Attraction

What the Most Popular OKCupid Users Can Teach Us About Online Dating

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(Clockwise, from top left) Lauren, James, Kerry, and Thomas are NYC’s four most popular OKCupid users.

Meet Lauren, James, Kerry, and Thomas. They’re four attractive, 20something, single New Yorkers who also happen to be the city’s most popular OKCupid users. It’s not unusual for them to receive several dozen messages a day or rack up thousands of five-star ratings from other users of the online dating sites. In fact, they and other wildly popular users are regularly inundated with so many messages that OKCupid will actually reduce the number of messages they receive, so as not to let in the dick pic that scares them off the site for good.

In a profile in this week’s issue of New York magazine, the four blessed singles candidly talk about life on the other side. Lauren, 23, the most popular straight, female New Yorker on OKCupid, says it’s “kind of normal” to receive messages from would-be suitors along the lines of, “You’re like the girl I would make a profile of if I was making my ideal match.” Thomas, 24, the most popular gay, male New Yorker, explains the subtext of the dreaded green dot that lets other users know you reply to incoming messages “frequently.” “When you’re a high-end brand, you’re not going after everybody. You’re going after select people, and when they don’t perceive you as being exclusive, you lose,” he says.

But according to everything that steadfast wingman “science” has ever taught us about online dating, none of these users should be ranking among OKCupid’s most coveted dates at all. Their names are not Jack or OliviaThey aren’t posing against blue backgroundsThey don’t all post full-body profile photosThey’re not skinny, 25-year-old drunk dog owners who go to churchSometimes the men take selfies, and sometimes the ladies don’tThey don’t mention surfing, yoga, or London, they don’t have perfect grammar, and they don’t all love RadioheadThey post photos with their friends, glamour photos, and way-too-serious photos.

Does the scientifically inexplicable popularity of OKCupid’s Fabulous Four render bogus all the online dating advice science ever tried to give us? Well, not necessarily. The foursome share some tried-and-true rules of online dating profiles that will almost always help you, too, like choosing a well-lit photo that showcases your whole face. But the fact that these Chosen Ones don’t fit into any of our preconceived notions of a supposedly “desirable” date makes a case for the argument that the characteristics that attract us to people, at least on the Internet, are impossible to stereotype. And that’s a good thing — originality should trump cookie-cutter profiles any day.