Oh Gay Cupid! True Life: I’m an Equal Opportunity Makeout Artist

Welcome to Oh Gay Cupid! Autostraddle’s OkCupid series. We get lots of questions on Formspring regarding online dating, so we finally got a bunch of people together to talk about it. While OkCupid isn’t the only online dating site for queers, and maybe isn’t even the best, it does seem to be the one we use most often. We’ll be discussing all things OkC, including meeting friends, first dates, profiles, fuck-ups, letdowns and more. Even though it’s the ‘OkCupid Series,’ the advice given in this series could easily be applied to any online dating site.

 Oh Gay Cupid! illustrations by Rory Midhani

When filling out my OKCupid profile, I wasn’t exactly sure what I was looking for. I knew that I was painfully shy about meeting strangers, and that I wanted to force myself to step outside my comfort zone a little bit. I chose “bisexual” as my sexual orientation because there were only three options, and that was the closest I could come to describing my personal preference. Although from time to time the pendulum swings one direction or another, I am generally open to meeting people of any gender, as long as they’re intelligent and respectful. I made sure to note as much in my profile.  To be perfectly clear, I don’t necessarily subscribe to the notion that gender is binary, nor have I found that the plethora of terms used to describe someone with my predilections — “bisexual,” “pansexual,” “gender-blind,” even the catch-all “queer” — ever really felt like words that fit me perfectly. Still, I was shy and single and in the market to go out for a series of awkward drinks with foxy strangers, so I clicked the box that made the most sense and moved on with my life.

As far as online dating sites, OKCupid is absolutely the most bi-friendly of the major leaguers in terms of how you’re allowed to define yourself. Most of the bigger sites disappointingly will only allow users to list themselves as seeking exclusively men or women, which can be inconvenient, insulting and annoying (Seriously JDate, my Jewish grandmother is VERY disappointed in you). Certainly, OKCupid’s users identify all over the map in terms of gender identity and sexual orientation, but it’s refreshing to have a recognizable space between gay and straight to even exist in. I can’t believe it’s taken this long for ONE site to offer this simple option.

this looks like not a big deal but it feels like SUCH a big deal you guys.

So what does it mean to list yourself as bisexual on OKCupid? Well, for starters you’re probably going to get a lot of messages from creepy dudes who think you’re some kind of novelty, and that messaging your craaaaazy, free-spirited self is the first step to writing their very own letter to Penthouse. As flattering as it is to be fetishized by random creepsters (read: not very), those messages are easy to weed out and ignore. Also, if this gets to be too much it’s totally possible to change your OKC settings so you can hide your profile from straight people.

According to this very strange article on OKTrends from 2010, although about 12% of women under 35 on OKCupid were listed as bisexual, a surprisingly small percentage of those women were actively messaging both men and women on the site. As it turns out, roughly 80% of surveyed users messaged either men or women exclusively. The slightly confusing graph below seems to suggest that younger bisexual-identifying women are more likely to approach both men and women, although this behaviour appears to decline with age. OKTrends theorized that this data seems to suggest that bisexuality is a farce — “that bisexuality is often either a hedge for gay people or a label adopted by straights to appear more sexually adventurous to their (straight) matches.”  This conclusion rests under the assumption that all people listed as bisexual on OKCupid are seeking partners based on an equal attraction to both men and women, which is certainly not accurate — this is why the Kinsey scale exists.  OKTrends’ logic seems problematic at best. Although the data presented is surprising, the very limiting vocabulary available to describe one’s sexual fluidity on OKCupid makes it difficult to gauge any sort of accuracy.

Personally, I was on the site because I’d found flipping through profiles far less daunting than meeting strangers at a bar. I know what my type is up to a certain point, but I’m absolutely terrible at approaching people in person (sober). I messaged with and even dated a couple of guys off the site, but had great difficulty finding someone with whom I felt a real connection (true story: I broke things off with a very sweet, well-read graphic designer because after a couple of weeks it was painfully obvious that the only thing we truly had in common was a mutual affection for The Muppets Take Manhattan). I can’t say I went in looking for one particular gender over another, but I did have a much easier time finding girls who seemed up my alley.

Over the years, I’ve maintained a love-hate relationship with my OKCupid profile, periodically abandoning it when I was in a monogamous relationship or felt overwhelmed by meeting strangers off the internet. Sometimes it can be difficult to gauge the chemistry you’ll have with another person just by reading a list of their favourite foods and movies. That said, I was met time and time again with messages from a specific set of people I knew for a fact I was not looking for: couples.

First of all, I’m 100% super OK with threesomes or even triad relationships — they can be fun. I’ve done both a couple of times and can honestly say that when they were good they were the most lovely, but when they were bad, were volatile and dangerous. While I applaud those who are able to make these kinds of arrangements work, I’ve decided after a LOT of crying/feelings/therapy that this is something I personally no longer wish to pursue. I said as much at the bottom of my profile — “For the last fucking time, my sexual orientation doesn’t mean I want to be your ‘third.'” This has not stopped countless variations on HotCoupleForU69 sending me messages about how such-and-such’s girlfriend thinks I’m cute and would I like to come over for a bottle of wine sometime? This weirds me out every time, especially because these people I am allegedly meant to be connecting with in one way or another have obviously NOT taken the time to read my profile to see what I am emphatically NOT comfortable with.  From what I’ve heard from friends, this is super-common for all women listed as bisexual across the board, which is a strange and sort of uncomfortable phenomenon.

There’s certainly a stigma surrounding bisexual and otherwise-inclined women within the lesbian community, though I can’t say that I’ve experienced it myself with regards to online dating.  Unfortunately, being an equal opportunity makeout artist comes with a lot of upsetting misconceptions – that we’re faking it for attention, that we’re really gay or straight and just haven’t chosen a side yet, that we’re slutty, that we’re incapable of monogamy, that we’ll inevitably leave our girlfriend for a boy or vice versa, that we are all insatiable, greedy, sex-crazed lunatics. As far as I can tell, the easiest way to disprove that notion is to… just not be that. And I mean, if you are one or all of those things, do your partner(s) a favor and be mega-up front about it.

The internet is full of weirdos, and currently when you list yourself as bisexual you’re essentially signing yourself up to meet twice as many of those weirdos. Although OKCupid’s system certainly isn’t perfect, it’s refreshing to see at least one dating site recognize that a grey area between straight and gay does exist — and that some of us are lookin’ for cute strangers.

Special Note: Autostraddle’s “First Person” column exists for individual queer people to tell their own personal stories and share compelling experiences. These personal essays do not necessarily reflect the ideals of Autostraddle or its editors, nor do any First Person writers intend to speak on behalf of anyone other than themselves. First Person writers are simply speaking honestly from their own hearts.

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Stef Schwartz is the Music Editor and self-appointed Vapid Fluff Editor at Autostraddle.com. She's a rock'n'roll jack-of-all-trades, vegan crusader and legit professional weirdo. She lives with her cat Scully in the wilds of Brooklyn, where she plays a bunch of instruments in some bands or whatever. Follow her on twitter.

Stef has written 109 articles for us.

50 Comments

  1. Thumb up 10

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    Stef! I like this!

    I just want to add that even if your profile is listed as gay you still get matches and sometimes messages from people who want a third? I can only imagine how much worst it is for you, though.

    I actually had to add to my profile that I’m not interested in dating people who say ‘oh my boyfriend just wants to watch he’ll only be involved if you want!’ and then I got an angry message from someone and I was like ‘yep, this is why I put that up.’

    • Thumb up 9

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      Oh, the bitchy entitled messages. A friend of mine put on her profile that people should message her if they weren’t creepy boring dudes, and got a long missive about how she was discriminating against all the creepy boring dudes.

      Way to out yourself as a Nice Guy TM, man.

  2. Thumb up 7

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    Back in the day, I used nerve personals more or less exclusively and they let you list an interest in men, women or both and back then I thought I was interested in both. I was constantly propositioned by couples who had taken photos of their bodies in the mirror with a flash obscuring their faces. Like you, I’d been in a triad-ish situation before and knew it wasn’t for me, but saying NO COUPLES PLEASE didn’t change who messaged me. There seemed to be no shortage of men in my 3-D life, so I changed it to just seeking women, because that’s who i was going online to meet, and i was sick of being propositioned by couples.

    I wonder if that trend chart just reflects that as women get older, they figure things out about life, like that men are more likely to message them randomly than women and so there’s no need to take the first step themselves, or that perhaps they feel safer about meeting women online than men? I think them looking at messaging trends is pretty problematic, a switch in who the women said they were looking to date would be more revelatory.

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      I’m one of those bi people skewing the data on OKCupid by only messaging women for the same reason. Straight dudes are everywhere in real life, queer women not so much. I wish their analysis of that had been more thoughtful

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      I just realized my profile (marked f/gay) would also show up differently using that way of keeping stats. My friends and I are a bunch of screwballs (represent!) and we (okay, mostly me) use OKC as a social network when we get bored, which means I’ve sent messages to guys *too* just because I wanted to make fun of stuff (in a friendly way!) they’ve put on their profiles and/or plan to get together for platonic whiskey outings. You know, as you do.

      So basically what I’m saying is that who you send messages to strikes me as a terrible awful metric.

      If they tracked who I tended to have sex with then they’d know what’s up, but for obvious reasons I don’t tell OKC who I have sex with.

      Even when I feel like telling the whole world because it was really great.

      I save that type of thing for security questions.

  3. Thumb up 10

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    There is an option for people who find OKCupid to be limited in the ways you can identify: OKChoices!

    http://i.imgur.com/5HGjE.jpg

    http://userscripts.org/scripts/show/108791

    It allows you to change your gender, orientation, and relationship status to a much wider variety of things. Unfortunately, it only works if other people have it too; so while everybody who does have OKChoices installed will see me listed as agender and queer, everybody else sees “female/gay” next to my picture.

  4. Thumb up 2

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    I listed myself as ‘bi’ briefly on OKC before being inundated with messages from people accusing me of not being bi, asking for FFM threesomes, and even a married couple trying to find a girl to be a “companion” to the wife.

    I got tired of it and switched to straight and then just gave up dating until I graduate and move the fuck out of this city.

  5. Thumb up 4

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    I wish I could use OK cupid for real. I work in a field where I have seen clients and colleagues on the site, so I feel wayyyy to uncomfortable to post a photo. So, I have a sad little profile with no photos. Any advice for the lack of privacy involved with having a full profile? My town is so small that there is no “hiding” among multiple pages of profiles.

  6. Thumb up 4

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    Stef! I am so glad you are around and writing articles like this!!
    Seriously, I couldn’t handle putting up my OKC profile for more than 1 hr because of the sexual orientation question. Straight/gay felt like a lie and bi- left me feeling REALLY exposed and a target for negative-attention. But I am glad you are out there fighting the good fight and maybe one day I will join you :)

  7. Thumb up 1

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    My girlfriend and I were just discussing this the other day. She had always been listed as “gay” so she really didn’t receive any messages asking to be a third. On the other hand, I started out as “bisexual”, and changed due to the non-stop messages asking to be a third. Then, once I changed it, I still received them constantly even with a disclaimer about it in my profile. What I didn’t understand was how I was still getting them after changing my sexual orientation, but she had never received any….

  8. Thumb up 19

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    Can there just be an Autostraddle dating site? You people are all so awesome and that big world outside of here is so scary and just not here… Maybe it’s time I put that Cat Woman picture up as my Autostraddle Avatar…Not going to lie, purple is my color (yes, purple, as in the old comic book Cat Woman!).

  9. Thumb up 2

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    I listed myself as lesbian on OKC for a long while, and got messages from queer ladies and from entitled straight dudes just hoping I’d make an exception for their special cock. Surprisingly, I didn’t get too many requests for a threesome. Even though I eventually started identifying more as bisexual, I avoided changing my profile because I was super skeezed out about the guys who had previously contacted me on the site.

    Once I changed my orientation on OKC, I got a bunch of requests to be a HBB unicorn and a ton of hilarious skeezeball emails from guys. In the 3-6 months that I was both active and listed as bisexual, I don’t think I got any messages from single gay ladies. (It doesn’t matter, because that’s where I met my current partner.)

    My favorite message of all was the one that only said “Meow? Mrrrr. -Kat.”
    My second favorite was the guy who told me how disappointed he was to see that I didn’t want kids, but then he was hopeful because I was a teacher and therefore obviously I didn’t hate kids and would of course be open to step children.

  10. Thumb up 3

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    I joined OKC last week (as B – closest option to ‘don’t label me but yeah I like girls’). I answered hundreds of questions, and joked to my friends that OKC now knew more about me than they did (kind of true). I excitedly waited for my list of top matches – first one I get is someone I know IRL (and I live in a BIG city) and really despise. I now no longer trust OKC/internet algorithms.

  11. Thumb up 16

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    “insatiable, greedy, sex-crazed lunatics” Speaking as a someone who is best described in this manner, I’m offended that it’s mainly used to describe bisexuals. I’m even more offended (and super disappointed, Stef) that it isn’t true.

  12. Thumb up 1

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    Bi-skewers for life! Ok that didn’t come out right. But yes also a Bi-seeking-lady on the okcupes. Its more of a- FYI so THIS has totally happened before and pending a flawless romcom coffee date with you, madame viewer, it MAY happen again at some point. #TheMoreYouKnow

  13. Thumb up 8

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    This describes my experience on OKC pretty much dead-on.

    I get pretty tired of the incessant messages that can be summed up thusly:

    “Wow, you seem really sexyadventurousdaringcool! Want to do unspeakable sex acts with me and my long-term loving partner for a one-off and then we drop of you off at the side of the road or something while we drive home to our loving relationship and talk about it without you?”

    I mean, gosh, internet strangers, how appealing!

    Seriously though, these Oh Gay Cupid articles are great–keep ‘em comin. :)

  14. Thumb up 0

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    I identified as bisexual on my OKc profile as that is how I identify. I sent messages to both men and women and dated both men and women. I also got a number of messages from couples so this article describes most of my experience…

    I also got many messages from men inquiring about my supposed love of threesomes based on my sexual orientation…cos that’s how that works. AND, perhaps based on the OkTrends stats was once told by a female date that she questioned my orientation because my profile didn’t seem gay enough….WHAT DOES THAT EVEN MEAN?!?!? Perhaps an idea for the next OhGayCupid article?

  15. Thumb up 10

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    just as an update, here’s a cool message i got just now:
    “Hey my name is rob. I saw your profile and I think you are totally hot. I see your bisexual and I think that is awesome. I’m in a polyamorous swinger relationship with my beautiful Ukrainian bisexual girlfriend. We are looking for new friends and hopefully friends that we can engage in amazing hours long multi orgasmic sex. We can also be platonic friends if your not interested in joining us. I just think you have alot of energy and could be a great person to hang with. We are going out for drinks tonight would you like to join us?”

  16. Thumb up 3

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    I have none of the luck with okcupid. Is there some magic? Nobody replies to me, and I’m starting to secretly think maybe I’m a robot and nobody told me. You know?

  17. Thumb up 0

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    Gah, Stef, why you so perf, tho? This was my exact experience for the 20 hours I was on OKCupid before totally freaking out.

    I have zero problem meeting dudes in real life, but meeting ladies seems to require some sort of Internet-facilitated event. I want to keep “bi” in my profile, cuz I don’t want to lie, but geezums it’s such an effort to straddle these binaries?!

    Thanks for the SamRo reference, too. I wish “Equal Opportunity Make-Out Artist” were an orientation box one could check.

  18. Thumb up 3

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    When I first started openly dating women, I listed myself as bisexual on OkCupid with a note that I was only looking for females there. Oh, the Menz of teh Internetz did not like THAT:

    “Then you’re not really bisexual. I don’t think you’re confused or anything, just misinformed.”

    “Do you know yourself? Do you like yourself? If you don’t even know if you’re bi or gay, I’m guessing not.” (This was a second message, after ignoring his less-awful first. Later, I got one saying, “I just want you to know I’m giving up since I never hear back from you.” THANKS D00D.)

    And, of course, “That’s just not fair.”

    Finally, I was like “You know, I’m a Kinsey 5.5 and am not so comfortable calling myself bi anyway. Might as well just list as gay.” It got easier, but ack. I’ve met some great people online dating, but I’ve also learned a lot about entitlement.

  19. Thumb up 1

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    Okay the whole idea of “you’re only looking for X gender so you must not REALLY be bisexual” pisses me off to no end. You know why I listed myself as bisexual but only allowed women to see my profile? Because at that point in my life I was looking for a girl and not a guy. It’s that simple.

    Additionally, it’s a lot easier to find hetero/bi guys in real life than it is to find bi/gay girls (especially since the girls I like tend to be femmier and my gaydar sucks anyways.) So for me, an OKC account was a less nerve-wracking way to find girls to date than going up to girls at bars only to find they are 100% heterosexual. And it worked–I found my girlfriend of a little over a year and it’s been the best thing ever.

    And of course the last reason was that I didn’t want creepy dudes messaging me for threesomes or solely because of my sexual orientation. Reading some of these comments, I think I did the right thing.

  20. Thumb up 0

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    This made me LOL! my profile on OKC is definitely straightforward and in some spots downright vulgar and even though I’ve changed it to decidedly GAY I still get about 5 messages from men daily. Again more proof on the already factual evidence to support women are in fact SMARTER than men. Smh

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