I use OKCupid fairly often, and I try to be open-minded while scanning through profiles. But the other day, on a whim, I loaded the search thingy with my most stringent, potentially dickish preferences (I have one of their A-list accounts so I can get pretty specific). Only five profiles came up, probably more because I live in a small city than because I’m that much of a choosy jerk. One of them was a relatively old profile from a relatively new friend, e.g., she might not have logged in since before I knew her.
It is an AMAZING profile, and it’s made me realize that she’s really funny and smart (which I knew), that she fits my narrowest ideals (which I probably could have guessed), that she likes a ton of the same books and movies as me, and that we’d probably hit it off incredibly well in bed. Basically, I was never interested in her that way before, but after reading her OKCupid profile I have a crush. Do I send her a message? And say what … “Hey, it’s your friend Joe!”?
Imagine how her other potential suitors would feel if they knew you were personal friends with this goddess, yet contacted her on OKCupid to ask her out on a date. “You chump,” they’d say, “why would you use this weird meat market of a website on the ONE occasion you don’t have to? Why would you voluntarily situate your message among clumsy one-line sex propositions from smelly men who are weird about their fetishes? Send her a text! Send her a nice email! Don’t associate yourself with the likes of us!”
Seriously, I’m sure there are some great people on OKCupid—your friend, for instance— but there’s also a lot of dross, and you have other, less backwashy channels to use to connect with this woman. Definitely do not contact her on OKCupid. The real question is whether you mention OKCupid when you contact her.
The most forthright approach, of course, would be to text or email or see her in person and say, “Hey, I happened across your OKCupid profile and I never realized you also like Anna Karenina,” or whatever surprising cultural artifacts you have in common. I don’t, however, think you’re obligated to disclose that you were investigating her profile, which has the potential to come off creepy even though you stumbled on it accidentally.
Instead, deal with this the same way you would if you developed a crush on your friend that had been unprompted by her profile. Spend more time with her, discuss your mutual passions, gauge her interest, and evaluate how to proceed. You know, all that complicated crap that’s way harder than just sending a “wink.”
Jess Zimmerman has been making social blunders on the Internet since 1994. Most of her current interpersonal drama takes place on Twitter (@j_zimms).
Illustration by Fernando Alfonso III