The Aspie Guide to Online Dating Sites, Part Two
When I was single I briefly had an account on Plenty of Fish. It’s one of the most popular free dating sites, but I didn’t enjoy using it. I found the interface ugly, counter-intuitive, and confusing. I didn’t give it much of a chance, because I had OKCupid to fall back on.
However, the profiles on Plenty of Fish are much more straightforward than OKCupid’s profiles, and there are some cool people on there. Hannah, for instance, used Plenty of Fish when she was single.
Unlike OKCupid, you can browse people’s profiles on Plenty of Fish without signing up. This makes it easier to figure out if the site would be a good fit for you. Based on the profiles you see and are interested in, I recommend writing your own profile on a word processor before signing up. That’ll give you more time to fiddle around with it, because as soon as you sign up on P.O.F. you’re required to fill out your profile. That isn’t the kind of thing you should do off the cuff.
When you sign up on Plenty of Fish, the first thing you do is fill out a standard form. They ask you for:
-Gender (only two options, which is disappointing)
After you fill out that form, you’re given an enormous fucking questionnaire. Unlike OKCupid, you have to answer all the questions, although “prefer not to say” is an option for some of them.
These are the questions:
-Postal code/zip code
-Gender (again, there are only two options)
-Seeking (male or female are the options; no bisexuality allowed)
-I am looking for (choose from hang out, friends, dating, long term. And no, I don’t know what the difference is between hang out and friends. Maybe hang out is a euphemism for casual sex?)
-Body type (choose from thin, athletic, average, a few extra pounds, or big & tall/BBW. BBW stands for- I just looked this up- big beautiful woman).
-Do you own a car?
-Do you want children?
-Do you have children?
-Do you smoke?
-Do you do drugs?
-Do you drink?
-Religion (“prefer not to say” is not an option here, which I find curious)
-Do you have pets?
-Describe your personality in one word (it’s a drop-down menu, and there are a lot of options. Try not to overthink this)
-How ambitious are you?
-When it comes to dating, what best describes your intent? (a few options, ranging from casual dating to seeking marriage)
-What is the longest relationship you have been in?
-First name, and whether you want that displayed on your profile.
-Income (yes, really. Apparently they use it “behind the scenes for matching”)
-Your parents’ marital status
-How many siblings you have
-Your birth order (they use this “behind the scenes for matching”, too)
-Would you date someone who has kids?
-Would you date someone who smokes?
-Would you date someone that has BBW or a few extra pounds selected as a body type?
After this exhaustive questionnaire, Plenty of Fish directs you to fill out your profile. This consists of a few different components.
The first is a headline. This will appear next to your username at the top of your profile. Some examples from other users on the site include:
-Willing to lie about how we met…
-Funny how a melody sounds like a memory
-Demon to some, angel to others
From these examples I gather that the headline is supposed to be self-descriptive and attention-grabbing. Most people seem to pick something mildly humourous. As with the other aspects of your profile, I recommend you run your headline past a Maintainer before submitting it.
After the headline comes what Plenty of Fish calls the description. This is the meat and potatoes of your profile. It’s the trailer version of your personality. Give just enough details to leave people wanting to know more. Look at other people’s profiles in search of ideas.
Plenty of Fish offers some prompts (for example, talk about hobbies, goals, aspirations, interests, what makes you unique). They also warn that any sexual language will lead to your account being deleted.
Beneath the description is a section for your interests. You’re supposed to list a bunch of them, separating them with commas. I’d recommend listing between three and six interests. You don’t want to overwhelm people, but at the same time you want to give some indication of what your passions are.
Below that is an optional section in which you can describe your ideal first date. I’ve been looking at other people’s profiles and it doesn’t seem like a lot of people fill this out. Feel free to skip it.
Again, I recommend that a Maintainer look over your profile before you post it online. I understand if that feels too embarrassing or personal. I didn’t show mine to anyone, but in hindsight it would have made my life easier.
After you set up your profile you’re directed to upload pictures. I’d recommend posting at least one photo, because people will feel uncomfortable messaging you or being messaged by you if they don’t know what you look like. I’ll give detailed advice about this in a future blog post.
After you upload a photo you’re directed toward something called the P.O.F. Relationship Chemistry Predictor, which seems like a rip-off of OKCupid’s compatability tests (for what it’s worth, both P.O.F. and OKCupid are owned by the same company).
The test is optional. It consists of a series of questions with which you can agree or disagree.
Some of the questions are:
-I get nervous easily
-I am a very productive person
-I can resist temptations easily
After completing this test, you get to see your results, as well as a slew of matches. However, as I said before, the test is totally optional and you don’t need to complete it in order to look at people’s profiles.
There are a couple of other personality tests you can take as well, each of which- I suppose- helps to determine who you get matched up with. These are the other tests:
If you don’t take the tests, you can still look at people’s profiles, but they won’t be organized by compatibility. I’ve looked at a bunch of people’s profiles, and most of them don’t seem to have taken the tests. So make of that what you will.
Please keep in mind that the results of your tests can be seen on your profile unless you remove them.
In addition to the tests, there is a feature called Meet Me which once again claims to help match you up with people.
Meet Me seems awfully similar to Tinder. They give you a picture of someone, along with their age, what kind of relationship they want, the city they live in, and a link to their profile.
You click one of three buttons: Yes you’re interested in meeting them, maybe, or no.
I assume that- just like Tinder- if the person also shows an interest in meeting you, then you both receive a message indicating this.
So there’s a lot of bells and whistles on Plenty of Fish, but you don’t have to use any of them if you don’t want to. If you like, you can just look for people in your geographic area who seem cool.
Just like OKCupid, people will be able to tell if you looked at their profile. So bear that in mind. Also, people can see if you’re online. Hannah reports that when she was online she’d get bombarded with messages, but when she was offline nobody would message her. That suggests that users who are online become more visible to other users. A good idea in principle, but it can lead to serious harassment.
Hannah recommends responding only to substantive messages. There are guys (and perhaps women do this, too) who will message something like, “What’s up?” or “Hey, beautiful.” The vast majority of these men are trolling for sex, either on or offline. Maybe that’s what you’re looking for; I don’t know your life. If it isn’t, don’t respond.
And if you’re male and attempting to get the attention of a female, be sure to send something more meaningful than a couple of words or a shallow compliment. Otherwise, your attentions could be misconstrued. I’ll delve more into the intricacies of sending messages in a future blog post.