Women – and men – in online dating communities are acting like goddamned sociopaths. This needs to stop.
Okay, not all of you. But some of you. Men, too – I’m guessing this isn’t just women. See if you recognize yourselves below.
On multiple occasions I’ve been talking to women I met through OK Cupid. Things going great, we really seem to be hitting it off, and then we agree to meet. The woman has even been the one asking me out, in fact. I say yes, then … poof. Gone without a trace. Never hear from her again.
This is odd behavior, especially when she just asked me out, right? Am I saying yes wrong? WTF?
I asked my Facebook friends for some insight and got a predictable range of supportive answers. I also got a couple that really stood out. Apparently this kind of behavior happens all the time. Check what friend #1, who knows a good bit about the online dating world, had to say.
It’s not probably even you. Really. Online dating brings out the worst in everybody, and bad behavior like this is rampant. She’s probably just terrified — it was one thing when she was flirting with you abstractly, but quite another when a real meeting was in the offing. This is why men’s profiles (at least — dunno about women’s) are always full of stern warnings about playing for realsies. Apparently, this happens to all y’all fairly routinely.
You have to be kidding, I replied. Then friend #2 waded in.
Don’t take it personally, Sammy. This happens to everyone on dating sites – happened to me, too. Many people go on just to browse and flirt (to work up the courage, pretend to be unmarried, feel good about themselves, role play, etc.), not to actually meet someone in person. It’s truly effed for people who are serious about dating, but I think it just comes with the territory and you have to blow it off. I had a rule that I wouldn’t have more than two email exchanges with someone interesting without setting up a coffee date – and NO phone calls before meeting. Men evaporated on me many times at that point, or wanted to draw out the email/phone exchanges, which is never a good idea. Try to take your emotions out of the mix and just move on.
Pretend to be unmarried?
[counting slowly to 10…]
Okay, I guess now that I think about it I’m not surprised. Of course people are behaving this way online. Duh. This is the Internet, which was invented because we had run out of ways to behave badly in real life.
I’m nonetheless appalled.
Listen, I get that you may like flirting. I get that role playing might be fun for you. I get that online exchanges can represent a safe environment in which you can perhaps boost your self-esteem. I certainly understand that you want to feel good about yourself – so do I. This all makes sense.
But, and this is key: both people have to be in on the goddamned game.
Fluffing your own ego while damaging the self-esteem of others isn’t okay. It’s pathological. It’s amoral. It’s patently sociopathic behavior. There are people online – especially people past their early 30s – who are emerging from bad marriages. It may have been years since they braved the harsh emotional minefield that is the dating world. They may be scarred, they may be utterly terrified of submitting themselves to the marketplace. What if no one wants them? What if they’re not good enough? Are they going to be alone forever?
Your insincere flirting might be doing wonders for your sense of well being. But if the other person is acting in good faith and isn’t in on the game, when you vanish you may have shoved them even deeper into their shells.
It’s easy enough to say that we have to be tough and not take it personally but you know what? People do take it personally. What could be more personal than being rejected as not even worthy of a meeting for a cup of coffee after you have invited them to have a cup of coffee? I guess we’re all quietly rejected lots of times each day as someone sees us in public and thinks nah, not my type. But there’s no confrontation there. You don’t even know it’s happening. Psychologically, someone not approaching you is a very different thing from getting shot down.
Ladies: If you see yourself being implicated in this scenario, you need to cut it out right now. If you have female friends who do it, you need to talk to them. Today.
Guys: If you’re someone I know and you’re doing this and I find out about it, I’m likely as not to take a swing at you, you clueless self-absorbed son of a bitch. Not only is this kind of behavior indefensible on its face, you’re making it harder for the rest of us. The perfect woman for me may be out there, and she may decide not to bother replying to my message because the last guy she talked to online asked her out then disappeared without a trace when she said yes.
Goddamn it people, this isn’t rocket science. Think about somebody besides yourself for a second.