Despite the threat of Triton Eye and the nickname University of California Socially Dead, here is one less excuse to stay home on a Saturday night. The Little Black Book is an online dating site exclusively for UCSD, SDSU, USD and Point Loma Nazarene students that aims to make finding a date, a friend or a study buddy with benefits a little easier.
Signing up is free and groups you with 1,305 others searching for the one — or for some fun. The fact that you need a university e-mail account to register lends some credibility to Little Black Book’s network. It also never displays your full last name, only the first letter, which makes it more difficult for unwanted “friends” to find you on Facebook.
The site asks for your gender, major, birthday and graduation status, which is displayed on your profile right next to your photo. Then you select the particulars that will determine your matches: sexual preferences (male, female or both); what you’re looking for (friendship, dating or both); desired age range; your idea of a perfect date — moonlight kayaking, dinner and movie or frat party; how often you go to the library; your religion, ethnicity and eating habits; if you drink or smoke.
Although the sultry female voice in the introduction video informs visitors that it takes only five minutes to register, you may want to spend some time choosing your words in the self-description section (think Facebook’s “info” section) if you are serious about getting someone’s attention — bad grammar isn’t much of a turn-on. The right profile picture is obviously even more crucial: the implications of a Pokémon character, a hundred dollar bill or a snapshot of you chugging your twelfth Natural Lite aren’t good. Twenty-four hours after you’ve verified your email, you can log back into the site and see who your first five matches are. Little Black Book claims to match participants with users around the same age and with common interests, and all registered users will receive five new matches every day. The site displays the exact percent compatibility you have with someone next to their headshot, and is good at picking up on random similarities, like birthday months or tastes in music.
Still: don’t be surprised if a 41-year-old grad student asks you to grab a cup of coffee or if you’re an art major that’s repeatedly matched with the same engineer. The matching feature is spotty at best, with only so many fish in the sea of San Diego students to choose from.
If you happen to be matched with someone who does strike your fancy, either “friend” the person or send him a message. “Friending” someone adds his name to your list of friends to be found later, and Little Black Book automatically tells you which of your friends is currently online (again, think Facebook). Sending a message is the standard way to connect with someone, or just to helpfully point out that the two of you are 87% compatible.
Unlike other dating sites like OK Cupid or Match.com, Little Black Book is exclusive to students in the San Diego area and users are mostly either bored undergrads looking for friends to hang out, read or get drunk with — or graduate students looking for serious relationships.
It lacks the in-depth questioning and complex matching strategies of bigger sites, as well as their larger number of users, but the questions it does ask are satisfyingly relevant (like if you prefer barhopping in PB or a round of golf at Torrey Pines).
Little Black Book also suggests some “hot spots,” or places in the San Diego area that past users have reviewed after dates, but only two have been listed; both are pizza places.
Another feature of the site is “daring pairing,” which will match you with someone based solely on gender if you’re brave enough to activate it.
And with Valentine’s Day just a week away, the site may not match you with your soul mate, but at least it offers the promise of another entry in your own little black book.