I try really hard to not stereotype or generalize. I constantly try to catch my own biases and prejudices. I really do.
However, my experiences with online dating are making that really hard. First, let me say I have met some really interesting and seemingly nice people. I’m dating one wonderful man, whom I met online. So far, he’s smart, sweet, fun, and all sorts of other positive things. I’ve IM’d some through the site and texted/called a couple. These men all seem weirdly willing to treat me like a person, which I’m finding is rare in online dating.
First, before anyone starts the running interior monologue of trying to explain or justify the behavior of these men, let me establish a few things. First, I’m 37 and most of the men messaging me are near my age (sometimes a bit older or younger). These aren’t 19 year old boys. These are adult men, who, I presume, interact with adult women in their daily lives.
Second, I’m an actual human being. I know the internet makes that complicated for some people. However, we need to stop accepting the “anonymity of the internet” as an excuse for people being assholes.
Third, the first sentence in my profile is “I’m married and polyamorous.” The second line “I am only interested in dating people who identify as poly or ethically non-monogamous.” I repeatedly use the word “feminist” I even include some stuff about Gamergaters need not apply. The only information I “hide” is about my job – because my job often makes people act weird.
I wanted to share a sampling of a week’s worth of online interactions I’ve had on OkCupid.
I’m currently having a running conversation with 2 men – both of whom seem nice and interesting. We are talking until our schedules allow us to meet.
The most benign interactions I’ve had this week are the socially stupid men with their “hey sexy,” “hey beautiful” “hey, something other adjective about my appearance” messages. The really clever ones say something like “nice smile.” That’s the entire message. If I don’t reply, I never hear from them again. Generally these are guys who by OKC’s ratings are a less than 50% match to me.
Second there are the “Judges.” These are the men who take the time to tell that “people like you shouldn’t be allowed on dating sites” – This message generally comes after I reply with “thank you for your interest, but as stated in my profile, I only date polyamorous and ethically non-monogamous people.” I assume, by people like me, they mean poly/non-monogamous people shouldn’t be allowed on a dating site that has a category for non-monogamous people. As I state that I am married and poly is the first line of my profile, I assume they also can’t read. I guess moving past the location/age/picture is just too much trouble for some guys.
OKC has a filter system that allows one to search by relationship type (along with all sorts of other criteria). For example, mine is set to within 20 miles of where I live, non-mono only, and no kids. It’s really easy to do – it’s just a few clicks. It limits the number of people whose profiles I see, to only people who may fit my criteria. It’s like magic or something.
Third, are the “Unable to Google Guys.” These guys message me things like, “I don’t know what poly is – explain it to me.” Do I look like Google? This isn’t a “how do you do poly question.” This is literally, “I don’t know what poly is, explain it to me.” I guess I should be happy they aren’t trying to mansplain poly to me. I’ve also been asked “is this like polygamy?” Like I’m a sister wife or I guess want to be a sister wife?
At first, I answered with “ethical non-monogamy – and a brief explanation.” I was working from the “being a good role model for alternative lifestyles changes people’s minds about alternative lifestyles and minorities” mindset. I try to do this as a pagan often enough. Unfortunately, my explanation about romantic relationships garners propositions for sex, recommendations that I’d have better luck at Ashley Madison (I guess ethical isn’t a word they know), or they turn into the aforementioned “Judges.” The guys who just never wrote back were really the nicest.
Now, if I reply to the “Unable to Google Guys” – I admit to being a little snarky. My answer is now: “google.com.” I just don’t have the energy to be nice when overwhelmingly the responses I get aren’t nice. Also, I’m paid to teach, so I don’t want to do it for free for men who can’t be bothered to look up a word.
After the “Unable to Google Guys” I get the really “Scary Entitled Guys.” I had one guy, who nicely asked how poly worked for my husband and I – which is a legitimate poly question. So I explained my views on poly and how M and I do poly. I asked if he was poly. His response was “I’m not poly, but I can do that.”
I replied that I am not interested in whether he “can do it or not.” I pointed out that my profile is clear that I am only interested in people who identify as poly or are currently poly (or have been in poly relationships in the past).
I was very clear – in my reply. “I’m not interested in helping you learn about poly or how you react to poly. I don’t want to deal with your potential landmines (jealousy, lack of communication skills, sexual hang ups, or damsel in distress issues). Being ‘cool with it’ isn’t the same as having done it. Thanks, but no thanks.”
Did he just fade away? Or may be send a nice “I understand, thanks for your time?” – of course not. He’s a “Scary Entitled Guy.”
His reply, “I don’t have any of those problems, so I want my night out with you.” – Um wait, what the fuck? In 2015, you are actually demanding I date you? Like I owe you something. Yeah fuck you.
My reply? “I don’t owe you anything – I don’t own you my time, I don’t owe you this reply, and I sure as hell don’t own you a date. No woman, no human being, owes you a god damn thing.”
He actually replied. He was “being sarcastic and joking” in his reply. He said, “Looks like my sarcasm got me in trouble again” – he followed that up about 12 hours later complimenting my smile and my profile name (a music reference). This was one of the least shitty “Scary Entitled Guys” I’ve dealt with.
I have to wonder if his “sarcasm” has “gotten him in trouble before” why he continues to do it? I think his use of “gotten in him in trouble” is also something to consider. Maybe it’s just me, but that a phrase I associate with children and dogs that chew up my shoes. This isn’t the wording of someone who takes responsibility for his actions – or even seems to recognize that his choice to use sarcasm is the problem, not the seemingly innate sarcasm he possesses.
In case anyone is thinking that demanding guy was a fluke. A lot of men think poly means I’m looking for sex, and specifically sex with them. I get proposistion a lot. After about 2 weeks on OCK, I added a line in my profile stating that I am not looking for casual sex. I am looking for relationships only.
So there was one guy, who at least asked if I was interested in a casual sex relationship – before asking me grossly personal questions or just asking to fuck. I can’t believe that I find the fact that he asked if I was interested in casual sex to be a mark in his favor, but at this point, I do.
So he asked if I was interested, mentioning that he had read my profile, and thought that I probably wasn’t interested in casual sex. Considering my profile specifically says I’m not interested, I wasn’t sure why this was ambiguous to him. This left me feeling a little snarky. Generally, I roll my eyes, laugh at the offending message, and move on.
As I was feeling snarky, my reply was that “I’d only entertain that idea if you were experienced with kink, and based on your profile you aren’t. Thanks anyway.” – I actually looked at his profile. There was nothing that indicated kink.
He replied that he was interested in kink – again, how does interest translate to “into” for people. I’m interested in art, that doesn’t mean I think I can draw. I replied that “I not interested in teaching someone about kink. Thanks but no thanks”
He replied with “You don’t need to teach me, I’m good in bed. I know kink.” His specific kinks included a list of 2 things: tying people up and threesomes (he also included that he doesn’t like spanking). That’s not even 50 Shades of Gray light. However, maybe he just didn’t understand kink – like people in the lifestyle kink. I get that. I’m sure to someone people his list is kinky. For example, Rick James thinks that “incense, wine, and candles” makes that woman a “Super Freak” – kink has levels. This guy is at or just passed Rick James’s level – tying people up, that’s racy and kinky. My level is somewhere passed this guy – like I’ve maxed out my character’s level, I’m working on prestige class skills (it’s a gaming reference).
My reply was “Not my kind of kink. What’s your FetLife/CollarMe profile name? Do you have any dom/sub training? What dungeons do you belong to – or have gone to? What are your views on subdrop and aftercare? Are you a lifestyle D/s? or bedroom D/s?” – Yes, I buried him in jargon. And I laughed about it. Margaret Atwood has a point about why men feel threatened by women, “[men] are afraid that women will laugh at them” – Of course when women feel threatened by men it is because we fear they will KILL us.
His reply, “so what kind of kink are you into?” He followed up about a day later, with “really, what are you into?” *sigh*
There are millions of people in OKC, why me? Seriously, when someone says “No” to me (or doesn’t reply), I move on.
For example, there was one guy who I chatted with for a few hours, and was kind of into. The next day, I decided I’d ask him out (right now I don’t have a lot of free time, so I’ve been delaying any dates until the summer semester ends). But I was pretty into this guy, and he seemed into me. He’d deactivated his account. I was kind of bummed about it. When I noticed a few days later his account was back (OKC keeps saves all conversations – so I noticed that his picture was back). I asked about meeting up. I got no reply. Did I demand a reason? Nope. I simply didn’t message him again, and moved on. It’s not hard.
If I look at some guy’s profile, and for example, see that he’s a 20% match – I often don’t look farther. If I look through his profile (OKC uses a lot of question comparisons) and find out that he’s antiabortion – I don’t feel the need to harangue him about his views. I don’t try to “persuade” him to change his views (I’ve more than one ‘White Knight’ seeking to save my soul, rescue me from my horrible poly life and marriage, or point out how unsustainable poly is because he knows someone whose poly relationship fell apart). No, you know what I do, I move on to someone else.
I’m trying to not let this experience make me hate men, or maybe just most men. Some days it is harder than others. Today, in dating land, has been ok. I had a very nice 60 year old man ask if I would be interested (my profile does list the age range I’ll date as 35-45) – admittedly I’m seeing a man who is 34 and am corresponding with a man who is 30 (that one is a little weird for me). But I’m 37 – at 60 he is literally old enough to be my father (ok my dad is in his mid-60s). He was very nice when I said no thanks. I had one guy ask how “a person establishes polyness without being ok or curious about it” – which I guess makes sense as a question. My answer, “you are in or have been in a poly relationship” – he responded with “oh, I see” – so today in dating land, men don’t suck.