When I was first introduced to OkCupid.com I had just moved to a new location and I had very few friends in my new city. One of the only friends I had at the time recommended OkCupid.com as a way to meet women. My girlfriend and I had recently ended our 4-year relationship, albeit on good terms, as a result of the move. As you can imagine, I was a little depressed and somewhat desperately looked forward to companionship of any kind. In general, I would say the website (and mobile application) served a purpose but it didn’t work as a long term solution, that is, I didn’t find anything meaningful but I was very close.

To start, like many dating website or apps, there is a free version and the ability to upgrade. There are two paid versions you can upgrade to, A-List Basic and A-List Premium. Both offer the ability to see who “liked” you, the ability to view profiles invisibly and of course the absence of annoying ads. A-List Premium members also get a boost in their popularity as well as a boost in an attractiveness rating which would otherwise be based on how other users rate you. The free version also allows you to see who liked them but only if you happen to like them as well. The website calls this a “mutual like.” I considered upgrading on multiple occasions but I never made the jump. The A-List Basic 6-month plan is just $10.00 per month which isn’t too bad and although I considered it, I never considered the more expensive A-List Premium or the longer memberships. However, others may have found the investment worth the money.

When you first join you will be required to complete a profile which is not unlike your profile at any other social media website. Perhaps the primary difference is a series of questions that OkCupid uses to match you to other users. OkCupid also uses the data to indicate someone who might be an “enemy.” Each person will be a certain percentage match and a certain percentage enemy. However, you can see the profile pictures regardless of the results of the personality match. You won’t be surprised to find out that I still clicked the profile of “enemies” based on how attractive they looked in their profile picture.

After setting up your profile you can browse other people’s profile several different ways. There is a sort of control panel where you have levers, tick boxes, and various other buttons to filter preferences. Before using the control panel, you would first indicate what gender you are interested in, what gender you want your match to be interested in, as well as age, location and how recently they were online.

As a matter of full disclosure, I indicated that I was interested in women who were interested in men, ages 18-34 and based on location. I think it helpful to mention that when setting up your profile you have an opportunity to indicate what you are looking for in terms of type of relationship. I indicated friendship, long-term dating, short-term dating and casual sex. However, my behavior on the website would reflect a primary interest in casual sex combined with “if it turns into something, great, but if not, that’s OK too.” Which, I think is how a lot of adults date these days.

According an article called “Sex On The First Date: The Science Behind Why People Put Out When They Go Out” on medicaldaily.com, a study published in Clinical Psychology Review found that women are much more interested in sex than they are willing to admit. I think that my experience supported this. Using OkCupid was really my first experience in having sex with a complete stranger. I had been with a woman for a single night but there was at least something that resembled an acquaintance before or afterwards. For the first time I had experienced not knowing someone, meeting them, then having sex hours later and departing knowing that I would likely never see them or speak to them again. I believe that OkCupid really plays a large role in making this happen in perhaps a glaringly obvious way: by making the option “casual sex” available when indicating what a user is looking for on their profile. I was able to search for people and filter by users who selected “casual sex.” Furthermore, the many questions for which the answers are used to determine the percentage of a match or the percentage of an enemy someone might be were often sexual in nature. This also gives insight into whether or not someone would be interested in having casual sex.

Of course, this is only half of the battle. You still need to start a conversation, make a case for why this person should meet you and then, once you’ve met, do everything right which is easily the most difficult part. OkCupid’s attractiveness feature comes into play here. It’s important to be realistic about who are you approaching because you can be sure there are many more guys who listed casual sex than there are women. The A-List versions allow users to search by the way someone answers a certain question. This is really handy because even if they don’t list “casual sex” as something they are looking for, they may answer the question, “Would you consider sleeping with someone on the first date?” with a yes. This at least indicates that, with a little bit of charm, you might be able to get lucky.

According to Pew Research Center, of the 15% of Americans who have used online dating, two-thirds of them have actually gone a date with someone they met online. I would say that there was one encounter where I would have called our experience a “date.” Furthermore, this one encounter actually blossomed into something meaningful. There were many more dates, sleep overs and I even introduced her to my friends (this was more than a year into my move to an unfamiliar place). The relationship eventually ended but it could have turned into more. What’s important in terms of this article is that we would have never met if it wasn’t for OkCupid. Therefore, OkCupid was crucial in the beginning. However, the fact that we did have something meaningful had very little to do with OkCupid. That happened because of the dynamic between the two of us.

Ultimately, I stopped using OkCupid. Though, there were more than a couple of relationships, meaningful and not, that outlasted my use of the website.  For sure it filled an important, though temporary, role in my social life after I moved to an unfamiliar place. However, I am an extrovert and it’s fairly easy for me to meet other people. I think for someone who might be more introverted, OkCupid, and possibly other dating sites, could play an even more important role in their dating and social lives. I fully recommend taking advantage of the free version. Just be sure to go into it with reasonable expectations and be honest with yourself about your goals. Otherwise, you set yourself up for failure before you even begin.