Let’s engage in a little game of Compare and Contrast:
OKCupid is free. You can create a profile, send and receive emails, view all members and take advantage of almost all the site offers for nothing.
HowAboutWe is not free. You can create a profile and post a suggested date for free but in order to send or respond to emails or see who has viewed your profile, you need to pay. And it ain’t cheap.
Over the past few days (honestly, over the past few years, but you get my drift), I’ve been conversing with a number of men online. Many of them are of no romantic interest but seem interesting nevertheless. Since I make it pretty clear in my profiles that a casual meeting with the goal of friendship is probably the best plan, I’d been arranging meetings. Or trying to.
Yesterday, two men came to visit me at the bar. One from OKCupid and one from HowAboutWe. The only reason I was able to communicate with anyone on HowAboutWe was because they’d had a St. Patrick’s Day promotional offer: three days free. I took advantage by responding to the men who’d emailed me.
The first to arrive was Phil. Our correspondence on OKC had been entertaining. The man is brilliant: witty, clever, has a wonderful way of words. He is also 70 years old, which puts him just a wee bit outside my usual age parameters. But the fact that he was funny and smart made me want to meet him. I had suggested coffee or tea or a local diner but after a few back-and-forths and late responses, he wound up sitting across the bar from me. And he was just as smart and witty and personable live as he’d been online. His hearty laugh, full head of hair and British accent didn’t hurt a bit, either! He was a delight. I look forward to seeing him again. As friends.
The other man was…shit, I can’t even remember his name. He had responded to my “HowAboutWe…rendezvous while I’m working. I’ll be behind the bar, you’ll be in front of it. And if we hit it off, who knows? I work Wed. & Sat. noon till 8pm. (Sorry I can’t respond to your emails. I haven’t paid to join.)” Our correspondence had consisted of 14 back-and-forths, mostly about the logistics of my “HowAboutWe”: What if six different dates show up at the same time?” He was somewhat argumentative but since my goal was one of possible friendship and not true love, that didn’t bother me much. Nor did his asking me, “I’m 4’11” and you’re 5’10”. Is that a problem?” Why would it be a problem? I wasn’t planning on marrying the guy. When he showed up, he was as hostile as his emails had been. He was also 60 years old and, yes, 4’11”. Diminutive. Elfin, even. I introduced him to Phil and he ordered a beer. The three of us talked about our online dating experiences and he boasted of his many successes: a number of year-long relationships. He asked me why I would invite multiple men to visit me (as he’d asked in our emails: “Is this working for you? Sounds like a great way to drum up business.”) and wondered how it would work, using the situation at hand as an example. I said, “You and Phil are both here and the chances of my dating either of you are zero. But that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy each other’s company. Maybe you’d like to meet one of my many interesting friends. Or attend one of my singles’ events.” Then his tiny little mouth puckered into a distasteful smirk and I added, “Ya know, I take that back. I think you’re probably too square for my friends.” The unpleasant exchange lasted a while longer but I can’t remember exactly what was said. I can say he came across as condescending and paternal. Not a good idea when speaking with me, motherfucker! As he was leaving, his parting words were, “If you want my opinion [I didn’t], this is a really bad idea.” I thanked him for his sage advice and said I would take it under advisement.
My one other interaction from HowAboutWe was on St. Patrick’s Day. He had taken me up on my suggestion to visit me at the bar, even though I told him I thought any day other than St. Pat’s would be better, and was one of about a hundred people in the place. He was older (61, to be exact) and I didn’t recognize him when he sat down, mostly due to the fact that his photo wasn’t of just his face and I’d been viewing him mostly on my iPhone. When I set down his second beer, he flashed his phone at me and there I was, smiling back at myself. I guess it was his way of telling me “I know you from an online dating site.” It might’ve been smarter to flash me his profile photo. Either way, I didn’t have a moment to chat with him. When I emailed him later, apologizing for being too busy to talk, I asked why he didn’t introduce himself. He said he thought flashing my photo at me was sufficient to let me know who he was. I asked, “Um, did you think you were the only person I invited? It was an open invitation to everyone on the site.” As all HowAboutWe dates are. Hrm.
My other most recent interaction with a man from OKCupid was the result of their new iPhone app’s “Locals” feature. It’s sort of a stalking tool, letting you know who’s “nearby.” I love to check it occasionally and see if anyone I’ve been interested in is, you know, nearby. I clicked on an interesting looking guy Tuesday night and within a half hour we were having drinks at 2A. He was good looking, 46 years old and in good shape — not a fat ol’ Santa. Oh and he’s 6’5″! Looks aside, he was interesting and hilarious and intelligent and our conversation never flagged. I’m not embarrassed to say that I’m looking forward to seeing him again!
So is the takeaway that guys on OKCupid are superior to those on HowAboutWe? I don’t know. I haven’t met enough men from HowAboutWe to make that judgement. But I can say that based on the two I have met — and the few I managed to correspond with during my complimentary St. Patrick’s Day celebration — I won’t be spending a goddamn dime to join their site anytime soon! And I’ll be making better use of OKCupid’s “Locals” feature more often!