Photographed by Lauren Maccabbee.
When it comes to inclusive dating apps, OkCupid reigns supreme. The app serves 22 gender options and 13 sexual orientation options, was one of the first players to create a comprehensive app experience for non-binary users, and supports a growing polyamorous community.
But it also has a key differentiator when it comes to setting up your profile. Whereas other apps stick to photos, a short bio, and maybe an ice breaker like “peanut butter or jelly?,” OkCupid has 3,000 questions that users can choose from to answer on their profiles and is constantly adding in new ones — especially questions related to current events and social issues.
Here’s how it works: when you set up your profile, you’re given a series of questions that you can elect to skip or answer, which then contribute to your match percentage with prospective matches (a.k.a. how compatible you are with someone). You’re only required to answer 15, but the average OkCupid user answers 50. The app then tells you if you agree or disagree with a potential match on an issue, or lets you click to find out. Because of this feature, you can find out if the person whose profile you’re checking out watches Game of Thrones, would date a messy person, or cares about climate change all in one glance.
Across the app and all of its users, the most popular questions are: Do you smoke? Do you enjoy discussing politics? About how long do you want your next relationship to last? Is astrological sign important at all in a match? Could you date someone who was messy? How frequently do you drink alcohol? Do you like scary movies? Are you a workaholic? Which best describes your political beliefs? Are you a pet person?
“What we know from science and working with social psychologists and studying relationships is that when you have things in common and you care about the same things, those are ingredients to long-term healthier relationships. So we try to do good job with that and make it about much more than just location and hot selfies,” said OkCupid CMO Melissa Hobley to Refinery29.
Ahead, we talked to Hobley about how you can optimize your OkCupid profile to maximize matches and connect with people you’ll actually like once you meet IRL. Those hard-hitting questions will come up eventually, so isn’t it best to get ’em out of the way from the get go? (Of course, it’s also worth noting that filtering out potential matches solely based on how they answer a question could prevent you from giving an otherwise awesome person a chance IRL. Alternatively, though, it will eliminate the possibility of showing up to a first date with a dude who’s wearing a MAGA hat.)
Talking Politics On Your Profile
People who talk politics on OkCupid get more matches than those who don’t. In fact, profiles that contain keywords related to politics (like “Trump” or “liberal”) are 52% more likely to have mutual likes and 78% more likely to have a successful conversation than users who don’t. In the past year alone, there has been an 64% increase in political terms on dater profiles, and more than 2 million people have answered the OkCupid question: “Do you support Trump’s wall?” As far as voting, as many as half of all women on OkCupid won’t date someone who doesn’t vote in elections.
“What’s great is that the questions act as filters basically. We don’t just ask you, ‘Hey would you date someone who didn’t vote?’ You can say: ‘I vote in every election and this is how I would like my potential matches to answer.’ And then you tell us how important that is,” said Hobley.
Users can also indicate whether they support Planned Parenthood with a profile filter. Over 400,000 users have opted into the badge, with supporters getting four times more matches with the badge than without it. And men with the badge are nine times more likely to be liked and 7.5 times more likely to match.
“We’re the only dating app with this filter, and we’re so proud of that. We were hearing from young women who said ‘I wish I knew how he felt about this.’ So this has actually had a fundamental and powerful impact on how straight women in particular view guys on the app,” said Hobley.
OkCupid’s Tips For Getting More Matches
“The first thing I would say is take the time to set up your profile. We’re proud that it takes longer to set up your OkCupid profile than it does to get a Lyft or an Uber,” says Hobley. “I always say to my friends who are having trouble finding people, when did you set up your profile? Have you updated it? Three out of four profiles on all dating apps have not been updated since they were set up.
“Also, most dating apps reward users who update their profiles. When you add a new picture or a little anecdote, the algorithm treats you like a new user and shows you more people. So make sure to do so every two or three weeks. And then get a bottle of wine and a good friend who can describe you. It’s so much easier for your friends to say you’re self-deprecating, curious, loyal, you love a good brunch, you hate pizza, whatever!
“And the more questions you answer, the more you’re improving your chances at making matches, so it’s in your interest to answer more questions.It also gives people a good excuse to talk to you. Dating is hard, and we know that. It’s scary putting yourself out there. But the questions make it easier to reach out to people.”