Unwritten Rules of Online Dating

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Sam Yagan, co-founder and CEO of OkCupid, discusses the unwritten rules, taboos, best practices, and other tips for online dating.


Sam Yagan

Comments [18]

J. L. from UES, Manhattan

Truth is, you never know. I'm not sure that OkCupid is any worse or better for being free.

Even "high-end" matchmakers should come w references. Richard Easton, who caters to men, has two convictions on his record. For hitting women.

Trustworthy and kind doesn't come with a price tag.

Feb. 01 2011 06:46 PM

To some extent, I’m wary of quantifying things like chemistry, compatibility, love, and the like - which is what the "math nerds" over at OKCupid do. I like that traditional approach to matchmaking, the personal recommendation of one person to another rather than some machine crunching numbers or some special generalized equation. I looked into a matchmaking service run by Richard Easton after a streak of bad luck with online dating and with some recommendations from friends. But to each his own, I say. Do what works for you.

Aug. 05 2010 03:25 AM
ann from cobble hill

my take: everyone on the planet enjoys "film, music, books, travel, food" etc but veeeery very few ever bother to list specific descriptions or more robust details beyond the expected norm....which once you've stripped a given profile of its photos makes for very unmemorable reads.

i recommend being very specific about your likes and with your descriptions so that you don't end up sounding like a generic clone of hundreds of others. cite hobbies and life experiences and anecdotes or even random albeit personality hint-worthy observations within your profile that couldn't be applied to ANY other guy/chick! for instance rather than mentioning that you enjoy brunches and dining out or cooking at home cite WHAT you enjoy cooking, what your favorite ingredients are, which neighborhoods you like to frequent for bites or a recent memorable meal.
rather than mentioning how much you dig films....reference highball noir, russian silents or B horror flicks. quote a few favorite lines or mention which dvds have received the most wear and tear at home. rather than indicating your tastes in music are "too diverse" to list but that you enjoy this or that totally generic genre mention the first concert you ever attended or the most recent concert you hit up and what made it fun, a favorite lyric from a favorite song, what you'd insert on a mixtape for someone crush-worthy or what these particular tastes might be. rather than mentioning your love for travel and walks on the beach in the rain with pina coladas or a list of countries reference a funny foreign phrase you learned while on the road, a humorous travel story, something unusual you experienced, your oddest passport stamp, what you'd like to explore on your next trip etc etc other words use your keypad to render yourself unique and MEMORABLE!

Jul. 29 2010 12:28 PM
Hy from Forest Hills

I think online dating is disadvantaged by being basically a small sampling of the people available. I also don't like the minimizing of kismet. It's too mechanical, too perfunctory. I'd rather a "When Harry Met Sally" or an "Annie Hall" experience than an eHarmony one any day.

Jul. 29 2010 12:08 PM
Tiffany from Brooklyn

Do a google search on your date. The benefit of dating friends of friends is that they come with references.

I once went out with a "professional pick-up artist" who was suspiciously vague about his career, so I googled him. Why he was on OKCupid, I'll never understand.

Jul. 29 2010 12:08 PM
Lysa from Peekskill, NY

When I met my future husband 8 1/2 years ago on, my four most important rules were:
-Avoid men without a profile picture
-Avoid men wearing sunglasses in their profile picture
-Avoid men who obviously paid no attention whatsoever to pertinent details of *my* profile
-Avoid men who used bad grammar

Following these rules, I met my husband, who a) had a profile picture, sunglasses-free, b) had most of the same interests / desires as me, and most importantly c) used perfect grammar. It didn't hurt that he is witty, scary smart, and endearingly quirky. Added bonus? He came with his own cat.

Jul. 29 2010 11:58 AM
Sarah from Brooklyn

How do you purpose sorting the fish from the sharkes? There are men out there who claim to be looking for one thing, and then you go out on a date and end up with something very different.

On the other side of that, I seem to meet a lot of guys who want "instant relationship just add water." There's a desperation to connect, and a desire to skip the getting to know you stage, which I think is the best part....

Jul. 29 2010 11:57 AM

Ps. My only rule involved a stiff drink before each date.

Jul. 29 2010 11:57 AM

So is it the same as being in a bar/party where everyone goes for the top 5% of good looking people?

Jul. 29 2010 11:56 AM
Joy from NJ

What does Sam think about the many profiles on OkCupid that are mostly vague - such as when being asked what they're doing with their life they answer - eating vanilla ice cream.

I enjoy OkCupid but find it to be extremely time consuming with mostly vague profiles (which I suppose in itself says a lot.)

Jul. 29 2010 11:56 AM
stephen from Prospect Heights

Go out enjoy life and meet folks while pursuing stuff you love. Online dating is a step back and exhausting. I mean, first searching, then flirting, messaging, then finally a possible meeting to realize there is no X factor. The old way is the easy way. Just meet folks in passing and know immediately if there is a connection.

Jul. 29 2010 11:54 AM
AT from Brooklyn

OkCupid was full of guys looking for one night stands. Maybe the CEO didn't intend that, but that's what happened. Many men (particularly guys in their 20s) just want to prey on "desperate" women.

Jul. 29 2010 11:54 AM
RLewis from the bowery

How about asking this guy why the reputations of online dating services are so bad? As Suki and Levi have said, these services have scams and hooks that we all see, and are turned off by. Aren't they worried about their brand?

Jul. 29 2010 11:53 AM

The best rules I was told when I online dated (and that's how I met my husband!)
1. Don't be as picky online as you think you should be, if they're a bit interesting, just meet them and then decide later
2. Don't engage in too much back and forth over email or phone if you're interested, it creates expectations that are too high and you're bound to be disappointed when you meet them in person.
3. Don't stay for a 2nd drink if you don't like them. Learn to say no.

Jul. 29 2010 11:52 AM
Sam from UES

I met my current boyfriend- future husband- on jdate. I was not a paying member. He instant messaged me. In this day it seems a little better for your self esteem to scour online than go to a bar and be rejected in person. It is a numbers game and you just have to be patient.

Jul. 29 2010 11:51 AM
Blotto from NYC

Sigh. I find online dating too much effort. I'm waiting for the day when they can just deliver a mate, like the Fresh Direct trucks that come into the neighborhood.

Jul. 29 2010 11:48 AM

Suki is right. The SCAM all of the online dating services currently do is to allow people to post "free" profiles (but without email privileges until you pay) and then make those profiles "appear" as active members. Thus, to a paying member, it seems like there are millions of active members, when in reality only a very small fraction of the profiles online are truly active. Moreover, many online dating services--like eHarmony--absolutely refuse to delete your profile, even when you call them and request it. They want to keep the dead profile in rotation for paying suckers. It's like a grocery store selling expired milk. Very sour.

Jul. 29 2010 11:43 AM

For the record, OkCupid is the worst dating site out there; like MySpace, it's the ghetto of online dating.

Does anyone remember how much fun it was to date online in the late 90s / early 00s? When Spring Street Network was limited to Salon and Nerve? Not to dork out but it was like everyone you met was in the same club. Now it's full of super creeps and dudes looking for one night stands.

Jul. 29 2010 09:31 AM

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