Timberlake: Online dating expands potential pool, proves viable

Ian Timberlake


For the past three months, I have been experimenting with online dating. Piqued by curiosity and listening to friends’ first-hand accounts of various websites, I decided to make an OkCupid account. Recently purchased by Match.com, OkCupid is essentially the free version of many online dating sites and is arguably the largest. Even the Boston Globe called it “the Google of online dating”; take that as you will.

The site has over 3.5 million members, recording an average of two logins per month for every member. The method of matching seems to be quite complex. Including your age, location, sexual preference and miles willing to travel, there are literally thousands of questions you can answer. You can answer as many or as little as you like, and all are neither correct nor incorrect. On a level of importance, you rank each question asked. 

All being calculated, this leads to a “match percent,” “friend percent,” and “enemy percent” in the users that fall under the age, location, sexual preference and distance willing to travel stated above.

The goal, obviously, is to narrow down the selection to people whom have a high “match” and “friend” percent and a low “enemy” percent. And it seems they do a good job of that, in my experience.

I went into this curious experiment with a fairly negative view of online dating, but I have to say that my view has severely changed. I was quite impressed with how the selection process worked and how close matches were politically, religiously, educationally, and sexually among many other things.

There were still a few hiccups, however. I warn you that I may speak discriminatorily and highly judgmentally in the next few paragraphs; and that has to do with either how I presented myself on OkCupid or how most women who use OkCupid behave. In other words, my experience has only to do with women who were narrowed down based off my supposed personality.

A trend seemed to be severe flakiness. Regardless, if a woman’s profile says she is willing to chat with anyone and was not shy, she still was flaky — so much so it made me take every profile with a serious grain of salt. 

An attribute of myself may have caused that; I am very blunt, as my profile exclaims, but whether I am the one writing the initial message, or the one receiving the initial message, few of the women I chatted with held a conversation long enough to even get to any real “deal breakers” that weren’t already taken care of in the OkCupid questions.

As you might judge, there were (in my eyes) plenty of women on OkCupid that seemingly fit the bill as someone who might find difficulty in finding long-term relationships offline: bisexuals, atheists, overweight people, single mothers, etc. Don’t get me wrong; this isn’t the majority, but I will agree that online dating is a great place for people to meet who have a taboo attached to them, including myself.

I did go on a date with a smart, beautiful and charming woman from Des Moines. We were like-minded but our future plans simply didn’t pan out after that honestly delightful experience.

However, on two occasions, I was asked out by women who ended up backing out; and aside from my above example, a handful of other women I asked out accepted and then backed out at a later time. It was really quite disappointing.

Every woman seemingly wants her own white knight story. A moment of captured bliss bringing two people together, a sense of meaning, or even destiny. I don’t blame her. Every man wants a beautifully charming girl to traipse along around the corner and smite him, though, he will never admit to that.

Online dating does not do that, but I do know that online dating is successful. I personally know a few people who are likely to marry the person they met online, including one couple which met with over 1000 miles between them and now live together. For this reason I will keep participating. It only increases your dating pool, and is actually quite fun to take part in.

For any ladies out there who have  seen or will see me on OkCupid (using my full name) and now think none of it was serious, think again. I am currently single and looking to date, and will continue looking to date both offline and online until we find each other. Overall, I approve of online dating, and I’ll say it again, ladies: I’m single.