Oh Gay Cupid! You Met Online, And That’s OK

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, so don’t get your panties in a twist.

Oh Gay Cupid! illustrations by Rosa Middleton

My girlfriend Zeller and I met on OkCupid. I love her, and maybe someday we’ll get married and have babies and sit in rocking chairs on our front porch with lap blankets. Maybe we’ll just adopt six thousand cats. I suppose you could call us a success story. Then, why do I still feel the need to give her the weird side-eye and awkwardly laugh when people ask how we met?

When I met Zeller online, I had recently ended a very long-term, long-distance relationship and was newly back in Colorado after living abroad. I didn’t know a single lesbian in my small city. One night, I drunkenly peered through the windows of the gay bar in town and decided it wasn’t my scene. So, I joined OkCupid.

She was one of my ‘quiver matches’ for a few weeks, but I was too shy to message her. Finally, she sent me a hello and complimented my profile reference to A Tribe Called Quest. Look, if a girl can agree with you that “Can I Kick It?” is one of the best songs ever written, you go on a date with her to a coffee shop and then invite her to bar trivia.

Our first date! I dragged her to bar trivia unexpectedly. We placed third and our team name was Suck My Caucus and I drank too much.

I’m going to be honest. Even after being together for a long time, our parents don’t know how we met, exactly. I told my parents we met through friends. She told her parents we met in a coffee shop. It’s not a total lie — we just had our first date in a coffee shop through our mutual friend OkCupid.

There’s just something strange about saying, “We met online.” There’s a stigma that goes with those three words. I don’t care how popular it is to meet people online, there’s still that weird associated skeezy feeling. Sometimes, when you tell people you’ve met your partner online, it just feels like you’re a lonely loser who can’t meet people in real life, even if that’s so far from the truth.

Meeting people online is the second most-popular way of meeting new people, second only to meeting through friends. In fact, 61% of same-sex couples meet online.

It’s popular. Why are we still feeling weird about it?

Getting to know ladies online is almost necessary for me. As a seemingly-invisible femme, cute lesbians hardly ever approach me, even at gay clubs. I’m so shy around cute girls, and after a few drinks I just get even more awkward. My straight friends think that every lesbian they meet would be my perfect match, because all lesbians will be perfect for each other, right? My girlfriend’s parent’s family-friends even texted her once trying to set her up with their niece.

I think that when you get to the heart of it, the weird, skeezy stigma revolves around two outdated ideals. First: Online dating is for losers. Second: Online dating is full of creepy pedophile murderers. Rebuttal: I don’t think I’m a loser and I don’t think my girlfriend is a loser and I’ve never thought anyone was a loser for dating online, so there’s that. The idea about online-stranger-danger is reserved mostly for pearl-clutchers and the 9 o’clock news.*

In an interesting article critiquing the way popular dating websites advertise themselves as marriage-matchmakers (I’m looking at you, eHarmony commercials), author Jessica Massa hits an important point, “The over-stressed emphasis on marriage and true love and commitment perpetuates the still-popular belief that online dating is a last resort for when you’ve been too busy working or feeling lonely or dating the wrong people to find love.” [emphasis hers]

click to enlarge, you dating fiend

Use online dating for whatever you want. I don’t care if you want to get married or get laid, you’re not a lonely loser. You’re still a special snowflake. Using a dating website shouldn’t feel as abnormal as it sometimes does. Let’s lessen the stigma ourselves as a grassroots effort. Here are some tips I’ve found useful about how to tell other people you met your significant other online.

You Met Each Other Online, And That’s OK

Tell people you met your partner however you want. It is totally okay to lie to people if you want. Yes, I said that and I mean it. Don’t think your parents will understand? Saying you met at a coffee shop/bar/friend’s house is fine. Maybe down the line you’ll be at a family dinner and your sibling will let it slip and everyone will laugh and not really care about it by then. Maybe your grandchildren will ask you how you met and you’ll tell them a charming story about a coffee shop. Who cares?

Quit thinking it makes you less awesome. You know what you want and that’s why you need someone’s profile before you can commit to having a drink with them. Why is this a bad thing? You don’t have time for meeting losers who won’t even like your cat and think your flag-burning weekends should have you imprisoned. Meeting people online automatically gives you top secret info it might have taken three or four dinners/coffees/drinks/picnics to get out of the way. You’re just being efficient.

Talk to your partner about it. Do you want to have a different story? Better get that straight. Does your partner feel embarrassed and do you feel totally cool about it? Maybe figure out a middle-ground for when people ask the two of you when you’re together so no one feels awkward. You can say “online” but not “on a dating website” perhaps. Sometimes with less details, you’ll feel more comfortable.

Stop worrying about what others are going to think. This is one of those easier-said-than-done things. Sometimes people are going to give you a raised eyebrow when you say you met online. But you know what? Fuck those people. Perhaps you’re the side-eye, awkward-laugh type (we can be twins!). Stop doing that. You’re automatically giving people permission to dismiss your actions because you’re dismissing them first. Just be casual. Shrug a shoulder. Have a coy smile. People will typically react in response to how you react first.

Be happy with your own actions. Are you happy with your girlfriend? Great! Own that, and use that happiness to remind yourself you made the right choice every time you start to feel silly about meeting your girlfriend online. It’s as simple as that.

Any other tips or lies about meeting you’d care to share?

*As my very own please-don’t-die disclaimer: please don’t be stupid about meeting strangers online. If someone wants you to meet them at their house at 3am for a first date, say no, and meet them in a coffee shop/public place/anywhere not so Murderville, USA. Unless it’s that kind of a first date, and I’m not judging you but I want you to stay alive.


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.

Avatar of Hansen

Hansen is the DIY & Food Editor of Autostraddle.com and likes to spend most days making and cooking and writing. She is an MFA candidate in Creative Writing at Colorado State University in her free time.

Hansen has written 164 articles for us.

57 Comments

  1. Thumb up 7

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    I have the same problem, except with friends not my gf. I have so many friends that I’ve met through my blog (especially other lingerie bloggers), but it still feels weird to say I met someone online! My parents/sister/friends insist on calling them my ‘internet friends.’ They clearly don’t understand how many awesome people are out there on the internet.

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      YES, THIS. When I was a teenager I really didn’t like to do the kinds of social things that my friends from school were doing and prefered to be online where people actually had the same interests as me. My parents always insisted on saying ‘internet friends’ as opposed to just friends and tried to claim they weren’t REAL friends if I couldn’t physically meet up with them, despite my own feelings being that they knew me far better than any friends I had locally. One of them has been my best friend for seven years now and I’ve visited her three times so they’ve finally gotten over it a bit.

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        I have a close-knit group of so-called “internet friends” that I hang out with (online) waaay more often than my “IRL” friends. I really crave that group dynamic and I’ve never been able to find it elsewhere.

        They are the best.

  2. Thumb up 5

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    “Perhaps you’re the side-eye, awkward-laugh type (we can be twins!). Stop doing that.”

    I find this very helpful even though I didn’t meet my girlfriend online… we met at Girl Scout camp.
    Maybe quitting my side-eye and awkward-laugh will lessen the reaction we get from people when we tell them…

    • Thumb up 3

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      I stopped answering awkardly after a double date where I awkwardly explained to my gf’s friends that we met online, and then proceeded to ask them how they met. As it turns out, their relationship started out with a lot of cheating by one girl with the other one, who was best friends with the last gf. Confusing? Doesn’t matter. I felt awkward. (I KNOW YOU ARE ON AUTOSTRADDLE, YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE! Ps I don’t judge, I love you both.)

  3. Thumb up 39

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    i met my girlfriend right here on this website, she was my favorite commenter! and now she’s my favorite human and I’M NOT AFRAID TO SAY IT

    also these illustrations are amazing as per ushe

  4. Thumb up 8

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    my gf myself met online. we text for 2 days, she took me out for a date and asked me “when do you have to be home?” and i said” oh no time soon” and she smiled and said “well I guess your not ever going home again huh”

    and we have been together for 2 years now. and so happy.

    …we are the extreme Uhaul lesbains lol

  5. Thumb up 1

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    I met my now-kinda-ex gf online. We haven’t really officially broken up yet. She just moved back home after college and we haven’t really kept it touch. It wasn’t a srsbusiness type relationship though. Just a nice, fun, first relationship :) We even met on OKC :P

  6. Thumb up 1

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    I met my partner online, through a forum of a band we were both obsessed with (yes, it was Tegan and Sara). I don’t have a problem saying we met online. However, my mom said something to me the other day that annoyed me a lot. “Well, you haven’t really been together for 2 years because that first year you couldn’t see each other.” More of a long distance issue, but wtf still.

    • Thumb up 3

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      I feel like it’s never anyone else’s job to decide what defines YOUR relationship. What may constitute a “real” relationship to me could be totally different for someone else. In my opinion, virginity falls under the same umbrella of subjectivity.

  7. Thumb up 8

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    I met my partner on OkC. We would have never crossed paths otherwise, despite the fact that we lived less than 15 minutes from each other. I’ve never met someone I genuinely enjoy and love as much as her (here’s to you, mdhp). I am 100% in support of online dating, and being honest about it. I don’t think I’d be comfortable being ashamed of the way I met someone. That said, I’m not everyone and you do you :)

    Side note: I’ve also met some pretty good friends through OkC. Super useful when you move to a new area.

  8. Thumb up 5

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    I met my wife online. We’ve been together almost four years now and it never seems to get less awkward to share our “how we met” story. Wasn’t a dating site and we were looking for friends of the lesbian variety after ending long-term relationships in small towns. We chatted as friends and met for dinner as friends but it just kind of organically evolved. Now we’re married and as committed as it can get. ;) She is, without a doubt, The One…and I think it’s ok if Craigslist is how we found each other. I mean, it had to happen somehow! ;) But I agree, sharing the story is always kinda…weird.

  9. Thumb up 5

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    My very straight-laced lawyer cousin met her very straight-laced engineer husband online. They’re actually a really good match for each other. They’re both quiet, smart, and care about money and perfection. If there were such a thing as “normal” I would say they’re the most normal. 2 kids, big house, good jobs, expensive clothes, American dream-type normal. I think this is just absolute proof that online dating works for all kinds of different people. And that includes queers and homos and very straight people alike. I don’t know why it’s so stigmatized when SO many people use it.

    And honestly even if you are outgoing and friendly and willing to meet new people sometimes it is just REALLY difficult to meet people. Even just in terms of finding friends. So I like what you said about using online dating for whatever purpose, not just for getting married. I think that’s great.

  10. Thumb up 5

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    My parents met online in the late 90s, before it was really even common to say the words “we met online.” I figure if they could do it, then anyone can.

    Of course, this doesn’t mean I don’t still struggle with the stigma of meeting people online myself. But it’s easier when I remember that fact. :-D

  11. Thumb up 1

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    I think it is fine to meet people online.

    But I think the only issue is if everything just stays online for too long and you think you have a connection but actually thats just because the both of you that are good at writing for an online purpose and actually you become confused between and online and personal relationship.
    Also, if its just over Facebook, how do you ask someone out on a date without sounding too desperate? Because people on OKC allows you to ask people out as it is a dating site….

  12. Thumb up 0

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    I just realized that when people ask how I met my best friend, I tell them I met him at school. We actually met on Myspace, in a group for future SFSU students and became friends on Facebook shortly after that. I feel like I forget that we met online since we’ve been friends for five years now, but it’s funny how I leave that detail out. I’m going to ask him if he ever mentions that we met online.

    I deleted my OKC account a while ago due to not really having time to date/not knowing how to frame my sexuality/feeling awkward when I’d see people in person from the site.

  13. Thumb up 2

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    I have no problem whatsoever telling people my gf and I met online. We were both only in Philly for that summer, I had just gotten out of a relationship and wanted a rebound, she had never dated a girl and was under 21, so it just seemed like the easiest way. We made it long-distance for a year, broke up for four months, got back together, and now no one cares how we met. So so so many of my friends (gay and straight) have met their significant others on OkCupid, my dad’s moving in with his gf of two years from Plenty of Fish, my mom’s on Match, eHarmony and god knows what else (she’s getting a little desperate I think) that I no longer see any taboo at all in it.

    I actually feel way weirder about explaining how I met friends online. I met one of my closest friends here off one of the three Meetup.com events I’ve ever been to, and he and I hit it off perfectly. But i feel weird saying that. And anytime I go to an AS meetup, I end up being like “ummmm… It’s this lesbian website, idk they’re really cool… *awkwardlook*”.

  14. Thumb up 2

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    This article makes me feel better about the fact that I just joined OK Cupid after I got out of a long term relationship that was really long distance at the end and moved back to sunny San Diego. I can’t deny that I did the awkward glance to the side thing when introducing my new OK Cupid friend, though I think it’s really silly to be embarrassed by it.

    It does seem a little weird to meet someone for the first time and already know their feelings about getting slapped in the face during sex and have a 91% match but 56% friend score. WTF? And rating people’s profiles? I can’t seem to bring myself to do it.

    Since you are all cool by virtue of reading Autostraddle, feel free to stop by my profile and provide feedback for the newbie! My username is also MsHorst there, long story that I actually go in to on OKC…

  15. Thumb up 11

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    I have a pretty severe case of femme-invisibility happening, pretty sure I’d be single forever if it wasn’t for the Internet. Definitely preferable to having ‘lesbian!’ tattooed on my forehead…

    • Thumb up 5

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      I have Stage 2 femme-invisibility and I’m terrified it’s going to metastasise and become terminal. When I was in college I was so desperate for queer attention that I got my septum pierced just like my then crush and even went through the flannel phase. And still nothing.

      I thought living in NYC would help with meeting lovely queer folk but, still nothing. When I hang out with my G³ (gaggle of gay guys) everyone just thinks I’m a fruit fly tagging along and when I hang out with my heteronormative friends they dismiss my queerness since I have yet to “consummate said identity” :(

      What am I to do!

      P.S. – My OkC handle is tati121 :)

      - lonely.in.nyc

  16. Thumb up 6

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    People used to get weird when my girlfriend and I said we met online, so she would always try to weave this elaborate yarn about how it mostly involved writing letters to each other — like John and Abigail Adams, OK? — and not just commenting on each other’s fan fiction or whatever. People were still were weird about it. Maybe even weirder after she tried to make us out to be like America’s best power couple. Anyway, so now I’ve just taken over telling the story and here’s how it goes: “We met because she tweeted me a video of Paula Deen getting hit in the face with a ham.” It’s a winner every time.

  17. Thumb up 1

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    I went on my first OkCupid date last week. I was super nervous about it because it was my first online meet up ever. I had my friend text me in the middle of it to make sure I wasn’t getting murdered (she wanted to meet at a hotel restaurant).

    I’m still alive (yay!), but she had somehow failed to mention during our message exchanges that she was already married..

    I did get a swanky meal out of it though, so I guess it wasn’t all for naught.

  18. Thumb up 2

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    My girlfriend and I met on Okcupid. We’ve been together almost 2 years, live together, going to Europe together next month where I kind of think a proposal will happen LOL. She’s my best friend. When we were about to meet up for the first time I was embarrassed and told people ‘oh we met through friends’ but I’ve come clean to everyone and now I shout it from the rooftops! :)

  19. Thumb up 5

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    I met my now wife online in an MMORPG. We were both with other people at the time. We were friends for 9 months or more before she got the nerve to tell me she had feelings for me. We have been together for 8 years now and have been married for a little over a year. People look at me funny when I say we met in a video game, but hey it was meant to be and I’m glad I found her. She is the most perfect person for me and I would do it all over again.

  20. Thumb up 0

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    met my current girlfriend through okcupid–we’ve been together over a year now, and i’m still trying not to feel weird telling people we met online. actually, me reading this article just led to us having a convo about this, and now we’ve decided to just say we met through a friend. so thanks! : )

  21. Thumb up 5

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    You know that feeling when you finally get up the nerve to make a dating profile, and then badoo won’t let you post any solo pictures of you drinking whisky or sitting in trees because it thinks its a picture of an under-age boy, and you’re 29? It’s like that.

  22. Thumb up 2

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    I basically won the online dating lottery. My girlfriend was the very first person to message me the day after I signed up – on Plenty of Fish, even – and we hit it off right away, and we’re still together 2.5 years later. And she is amazing. I never had to go on any dates with any weirdos or anything!

    I used to feel a bit awkward about telling people how we met, but I got over it. Now I say it without any hint of embarrassment, and nobody thinks it’s a big deal at all.

  23. Thumb up 1

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    the point about not giving too many details has worked really well! if someone asks me where i met my current activity partner and i say ‘online’ they usually shrug and say something like ‘oh how long have you been dating’ not ‘oh you mean like on a dating site?’ i have literally never been asked that by a friend or acquaintance. my parents were an exception but i just kind of dealt with the awkwardness, and told them i met my partner on last.fm, not craigslist or anything of that nature.

  24. Thumb up 2

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    Thing is I’m not worried about telling people that I met someone online. It’s if co-workers see my profile. Also potential future employers. I know it’s none of their business but I’m a little paranoid like that. I’m very selective about who I share my personal life info with and I wouldn’t want things spreading around the office. I actually have a coworker whose met several ladies on OKC. No judgement from me. He’s a really sweet guy so I’m rooting for him.

  25. Thumb up 3

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    I met my girlfriend online. She was with her boyfriend, and they were looking for a girl to join their family. I fell fucked-up in love with her, and decided to jump into the waters of polyamoury. I can’t tell you it was easy, but now I have somehow learned to swim.

    When asked how we met, we tell them the truth. No shame. At all.

  26. Thumb up 2

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    I met my wife online…11 years ago. That’s a friggin’ long time, by the way. And back then saying we met online was even weirder than it is now. I didn’t think this would still be a big deal?

    Things are just so much clearer and easier online, sometimes.

  27. Thumb up 0

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    A friend of mine calls the site OkStupid after she signed up and the her top matches turned out to be her boss, her landlord, and her brother. All of whom she hates.

    I swore off internet dating after I figured out that it’s no different than RL dating. One guy went out with me because he wanted to meet one of my friends who he’d seen in one of my profile pics. And there were a handful of girls who went out with me once and decided we were better off “friends” (I am, apparently, THE GREATEST FRIEND IN THE ENTIRE WORLD and no one can even comprehend the possibility of “ruining” that purity with something so base as romance). So, I give up. The only common denominator in all this unsatisfying crap is me, and I either have to change my entire personality or accept that I’m meant to be alone.

  28. Thumb up 0

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    My girlfriend and I are currently super long distance (I’m in the UK, she’s in Oklahoma) so there’s no real way of hiding that we met online, and I get a fair amount of weird reactions from people. But whatever! She’s my best friend and I love her to bits and her convenient dual citizenship should mean she can move over here once she finishes college and we will no longer need to rely on Skype and rare, expensive visits in order to make goofy loved-up faces at each other.

  29. Thumb up 0

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    i’m pretty glad that both my girlfriend and i think it’s hilarious to tell people we met on okcupid. mostly because when people ask how we met, they’re asking because they wanna meet someone. also, it’s WAY preferable to plentyoffish, aka plenty of people without personalities on a really poorly designed website.

  30. Thumb up 0

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    without okcupid, abby and i may have never met (http://www.autostraddle.com/check-out-the-gay-wedded-winners-of-the-marriage-equality-giveaway-package-148913/)
    we are still, amazingly enough, the highest percentage compatible with each other out of every female seeking female (lesbian or bi) from age 18-80 IN THE ENTIRE okcupid universe.
    okcupid’s got some MEAN algorithms!
    kudos to those who have made the additional successful online dating coming out!

  31. Thumb up 0

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