This may come as a shock to all of you, but…men and women are different (many apologies to those who identify differently…limiting the gender terminology for the sake of ease). They look different, think different, act different, and they also have very different experiences of online dating.
Also for the sake of my writing ease, most of my dating posts are directed toward POF, Match, OK Cupid and the like. For those of you not familiar, these are sites where any user can view another, send a message, a like, etc., as opposed to sites such as Tinder and Bumble that involve swiping one direction or another and needing a match to occur before an exchange can begin.
The first and most obvious difference in the online dating scene is a matter of volume. Women are approached and receive messages far more than men. From what I hear, 50 to 100 unsolicited messages per day is not an unreasonable expectation for a woman, especially if they are new to a site. When your profile shows up as a new user, the piranha come from far and wide, attracted by the scent of blood in the water.
Isn’t it amazing how many fish metaphors there are available when you put your mind
As a man, I can probably still count on my fingers and toes the number of unsolicited messages I’ve received from an actual human being. I am, however very popular with bots, spam, and scams.
This numerical disparity seems an especially strange fact to me, a resident of Victoria, BC, where they say the number of single women outdistances the number of single men by a wide margin (I have no way to fact check this, but I’ve heard it from a number of people, so let’s just go with it). But, of course, the reason it’s all panned out this way has nothing to do with the numbers of men and women looking for love in all the wrong places, and everything to do with how the patriarchy has fucked up society.
Let me put it another way: men at large have acted like assholes for a long time (please don’t say “not me”…we have all been assholes at least once in our lives). Because of this, women are necessarily wary of contact with men, even (perhaps especially) online. Since too many men act like assholes, women are forced to treat all men like they might be assholes, which in turn makes too many men act like assholes. It’s a vicious cycle, especially when you add the element of anonymity to it. It is shocking to find out what some people will do or say when hidden behind a computer screen.
For instance: dick pics. How the fuck is that even a thing? What kind of person thinks it’s
okay to send unsolicited pictures of their genitalia to someone they don’t know? How does anyone with a brain in their head not see how fucked up that is?
I personally have a policy that I think all men should adopt: you will not get a picture of my penis unless you have already seen it in person, and then only when permission has been given. On the rare occasion, if someone asks really nicely, I may share before the personal introduction has occurred but, to be completely honest, I don’t believe I’ve ever come upon that situation.
Gentlemen…no one wants to see your dick.
Here’s the other issue that occurs because of the volume of suitors women are forced to deal with. I have to admit, this is a bit of a frustration for me.
There are no set rules around communication.
Let me explain. When I send a message on POF (my primary dating site because, well, they’re all owned by the same company, anyway), I can see whether it’s been read or not and whether it’s been deleted. My view is this: if I send a message which is read, then deleted, I interpret that as “not interested”–no big deal, time to move on. If it’s unread and deleted, I figure I probably didn’t want to meet someone who’s going to judge me solely based on one picture they can barely see, anyway. Next are the women
who think they should be polite and answer all the messages they receive…a very Canadian trait, to be sure. I’ve had a couple of women message back with a “thanks, but not interested”–which is awesome–but mostly these women respond to whatever question might have been asked, as though they might want to engage. Men are encouraged by a response, send more messages, and the whole thing spins out of control. Usually this ends with a ghosting.
Then there’s the final option: nothing. The message gets neither read nor deleted and we poor men and our fragile egos are left to ponder how this could be, what it means, and how to proceed. Send another message and risk seeming like you’re being harassing? Move along and risk missing out on someone who might be great?
In the time I’ve been involved in online dating, things have changed. When I first started out, about three years ago, a typical interaction with a woman was a few messages back and forth, agree to meet for coffee or a drink, do the job interview first date, and assess if anyone wants to go any further. Now, the sheer volume of messages a woman receives makes it difficult to establish even that first bit of communication. It’s common to find profiles that specifically say how overwhelmed the woman is by the number of messages she receives. Getting a message back is like finding a ten in the pocket of your jeans you had forgotten was there. Getting to the point of actually meeting someone has become like winning the lottery–okay, maybe more like winning something on a scratch-and-win, because there’s still the interview to deal with.
So how does one proceed in this new and volatile online dating environment? We’ll dig into that more in another post, but one thing is for sure:
DO NOT send pictures of your dick. EVER!