Today in online dating: a sociopath explains why her feelings matter and yours don’t


There are lots of bad people doing bad things in their online dating lives. This woman is doing the very worst.

Yesterday was the third anniversary of my first date with my girlfriend. So it’s been a while since I had to deal with the messed-up world of online dating. But back before I struck gf gold I wrote some articles about … well, the messed-up world of online dating.

I tripped across an article the other day that reminded me – and not pleasantly – of just how badly I hated that scene. Let me excerpt a bit.

No matter how well this date goes, I will never see him again.

He’s funny and good looking – we definitely have chemistry – but as soon as I leave the bar tonight, I’ll block him on all messaging apps, delete his number and unmatch him from the dating app that we met on. I don’t want to dwell too much on a possible future, as it seems unnecessarily deceptive to pretend that we’ll have one.

See, I’m in a relationship – but not with the man I’m on a date with. Even though I’ve been in a relationship for six years – with a man I see myself having a future with – every so often, I go on dates with strangers I meet online.

The first time I ended up on a ‘date’ was about six months after I found out about my boyfriend’s infidelity. And it was kind of an accident. I went out with some new work colleagues and was left with just one of the guys in a bar. I was tipsy and we flirted. I knew nothing would happen, we just had great banter – we bounced off each other, and we found the same things funny. I remember floating home, feeling more confident than I had in months. I enjoyed feeling wanted – truth be told, it was an ego boost – but more than that, it was so nice to have a conversation that wasn’t weighed down by emotion and hurt.

A few weeks later, I was at a friend’s house and she let me scroll through her dating apps. It was fun and silly, seeing her get matches and chatting to randoms, but when I left her house that night, I knew I wanted to do it again, properly, on my own.

Looking back, I can see that I was desperate for that same ego boost – a reaffirmation that I was desirable, despite what my boyfriend had done. In fact, in one American survey of almost 10,000 millennial dating-app users, almost half (44%) said they used them as a form “confidence-boosting procrastination”. I guess I was hurting a lot and looking for any way to make myself feel better.

First things first: I totally get the damage being cheated on can do. I’m 58 and will probably never get completely over things that were done to me 30 years ago. So the writer’s hurt, her anger, her loss of self-worth, her need to recover herself, I feel it and support it 100%.

Dear “Sarah”: I’ve been there, so let me offer some advice: the road back begins with getting him out of your life for good. All that horrible stuff you feel the need to cleanse from your system? Yeah, a toxic reminder of it is there every morning when you wake up and every night when you go to sleep. You’ll never be free as long as you have to see his face.

Just saying.

Now, back to your story. Let me be honest about something: you are a detestable human being. You’re a manipulative, self-involved micro-sociopath who thinks other people’s feelings are less important than yours. You believe you’re entitled to be whole even though you aren’t willing to invest the effort needed to get legitimately healthy; worse, you’re willing to inflict emotional harm on others and feed on the pain for your own shallow ego.

On behalf of that guy you met, clicked with and ghosted, and the god-knows-how-many-others you did the same thing to, let me just say: fuck you. 

See, about five years ago I was that guy.

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.

So let me see if I have this straight. I was out there taking my own emotional risks, and doing so in good faith, while a certain percentage of women were using me to make themselves feel good.

Oh hell no.

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?

Did you pause to consider that you may be inflicting emotional damage? Oh, wait, here it is. Yes, yes you did.

Sometimes, I’d feel bad for the guys. Some of them were obviously looking for something serious and I was just wasting their time. I remember one in particular who was really cut up about his ex cheating on him – we talked about it a lot. I vaguely told him that I’d had ‘similar experiences’, but I cried all the way home because I felt like I was re-traumatising him in some way.

Thank god, a moment of self-awareness. This means you’ve stopped doing it. Right?

Even now, I don’t think what I’m doing is cheating, I consider it more like ‘meeting new people’ with an added ego boost – but I do feel bad for having to be sneaky. I’m aware that I’m betraying his trust – even with the kissing – but I also felt I couldn’t move forward with our relationship unless I was sure that it was still what I wanted.

One of my rules is to always let my dates down gently at the end of each date. I usually just go with ‘I had a lot of fun, but I think this is as far as I want to take it…’ They’re always really kind about it, though it probably seems a bit odd that I cut all contact so quickly. I’m sure no one enjoys being blocked.

As I said earlier, I’m so fucking glad I don’t have to deal with malignant users like you anymore.

I wish for you, and all the people like you (male and female), nothing more or less than what your behavior has earned you.

If you’re smart, you’ll pray there’s no such thing as karma.

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