When Lauren Urasek learned she wasthe most popular heterosexual womanon OkCupid back in 2014, shereceived an average of 35 messages a day.Sure, a lot of those messages were garbagebut plenty of others weren’t. The 25-year-old makeup artist must be doing something right.
Urasek isnt sure what made her profile appealing to so many men. In the introduction to her new book, Popular: The Ups and Downs of Online Dating from the Most Popular Girl in New York City, published in October, she offers a few guesses as to the contributing factors:
It could be the tattoos, blue eyes, and correct spelling on my profile, or the fact that I dont write generic things like ‘Im living my life to the fullest and I love long walks on the beach’ It could be that looking for a man isnt the most important thing going on in my life. (I think its a problem when it is.) Im confident and secure in who I am without having a partner. I have a strong opinion and know what I want. Maybe dudes like that? Or maybe they just have a fantasy of fucking a girl with tons of tattoos?”
Most of us arent getting 35 messages dayor even a monthto our online dating profiles. (And if you want to read Urasek’s most creepy, awkward, and harassing messages, she has a blog calledThey Really Said Thisfull of ’em.) So, what can the most popular woman on OkCupid teach us about snapping the perfect profile photo or gathering the courage to ask someone out in person? Recently, The Daily Dot spoke with Urasek about all of that and more.
The Daily Dot: How long have you been using online dating sites?
Lauren Urasek: I probably started three years ago. I met my last boyfriend six months into that first year. We dated for only six or seven months, and then Ive pretty much been single for the last two years. But it’s off and on. You get frustrated and deactivate everything. And there have been times when Ive really, heavily checked it every day. But now it’s like an every few weeks thing.
You found out about being the most popular woman on OkCupid because New York magazine contacted you for their article on the most desirable singles in New York City, right?
OkCupid contacted me, saying ‘New York magazine wants to write this article about daters in New York.’ So I was like, ‘Yeah, sure, whatever.’ And I wound up showing up at the restaurant where Im meeting the journalist, and he was just, like, ‘So youre the most messaged girl on OkCupid.’ I didnt know about it until the interview. Obviously, its flattering and surprising. I just thought a lot of girls received that many messages.
Are you exclusively on OkCupid? Do you use Tinder or any of the other sites?
I dont even have an OkCupid anymore. I use Tinder. I capture screenshots for my blog, so obviously Tinders really good for that. I have it on my phone, to just check it whenever.
I actually just signed a partnership with The Grade. They’re a new app, meant to empower women in online dating. It does a lot of really cool things. If you spell something wrong, it brings your grade down. It checks on grammar, it checks on the amount of photos that you haveit actually is the first app that grades your photos. It lets other users tell you which photo is getting the best response. It, essentially, is the only app that will expel users if theyre being inappropriate or something.
Theyre trying to get away from just online dating, so theyre going to be doing singles events and things. So I’ll be hosting events, things like that. If they do any press or anything like that, Im basically their brand ambassador. And its obviously a very appropriate fit, because my whole blog is based on creeps. Their hashtag/slogan is #NoMoreCreeps.
When did you start blogging?
Shortly after I joined OkCupid for the first time, because I was just getting so many obnoxious messages. I was, like, ‘I have to just do something with these.’ I didnt do it for the purpose of blogging; I literally did it to keep them somewhere. And I had, like, six followers up until the New York magazine article came outit wasnt like I was trying to make a blogand then it just blew up.
I know that youve received a lot of creepy messages. Have you gotten harassing messages as well?
I was. I dont know why this go-around I havent. When the New York magazine article first came out, I was getting tons on Tumblr, Facebook, Twitterjust the worst shit you can imagine, pretty much. But I dont know why this time I havent. Also, I learned very quickly not to read the comment sections on anything, so I dont do that anymore. But I was getting them directly before, and I havent in a year or so.
Initially, when my blog blew up, I was harassed by a lot of the guys who had actually sent the messages. They reported my Tumblr, and Tumblr wound up deleting some of my posts. And then once I signed the book deal, I had to go back through every post I ever put up and delete the pictures and scratch off the usernames.
Some girls would message me and criticize me, saying, ‘People sent this stuff in privately. You shouldnt use their names.’ I responded a million times, being like, ‘Well, if they didnt want it out there, they shouldve never said it in the first place.’ People dont realize that everything you put on the Internet isnt private to begin with.
Let’s talk strategy: What makes you most likely to respond to a guy from an online dating site?
As long as youre not writing a really horrible message, its really about your pictures and your profile, whatever you say. If Im attracted to you and you dont come across like an idiot, then Ill respond to you. It seems so simple, but its really not.
I always find it very weird that you can always tell a lot about someone from one picture, or the type of hat that theyre wearing, or the way their facial hair isif its messy or really clean cut, what does that say? And I don’t care how attractive you are, shirtless pictures are an automatic turn-off.
I don’t care how attractive you are, shirtless pictures are an automatic turn-off.
I keep hearing this thing about guys posing for pictures with tigers. Is that a thing that youve seen?
Yeah. Girls do it, too. Posing for pictures with, like, exotic animals, and in front of national landmarks and wonders of the world. Like Machu Picchu. Theres like 5,000 people in front of Machu Picchu on OkCupid, I swear. (laughs) Its a really weird thing.
Do you put a lot of thought into the photos that you use?
No. Not a lot of thought. Without trying to sound conceited, I take good pictures, and I’m a makeup artist, and I know my light and what makes a good, quality picture. Don’t post a picture that looks blurry, you know? Its the same thing with Instagram. The reason I got a lot of followers is because I put up decent pictures, whether theyre of me or a street or a scene somewhere. Not, like, a filtered-out whatever.
What, if anything, do you feel like has changed in what youre looking for in a guy since youve been online dating?
Its definitely made me want someone very secure and confident in themselves, because with all the attention that I’m getting, they cant be jealous in any way. And I’m also looking for someone who’s successful themselves and is striving to do cool things.
Obviously, Im only 25, so I realize that I’m young, but a lot of girls in New York are much more mature than guys for their age, so I typically date guys 10 years older than me. But sometimes I think, ‘Maybe I should try dating a 29-year-old and see what happens,’ and theyre still living with three roommates.
I need someone who’s living alone and has a real job or is aspiring to do something. They don’t even need to make that much money; it’s just really about having goals and a passion for something other than facial hair. And thats surprisingly hard to find. Its a rough world out there.
Do you ever use Tinder when youre traveling outside of New York?
Ive tried, actually, but theres nobody anywhere unless youre in a major city, you know? The few places Ive gone have been in the middle of nowhere, so it doesnt really work.
But recently, when I was in Arizona, I went to an observatory and I met this physicist. And I got to hang out with him for a couple of days. Dont get me wrong, I meet people in person still, but it was outside of my comfort zone to approach someone. He was lecturing, and then after the lecture, I went up to him and asked if he wanted to hang out. He showed me around Flagstaff, and we got lunch before I had to fly out. It was nice.
And keep in mind, I wasnt wearing makeup when I was thereI was wearing workout clothes and going hiking every dayand then I got home, and of course we followed each other on social media, so now hes seen all of this crazy shit. Im, like, ‘Yeah, this is that dirty hiking girl you met.’
Have the experiences you’ve had with online dating made you realize anything about gender roles? And do you identify as a feminist?
Yeah, definitely. Theres a short little essay about feminism in the book. I believe in being happily single, which has a lot to do with feminism. I can have this amazing career and awesome friends and date as much as I want, so I think that naturally fits in.
And I also write about marriage and kids in the book. Just the other day, I got in a heated debate with a girl who said Im not living my life if I dont have children. (laughs) So obviously that ties feminism in quite a bit. Shes like, ‘Whos going to carry your legacy?’ And I’m, like, ‘Oh my God. First of all, Im not telling you that you shouldnt have kids, that the world is overpopulated. Do whatever you want, if it makes you happy! Im not telling you what to do, so dont tell me what to do.’
People get frustrated with online dating pretty quickly. What do you think has kept you optimistic about it?
I mean, I’m pessimistic about the human population in general. (laughs) So I dont see online dating as a different space. It;s just part of our community and our world. So the same people that are walking on the street are the same people that are on online dating. Theres good people online, just like theres good people in person.
Its not like everyone online is bad’cause the people that are online are me, and probably this girl over there. I met my ex-boyfriend onlinehe was a great guyand Ive met other cool people online. Its definitely frustrating when you see the constant misspellings of words and stupid messages. But you just have to realize that not everyone sucks.
Image via Instagram.com/loandthecosmos