A 38 year-old single woman with a kid writes, “Would it be possible to have you take a look at my OKCupid profile and hypothesize why I keep getting guys who are upfront from the beginning that they aren’t looking for a something long-term? They say they’re monogamish, busy, etc. I’m interested in, though not desperate for, a life partner. I also find many of the men who message me are far older than I am and/or from out of state. Neither of those things is particularly interesting to me.”
Our answer will be less advice than reassurance and explanation. We’ll let David start with a little advice, and Sally will provide some explanation.
There’s definitely nothing in your profile that screams “one-night-stand,” “short-term only,” or “waiting for an older guy who lives in a less cool place than NYC.” You don’t even list casual sex as an option. It’s actually a fairly strong profile in most respects (good telling of your life story and a “what I’m doing with my life” that would attract me).
The only thing missing is that you barely say who and what you’re looking for in clear terms, and you don’t make your profile an invitation to the types of guys you want. You should explain implicitly or explicitly what’s interesting, unique, or pleasing about you and give a sense of what kind of partner you are and what being with you would be like. These things are really important for anyone to consider when they write a profile for a dating site. You don’t get what you don’t ask for, and you want to speak to people who have the possibility of giving you what you want.
That said, even if you were very explicit about what you wanted and what you could offer a man in your profile, (and I recommend this) you would get a lot of messages that you don’t want. That’s just the nature of the OKC beast. Maybe that’s not so bad if you can develop a thick skin about it.
Guys don’t read profiles. I knew this even before I created an OKCupid account for this site and saw all the “hi what’s up your cute want to meet and have sex” messages that have nothing to do with my profile. I mean, really. My OKCupid profile has nothing more than my pretty face, a call for questions, and the caveat that I will not sleep with you. So, I get a lot of unwanted attention. But so what? It’s easy enough to delete, block, or ignore another user at any point.
Guys use the cut-and-paste, cast a wide net approach because women rarely contact men and rarely respond. Guys are expected to make the first move, so they have to strut their stuff like peacocks to get any attention. A friend who is pretty attractive and a great writer estimates that his OKC response rate was less than 10%. Maybe 25% of those led to meetups. Maybe 20% of those meetups led to something else, which is a .5% success rate, or 1/200. And he’s a young, good-looker!
Also, guys are usually bad writers and readers and don’t know how to be more creative. If they live far from a big city, there isn’t the density of women online you need to make 1/200 (or less) a viable dating scene, so they look further afield. And, of course, there’s always the cachet attached to younger woman. It’s not unreasonable for someone in his 50s or 60s to think he might have a chance with a 38 year-old, even if that’s not what you want. (We hope you’re considering guys in their 40s, by the way, and you might even want to consider 50. It’s just economics. There are far more single women than men in NYC, especially in their 30s and especially in Manhattan and Brooklyn.)
You might need to approach OKC for what it is: a low stakes opportunity to pick and choose. You have no obligation to any of the men who contact you, so take it as a sign of your attractiveness that they will, even if they’re undesirable to you. You should also actively pick and choose yourself, contacting guys you like, as I hope you do. If they don’t write back, you’ve only lost a few keystrokes.
Finally, be happy that the men who are contacting you are honest about what they want and don’t want. We’ve heard a lot of cases otherwise, and it sucks to be a few dates in or longer with someone who turns on you and says “I would never be interested in something more anyway.” At the very least, their being upfront about their interests means that they’re easy to cross off your list.
We haven’t given you that much advice here, but we hope you leave feeling a little bit better. You might have to accept OKCupid for what it is, limitations and all, and be both passive and aggressive at once: continue to pick and choose among men who contact you and be active about seeking men you like.
OKCupid also tends to be a little bit sexier and promiscuous than some of the less-hip dating sites, so you might want to give those a shot. And make sure you’re open to men in a wide age-range whose main interest is less casual as long as they’re open to something longer. Neither of us were looking for anything serious when we met years ago–we just went home together and never left.
Even if most men are casting a wide net, you want to be sure that those who are spear-fishing are going to notice you too. Be sure to invite them in by giving a better sense of what a relationship with you could be like. Also be sure to say what you want. For example, if you’re OK with dating a bit and seeing what happens until you find something serious, put that in your profile.