In a world of 50+ hour work weeks, gym sessions, seminars and ‘lifelong’ learning classes, grocery shops without a car in the snow, and just trying to get laundry done so you don’t stink, it’s hard to find time to get out and meet someone new. Especially when the good chunk of your friends are married or engaged-to-be-engaged, and your time with them ends at 9 so they can put their kid to bed. So the concept of Online Dating (not unlike Communism), in theory works perfectly. Post a profile, exchange a few messages, meet in person and voila! A new-man friend who hopefully blossoms into a Prince. But, also not unlike Communism, the incentive to work for others is removed and everyone, and anything, becomes fair game. That, and it attracts a whole boatload of crazy.
I’ve online dated off and on for 2 years, and have come to wonder what could possibly be going through the minds of some of these profilees. So, just in case there is actually a handful of dudes out there who are genuinely clueless as to why that special lady never responded to a fantastic, well thought-out message, here’s some of the things you could be doing wrong.
Yes, think Seinfeld’s girlfriend who looked wildly attractive or slightly repulsive depending on the lighting. This happens in the online dating world frequently, where every picture in a guy’s profile looks like a different person. In one he might be bearded and burly, the next he might be clean-shaven and thin, the next with shades and a completely different hairstyle. The more pictures there are, the more confused we get. Which leads us to wonder – what does this guy REALLY look like? Or is it even the same guy at all?! Who are we talking to, and more concernedly, who of those 3, 4 or 5 guys pictured is going to show up on the date? And you know we’re dreading. It’s going to be the one we don’t find attractive in the least.
The Stranger Danger
This is the guy that on the initial first message or within the first few, wants to take you out right away, or treat you to something that he thinks is wildly romantic, like a foot massage. Here’s an example of some stranger danger I received today, courtesy of a right young gentleman, I’m sure.
As tempting as going over to a complete stranger’s house is, I do vaguely remember being told not to take candy from strangers. And if it doesn’t work on a kindergartener, what makes you think it will work on me? (That, and I’m still a big fan of the PSA “Don’t ya put it in your mouth”. Ya, I went there.)
The Rico Suave
This is a close cousin to The Stranger Danger. Usually because a guy this smooth doesn’t wait till he gets to know you to romance you. Oh no ladies, he comes out with the big guns a blazin’ (and most likely compensating for something, though I’ve never made it far enough to find out for sure). Here’s the man of your dreams, ready and willing to let you know you’re in for the time of your life.
Men: this type of message should only be reserved for a time and place when you’ve not only confirmed the girl is interested, but also taken her out on a few dates, confirmed that you’re not (outwardly) a sex-driven beast, and also provided some official documentation of STD-free living. However, if you refuse to heed my warning and decide to go the Rico Suave route, perhaps don’t accompany the message with a photo of you in the Disney store dressed as Captain Hook (and holding leftovers?)
Men should also take note that overly complimentary messages are just as off-putting, and more so, an insult to our intelligence. When the first message I receive praises the very ground I walk on and air I breathe based on a few lines I wrote in an “about me” section, it’s unlikely I’m going to think “OMG! Here is the man of my dreams, my very own Prince Charming who’s instantly fallen in love with me. Now to discuss the wedding plans.”
As much as I had to let this man down by not responding, I’m sure he was able to copy and paste said declaration of love to a few other girls who needed saving. God speed, little man.
The Over-Revealer/The Flasher
I don’t mean this physically (although I’ve heard horror stories from girlfriends on that front as well). The over-revealer is the guy that tells you intimate details about himself or his dating life in the initial message(s). This can be off-putting for several reasons. For example, a friend of mine recently had a guy she met on a Friday night tell her he was into anal play. While they were dancing. A few minutes after meeting at the bar. Prior to this, she was having a grand ol’ time getting to know him. Other than the anal play bit, he seemed like great guy and she was having a blast. While I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with a little bum fun, this man immediately became known to us as “Bum Bum Guy”, and made her start to question whether or not this would be something she’d want in a partner. Now, if this guy had revealed his sexual preferences 5 or 6 dates (at least!) down the line once she had an opportunity to get to know him and his other traits, she might look at his sexual interests differently or with more understanding/openness now that she knows him as a whole person. Unfortunately for Bum Bum, it doesn’t look like he’s going to get very far.
Another case in point. I recently received a message from a guy who seemed great. It seemed like we had similar hobbies and aspirations, and he was cute. His initial message ended with “How have you found online dating so far?”. I HATE this question. This is an auto-red flag. I feel like it means they’re trying to troll to see why I’m online/how many guys have rejected me. Either way, I never say anything negative (it’s never conductive to shit on the very thing you’re engaging in), and would never reveal the details of my dating life. It’s none of a stranger’s business to begin with, and not a good way to start a conversation – i.e. no good relationship starts with a pissing match. After dodging the question and asking a few more light-hearted ones about his weekend, he responded with a novel-esque diatribe about being single for 4 years and dating online on and off, only to have women date for a few months then disappear or screw him over in some way by taking his money or cheating on him. He ended the lovely message with “How long have you been single? What are you looking for in online dating?”.
Men, don’t shoot yourself in the foot by over-revealing qualities that shine you in the “uh oh, what am I’m getting myself into” light. Just as you do, women will run at the first sight of damaged goods. Too often in relationships we fall into the mothering/caregiver roll, and the last thing we need is another project on our plates. Stay positive, and reveal only what you need as you get to know your lovely lady – at least until she knows you’re a fully functioning and stable human and knows you enough to work through your faults.
The Pen Pal
Simply put, if you’re on an online dating site, you should be willing, within a reasonable time period, to meet in person. One of the most frustrating things to happen when you finally feel like you’ve made a connection with someone, is to have them write a diatribe and end it with “have a great week!”. In my experience I think 2 weeks of chatting back and forth warrant an invite out to a date. Anything longer, and you’ve got a bona-fide pen pal on your hands.
Call me old fashioned, but when a guy doesn’t make an effort to set a date, I eventually lose interest. Maybe it’s too many Disney movies as a kid, but I want a guy to be as excited to meet me and spend time with me, as I am to be with him. Pen pals are for prison inmates and pre-teens, not adults.
You get a great message from a guy. It’s insightful, original, asks interesting questions and you’re looking forward to responding. You go in for the pre-requisite click on the profile and are immediately let down when you see 6 pictures of the guy – in the mirror, from his web cam, and other equally original selfie photographs. What you have here is the apparent Shut-In.
Men, you could write the world’s most compelling profile that includes all the most fun hobbies (I save baby turtles in Costa Rica! I’ve handglided over a volcano! I skydive every Tuesday morning at 8!) and admirable traits (My favourite authors are a bunch of old dead guys you’ve never heard of). But when every photo of you was taken in some reflective surface, and you’re wearing the same clothes, it makes a gal think ‘hmmm does this guy ever really get out? Why has no one, apparently up until this moment, taken a photo of him out and living life in the world?’
And so your chances of a response are little to none. Even if I would have loved to save those baby turtles with you, some time.