It is a common internet business model. You offer a free service which is largely useful, but has less functionality than the version which your “premium” customers pay for. On the music service Pandora you can pay to vanish the ads. Many free online games have the capacity to buy better tools or weapons or more stylish apparel for your avatar.
OK Cupid uses this model. You can not, for example, sort for people who polyamorous without paying the service. Last month I finally caved and gave them $20 for a month subscription so I could filter the way I wanted to. Smart move. [My clever friend Mike Ewall thinks that you don’t to pay for this. So you should certainly try without.]
When my distance range was set wide enough I found out that I had nearly 99% matches with all the residents of Tupelo North (ex-communards who defected to Northhampton) Angie, Ethan and Clementine. No surprise here, they are people I already had strong affinity with and connections to.
There were also now high match polyamorous people I had never met or seen online before, including Gypsy. [Before my friends working on cultural appropriation get upset about my use of this pseudonym, she has Romani blood, speaks Romanian (while not quite Romani language, but related), born in the region and has legitimate claim to this heritage, though she does not take it.] She left central Europe when she was 8 and has a charming euromutt English accent.
I read her profile, looked at many of the hundreds of questions we had both answered on OKC. We flirted online, then moved to email, text messages and phone. On the way up to this last weekends Point A meeting we got together for a couple hours in the DC suburbs waiting for the rush hour traffic to clear.
I can’t remember the last time I went on “a date” in most senses of this term. But neither of us had trouble finding things to talk about. She is a fierce atheist, polyglot (conversant in 5 languages), home schooling mom and CEO of her own manufacturing company. Her former occupations are as diverse as molecular biologist, classicist and stripper. I arrived worried she would be intimidatingly smart. But these fears quickly vanished, smart certainly but hardly intimidating – warm, quirky, open. It was a lovely experience, with someone I never would have found without this service. I’m rethinking my critique of OKC.
There will certainly be another date. Stay tuned.
Update Aug 2015: She is now one of the most important people in my life.
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