OKCupid for the Polyamorous
Polyamory is all very nice and lovely, but not exactly something you can practice all by yourself. A recurring question in forums is: “where can I find these people?” Often, someone will recommend OKCupid, a free dating site. This was how I first heard about OKCupid (OKC), and after months of hesitation I found myself cumbersomely creating my first ever public dating profile. You see, I had never used dating sites before, and had some old-fashioned preconceptions about people who did; but I was forced to face the fact that polyamorous people are extremely thin on the ground and often closeted. They simply weren’t appearing spontaneously in my life through the usual routes of friends-of-friends or work colleagues.
I am far from a veteran on OKC, and I am sure that some of you reading this can add a lot to my advice (please do!). However, I now understand why OKC keeps being recommended over and over as a poly-friendly dating site, and I thought I would share a few tips for making the most of it.
Spell it out that you’re polyamorous
The more people do it, the easier it will be for us to find each other. Search for people who have used the words polyamory/polyamorous in their profile. Use the “match search” tool; in “advanced”, select “keywords”. You can combine searches (e.g., search for women, within 100 miles of you, with “polyamory” in their profiles).
If you tag the words “polyamory” and/or “polyamorous” in your profile, you’ll also get a direct line of access to others. Tag words by putting them between double brackets – [[polyamory]]. The word will then become a link in your profile: click on it to find others who have used the same tag.
Ensure high matches with polyamorous people by focusing on answering poly-relevant questions
First a few technicalities about how OKC works, in case you’re new to it. As expected, you’ll have a profile, including an area of free text where you present yourself in your own words, and you can upload photos. But the beauty of OKC, and what makes it truly poly-friendly, is in the questions it asks. They cover a lot of things, from hygiene habits (“how often do you shower?”), to religion (“how important is God in your life?”), to sex (“how often do you masturbate?”), to human rights (“do you agree with the death penalty?”), etc. From the answers people give, OKC calculates matching scores: the higher the score (up to 99%) the more compatible people are (for more details, see: http://www.okcupid.com/help/match-percentages).
Many of the questions in OKC are extremely poly-relevant. Some examples:
- “Is it okay for a married person to play around with someone with the permission of their spouse?”
- “Would you date someone who was currently in a relationship, knowing that you would be a secret?”
- “Would you date someone who was already in a committed relationship with someone else?”
Now consider two types of people you can find on dating sites: nice monogamous people looking for their twin souls would not play around with someone who’s married (even with the permission of their spouse), and would not date someone who is already in a relationship; dishonest players or cheaters (people just trying to get laid) may be fine with cheating and so on, but they lie about it, and so their profiles look very similar to those of nice monogamous people. This is the great advantage of internet dating from a polyamorous perspective – we tend to be quite unique in the way we answer these types of questions. Someone who admits on their dating profile that they are looking for honest open relationships is unlikely to be lying.
Now, there are thousands of questions on OKC, and most are not poly-relevant. If you answer plenty of those, it’s possible to have high matching scores with someone similar to you in, say, showering daily, liking cats, and not smoking, but who is not at all polyamorous. This is why I recommend focussing on answering poly-relevant questions. If you do, the matching scores become a real indicator of a poly-disposition, even for people who have never heard of polyamory before.
Reassuringly, all poly people I had met in person & with whom I connected well, and for whom I subsequently found an OKC profile, had very high matches with me (several had a 99% match). But keep in mind that a high score may simply mean that you agree on poly issues. You may not match at all in all other ways underpinning the great miracle of two people getting along. And it is not impossible that there are some dishonest players/cheaters out there preying on the polyamorous by telling us what we expect to hear.
So treat the matching scores simply as a tool for searching for potentially interesting people. You still need common sense, your own feel for people, and an investment in getting to know these people better.
Which brings me to my last tip:
Take it easy
I’ve been on OKC for over a year, but I haven’t still met anyone directly through the site. Maybe you’ll see it as a failure, but I am very happy with my experience there. How come?
Honestly, I don’t like the concept of dating. Meeting someone with the specific aim of “I am here to evaluate you, and to be evaluated by you, to decide if we can become potential partners” is not at all my idea of fun. Still, if I had already found nearby polys, with whom I can just go out for coffee in a low-stress-low-expectations meeting , I would have been happy to meet them (I live in a non-English speaking country, in a relatively small city; there are few locals on OKC, and no polys so far). On the other hand, travelling all the way to evaluate whether or not someone is a good potential partner sounds like a disastrous way of getting to know them.
So I am taking my time. Because here’s another advantage of being polyamorous: if you’re not desperate to find the-one-and-only, all of this internet dating activity can be very relaxed. It’s not as if the clock is ticking and you risk losing your dream date because someone else snatches him/her first: you can take the time to get to know people better, even while both of you see others. And it’s not as if people are either your soul mate or plainly uninteresting: they can become anything in-between, including occasional partners and/or friends.
I joined OKCupid to build my own poly-friendly community, and I have not been disappointed. It was where I first became sure that, yes, polyamorous people do exist, and they are perfectly normal. I found plenty of nice and friendly people, happy to connect and generous to share ideas and experiences. I got advice on relationship issues, information about meetings and events, new contacts, book and film recommendations, I have even got some guidance on DIY work. In the meantime, I have been building some nice friendships with people all over the world. I am sure I will meet some of them sooner or later, either under natural circumstances (e.g. if we happen to go to the same poly meeting) or by travelling specifically to meet them.
So, all in all, OKCupid has been a great way of expanding my polyamorous horizons, and I greatly recommend it.