Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Seven Days of Ok Cupid: Days 5-7

Going into Day 5, I couldn't remember if weekends had more activity or less.  For me, it was less.  On Day 5, which was a Friday, I emailed two of my intended 4 men during the day and planned to email the other two when I got home.  And then I completely forgot about it.  And then when I remembered, I decided I didn't care. 

For Day 5, I had a total three profile views and received no messages.  Ooh, they are really rolling in now!  However, Friday evening, I did get a message from one of the men I had emailed earlier in the day.  He is currently separated with a divorce that is dragging on.  His profile said he is looking for friends because he is already dating someone and it's getting serious.  He has since removed that from his profile, but is still legally married and that's a road I usually refuse to go down. 

Going into Day 6, I was now behind on my goal of emailing 25 men.  But, there is no rest for the weary and I had a very busy day with photography group, volunteering for Comcast Cares Day (now there's an oxymoron if I ever heard one!) and attending a fundraiser.  Unrelated to Ok Cupid, I have decided I like to attend fundraisers as a volunteer rather than a guest because as a volunteer, afterward, I get the opportunity to tell the organization all the things I think they could have done better.  You don't get to do that as a guest.  Anyway, back to Ok Cupid.  By the time I got home for the day, I really just wanted to go to bed so I didn't bother to get online.  Not that there was anything waiting for me, as I only had one profile view and no messages all day. 

Day 7 was similar to Day 6 in that my morning was tied up with frantic house cleaning (my original plan for Saturday night until I was asked at the last minute to attend the the fundraiser) and then hosting a clothing swap.  My afternoon was spent doing laundry and catching up on some personal finance "stuff."  My evening was spent working on a jigsaw puzzle and binge watching TV while binge eating leftover Costco muffins from the clothing swap.  Is there anything better than a slightly frozen, apple oat-strudelly muffin from Costco?? (Well, maybe a slightly frozen blueberry muffin from Costco).  I could have gone online and emailed the remaining nine men to get me to my goal of 25, but why bother?  Day 7 I received four profile views and one message ("Hi  how are you doing? ?") from a guy who may or may not be real.

My conversation with Day 1 Guy has fizzled out; it appears my conversation with Married Guy is fizzling too.  He did ask if I wanted to meet for a beverage, but with his work schedule can only meet after 9:30 at night, which is a bit too late for me.  (And possibly code for "booty call").  He also potentially lives about an hour away.  But then again, with as bad as Portland traffic is getting, someone who only lives 20 miles from me can also live about an hour away. 

Today is Day 10.  I realized this morning as I was getting ready for work that with my two conversations fizzling out, I don't have to check the site anymore.  That's a bit of a relief as I have definitely seen a downturn in my mood since I logged back in.  I don't like the level of negativity I'm allowing this to bring to my life.  I don't like how it plays into my fears and insecurities of growing old alone.  I don't like how much time I'm devoting to it for no results.  Thirteen of the men I emailed have read the message I sent them; only two - Day 1 Guy and Married Guy - responded back to me.  There are definitely better, happier things I can be doing with my time. I accomplished what I set out to do:  I proved that not all women are flooded with "hundreds" of messages everyday.  Sometimes, it sucks to be right.

Day 10 goal:  make a note to turn off the A-list subscription setting before it automatically renews and disable my account again after the 30 days I paid for are up.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Seven Days of Ok Cupid, Day 4

I wonder how long it takes the average online dater to get discouraged?  Apparently, for me that was partway through Day 3.  At bunco Wednesday night, I told one of the ladies I must have some underlying emotional issue going on because I was binge eating everything in sight and undoing a month and a half of disciplined eating habits - and I didn't care.

It was partway through Day 4 while at the grocery store buying Hostess donuts and debating which grab bag of chips I wanted to devour on the spot I realized that once again, I have let this stupid site affect me negatively.  Old demons have been rushing through my head:  "what IS so wrong with me that I can't attract a man?"  "When my friends try online dating, they get profile views.  They get legitimate messages.  They get dates.  They may not end up in a relationship, but at least they go out with people.  So why am I the only person on the planet who can't seem to get a date from an online dating site?!"

I would understand it if was a matter of men looking at my profile and seeing something that makes them pass.  I get that - I do it too.  If someone answers "No" to  "Are you happy with your life?" then I move on.  I can't create someone's happiness for them anymore than someone can create mine for me.  If someone thinks gay marriage should not be legalized or is a sin, I move on.  I became an ordained minister specifically to marry my gay friends.  So if someone sees I'm a non-drinker and wants a woman he can take out for drinks on Friday night, or if he was attacked by a dog as a child and has a lifelong fear as a result, I can understand the pass.  What I can't understand is why my profile is being viewed by so few.  It's not that they are looking at it and passing for whichever one of their deal breakers I possess, it's that they aren't looking at it at all.  And there's typically only one reason for that:  they don't find me attractive enough to see what I'm all about. 

But again, I have several male friends who have told me I'm attractive and I'm easily on par looks-wise with my female friends who do online dating and they get views, messages and dates so I am really baffled as to why I am virtually invisible. 

For Day 4, I had 13 profile views and received four messages:  three were "filtered" and came with the warning to avoid spam; the fourth was my token fake profile/bot message of the day.  Which means that in 4 days, the only legitimate message I have received came from a 29 year old and that conversation fizzled quickly. 

For my part, I emailed my quota of four men.  I'm finding it's easier to shoot off messages if you don't really care whether or not they respond because deep down, you already know they won't.  I have now emailed 14 men; I have eleven to go to meet my goal for the week so I will likely email another four for Days 5 and 6 and only three on Day 7. 

It's Friday and once again, I will be spending it at home curled up with a book telling myself I'm doing that because I'm choosing to - that it's what I really want to do with my evening when the truth is I just don't have anything else to do because I don't have anyone to do anything with.  More than anything, that was what I was hoping to gain from this latest stint on Ok Cupid - a couple of new friends I could hang out with when all my existing friends disappear come 5:00 on Friday afternoon.

On a positive note, now that I know why I'm binge eating, I can return to my healthier, disciplined diet plan. 

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Seven Days of Ok Cupid, Day 3

Am I really only on Day 3?  It feels like longer but at least I'm about halfway done with the first week of my month long subscription.

It turns out I'm a hit with scam artists from the U.K. Sadly, I am not a hit with anyone else.  I had a total of 8 profile views yesterday.  Only three of them met my basic criteria for age range and distance; the other five were the desired age range but did not live near me.  I did receive five messages yesterday, four of which hit my "filtered" folder:

From a gentleman in the U.K., this message came with a warning to avoid internet scams:
"Hello there,
Your simplicity got me attracted to you and your profile words clearly distinguished you as a woman of virtue, intelligent and honesty and it got me fascinated to know you more. I am Xxxxxxx Xxxxxxx, a sociologists by training. I want to know you more.
Cheers."


From a gentleman on the other side of Oregon, who lost me with "sweet baby":
"Hello baby, how's you ?. Sorry for the disturb. Just that I got short alert that we are match so am taking the bold step to write you. I liked your profile and will like to know you if you care to know me too. If you do write me at xxxxxxx111 at hotmail . c o m, I shall be glad if I get a message from you.

Thank you sweet baby"
From a gentleman in Michigan, this one also came with the anti-scam warning:

"Hi baby,Im interested..."
And token message #1 from the bot:

"Pretty smile"
I also received my first message that actually passed my filters of age and distance:

"Hello there."

That one came from someone who had previously "liked" me that I passed on due to the suspicion that it is a fake profile.  If he is real, this is going to happen to him a lot due to the part where he didn't fill out his profile, is looking for women in a rather broad age range, and his lone profile picture is blurry enough that you can't really see what he looks like.

On my end, I achieved my goal of emailing 4 men, bringing my total to 10 of my intended 25 for the week - almost halfway there too!  One of the men I have actually met before several years ago via Meetup so that one was a little awkward to send a message to but I do find him attractive, as I did when I first met him.  What do I have to lose right?  A little dignity, at most.  Of all the men I have messaged so far, my fingers are crossed that this one will email me back. 

I didn't finish going through the men who had "liked" me on Day 1.  That list is up to 23; I have looked at 14 of them.  I have also discovered that some men who come up as Quickmatches "liked" me but they don't show up in the list of men who "liked" me so I'm still not entirely sure how this aspect of the site works.

I went through 10 of the Quickmatches that were sent to me.  I passed on seven; liked three.  I am also still waiting to see if the two with whom there was a mutual "like" will email me, provided they are even real people to begin with. 

I am also starting to see men I have "passed" on or have already emailed are starting to show up in the "you might like" section, which is something that drives me nuts about this site and again makes me wonder about the matching algorithm and computer programming side of things.  In my opinion, there is definitely room for improvement!

I have a busy day today with work, mammograms and volunteering at the Food Bank, but to stay on pace, my Day 4 goal is to email another four men.  Maybe today, my "hundreds" of messages will start flooding in, but I'm not holding my breath.  I look good in blue, but prefer it as a choice for clothing, not skin tone!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Seven Days of Ok Cupid, Day 2

My goals for Day 2 were to read the profiles of the men who "liked" me, go through my Quickmatches to see if I "liked" any of them, email four of the nine men who appeared in my ideal search, respond to the guy from Day 1 who emailed me back and possibly change my screen name.

I was quickly reminded another reason why my stints on the various online dating sites have been so short is that I find wading through profiles to be both tedious and boring.  As I read through them, I was thinking about what a time suck this is and how paying my bills or taking a nice, long, hot bath would be a much better use of my time. 

My list of men who "liked" me had nineteen men on it.  Since four of them don't appear on my Visitors list, I'm guessing they are either A-List members browsing invisibly, or I appeared in their Quickmatch section.  I'm still not entirely sure how that works.  Of the 19, I made it through 11 profiles.  Of the 11, I emailed one and passed on the rest.  My reasons for passing on most of them is they either lived too far away (i.e. Germany), they were too negative in their profile, or they had the hallmarks that indicated their profile might be a fake.  I did "like" someone who "liked" me first so I'm curious as to whether or not he will email me or if his profile is fake as it read as one that could go either way. 

I'm not sure how many of the Quickmatches sent to me I went through as they all tended to blend together.  Again, from Quickmatch you can either "like" or "pass" and I only liked two of them.  I didn't keep track of how many I passed on or the reasons for doing so but I know that a couple of them were because they didn't match my filters.  I have it set that I'd like to meet someone who is between 35-48 and who lives near me.  A 51 year old who lives almost 200 miles away certainly doesn't meet that criteria and makes me wonder if the system just matches you with anyone. 

So the Quickmatch goal wasn't quite completed but I only had 11 profile views yesterday and only received 3 messages - two from scammers and one from a 29 year old - so it's not going to take me a lot of time to wade through yesterday's "results" and I should be able to make it through the rest of those profiles today. 

The next goal was to respond to Day 1 Guy.  That was easy enough; he again replied back but based on prior experience I get the sense that conversation is going nowhere.  As did the conversation with the 29 year old, who I responded to but whose response to me gave me nothing to comment back on.  I also changed my screen name to one that is more generic as I wondered how many people "got" my old one and if that was hampering my profile views. 

The hardest part was emailing four of the nine remaining matches from my ideal criteria search.  I changed my search to include men who "might" want children and that bumped my matches to 31.  In the end, I did email four men yesterday:  one from my now expanded search, one who "liked" me, and two who appeared in the "you might like" section.  While I have always appreciated getting messages that indicate the guy read my profile, I really have to give props to men who take time to write a nice, well-thought out message.  It is not an easy thing to do. 

I was going to email a fifth guy.  I was checking out his profile and it popped up he was checking out mine.  Fate?  Nope, when I went to email him, I got an error message that profile didn't exist so he either deleted it or blocked me.

Two days in and I can already tell I paid $20 for nothing.  My goals for Day 3 are to finish reading the profiles of the men who have "liked" me so far, go through any new Quickmatches I have and email four men. 

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Seven Days of Ok Cupid, Day 1

Having chosen my pictures for my updated profile, the only thing left to do was log back in, change my pictures and wait for my "hundreds" of messages to flood my inbox.

Once I logged back in and changed my pictures, I reviewed my profile and made a couple of changes to make it a bit more current.  Overall, I still felt it was short and to the point, and if stereotypes are to be believed, men don't read it anyway.  They just look at your pictures and think "yep.  I want to hit that."  While I'm sure this does happen, I don't believe it to be true for all men.  I also decided to pay for one month of "A-list" services for a few extra features to more closely follow what was done in the article that made me decide to try this.

As of 8:44 a.m., I was officially online dating again.  The first thing I did was a search of my absolute ideal basic criteria:  online within the last week so I know they are an active user, ages 35-48, lives within 25 miles of me, does not smoke or do drugs.  Never or rarely drinks.  Does not have nor want kids and likes dogs.  In the Portland Metro area, this is all of nine men currently on Ok Cupid.  Sigh...if I am going to meet my goal of messaging 25 men this week, I'm going to have to decide which of my criteria is least important to me. 

I'm not sure if this is new since the last time I was on the site or if it's an A-list feature, but I can now see how many searches my profile came up in.  Because online dating wasn't already depressing enough.  For Day 1, I appeared in 1,251 searches.  My profile was viewed a total of 30 times; I received a total of one message from someone who had messaged me previously and whose profile picture was so sleazy, I felt I needed to take an incredibly hot shower after looking at it.  His message, which consisted of nothing more than "hi, my name is X" went into my filtered message folder as he does not fall into my search criteria of living near me.  On my end, I sent messages to two of the nine men who matched my search criteria even though I didn't fit what they are looking for.  Both read the messages; one replied.  (One of the reasons I paid for the A-list membership was so I could see if messages I sent were read).  Neither of them show up as having visited my profile, however.


I did have 17 "likes."  I'm not sure if this is the result of men rating me highly but choosing not to message me or clicking "like" on Quickmatch, which only shows you a snapshot of the other person's profile and doesn't allow you to message the person unless you "like" them too, or both.  I "liked" one of my Quickmatches; you can't see the next one unless you say yes or no to the current selection.

My goals for Day 2:  go through the list of men who "liked" me and the Quickmatches chosen for me.  Respond to the guy who did reply from Day 1.  Email four of the nine men who remain on my list.  Maybe change my username.


Monday, April 20, 2015

PDX Metro Girl Documents HER Experience on Ok Cupid! for Seven Days

I have been on and off various online dating sites for about 5 years now.  The amount of time I have spent on them has varied:  at first, I realized I wasn't as ready to date as I thought I was following James's death and closed my accounts quickly.  Then, I was just plain discouraged as I found online dating to be hard on the ego.  Turns out you need a really thick skin to do it, and I don't have one that is thick enough.

My last stint on Ok Cupid! was about this time last year and it lasted for six months before it got too depressing and I disabled my account.  From that experience, however, I did have my first (and only) date with a guy I "met" online (a guy with whom I initiated contact).  So that in itself was progress.

I think part of the reason I've had short stints on the sites is because it doesn't feel like a natural way to meet someone - it doesn't feel like it's how I'm supposed to meet someone.  I firmly believe you meet someone when you aren't looking and least expect it and online dating is definitely looking.  So I've had the mindset it isn't going to work; being rejected by both Match.com and eHarmony the first time I tried them felt like a sign this isn't the right path for me.  And my results would seem to support that theory in that I get very few profile views and even fewer messages. 

But lately I've been thinking of giving Ok Cupid! another go despite the definition of insanity being doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results.  Then I read the series of articles by Thought Catalog contributor Chris Backley on his experience with Ok Cupid! where once again, popular theory is pointed out that if you are a woman, all you have to do is create a profile and you are flooded with messages.  After reading the whole series of his week, I decided I'd reactivate my profile and document my own first seven days. 

DAY ZERO:

I already have a profile created but since it didn't get me much action the last time around, I enlisted the help of four friends (two female, two male)  to help me select my pictures.  Three of them got back to me.  All were in agreement on the same picture so clearly, that was the one I selected for my main picture.  There was only one other in which two of my friends agreed so I used that one as well.  Between the three of them, they chose 13 pictures.  Feeling that was a bit overkill (and having Googled how many pictures was ideal), I narrowed it down to nine that I felt were a good representation of my life and met the core requirements of profile pictures: recent, show my activities and personality, show that I do get some exercise and I don't weigh 300 lbs, and of course, show a close up of my face so men can decide if I'm hot or not.  After all, it's well known that pictures are key when it comes to online dating. 

Stay tuned for Day One...

Monday, March 30, 2015

Letting Go of a Lifeline

Not long after James died, I stumbled across the site ywbb.org-a site designed for young widows and widowers which had a message forum called "Chapter Two."  Chapter Two was defined in different ways:  for some, it was finding love again; for most, it was this new and foreign stage in our lives.  This forum was great in that it was divided into sections:  there was a general section, sections based on how long you'd been widowed, widowed with children, widowed without children, special circumstances, social, "widowbagos" (i.e. get togethers), etc.  The best thing about this forum was it was available 24/7 and for the most part, the members there were accepting of "non-married widows" such as myself and other fiance(e)s.

YWBB quickly became a lifeline for me.  It was the only place where there were others who understood exactly how I felt and what I was going through.  It was where I could cry and have others cry with me or laugh and not have others think I wasn't grieving "properly."  It is also how I found out about Meetup, which is what ultimately led to me starting my own group for young widows and widowers in this area.  Mostly in those first months, I stayed in the newly widowed (0-6 months) section but from time to time, I'd venture to the other sections to get a feel for what I could expect down the road.  I remember the first time I ventured into the social section and read about someone who was getting remarried-I started crying because I couldn't believe she'd do that to her late husband!  Over time, the social section became my "home" and as I read the posts of those I'd gotten to know through the board announcing remarriages, I envisioned the day that post would finally come from me (and I'm still waiting...).  I have not only "friended" several members of the board on Facebook, I even watched the wedding of one of them which was streamed live from the chapel in Vegas where the ceremony took place.  I can honestly say that will likely be the only wedding I will ever "attend" in my PJs!

As time continued to pass, I found myself feeling less and less a part of the board and eventually I started posting less and less and then I realized I felt I'd outgrown the board and found a new (non-grief related) place to post.  But I always knew the YWBB was there if I wanted or needed to go back to visit and whenever a new member joined my Meetup group, I directed them to the site.  I don't know how many tens of thousands of people worldwide found this site to be a huge blessing.

On Friday, March 6th, exactly seven years and 1 month after James died, I found out via Facebook the site was being shut down.  No reason was given but it was 12 years old and as I'm preparing to step down from organizing my Meetup group after 7 years, I can only imagine how the admins of the site feel after 12!  I'm sure they are definitely ready to move on to whatever is next for them.  I was at the beach with the dogs when I read the news and my first reaction was "No!  You can't take away my lifeline!  How do I fix this?!"  But the next day, I started to think about how long it had been since I'd even checked in and I couldn't remember.  What was being said on Facebook was that the site had become pretty dormant-of course, we all had to speculate on the reason for it's demise.  The more I thought about it as I walked along the beach just enjoying the waves crashing on the shore with the two four-legged loves of my life was that I wasn't sad for myself that this was being taken away-though it is a little scary to know my safe place is gone-but rather I was sad for those who are still to come who will not benefit from this site that has been a lifeline for so many people over the past 12 years. 

My understanding was the site was to be read only until March 20th and then it would just vanish from the Internet.  I haven't looked it up to see that it's really gone-I'm allowing the memory of how the site looked to stay in my brain as a reminder it was once there.  It would be too sad to get the error message the page I'm looking for doesn't exist even though I no longer need it to.

Good-bye, YWBB, and thank you for saving my life when I needed it the most.