I know a young woman who has been experimenting with a number of online dating sites for some time now, and I have been fascinated and repelled by her experiences, in equal amounts. One day I realised that she and her friend were having a good old laugh at the guys who had messaged her, snorting things like “dear God, NO!” and “you HAVE to be joking!”
I have to admit, I was a bit appalled by their meanness, until I actually saw some of the pictures…
Guys, being photographed outside the pub, a cigarette (or spliff) hanging out of your mouth, and a pint of lager in your hand, does not make you attractive to (most) women. Neither does looking down at your phone whilst taking a selfie, attempting to appear serious and mysterious. You just look like a miserable bugger with a double (sometimes triple) chin. On the other hand, there are those who pose naked from the waist up, proudly showing off their six pack and tattoos, and clearly already in love – with themselves. One of these guys even included in his bio the fact that he has a large appendage (though we only have his word for it). And then there are the self-conscious hat wearers, shyly hiding a prematurely receding hairline. I wonder at which point the hat comes off, if they do hook up with someone? On the first date? The wedding day? Never? Oh, and then there are the group photo’s, showing a gang of likely lads having a wild night out… and you have to guess which of the grinners you’re supposed to be looking at… and whether they all come as a package, permanently joined at the hips.
Still, having said all of that, it does seem unkind to screech with hysterical laughter at someone who has at least had the courage to reach out and say hi. But maybe I am a little naive, being older, and not out there on the dating scene. I do know that this young lady, who is perfectly presentable and attractive, has been rejected by her own fair share of potential suitors, which has kind of annoyed and disappointed her… and so it probably cuts both ways. In an ideal world, looks wouldn’t count for too much, but when trawling the dating sites, appearance is everything. And one person’s idea of gorgeous leaves another wanting to throw up in a paper bag. And of course, there is always the chance that the image being presented is not actually of the person in question. A guy once told me that he had been chatting online to a slim, attractive lady for some weeks, and eventually they agreed to meet up for the weekend. She lived a couple of hundred miles away, but he jumped on his bike and headed off, excited to be finally meeting the woman he believed her to be. When she opened her front door, he realised that she definitely wasn’t the same lady who had been smiling at him from the dating site… and she admitted that the pictures she’d used were of her friend, adding “but now you’re here, you might as well stay”. Grudgingly, he agreed to give it a try, but left early the following morning. The issue wasn’t so much that she was not as attractive as the lady in the pictures, it was more to do with the fact that she had lied, drawing him in under false pretences. I’m not sure exactly how she thought she was going to get away with it… possibly she believed that she could win him round with her wonderful personality, or great sex. Either way, he wasn’t impressed, and never contacted her again.
In defence of the guys, I have to say that some of the ladies, with their jacked-up bosoms, big lips and eyebrows, looked a little intimidating to me. I kind of wanted to match them up with their kindred spirits… the bare chested, tattooed six-packers. I could imagine some pasty, scrawny lad, desperately drooling over a goddess, foolishly chancing his luck by making an approach… only to be immediately squashed like a fly, or worse: completely ignored. Ah, the terrifying world of online dating!
I have come to understand that there are a huge number of people on dating sites who are not actually interested in meeting a person with whom they can develop a genuine, compatible relationship. They just want to chat, flirt and move on… though they don’t usually admit that upfront. They see it as a distraction, something to pass the time, suddenly losing interest when they realise that things are becoming a little too intense… that the other person involved is starting to develop ‘expectations’. And unfortunately, this behaviour tends to be more prevalent amongst men than women (and believe me, I am not into man-bashing… I have no time for it!). I am not saying that no man has ever had his heart broken by some game playing beauty – just that, generally, this is more of a male thing. And it is such a waste of precious time and emotional energy!
Going back to the young lady and her dating site exploits: she has had a number of dates, and even went out with a guy she met online, for around 6 months. She found that guys are either too full-on, becoming clingy way too soon, sometimes speaking of love before even having laid eyes on her in the ‘real’ world, or come across as keen, developing a warm phone/internet relationship over weeks, only to suddenly announce that they aren’t looking for anything more than a bit of fun. She isn’t looking for a husband, and she has an independent life, but she would really like to meet someone with whom she can develop an honest, affectionate, straightforward relationship… a guy who doesn’t feel the need to control her. One person she dated for a couple of months increasingly started to criticise how she dressed, how she walked and sat, and how much make-up she wore… and so he had to go. Another, on the second date, started a row, accusing her of being just like his mother and his ex! Obviously, there wasn’t a third date. She has also struggled to make a link on many of the dating sites with people who appear to understand how to conduct a two-way conversation; it could be nerves, but a lot of guys are more interested in talking about themselves, rather than finding out more about her. Or sometimes not talking much at all, making it a little like trying to get blood from a stone!
Anyway, here are just a few things I have gleaned that appear to make some kind of sense:
There has to be a cut off point, where just talking is concerned. It appears that the longer the ‘relationship’ remains purely online, the less likely it is that it will develop into something more tangible in the real world.
If a guy is quickly full of flattery and sweet-talk, and there are endless “how are you this morning, beautiful?” texts, and calls/texts late at night, without any real discussion about meeting up, then again, the less likely it is that the relationship will move up to the next level.
When two people first connect or meet, they are only seeing the representative – not the reality. And anyone can be anything they choose to be, in the fantasy of the online world. Even if it emerges that the person of interest turns out to be a bit of a nightmare, we won’t know unless we have spent consistent time with them, in everyday life. At some point we definitely need to meet up, and probably more than once… or accept that it is just an online thing that will eventually fizzle out.
If the conversation continues to be flirty, or silly, or just small talk, it is unlikely that it will develop into anything more substantial.
Reading between the lines is a smart thing to do. There is a difference between feeling insecure/defensive, and picking up on important little cues… and putting the pieces together. If our gut instinct is insistent, it is probably trying to tell us something important.
Putting all of our eggs into one basket, way too soon, generally leads to disappointment. A relaxed, patient approach is always going to be more empowering than a full-on, is this person ‘the one’ approach… because the chances are that we are going to have to shoot out many, many arrows, before even hitting a target… never mind the bulls eye!
If you are on the dating circuit, or have recently come across a person of interest, why not take a look at my ‘Ask About Another Person’ consultation (go to the ‘consultations’ page). It is one of my most popular listings, with an excellent reputation for overall accuracy. You might not hear exactly what you want to, but at least you will acquire some very useful and valuable insight!