What We Learned About Food and Dating from the Most Desired People in New York
Photo credit: George Marks / Getty Images
New York magazine recently published an article titled “Meet the 4 Most Desired People in New York (According to OKCupid),” in which writer Logan Hill talked to the four most popular New York City-based OKCupid members about their experiences. The “they”: Lauren Urasek, 23, female, straight; Kerry Campbell, 26, female, gay; James Hawver, 29, male, straight; and Thomas McKee, 24, male, gay. It was a fascinating look at the range of ways in which this generation approaches a social networking tool that’s become ubiquitous in its ten years of existence.
What we wanted to know: How big a role does food play in people’s judgments of potential dates and, eventually, romantic relationships? The answer, we found, after talking to each of the people interviewed for New York’s article ourselves: a pretty significant one.
All four of our interviewees said some mention of food is usually part of OKCupid profiles. “It’s a safe topic of conversation, and telling on so many levels,” says Hawver.
Urasek, who lists whiskey as one of her interests, agrees. “It’s an open invitation to say, ‘Let’s go get whiskey,’” she says.
"The majority of people are saying similar things: ‘I love going out to eat; I love good food.’ I looked up the food tag and ‘good food’ is by far the number one food-related term that people use,” says McKee. “It suggests that you enjoy [food] broadly, because specifics would rule out the possibility of a date with someone who might not agree with your tastes.”
“In the online dating world, the goal of a profile is to come across as easy to be around. You’re trying to cast a wide net and appeal to as many people as you can.”
Hawver, on the other hand, prefers specificity. “I really like when women write down their favorite spot to grab a cocktail or favorite restaurant,” he says. “It can say a lot about a person; it can definitely give you a better idea of their interests.”
For Campbell, it’s been a good way to weed out some users. “There are a lot of vegans out there, especially in the lesbian community, but if it’s like ‘All I eat or drink is like powders or something’? I’ve had vegan food myself, but when it’s super hardcore where it’s like vegan or nothing, then there’s not a possibility of going out.”
Again, there was agreement here: drinks are good, for two main reasons.
1. They ease tensions. “To be honest, I’ve been more focused on getting a drink,” says Campbell. “When you’re going on a first date, it can be nerve wracking; a glass of wine will help you loosen up.”
2. They’re less of a commitment. “[Dinner] is expensive!” says Hawver. “I don’t want to drop 130 bucks on someone who might not like me and vice versa.” Urasek uses drinks as a testing ground: “I usually meet someone for a drink first and if we hit it off, then we’ll get dinner.”
Hawver avoids the restaurant first date altogether. “It’s a little too formal for me,” he says. “You’re sitting across from each other—I would rather sit next to you, on a couch or something.”
“It’s also not very attractive to watch people eat,” he says. “I don’t think I’m a sloppy eater, but I’m putting food in my mouth. It might be a very unpleasant experience for the person sitting across from me.”