How to craft a message on OkCupid

I wrote this as a comment on reddit in response to someone’s asking, and thought it might be useful here.  I don’t use this (or any) formula every time, but for someone who looks at a blank text-entry box and can’t come up with something, here’s an outline:

First, find something in the profile that is a mutual interest. If there is nothing, then don’t write to that person because you don’t actually want to date them, you just think they’re hot. Also, try to pick something that isn’t normal geek fare, because the fact that you’re both into Star Wars means nothing. Everyone is into Star Wars because Star Wars is good, if you pretend episodes I-III didn’t happen.

Now, write a paragraph and no more about the mutual interest. Describe why and how it’s an interest for you, and mention something specific about it. Maybe you like Michael Pollan’s writing but think he’s kind of a douche, or you’re into robotics specifically because you competed in a robotics competition in high school.

Consider repeating the above for a second mutual interest, but no more than that.

Now, ask a question about something interesting the other person said but didn’t expand on. Like, if they say they want to be a Mythbuster, ask what myth they’d bust first. Responding to this gives them an opening to reply and saves them from having to compose a message from nothing.

Now, proofread, and send.

Do not, in the first message:

  • compliment their appearance
  • give any off site contact info
  • suggest a meeting
  • make any sexual remarks whatsoever


Someone just claimed to me that Bill of Kill Bill was polyamorous.  If so, he had the strictest “one penis policy” ever in the history of nonmonogamy.

I’ve decided to use “a social movement around the practice of nonmonogamy” as my personal definition of “polyamory” (revised from “the social etc” on the advice of a friend).  Anything else I’ve ever heard requires telling someone who identifies as poly that they’re wrong, and that seems ridiculous to me.

Anyway, under this definition my objections to the term are gone, so I suppose I can go ahead and embrace it as a label.  I know you were all holding your breath.  Four years into seeing Carrie, I’m finally willing to ID as “polyamorous”.

Rounding out this incoherent post, I feel like this video should be embraced by the community:

Check out these lyrics:

We formed a new religion
No sins as long as there’s permission
And deception is the only felony
So never fuck nobody without telling me
Sunglasses and Advil, last night was mad real
Sun coming up, 5 a.m., I wonder if they got cabs still?
Thinking ‘bout the girl in all leopard
Who was rubbing the wood like Kiki Shepherd
Two tattoos: one read “No Apologies”
The other said “Love Is Cursed by Monogamy”
It’s something that the pastor don’t preach
It’s something that a teacher can’t teach

Sometimes Kanye speaks truth.


Some of you who follow the RSS feed may have seen a post appear and disappear recently, or noticed the links on a couple of sites if you were watching for the couple of minutes that they were up.  I had run the idea past the person involved, but when it was finally written it was uncomfortable in tone, so I dropped it.  I thought I’d make explicit the sort of privacy policy that’s running in my head.

If I mention you in this blog, and don’t have your permission to use your name, I will anonymize you as previously mentioned.  If the topic feels at all sensitive, I’ll first ask you about it.  If I ever post anything that makes you uncomfortable, just let me know and it will come down immediately.  I’ll try to avoid that by discussing it beforehand, but obviously that won’t always be sufficient.

I won’t tell anyone else’s stories without their explicit consent, either.  This is a place where I’ll talk about my relationships with other people, but not their relationships-once-removed with other folks, except as they tangentially relate to me.  I don’t mind relating stories that someone wants related, but I’m not going to snag them without asking.

If you and I are seeing each other and you’d rather not be mentioned at all, let me know and you won’t come up, even anonymously.

If you’re not mentioned or involved and something I’ve posted makes you uncomfortable, I suppose you should tell me but I do reserve the right to ignore that.

La de dum.: just shut up.

(trigger warning: rape discussion)

First, a story.

So, my first semester of my freshman year of college, I took this Intro to Women’s Studies class. The class met for five hours a week, one two hour session and one three hour session, and the breakdown of students was what I eventually discovered to be the typical…

Everyone should go read that essay.

All right. If you’re done (or if you’re not going to do it), let’s talk about the flip side of this.

Let’s talk about Revenge of the Nerds.

I’m sure all of you know this movie, and some of you already know where I’m going, but it was a fairly standard 80s narrative about a bunch of underdog guys going to college and getting picked on the way that they all were in high school—and in a way that, as far as I can tell, doesn’t actually happen in college.  It’s a movie squarely aimed at high school and younger kids.  Boys.  Aimed at boys, not at kids.

It’s an escapist movie that tells boys that, while they may not be the biggest in their school, eventually smarts will win out.  No one cares who was the best football player.  The end is also especially good, as it emphasizes the fact that all of these things are felt by almost everyone, and people who coast through life are a tiny minority with no real power if the rest of us come together.

It also teaches the standard boys’ movie lessons: women are to be competed over, their autonomy doesn’t matter, and rape is okay.  Literally, in every single case.

The “nerds” get back at the “jocks” over and over by victimizing women, not through direct conflict.  The whole narrative is an expression of male power over each other based on what they can get or force women to do.

One of the first “triumphs” of the nerds is when they stage a panty raid (which is bad enough as a trope, treating sexualized theft as a harmless prank) which is just a smoke screen for installing cameras all over the place while the women are distracted, which they then use to spy on said women in the showers.  This is clearly played as a way of getting back at the men that those women are dating.  The only person who complains even a little about this is the resident camp gay.

That pales in comparison to the moon walk scene, though.  You may remember this as the moment when the protagonist finally “got the girl”, but here’s what actually happens: he dresses up like her boyfriend, explicitly refuses to reveal his identity, and has sex with her while she still thinks he’s someone else.  It is hard to come up with a more clear-cut case of a rape scene that a movie treats as perfectly acceptable; in fact, he’s somehow so good at rape that she decides she loves him.

But here’s the really, truly awful thing about this movie; without critical media skills, when I watched this as a child, I lapped it up.  I took it exactly as presented, thought the theft/voyeurism scene was harmless fun, and didn’t think anything of the rape scene beyond a childish fascination with sex and being happy the guy got the girl.

I watched a rape scene, and I was rooting for the rapist.  Not only that, but I was an adult before I even realized it was rape.

This is what can be so hard about acknowledging rape culture as a man.  Imagine if I’d never come to my current understanding, as is perfectly possible.  Imagine if I’d never learned to look past my cultural bias.  Imagine what I’d be capable of. Me.

Feminism, as a man, is difficult not only because you’re breaking out of other kinds of programming.  It’s difficult because you have to look in the mirror and face the monster.  I won’t say that I forgive the guys who can’t do it, but I understand.

There but for the grace of several fantastic women in my life go not only I.  It’s possible that if I had reached sexual maturity without being broken of this sort of thinking, there’d be more victims of sexual assault in the world.


So I got into an argument with a bunch of poly folks who were using the word “processing” over and over without explaining what they meant, which turns out to be something like “sitting down and talking through your feelings with your significant other(s)”.  Setting aside that I think that’s a weird word to use for that, my complain was (of course) of a piece with my endless irritation with poly jargon.

The response that I got was that it’s a standard usage of the word (it’s not), and that monogamous folks use it all the time when they’re going through therapy.


If you’re telling me that poly folks all talk about their relationships as if they were in therapy all the time, you’re rather proving my point.


you are not a unique flower

You know why else you say you’re a geek?  Geeks are unique flowers.  You’ve got all these offbeat, original ideas, and you like things that aren’t popular, and sure, you’re a little awkward, but smart people like you.  Besides, you don’t care what other people think.

Uh, I don’t mean to burst your bubble or anything, but Star Wars?  Popular.  Monty Python?  Popular.  Robots?  Extremely popular.  Neil Gaiman?  Popular.  Douglas Adams? You’re not doing any better here.  Portal II, comic books, Dune, computers, XKCD, gaming, Doctor Who, science, Neal Stephenson, Star Trek, dragons, monkeys, ninjas, pirates — this could go on forever.  And for that matter, glasses?  Full-blown fashionable.


I married this person. ❤

Then and now

A few years ago, at parties with people I didn’t know well:

I, uh, so you know, I’m in an open relationship, right? Um.  Okay, so… well, my, uh, girlfriend, I guess? Was over, and…

Now, at parties with people I don’t know well:

Yeah, I found out that Providence’s overnight parking list isn’t for people who live in town when I was dating a Brown student.

A few years ago, when asked if I was poly:

Well, I don’t really like the word, per se, but I’m in an open relationship or two. “Polyamory” just has so much baggage associated with it. I don’t really care that it’s heteroradical, though, which seems to be most complaints about it.

Now, when asked if I’m poly:

Yeah, basically.

A few years ago, pondering dating:

I wonder if this will work out. I know people can manage open relationship, I just don’t know if I can manage it.

Today, pondering dating:

I wonder how I’m going to find the time for all these people.

A few years ago, writing to people on OkCupid:

ARGH this is like DYING

Today, writing to people on OkCupid:

And… send.

A few years ago, how I flirted with someone I was interested in in person:




It’s been pointed out that the name of my blog doesn’t really work now that I’m four years into a primary relationship, married, and have been navigating open relationships at least semi-successfully for some time.

I’ll probably migrate to my own hosting sometime soon, and rename the blog then.  I currently don’t have any options lined up, but if someone wants to make a suggestion I am all ears.  Eyes, actually I guess.  Unless you call me and tell me and then I guess it’s ears.


So it seems that Eilella and I won’t be seeing each other any more.  She and her husband, ah… Seakul, male elf Arcane Archer (random assignation, don’t know Sam well enough to ascribe a class to him. Skipped a few that sounded like I was picking on him, like the gnome bard), have renegotiated their terms and she’s now only going to see one other guy at a time, although she’s available for multiple women, so if anyone in the audience is looking and in the area I will gladly point her out to you.

Yes, yes, thank you for your sympathies, it’s fine. We really hadn’t gotten seriously involved yet, which is why it’s less impactful than it might be later but also why I didn’t make the cut.  She’s seeing someone more seriously, which makes him the obvious choice.  I’m disappointed, of course–she’s great fun and she’s lovely–but I’m not broken up or anything.

What I actually wanted to address is that poly “breakups” seem to be, in my limited experience, very different from monogamous ones.  They seem to be much more often about logistics, either physical or emotional, than about some actual incompatibility.  This makes sense, of course, as there’s no need to stop seeing one person in order to start seeing another, but it means that relationships tend to just keep going until they’re ended by some outside force.  The very few cases I know of a semi-traditional “breakup” among poly couples seems to go something like “let’s not be primaries any more”, unless there’s some egregious outrage on the part of one or the other.

I haven’t really had a breakup breakup in six years.  The closest was when Alinys Darksbane (chaotic good half-elf cleric) and I were looking for different kinds of poly, but that doesn’t really count, either.

Not that I’m entirely sure what I mean by “traditional breakup”.  Something like gradually growing apart, and realizing that things can’t continue as they are.  The thing about an open relationship is that it can grow apart and grow back together organically; you don’t have to end it at the down point in order to pursue something else.  You just slow down for a bit.  Sometimes that’s a problem, in that the parties involved would be better off with a clean break, but I think it generally seems to work better and create less strife.  Not that poly relationships lack for strife, but there’s no artificial barrier you run up against.  Things are dramatic on a low level all the time rather than in a big burst at the end.

Maybe. What do I know? In any event, I have Wednesday free now if anyone’s got something they want to do.