t have a Facebook account, I wasn’t able to resort to the trendy dating apps like Tinder or Bumble, but was instead forced to settle for one of the granddaddies of online dating, OkCupid.
OkCupid was the platform I used for my online dating experience.

It took me roughly 20 minutes to create my online dating profile. I answered a multitude of questions about my aspirations, political beliefs, sexual preferences, etc., and noted I was looking for short-term dating (a loose parameter in my mind) and new friends between the ages of 21 and 27. I included four photos of myself, the finding of which proved to be an obstacle in itself since I’m personally opposed to self-promotion on social media as previously mentioned. I also enjoy spending most of my time in sweatpants, so locating photos where I looked halfway decent was a struggle.

After creating the profile came the fun part – or what I thought would be the fun part – swiping right for some hot dudes. But to my disappointment, OkCupid is a barren wasteland in regards to attractive men. The guys fell into one of two categories: mildly good-looking and uncomfortably forward, or nerdy and sweet.

Despite my frustration at the selection of guys, within the first 24 hours of creating my OkCupid account, I was overwhelmed by the number of men who were initiating conversations with me. After my first day of being on the app, I had acquired 19 “likes” and had an inbox filled with messages from 10 unfamiliar faces. How anyone is supposed to keep up with that many strangers is a mystery to me, especially when all of their profiles are only vague variations of each other. I get it, your main hobby is Netflix and you like to take mirror selfies in your messy bathroom.

As a single woman, I understand how difficult in can be starting a conversation with an attractive stranger while appearing to be calm yet charming. Though I am sensitive to this nervousness and appreciate a confident approach, pickup lines like “If you were a Transformer, you’d be a Hotobot. And your name would be Optimus Fine” fail to make me swoon. This was just one of the colorful conversation starters posed to me by the limited pool of single men within a 50-mile radius.

After sifting through the plethora of creeps whose idea of swoon-worthy advances included asking me to come to their house or meet them in the middle of the night at Leeward Bowl, a few nice and seemingly non-threatening men remained. I spoke in depth with three guys, two of whom initiated conversations with me and one who was a mutual “like” that I reached out to. Being that I was on a mission to push myself as far out of my comfort zone as possible, I quickly secured “dates” with all three.

Leading up to my first date, I experienced a stress like no other. Even though I knew that I was online dating as a social experiment and was certain that there would be no romantic chemistry whatsoever, I was overcome with nerves. I found myself calling a good friend on my drive to the ice cream shop where I planned to meet my date, asking her why I had committed to spending my Sunday afternoon with a total stranger.

However, my nerves quickly subsided once I met him. While this may have been because upon first glance I realized I could fend him off in a kidnap attempt, it was mostly because he was nice and we shared a pleasant conversation. Feeling a little guilty, I decided to be forthcoming about my self-serving reasons for meeting with him and my disinterest in a romantic relationship. He was surprisingly understanding of my curiosity into the world of online dating and shared with me a similar desire of talking to new people and building friendships. Leaving the meet up, I realized that if anything, I gained a new friend through the process.

Unfortunately, I was unable to meet with the other two guys who I had planned dates with. In regards to one, I was certain that there was no romantic connection and I felt like it would be unfair to meet with him even if he knew where I stood emotionally, so I cancelled. As for the last guy, the only mutual “like” that I had a conversation with and foresaw the potential of a genuine connection, he ghosted me. Why he would “like me,” converse with me, ask me to dinner, text me after I offered my number, and choose to ghost me in the end, I will never know. Bye, Casper.

By the end of day four, I had received 61 “likes,” I had 31 male-initiated conversations in my inbox, and I was completely emotionally exhausted. Prior to embarking on my journey of self-discovery on OkCupid, I felt the pangs of post-breakup pain and loneliness. But after only four days on an online dating site, I came to the perspective-altering realization that I like being alone. Getting to know a new person and proactively having substantial conversations takes a great deal of emotional sacrifice, something I am currently unable to give while still maintaining my sanity.

While this experience stretched me beyond my limits of comfort, it reminded me that being single is great and allows me to pursue my ambitions and passions without having to answer to anyone. I do think I will be sticking to face-to-face dating in the future when I am ready for a romantic relationship, but my stint on OkCupid gave me significant insight into my emotions and boosted my confidence because 61 “likes” isn’t too shabby.