Am I Wrong to Expect Monogamy In the Early Phases of Online Dating?

I live in a small retirement community with few men my age (54,) so online dating gives me access to a much broader field. It also means a much longer introductory phase, and an awkwardly pressured scenario – if on meeting we are not attracted. I can deal with that, I think. But in the course of the protracted conversation, when the tone becomes increasingly intimate and anticipatory, I have to repeatedly face the unexpected revelation that the man I am “involved” with is involved, literally, with someone else, typically, an old girlfriend who is now a sex partner and good friend.

Though I have said expressly in my profile that I prefer a single focus and want to be told if someone has other people in their lives (so I can figure out how to deal with it,) I keep having to find out well into the hot pursuit phase. Is this just too much to ask? Should I just get over hoping for monogamy so early in the game? I just feel the other people involved would be hurt if they knew the exchanges their lover is having with me, even if it’s just over the phone, and making plans to meet. Hopelessly mired in tradition?

 

Michelle

Dear Michelle,

Great letter. One I feel I must have answered before, but can’t really remember.

To put a fine point on it: yes, you’re hopelessly mired in tradition. But that’s not a flaw on your part. It’s a blind spot shared with pretty much every single person who is dating online. Don’t beat yourself up about it.

The most pervasive trait that I see in online dating is mind-numbing hypocrisy.

Are you “wrong” for wishing for a simpler, more direct approach to communication? Not at all. Are you fighting a losing battle with technology and human nature? Absolutely.

“I may have lied about my height by an inch…how dare she lie about her weight?”

“I’ve been dating on JDate on and off for six years…look at that loser – he’s been using JDate the entire time I’ve been on here and still hasn’t found someone.”

“I lowered my age to be seen by more people…but what’s with these guys who take off ten years and don’t tell you until the first date?”

“I’ve sent out ten emails and eight men were so rude that they didn’t reply at all; I’ve also got ten emails from interested men, but only two of them are really worth a reply.”

“Men are only looking for hot, young women…but I’ve only got the 20 most attractive men on my favorites list.”

And, of course, your dilemma.

Now, you may be the exception to the rule – for all I know, you communicate with only one man at a time and wouldn’t even consider writing an email to a new man if you were already in correspondence with another.

But that would seem to negate the entire nature of online dating – you have access to volumes of single people who also have access to volumes of single people. So are you “wrong” for wishing for a simpler, more direct approach to communication? Not at all. Are you fighting a losing battle with technology and human nature? Absolutely.

And this happens all the time. We want the world to be a certain way and get really frustrated when it flies in the face of our expectations.

“It’s not fair that men have to be the aggressors while women have to just sift through their email!”

“It’s not fair that 50 year old men can date 40 year old women, but 40 year old men don’t want 50 year old women!”

Yeah, and?

So, Michelle, in order to be successful in online dating, you have to understand the rules of the game. Here are the rules you’re currently breaking:

In order to be successful in online dating, you have to understand the rules of the game.

1)       You say in your profile that you’re looking for a single focus and want to be told so you can deal with it.  That’s not how it works. If you actually say that, you’re only indicating that you’re tone-deaf to how you’re coming across. It’s like walking into a swingers’ party and wondering aloud why everyone has no values. Or a guy writing in his profile that he wants a young, thin, woman with big boobs and a hunger for cooking and oral sex. Is he wrong for wanting it? No. Just for saying it out loud.

2)       You’re finding out that he’s dating other people when you’re dating. Once again, I understand why you WANT to know, but you have to understand that if you pull this insta-relationship stuff with men who are exploring 3 or 4 options on Match.com right now, you’re gonna get the short end of the stick. Dating is a process. What I tell my clients all the time is that they want to read the last page of the book, just to see that it has a happy ending. But you have to read the entire book. That’s the dating process. If you try to pry information out of a guy – how many people he’s slept with, how much money he makes, whether he’s ready for a serious relationship or kids – he’s going to feel pressured and interrogated. This isn’t the feeling you want to evoke on a first date.

3)       You’re worrying about the other women these men are dating and are trying to protect them from heartbreak. I could spend a lot of time worrying about the suffering in Namibia or North Korea or Detroit, but I’ve got my own stuff to keep me busy. Until you really get that the very nature of online dating means that thousands of men are browsing thousands of women – and that pretty much every one is trying to trade up for the youngest, cutest, funniest, coolest woman on the website – you’re gonna put yourself through a lot of unnecessary heartbreak.

If you’re a baseball player, you may be an All-Star – but you pretty much know you’re never going to hit better than .350. 65% -75% of the time, you’re gonna get out. That’s the way the game is played. So instead of trying to rewrite the rules to online dating, how about you start playing by the existing rules?

Instead of trying to rewrite the rules to online dating, how about you start playing by the existing rules?

Everyone writes to everyone.

Nobody is monogamous until his profile’s down.

No relationship is real until he’s your boyfriend.

Before that, it’s just hope and potential.

If you embrace the above, I predict a much greater sense of peace at the revolving door of men facing you.

Remember, all it takes is one…

This is why I developed Finding the One Online. If you’ve ever struggled with the online dating process – and wondered why men do what they do online – I’ve answered all of your questions and more.

Click below to understand this process and attract the kind of man who IS ready for a commitment.

www.evanmarckatz.com/products/finding-the-one-online.html

Warmest wishes,

Evan

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Comments:

  1. 31
    Joe

    I’m with Michael (#20). There’s nothing wrong with a little FWB action while you’re looking for someone with whom you want something a little more. As long as both of you understand it is what it is (and yeah, I understand both people mayn’t be on the same page).

  2. 32
    JB

    Yeah Joe you’re right except most women(especially over 50 I’ve found) aren’t really up for FWB/anything “casual”. For most it’s ALL or nothing. I just had to tell a woman after 5 dates that I didn’t see it ever being anything serious and she said “then I can’t invest any more time into this”. I told her I understand,I’m just being honest.

  3. 33
    starthrower68

    I’m not sure it’s wise to expect monogamy right very early in the dating phase; what the op misses is that she should be seeing more than one gentleman at a time, at least until she and a man are ready to be exclusive. Dating around – not sleeping around – helps a woman retain her objectivity.

  4. 34
    hunter

    Curylygirl, is there any literature/CD’s/lectures, you recommend on female physiology?

  5. 35
    sexy Filipina girl

    In the world of online dating, you cannot really expect monogamy from that certain person. Online dating world are full of lies and pretensions. Expecting monogamy in the early phases of online dating is sort of absurd because what’s the use of being a member of online dating sites that has hundreds of thousands interesting singles that could be your potential mate when you only focus to one preference? Online dating allows plethora of chances for you to meet different people from different walks of life. And when you know that the other half is already committed and is having sexual encounters with someone, then the better way to deal this kind of situation is find another man that has no strings attached because what goes around comes around. Meet people and enjoy life but be responsible with your actions!

  6. 36
    Foxx

    I have never had un-protected sex during the first phase of any of my relationships. I cinsider it when Im in a LTR. However I had un-protected sex with my current boyfriend the very first day we had sex because I was stupid and in love and got carried away. Anyhoo this is the first time he is out of the country on business for over 3mths and even though i want to trust him and believe him when he says that he is not having sex with any other woman, i just dont belive any man is built to stay away from sex for the long because men dont think like us. Men cna be so in love with their woman and still consider having  quickie to fulfill their urges.
    Well he comes back in a few weeks and I am contemplating buying some condoms. How do I tell him that i want him to start using condoms until we get married. Will he be offended? What if he truly was not having sex with other women? I will rather do this than tell him I will like to not have sex again until we get married, will he lose interest in me for taking way the pleasure of sleeping with me raw and changing my mind all of a sudden?

  7. 37
    Karl R

    Foxx said: (#36)
    “even though i want to trust him and believe him when he says that he is not having sex with any other woman, i just dont belive any man is built to stay away from sex for the long because men dont think like us.”

    If you feel that all men (or just your boyfriend) are incapable of integrity, you shouldn’t get married.

    I’m a man. Here’s what I believe:
    1. If I cheat, I will hurt my girlfriend, destroy her trust in me, and destroy our relationship.
    2. Even if my girlfriend doesn’t know I cheated, I will know, and that will damage or destroy our relationship.
    3. There’s a big difference between fleetingly considering a quickie and going through with it.
    4. I may not be “built to stay away from sex” for 3 months, but I’ve abstained for 3 months before, and I can do it again.

    Foxx said: (#36)
    “Will he be offended? What if he truly was not having sex with other women?”

    If my girlfriend implied that I’d cheated on her, I would be extremely offended.

    I can’t find the words to explain how offensive I would find this accusation.

    Foxx said: (#36)
    “How do I tell him that i want him to start using condoms until we get married.”

    Tell him that the doctor put you on a medication that interferes with your birth control, and you need to use a condom for birth control.

    Just out of curiosity, if you believe that he’ll cheat on you now, what makes you believe that he would stop after getting married?

    And if you tell him that your medication is interfering with your birth control, you might want to consider the irony of the situation. Regardless of whether he is trustworthy, by lying to him, you will be proving that you aren’t trustworthy.

  8. 38
    Foxx

    Wow #37, great post to my question.
    It’s just little vibes I’m picking up on that makes me think he is cheating but a part of me wanna let him off the hook if he did cheat because we just dated 2 mths long distance before he travelled. Even though we say we are commited , it’s too early for him to be that into me to wanna withhold temptation.

    I don’t believe he is a serial cheater. I’m not hoping to wait until marriage for him to stop cheating. Im hoping to give the relationship more time to see if my irrational thoughts is as a result of us being apart for that long. If i catch him during this time, there will be no marraige.

    I will rather be safe and careful while trying to sort this out in a couple of months. Yes it will be a lie but the lie harms or hurts no one.
    Thanks.

  9. 39
    Sarahrahrah!

    Since these comments have veered towards discussion of STDs, I think it is really important to note that condoms do not protect people from one of the most common STDs, which is HPV.  HPVs are by far the most common STDs and lead to one of the more common cancers in women:  cervical cancer.  If that disease doesn’t kill a woman, it can still affect her fertility and ability to carry a pregnancy to term.
    I was in a relationship with a man who was (unbeknownst to me) seeing plenty of women at the same time, but felt like he wasn’t doing anything wrong because he always wore condoms.  What he ended up doing is infecting myself and at least one other person with a cancer causing HPV strain.   I was “lucky” in that I “only” got a precancerous legion that I had surgically removed and have been okay now for ten years.  Not everyone I know has been that lucky with HPV.
    If you think about human anatomy, there is a lot of genital contact that occurs even with a condom on.  In fact, the larger a man is, the more contact there likely is.
    I think one would be wise to take BeenThroughWars advice and always get tested before and after partners — including for HPV and Hepatitis if warranted.

  10. 40
    Clare

    For the life of me, I cannot understand why people worry about these things or get emotionally involved enough in the early stages of dating to the point that they *care* whether someone is seeing or communicating with someone else.
     
    In the early stages, it is all fun and it doesn’t mean anything until you start to see tangible signs from the guy that he is properly interested in you and committing himself to you.  And this will happen without any questioning or prodding on your part.

  11. 41
    Gabz

    Not EVEN going into the STD conversation.
    My experience has taught me this:
    1) if someone can sleep around, he/she will–until he decides to get serious about one particular partner. Yes, if you’re still in the “just hanging out” stage,  there will be some overlap. No, you’re unlikely to ever know the full extent of that overlap.  
    2) uncommitted people tend to compartmentalize relationships. Odds are excellent that  there will be intimacy (of some sort) within every relationship. In most cases you will hear about each other but won’t be told exactly how intimate it gets.  Take it as read that until you both agree to be serious, it’s not serious.

    3) Trust me, you really don’t want to know too many details–it’s a sure sign that you’re in Friends With Benefits territory.

  12. 42
    marymary

    The hpv that causes visible warts is less of a problem than the ones that cause cancer.  HPV is so prevalent it’s pretty much assumed that every adult who’s had sex has carried – or is carrying – one or more strains.  You can’t screen for most of them. 
    Condoms help, but don’t protect 100%.
    So, I guess the question is – is this man/woman sufficiently important to me that they’re worth the risk picking up another strain?
    Romance, who said it was dead.
    On the plus side, most people can clear the virus within a couple of years.

  13. 43
    MilkyMae

    I think some men don’t view “hanging out” as non-committal.  In fact, if you are dating a man and he says or acts like he wants to do unplanned or non-courtship activities such as watching a game on the sofa, washing cars,  jogging or getting a pizza, he’s probably sizing you up for a serious relationship.  JMO…
     

  14. 44
    Clare

    I agree with starthrower # 33
     
    Not only it is it silly and unrealistic to expect a guy you are communicating with (or in the early stages of dating) not to be coomunicating with/seeing other women, you really MUST be thinking about your options and dating other guys too.
     
    It is so not good to be hung up on one guy that you barely know, and dating or chatting with a number of different guys opens you up to the world of men and lightens you up about the whole thing.

  15. 45
    Diane

    Just picking up on what Clare said about not understanding why people get emotionally involved in the early stages of dating.
    Some people do lack self esteem and confidence, and do require constant reassurance. I can’t criticize, as I’ve been there done that.

  16. 46
    Sparkling Emerald

    This article is SPOT ON.  At one point, I was exploring relationship possibilities with 2 men I met online.  I rec’d their e-mails on the same day, I responded to several in a batch, I scheduled 3 phone meetings back to back for the same evening, and narrowed it down to two men.  They both arranged a face to face intro.  Then I  had 2nd dates with both.  They both asked for a 3rd date.  Well, I reluctantly accepted a 3rd date with “Guy A” & enthusiastically with “Guy B”.  Why was I reluctant about “Guy A” ?  Because he kept INTEROGATING about my separation status.  Look, I understand if they are concerned, and I told him, if he had a problem with it, I understood.  He kept saying that it wasn’t a problem, but proceeded to interrogate me, not only about separation, but my MARRIAGE itself.  (How did your husband treat you, did he cheat, did I cheat, did he do this, did I do that, etc.etc. )  I would gently try to change the subject, but he would keep coming back to it.  Finally, I down right told him that I wanted to focus on the present and look forward to my future, and not be stuck in my past.  He would say “OK”, then come back to it.  On the 3rd date, he finally backed off of that, and then started interrogating me about my POF experience.  Again, I tried to give vague answers, but since he kept prying & prying and I was pretty annoyed with him at this point, I let him know that, as a matter of fact I was seeing someone else.  He BLEW UP at me.  Told me I had NO MORALS.  (WTH ?????, there was NO SEX, NO PROMISES and NO “I Love You’s) He stormed off after dropping me off, and then sent me a nasty e-mail.
    Oh, and “Guy B”, well he flaked on me. :( That’s online dating for you.
    There are times I will practice what I call “voluntary and non-disclosed” exclusiveness.  I might decide on my own to not follow up with anyone else, but I won’t tell him, and I won’t expect it (although I might HOPE for it) Partly due to time constraints, and partly just due to a lack of interest on my part.  The plan being that if he asks me to be exclusive, then yippee !  And if doesn’t go the way I want it to, time to go fishing (or match dot comming) again.

  17. 47
    hunter

    …you responded to two “out of the batch”?….hhhmmmh…some of you lucky women, having to navigate through the “ocean” of men….hhmmmmhh…..

    1. 47.1
      faded jade

      (faded jade is sparklingemerald but this new website won’t let me change the default)

      I know it sounds like a bed or roses getting lots of e-mails online, but only a small percentage capture my interest enough for a return e-mail. Before you assume I’m a b—h or something, many of them are really bad, or are WAY outside of what I specified. E-mails from guys young enough to be my son, from guys in another state, guys with AWFUL profiles, and my personal favorite, a boudoir shot of a very overweight man in a bubble bath with his dog. (the dog wasn’t in the tub, just posing on the side of the tub) So out of those big batches, I respond to a handful, a few write back, a few lead to phone calls, and the above example where I ended up dating 2 guys simultaneously is EXTREMELY rare, and even in that situation nothing panned out.

      I really didn’t join match or POF so I could could get a ton of e-mail or even a ton of dates. I am looking for the day when I can delete my profile and be with my one and only.

  18. 48
    hunter

    @47.1

    …..hhhmmh…hhhmmmhh…yes…….don’t forget, after 50, the days of the hormonal tidal wave are gone, at the big 50, we chose to be with someone, sad to say, most women choose no one…

  19. 49
    wednesdaywednesday

    About the whole STD testing…one can still get quite a few diseases (mostly viruses) when wearing condoms, and certainly the same holds true for oral sex.  Nothing is 100%, you just have to use your best judgement and get tested periodically OR unless you think something is wrong.

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