TL;DR: OkCupid took what young people hate about basic swiping apps and corny dating sites and rebranded into a hip middle ground. Its multi-faceted matchmaking, spotlight on social justice, and low price point make it stand out from competitors.
Let’s cut the mushy bullshit and get straight to the point: Online dating gets old real fast. Connecting with people you likely wouldn’t have met before sounds amazing at first, but the steps preceding that potential success story can be cumbersome.
What’s the point of answering questions (that everyone lies about anyway) if a site’s algorithm ignores your filters regardless? All it gets you is weirdos terrorizing your inbox, people who are about to retire, or someone who just wants to bang, even if you requested to only see users who marked that they’re ready to get monogamous.
Everyone knows the name, but what tons of people (especially young people) may not realize is that it’s not just another eharmony or Match. OkCupid is the perfect happy medium that you might have thought didn’t exist. It’s ideal for people who don’t want anything to do with mindless swiping apps, but who also don’t want to feel like they’re desperately looking for marriage.
OkCupid is the dating site version of the left-wing hipster who wears “Make America Gay Again” hats.
With over 50 million registered users and an average of 50,000 “Wanna get drinks?” dates per week since its launch, it’s obvious that you’re not the only one who was itching for some sort of middle ground.
OkCupid debuted in 2004, making it one of the OG dating sites. Its trusted name is to thank for much of the robust user base — but OkCupid’s more recent focus on diversity, inclusivity, and modern cultural trends has definitely helped to strengthen the OKC army as of late.
It’s no surprise that the majority of users are between 25 and 34, and those young people are most likely to download the app at 7 p.m. on a Sunday. (Millennials are all too familiar with the Sunday Scaries, but I guess having a hottie to chat with makes them suck less.)
OkCupid pushes for lasting connections using a mix of non-traditional questions and math, and it’s pretty foolproof. They accomplish this by diving into both the shallow and deep aspects of a relationship without being corny or forcing people to self-evaluate. (The ability to weight the importance of shared value or personality traits in a partner is really handy.) It ends up providing a well-rounded look at users both as a person in general and as a romantic partner, giving the algorithm a pool of data to calculate the compatibility between you and another user. Just as you’d expect from a dating site created by Harvard math majors, the entire site’s — and it’s nice to know they can actually back up their algorithms.
OkCupid’s advertising is outstanding. They deserve endless applause just for that, but I realize many people on dating apps care about more than the aesthetics or the branding. Good thing OkCupid is so much more than that, taking compatibility factors into account that other sites haven’t even thought of. OkCupid genuinely wants dating to be a good experience for you, and their multi-faceted matchmaking and modern vibe help you steer clear of feeling like a loser talking to people online.
Making a profile: It’s actually not a pain in the ass
Before you even sign up, please appreciate how cute this login page is. It is adorable and feels super low-pressure. In 2018, OkCupid went through a major rebranding, and their new advertising is incredible. I am obsessed, guys. You’ve probably seen their ads plastered on public transportation or on a billboard at least once: They feature bright colors, a cheeky sense of humor, and both same-sex couples and heterosexual couples, all while redefining what “DTF” stands for. The entire campaign is fresh and inviting and does a exceptional job of making online dating feel cool and not lame. Their slogan is literally “Dating deserves better,” and like yeah, it really does.
Gender inclusivity is OkCupid’s other huge game changer. As of this writing, the site offers 13 gender identities, 22 sexual orientations, and a dedicated space on your profile for preferred pronouns, so no one is forced to choose a pronoun they’re not comfortable with. Many other sites (and even most modern swiping apps that should be progressive) don’t offer anything other than male/female, let alone choices in the double digits. OkCupid is the only site out there that can truly say it’s for everyone, and I applaud them endlessly for that. (Maybe not everyone — hardcore right-wing conservatives probably won’t find a boo here.)
If you’ve tried online dating elsewhere in the past (Tinder doesn’t count), you’ve probably noticed that filling out the questionnaires is THE WORST. The questions get way too fake deep for my liking, and honestly, are just begging for people to lie. Do you think the cheaters of the world are actually going to say “Doesn’t describe me at all” when asked if they cheat? Do you think the world’s most sensitive, quick-tempered crybaby (raises hand) wants to admit to constantly picking fights? Hell no. There’s no question that that stuff is important, but I just don’t think this method will produce the most accurate information on how someone actually acts in a relationship past the honeymoon phase.
Good news: Building a profile on OkCupid is genuinely fun. They’ll ask things like “Would you rather share a kiss in a tent or a kiss in Paris?” or “Would you rather go to a music festival or sporting event?” You’ll get to say what your ideal partner’s answer would be as well. (You’ll also answer the basics about smoking, drinking, political preferences, religion, and all that good stuff.)
And that’s just to start. After answering those and getting your profile open for business, they also have tons of questions to answer directly on your profile if you want to get even more specific with preference. Questions like “Do you make your bed every day?” or “How long do you want your next relationship to last?” allow OkCupid to discover your habits without making you think too hard. You’re able to showcase all aspects of your dynamic as a partner without feeling the need to lie. There are also spaces for you to answer prompts about the last shows you binged, your favorite music artists, your talents, etc.
The required set of questions only takes about five minutes to complete, and then you’re ready to start playing Bachelor or Bachelorette. You’re not bombarded with notifications or emails, which I was extremely thankful for. The top nav is extremely clean and only gives notifications for likes and messages — unlike other sites where people can like you in general, like your photo, send a wink, send a smiley face, send a gift, and whatever TF else these sites think is necessary. I’m big on aesthetics and design when it comes to dating sites (I completely roasted AdultFriendFinder about it), and OkCupid is exactly what I want: organized, minimalistic, with all features obvious and labeled so that you don’t have to click around to see what the options are. OkCupid gets major points for how user-friendly it is.
OkCupid is also one of the best places for introverts and self-proclaimed geeks to find a kindred soul. The prominence of social justice-related questions has drawn an open minded crowd, creating a safe space that relieves the pressure to be perfect. The opportunity for badges on your profile is a fun way to express yourself: #IStandWithPP, Game of Thrones, and “nerd” are a few of the things you can pin to the top of your profile to attract other users who get you. (Fun fact: Game of Thrones has been mentioned over two million times in user profiles. Automatic conversation starter.)
Woke level: 100
The same-sex ads were probably an obvious giveaway, but OkCupid is liberal as hell. Finding a hottie only to find out you disagree on everything is the most awkward bummer ever. Other sites only ask one question about that stuff, which just isn’t enough. If you’re woke, liberal, and horrified by the dumpster fire that is our current political climate, this is the site for you. Right wingers, you should just exit now and sign up for eharmony — it has history of learning conservative.
With OkCupid’s recent makeover came a ton of politically charged questions as a way to weed out the not-so-progressive users. They want to know your opinion on issues such as abortion, immigration, guns, and more to make sure you and your potential partners have political views that are aligned.
OkCupid will use these answers to tell potential matches how liberal you are and vice versa, and it’s always a plus if you can avoid heated arguments down the road. , as OkCupid released statistics showing that liberal-leaning answers to those questions made you 80% more likely to find love on the site.
According to OkCupid’s blog:
“OkCupid welcomes a vibrant community of progressive, innovative individuals,” Seidman explained. “We wanted our new design to reflect that, and also represent the individuality of OkCupid, too.”
“It’s you — our members — who make OkCupid the interesting, welcoming, artsy, nerdy, chill, cultured, foodie, outdoorsy, passionate, zen, quirky place that it is. Thank you for adding to the vibrancy of the OkCupid community.”
An online dating site that’s open and welcoming to even the quirkiest singles and embraces differences and variety of its users should be a given — not a bonus. Unfortunately, a lot of OkCupid’s competitors have some growing up to do. You go, OkCupid. You go.
Finding a match
If you’re feeling hopeless about finding love at all, you won’t be after being on OkCupid. I literally had 607 likes after having my profile up for two days. TWO DAYS. OkCupid has such a massive user base with such a wide variety of people, there’s no way you’re not gonna find a ton of people who find you exactly their type.
The app has that standard swiping app feel (but less “I’m judging you solely on your face” vibes). You see one profile at a time and swipe right or left depending on whether or not you’re interested, with random profile-building questions thrown in at times to narrow down your pickings even more. If you want more freedom to peruse the dating pool, there’s also a discover section
See what potential matches are talking about, search for names, or even type in a hobby, musical artist, or show to see which users near you mentioned the same thing. It’s chill and simple enough to do while you’re waiting in line at the store or sitting on the train, all while feeling more sincere than Tinder.
OkCupid’s overhaul brought a lot of positive changes, but some users weren’t psyched about one in particular. In late 2017, the site decided it would require users to use their real names on their profile instead of usernames like AFunnySassygirl or Superlonelyman. Though it was a goodhearted attempt to make the experience seem more real and less like a creepy AIM chatroom, people (especially women) were pissed. Being required to give your real name to any and every stranger on the site felt like a huge invasion of privacy to a lot of people, and with the way desperate users can sometimes seem like stalkers, we don’t blame them. (If you appreciate the uniform feel of Tinder or Hinge and find usernames super lame, maybe you’d actually like OkCupid more for this.) OkCupid received so much backlash that they recanted the policy and said that users can also use a nickname or initials.
Messaging: None from randoms, but it slows the process
OkCupid doesn’t have open messaging, meaning randoms can no longer message you before you two have matched. This can be good or bad depending on how you prefer the conversation to start: I personally enjoy it, as one main problem with online dating in general is that ladies get harassed by men who flood their inboxes. It’s genuinely overwhelming and I’d prefer to only be messaged by people I already gave the go-ahead to. (Bumble combat this by only letting women message first.)
Like me, some people were stoked on this. Reddit user reciphered writes:
“Under the new OKC I get about x5 as many matches. I send fewer messages and I receive higher quality responses. I believe this is all because of the requirement to match before messaging. Now women are required to seek out desirable profiles in order to interact with users on the site – just like the men. I also really like how doubletake has shown me interesting profiles that I wouldn’t have found with browsing .The only downside is the low population compared to Tinder.
I assumed that only annoyingly persistent men would dislike this change, but according to Reddit, a lot of ladies also aren’t feeling it either:
Reddit user narcissica writes:
“I don’t like it because I can’t tell if someone’s a creeper just from a quick glance at their profile. I either have to “like” people fairly indiscriminately to leave myself open to conversation, or I have to close doors on potential conversation that could be worthwhile. I was doing just fine having the block feature, or simply not responding to people who weren’t worth my time.”
Now that I think about it, that makes total sense — because now you’re basically forced to swipe right on anyone you *might* be interested in and it’s way more awkward to have to delete a match rather than just ignore someone. Luckily, OkCupid’s DoubleTake profile allows you to see a good amount of info on a person before you swipe, so you’re not about to match with people blindly (more on that later). If the closed messaging is the most annoying thing on the site, that’s not too shabby.
If you’re not getting the attention and messages you think you deserve, there’s an option to boost your profile to get you a full day’s worth of activity in just 15 minutes.
The Reddit community is actually huge on OkCupid, and while all dating sites receive their fair share of shit (Redditors do not hold back on giving their opinions), I genuinely feel like OkCupid has the most nice things said about it. (Or the least mean things. Close enough). This blog even put together a guide on OkCupid advice that Redditors have given over the past few years.
Surprise: The free version *isn’t* worthless
The site is basically fully functional with the free membership, and we give them props for that. Most dating sites make you pay to do literally anything besides signing up. However, if you’re feeling ambitious and want a little feature upgrade, OkCupid does offer two paid memberships: The A-List, which goes for $19.95 for one month or $9.95 per month when you sign up for six months, or A-List Premium, which goes for $34.90 for one month or $24.90 per month when you sign up for six months.
Those prices won’t set you back nearly as much as another site would, and it’s nice that you’re able to test out the site for free before deciding to go all in. You’ll have to subscribe to the A-List for more premium features like getting rid of ads, seeing people who have liked you before you like them, read receipts, automatic boosts, and more. (You can see the full list of A-List and A-List Premium features here.) You can get a lot done on the free version, but you’ll probably look like a more trustworthy member if people know you’re paying to be on the site. Either way, it’s a total bang for your buck.
One bomb free feature is Double Take. Released in 2017, Double Take acts as a kind of insurance. It uses what you filled out in your “Looking for” section and tries to send you new people that they think match up with your ideal boo. It’s a clutch way to discover profiles you wouldn’t have found just by browsing, and it gives more info and more pictures than regular matches show to give you an extra deep look into what they have to offer.
A new “recommended for you” layout in Double Take lets you get extra specific with things you’re looking for. The section groups people together based on location or interests — so if you need to date someone who’s politically liberal or is also a cat person, those boxes can be checked off immediately here. Have something you’re not willing to budge on? For the questions you marked as “important” or “extra important” on your profile, OkCupid will group matches together that answered the way you marked.
If you do decide to opt for a paid subscription, beware of automatic billing.
Good for: Liberal people who want a relationship
This is essentially the place for everyone who takes dating seriously, but still wants to have fun and skip the pressure of settling down. Though OkCupid’s advertisements may have “DTF” plastered all over them, the site’s intentions and matchmaking process are no joke.
OkCupid is the best place to find people who want a partnership to truly be equal.
It might take some time and genuine effort to make a profile, but that’s what you want if you’re looking for something real. You’ll fill out a questionnaire with your answers as well as what you would like your ideal match to answer. This makes the application-building process a lot more fun than other apps, making it feel like an online quiz. It asks a range of questions, from simple stuff to whether you smoke and drink to more intimate things like how many dates you typically wait before sleeping with someone. Pro tip: The app says that the more questions you answer, the better your matches will be. The deeper you go, the more accurate your profile is. In turn, will have a way easier time finding matches for you.
Like we said in our eharmony review, just because you’re bored with Tinder doesn’t mean eharmony (or a site with the same expectation to settle down) is the next step. A lot of those users are older, divorced, and have kids, and there’s a much slimmer selection of young people in that gray area. OkCupid seems ideal for the person who’s trying to marry the next person they date, even if they idea of marriage and kids makes them slightly nauseated.
OkCupid is the dating site version of the left-wing hipster who wears “Make America Gay Again” hats. The LGBTQ community finally has a safe space in the online dating world (that is, one that’s not a super niche lesbian or gay-only app), and those who usually vote liberally can make sure they’re not going on a date with someone whom they’d want to fight on Facebook.
I’d go as far as to say that OkCupid is the best place to find people who want a partnership to truly be equal — where women won’t be shamed for being breadwinners and where men won’t insist that cleaning is the woman’s job. Get with the times, people.
Bad for: Conservative people and those in a rush to marry
While browsing through the potential matches in my feed, I didn’t get the vibe that people were 100% ready to settle down — which is fine if you feel the same way, but worrisome if you’re past that phase. Some people seem to be using OkCupid like Tinder and were only visiting, while most will specify exactly what they’re looking for in their bios, so confusion about intentions should be minimal. This isn’t to say that it’s not possible to find your future spouse on here — these prove that you can — just don’t go into it expecting to talk about how many kids you want. It’s serious, but not serious.
And then there’s the political aspect of it. While most dating sites refuse to take sides, OkCupid has made it clear that they care about social justice issues. People who align strongly with the Republican party, are Trump fans, or have religion-backed values or political views may feel a bit out of place here — you’ll probably feel like many of the questions are irrelevant to a relationship, and you probably won’t see a high number of matches with whom you align politically. That’s not to say that it’s not worth a shot, but if you’re trying to cast your net as wide as possible, another site where these issues aren’t highlighted may give you better luck.
As with any dating site, there will be the one-star ratings, enthusiastically negative reviews, and complaints from people about things that the site itself has no control over. (No, Karen, it is not OkCupid’s fault that John ghosted you.) Dead profiles, catfishing, and getting abruptly suspended is annoying. OkCupid has its fair share of each, but unfortunately, it’s nearly impossible to guarantee that a site is completely free of flaws. OkCupid does try to combat fake profiles by having users connect an Instagram account, which is way harder to fake than an online dating profile.
Cities are overflowing with users, but less populated areas see a huge drop in potential matches.
One thing that is a legitimate issue is the user base in less-populated areas. Cities (like NYC, where I live) are overflowing with potential boos, but I guarantee that if I logged on in my middle-of-nowhere hometown, my number of matches within a 10-mile mile radius would drop an alarming amount. We’ve seen a ton of complaints about this, but again — that’s not an OkCupid problem, it’s an every site problem.
For those who have been using the site for years, they’ve noticed a significant slowdown with finding people to talk to, as you can’t see who’s messaged you until you like them back, and going through all of the possible people already takes forever. It’s easier to just block people if you don’t want their messages instead of almost never being messaged at all, you know? OkCupid doesn’t have to re-open messages completely, because some people do like their privacy — but it would be great if they had an option to toggle it on if you don’t mind being hit up by strangers.
OkCupid falls under both the classic dating site category and the swiping app category, which also means that they have way more competition than most one-or-the-other platforms do. When it comes to swiping apps, Tinder, Bumble, and Hinge are the obvious top three competitors. None of them want to be known as as hookup app, and it’s definitely possible to find a long-term relationship on any of them, but Tinder and Bumble provide so little information that user intentions are easy to surmise. Alternatively, Hinge calls itself “The Relationship App” and requires users to be a bit more serious with their pickings by judging off more than a few selfies. Where Hinge may fall short is the fact that it pretty much caters to young people only, while OkCupid is more wide-ranging.
When it comes to more traditional sites, OkCupid’s obvious competitors are eharmony, Zoosk, and Plenty of Fish. Match has the size advantage by far — and though OkCupid will always be #1 in my heart, Match is a close second. It’s also an OG player in the online dating game, and it’s always nice to have the reassurance that there are veteran masterminds behind the matchmaking process. Match has numerous unique features to meet new people that no other site has even come close to. I appreciated with their eagerness to get people together IRL. It’s a little less trendy and millennial than OkCupid, and maneuvering through the dating pool is basically a free-for-all. The way that OkCupid breaks suggestions down by categories makes everything significantly more organized and helps to give an idea of what might or might not work with a person right off the bat, which I found to be an extreme leg up.
If you’re looking to start a family ASAP or prefer a more traditional approach, eharmony may be a safer bet.
eharmony is all about marriage and features a 29-dimension matching system. The registration process there takes longer and goes a bit deeper, but there’s a reason eharmony has lead to some 4% of marriages in the US. This isn’t to say that OkCupid isn’t serious, because it is — it just gives a little more leeway when it comes to people’s intentions. eharmony sees a much more mature audience filled with many divorcees, single parents, and a few stage-five clingers — AKA no one that has time to play games. If you’re looking to start a family ASAP or prefer a more traditional approach, eharmony may be a safer bet. eharmony has had some history of not being LGBTQ friendly in the past, which is likely a turn off for most of OkCupid’s stans.
IMO, there’s nothing super standout about Zoosk or Plenty of Fish. Both are user friendly enough, except POF looks like it hasn’t been updated since 2005 and neither are nearly as aesthetically pleasing as OkCupid. POF is super into the chemistry stuff and their questionnaires are intense, so if you’re looking for something serious and aren’t trying to pay a lot, it’s a great alternative to eharmony. Zoosk is unique in that it uses behavioral matchmaking, which basically suggests matches for you based on your on-site behavior, and I do have to commend them for that. It’s a great feature for people who don’t know what they want, and OkCupid’s number of ways to discover new people might get overwhelming for those who aren’t confident in their partner-choosing abilities.
As far as online dating goes, OkCupid rules. When you’re over swiping apps but are not desperately looking for marriage, this is happy medium that evades the feeling of desperation. You can find commitment but still feel hip and have fun. It has gained a trusted rep from over 20 years of matchmaking experience and evolving with the younger generations, leading OkCupid to win the hearts of 50 million singles.
Their ads (as well as the addition of numerous gender identities and orientations and the importance placed on political issues) showcase the importance they place on inclusivity and social justice, which is a giant breath of fresh air for anyone tired of regular heteronormative sites.
OkCupid genuinely wants dating to be a good experience for you, and their non-traditional questions, multi-faceted matchmaking, and modern vibe help you steer clear of feeling like a loser talking to people online while still pushing for lasting connections.