Something that Puzzles me about Online Dating (or dating in general)

Something I’ve seen a lot of on the internet;

“Why couldn’t she have been polite and message me back that she wasn’t interested?”

This can also be extrapolated to Real Life with calls or texts, and some such statements are filled with more bitter, entitled misogyny than others, but it all boils down to this:  “Why didn’t this person reject me to my face?”

Why would you want to be rejected to your face?  I don’t want to be rejected to my face!  When I see the little pink letter on my the top of my OK Cupid page, I want to see a message from someone who thinks I’m pretty and groovy and wants my bod.  I get a little excited when I see that little icon, even if I know that the person messaging me is probably illiterate and/or someone I’m not attracted to.  I don’t want to have that little frisson of excitement and then read a rejection!  A rejection message would bum me out, while no response at all will probably not even register as a blip on my radar since I have a policy on forgetting about guys right after I message them.

Same goes for more real-life non-serious dating-type things.  A slow fade is effective and relatively painless way to let someone know you don’t want to take things further.  “Oh, I see you are not responding to me!  This is the behavior of someone who is Not That Into Me and my cue to push them out of mind and move on!  Done and done.”  I don’t need someone to tell me that they’re not interested in me, and I certainly don’t need a list of my character flaws as a parting gift.

Obviously the rules change after you get to Teh Sexytimes or otherwise raise the stakes, but in the low-stakes preliminary period why make a big production out of “eh, not that into you”?

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7 Comments

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7 responses to “Something that Puzzles me about Online Dating (or dating in general)

  1. I think that if you’re invested in a person as a partner (for instance, if you don’t get many dates) you’re likely to obsess over whether they were into you. So a slow fadeout is more painful because every day you’re hoping that maybe they’re going to call today! Continually crushed hope is worse than a simple no.

  2. I mean I get that, having been there, but I also think it’s really super duper important learn to be casual and not invest too much in the beginning stages of a potential thing. Not only can it be really intimidating for the date, but you can end up being crushed by small rejections that are par for the course for everyone who dates.

    I guess to me, fade-outs are unambiguous, especially if one keeps in mind that people who like you will act like they like you. Also, from someone who’s had to give a few rejections, telling someone after one date that you’re not interested can seem really presumptuous, especially if the other person felt the same way.

    Exceptions of course include direct questions (if asked directly, after a date, of course give a simple, unambiguous “no”), and when there have been several dates over the course of a couple weeks (higher stakes).

    Of course, as someone who has wrestled out of a deep pit of dweebishness to master a social competence, I might be being a bit harsh on those for whom things are more difficult. Regardless, I don’t think it helps anyone to be upset that that girl didn’t reply to your OK Cupid message (and these complaints were really the biggest inspiration for this post) 😛

  3. Yeah. I do think that in most cases the proper response is not “whine at people on the Internet until everyone explicitly states they don’t want to see you,” but “become less invested in individual dates.” I do understand the impulse, though. 🙂

    Other exception: if you’re friends first, then an explicit breakup is only polite.

  4. Not only is it polite, but it’s probably a requirement if you want to maintain your friendship!

    I also classify dating a friend as medium to high stakes, so the rules are obviously a lot different 😛

  5. AndrewVanbergen

    I think I can explain why some people (usually guys) want the message back even if it is a rejection. The difference is expressed in these two quotes:

    “I get a little excited when I see that little icon, even if I know that the person messaging me is probably illiterate and/or someone I’m not attracted to.”

    “…while no response at all will probably not even register as a blip on my radar since I have a policy on forgetting about guys right after I message them.”

    If you’ve read about how the messaging goes on OKCupid, it’s mostly guys messaging girls. You get a lot more messages than you send, right? And lots of guys, who at this point I imagine tend to be assholes, are pumping out huge volumes of short illiterate messages without reading profiles first. Some guys, however, are trying to distinguish themselves from that crowd. They are reading the profiles and thinking seriously about the woman who wrote them and trying to craft a message that lets her know that; and that takes time and effort, and of course they remember sending such a thing, and they’re waiting for a response.

    Writing a nice rejection is kind of hard. I really try because I think it’s harder for women to message men in this culture, and I’d want a message back. Most of the women who did message me (when my profile was active) have the little green “replies often” sign. I was once told one of my no’s was so nice it was almost as good as a yes, which made me feel good. But, of course, I never got very many messages, because I’m a guy, so I had much more time to spend on a nice no.

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