3 Lessons In Online Dating From The Most Popular Woman On OkCupid

Photographed by Emily Lambert.
Lauren Urasek was both lucky and unlucky enough to be crowned OkCupid's most-messaged straight woman in NYC in 2014. As you can probably imagine, the 25-year-old makeup artist has had quite a bit of experience in receiving creepy, way-too-forward, and totally incoherent messages — many of which are documented on her blog, theyreallysaidthis.

But she's also had plenty of fun, and in her new book, Popular: The Ups and Downs of Online Dating from the Most Popular Girl in New York City (out today), she offers advice, personal stories, and essays to help you navigate this crazy digital-dating world. Here are a few of her tips for making the most of those messages.

1. Chill a little.
When a potential match's profile seems awesome, that's great — just don't put all your eggs in that basket until you've actually gotten together (and don't really do it then either, TBH), Urasek says. "People put too much pressure on meeting people online," says Urasek. This can lead to some unpleasant crushing of expectations when you two meet IRL. It's not just about having a disappointing first date, either: Keeping your hopes at a reasonable level helps you get to know the other person in a less-pressured way, even after you've officially met. "Until it's amazing and great and you're in a monogamous relationship, if that's what you want, keep dating other people and don't put all your focus on that person," Urasek says. In other words, pump the brakes and be a bit pessimistic (or realistic, if you prefer).

2. Don't waste your own time.
Online dating can be a huge time-suck. If you're having fun crafting witty messages to strangers, more power to you, but beware: Exchanging messages for weeks before you ever meet up can backfire, since (to the previous point) you could fall head-over-heels before getting together and realizing, womp, you have zero chemistry. Also, hello, you do not have to get back to every weirdo who messages you. "It actually shocks me when people think they have to respond to every message," Urasek says. But no, you don't owe anyone a response when you're dating online. And if you've actually met and gone on a date or two, Urasek says letting that person down with a text is totally fine. We're all busy people, okay?

3. It's okay to be single.
Even "most popular girl" Urasek says she's happily single, after all. So if all your swiping and messaging doesn't end in happily ever after, that's fine, too. There's a lot of pressure (societal, parental, social-media-l, you name it) on all of us to be in relationships — followed by pressure to get married, have kids, etc. But Urasek says she wants to send home this simple message: "I want women and girls to know that it’s okay to be single and happy," she says, "and I think when you’ve found that comfort to be by yourself, that’s when you’re the happiest."

Online dating is always a mixed bag. But hopefully, with a realistic attitude and confidence in being yourself, you'll have more good days — and dates — than bad.
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