Dear Future Cupid...


Earlier this week, I was talked into joining OkCupid. My friends claim they have only my best interests at heart. "David is almost out of the house!" they say. "You never date!" they say. "Your love life consists mostly of falling in love with inappropriate people and then quietly pining for them!" they say.

They say these things--all of which are true--but then they also giggle maniacally and look reaaaalllllly excited when I say I'm going to break down and try Real Life Dating.

I know what they're thinking! They're thinking how funny it's been to watch me FB live-blog awkward dates I overhear at coffee-shops, and they're imagining that it's going to be that much better when it's me describing the dates from the inside. And seriously...who am I to disappoint? (After all, as I just said in an earlier post, Midwestern Pro-Tip #1 holds that disappointing people is Not Nice.)

It's been four days now since I began this venture. I have not yet scheduled any dates, and I don't promise to keep y'all informed if/when I do, but I have been pleasantly surprised at the number of genuinely interesting people out there. Sure, most of them are probably either super-boring in person or total nutjobs (a word I use carefully, as anyone who knows me know that I have far more respect for people who struggle with mental illness than people who turn out to be @$$holes trolling the interwebs for fresh meat). But I've already had a few genuinely pleasant conversations.

NOW! That being said: Men of GR-area Cupid, it's time to talk.

Articles and posts critiquing profile pics and names are a dime a dozen (can anyone surpass the scathing brilliance of Tinder in Brooklyn?), but--as usual--the Coasts get all the attention, and everything in-between gets the shaft. (See what I did there? This is why my dating life is OFF THE HOOK.)

ahem

Let's start with profile photos. Because I would have thought this was a hard one to mess up. Get someone (maybe yourself) to take a decent picture of your face that looks more or less like you on a good day. Then add another photo of you from another angle that also looks more or less like you on an even better day. For bonus points, include some photos of you in what you consider interesting places, doing what you consider interesting things.

For the love of all that's holy, though...

Do not: Make your profile pic a selfie of yourself lying flat on your couch.

This is not rocket science, people. Unless you actually intend to meet your dates laying prone on your own couch (which, for the record, really needs to be cleaned), post a photo in which you are at least sitting up. Have some pride, Cupid Dudes. Have some pride.

Do not: Post only photos of yourself in sunglasses.

I get it. Sunglasses are cool. You are cool. The world takes itself too seriously. Also, your car is totally bitchin', and I get why you want to show the world how you roll. I'm just saying: ONE photo of you without the shades.

Only exception: someone who posts only pictures of himself in sunglasses and then lists "my eyes" under 'best feature'. Because then either you're clever or you're hiding the goods, and either way--props.

Do not: use your profile pic to show how good you are at killing things.

I'm 100% positive that the creepy dentist guy who killed the lion in Zimbabwe used that photo of him crouched next to Cecil's corpse as his Cupid profile pic (if he was on OkC). Do you want to be That Guy? Do you, really???

Even if killing things--fish, deer, people, extraterrestrials--is 'your thing', you might want to save that information for an in-person date. No need to share the actual photos of your appetite for destruction right off the bat. You know how we women are always being told to retain an air of mystery? That's a door that swings both ways.

Do not: include an attractive woman in your profile pic.

Is she your Mom? Run! Run like the wind and never look back!!

Is she your ex-wife/girlfriend? Run! Run like the wind and never look back!!

Is she a porn-star/local celebrity/anonymous stranger that you don't identify in the caption? Run! Run like the wind and never look back!!

There is absolutely no exception to this rule. None.

Now let's talk usernames.

Again--I get that choosing a username is tricky. "Hot4U" is already taken, and "Wet4U" is really more of a girl-handle. Honestly, choosing a username has been the most challenging aspect of OkC so far. Especially after a 'friend' told me that HildegardVonBangin' was not acceptable, and it was made clear to me that MommaLuvsHerCats was also not ok. (I do not own cats). After several hilarious conversations that included what I would do if my son were ever abducted by aliens, I ended up going with something vaguely erudite/literary that also looks interesting. (And you're crazy if you think I'm going to tell you what it is.)

That said, I feel like someone could make a good and honorable living helping guys choose decent OkC usernames. I mean, maybe 'RichDadj' is just running with what works for him, but, um, eeeeeeeeewwwwwww.

So, a few suggestions for OkC hopefuls:

Avoid actively alarming future dates.

You'd think this was an obvious point, but BedroomEyes 123 and DeathSnake7 would like to take issue. (Am I naming and shaming actual OkC users? You betcha! I have no idea who these people are. I'm just marveling at their choices from the outside.) I'm also looking at you, ExMilitary6ft9. If you're going use that name and then include photos in which you look completely terrifying and then message me twice in two days when I don't message you back, you'd better be prepared for me to block you. Maybe you're a soft-hearteded kitten full of love and rainbows, and you're just trying to look tough. If so, I have one word for you: overcompensation.

Avoid confusing potential romantic partners.

There's JazeeytothePeezy, and then there's CoolChange4U. To both I say, "WTF"? The first probably comes with some cute story that is vaguely endearing. The second comes with...therapy? Maybe therapy? I don't get it. Is he Cool but willing to Change4U, or is it Cool that he will Change4U? Either way, I want to give him a copy of Co-Dependent No More and a pat on the back.

Finally, and we all knew this was coming...

If you're going to choose a username like TunsofFx, and 'Fx' doesn't stand for 'foxes' (as I happily imagined it did for one, brief, shining moment--further proof that I really haven't played this game before), just...DON'T.

There are a number of such handles (snork) to choose from, but I would like to use two in particular to make my point.

1) EatU4hours69. My favorite part of this username is the addition of the '69'. It's as though this fine fellow were sitting in front of his computer, puzzling out a username that would really make it clear to the ladies what he was all about, thought up "EatU4hours", and then worried that perhaps there might be some lonely female who would otherwise fancy a lengthy mustache-ride but thought the username was aimed at people with a cannibal fetish. "Can't have that!" this sterling individual clearly thought to himself. "I'd like to service all the willing ladies...quick on the uptake or not." The addition of the 69 is practically a public service.

2) Iliketocaress. Just...

...

Why? WHY?? EatU4hours69 is at least pandering to the obvious. "I like to caress"???? So many unanswered questions. So little incentive to get answers to any of them.

The most amazing thing about this username is that it comes with a photo of someone's actual face! (Player #1 just has a shot of his shorts looking down at his feet.) Someone's actual face wearing sunglasses and in his car, no less. There is a chance that, one day, I will be walking along the street and bump into someone who looks vaguely familiar. "Where do I know this person from?" I'll ask myself. And then, when I remember, I will either take off at a sprint or pounce on the poor dude. "WHAT EXACTLY DO YOU LIKE TO CARESS???" I'll demand. "YOURSELF? OTHER PEOPLE? FURRY ANIMALS?! AND WHAT IN THE NAME OF ALL THAT'S HOLY INSPIRED YOU TO CLAIM THIS IN A SEMI-PUBLIC FORUM?!"

When that day comes, dear Readers, rest assured that I will share it with you. That's all for now, through--I got me some dates to go on!


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Written by Christina Van Dyke
the academic world
philosophy professor at a liberal arts college, writing about medieval views on the afterlife, gendered eating, and the perils of on-line dating.

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