June 29, 2011
Posted by Jay Livingston

A year ago, I wrote post a called “Lies My Online Dating Partner Told Me.” It was based entirely on a blog post at OK Cupid, the free online dating service – “The Big Lies People Tell in Online Dating” (here). I wondered how people feel when they find out that the person they are dealing with on screen may be hiding important truths.

Now I think I know. And my online dissembler is OK Cupid.
If the dating sites had a mixer, you might find OK Cupid by the bar, muttering factoids and jokes, and in the middle of the room, conspicuously dropping everyone’s first names into his sentences. (Nick Paumgarten in an article on dating sites in this week’s New Yorker.)
OK Cupid would also be surrounded by a gaggle of sociologists waiting for the blogger side of OK’s personality to emerge again. The no-pay site (they make their money from ads) was founded by four Harvard math majors. (“We do the math to get you the dates,” says their logo.) Christian Rudder was the one who did the blog, and every so often he would post wonderful graphics from the research he could do on the millions of messages that hopeful people sent through their Website. Often his charts and findings found their way into other blogs (including this one) as well as the mainstream media.

The New Yorker article has a long section on OK Cupid. It includes the factoid that around Valentine’s Day this year, Cupid was bought for $50 million by

You won’t see that information on the website. Nowhere does it say, “OK Cupid is a wholly owned subsidiary of” You also won’t find Rudder’s blog post less than a year before that deal, “Why You Should Never Pay For Online Dating.”* It begins
Today I'd like to show why the practice of paying for dates on sites like and eHarmony is fundamentally broken, and broken in ways that most people don't realize. . . I intend to show, just by doing some simple calculations, that pay dating is a bad idea; actually, I won't be showing this so much as the pay sites themselves, because most of the data I'll use is from Match and eHarmony's own public statements. [emphasis in the original post]
It’s an excellent critique and caveat. But OK Cupid voluntarily removed it as courtesy to their new masters. I feel as though the hip, carefree spirit I’d been chatting with turned out to be a life insurance salesman.

* OK could remove this post from their site, but they could not expunge it completely from the Internet. You can find an archived copy here. It’s still worth reading.

Oh, and if you're not sure of the definition of the word that is the title of this post, you ought to look it up, especially if you're going to be taking the SATs..


svf8528 said...

I would love to read your original post but the link isn't working! Any chance you can post a fresh one?

Jay Livingston said...

The link is working now, but Rudder's post is the one you should read. Thanks.