How to Deal With Guys Who Won’t Stop Shopping Online

Hey Evan,

Full disclosure: I do some of what you do (see romancelanguage.org). Anyway, first I just wanted to say that you do excellent work, and that your perspective is very helpful (mine is that of a widowed 50ish woman — and though of course there are similarities across the dating world, different demographics are, well … different). Quoting from you:

“Online dating has leveled the playing field for guys to an unhealthy point. In the past, we ‘d get a phone number at a bar and it would be the highlight of our week. Now, guys can collect phone numbers and discard them with no second thoughts. However, this doesn ‘t mean these guys are players or slimeballs or just out for sex. It just means they have too many options and are always trying to trade up. I ‘m not saying it ‘s a good thing, but it ‘s not a crime. Plenty of nice men are dazzled with the array of beauty on dating sites and feel that they should just keep shopping.”

Very, very well said and very true. I would love to read an expansion of this, specifically advice to women in the face of it. One way to go is of course to say bye bye baby to the guy who doesn ‘t have the sense to stop shopping in the face of your fabulousness. On the other hand, that can be a little draconian — as you say, this medium does encourage the “if I found this great woman, think what must still be out there” mentality — so I can ‘t bring myself to instantly trash the guy who believes it. Would love your opinion.

Yours in coaching solidarity,

Erika

Dear Erika,

Every coach probably has his/her own method for trying to assess things clearly. Our value comes in the ability to see things objectively, and to translate this insight into practical advice. My not-so-secret method for giving dating advice to men and women? Put yourself in the other person’s shoes.

Ingenious, I know.

So when you ask me what I would say to women who are dealing with men who have tons of options, I’d probably flip the whole thing over. I’d ask the women to consider being in the man’s position – with the presumption that she’s probably already been in it, without having realized it. It’s easy to blame guys for being non-committal shoppers who are always looking for the next-best thing; it’s a lot harder to come to terms with the fact that, as a woman (especially if you’re under the age of 35), you’ve likely done the same thing. In fact, most women under the age of 35 don’t quite appreciate how good they have it. Their inboxes get filled with scores of emails – mostly from undesirable men, with a few golden nuggets thrown in. On the other hand, the average man has to write ten emails to get two replies – and rarely, if ever, receives an unsolicited contact.

And as I’ve said in a previous blog post, you are as valuable as your options. If you are a 27 year old woman, you’re at the top of the dating totem pole. Same for a 35 year old man. If you’re on a website and legitimately have the option of being able to land the cutest, smartest, most successful person out there, it’s hard to blame you for it, isn’t it?

This is what both genders fail to appreciate about each other. Men think women are rude for not writing back. They never consider that those women have dozens of other men courting them. Women think men are players for not committing. They never consider that those men might be marriage-minded and struggling to find the right fit….

Online dating is truly a leveling of the playing field – not a tilting in the man’s favor. And the more desirable the person – whether it’s because of looks or money or education – the more likely that you’re gonna have a hard time getting that person to settle down on you. They most likely know that they have great power and are intent on exploring it.

So what is the right way to combat this if you’re a woman? By not sweating it. You can’t control what anybody else does, you can only control your actions and reactions to things. In fact, I’d tell your client exactly what I tell all my clients when they’re going out with someone – go in with the confidence that they’re going to love you and they’re more likely to love you. The more you worry about how often he’s logging on, and who else he’s dating, and why he hasn’t taken his profile down, the more likely you are to come across as needy.

But frankly, I think this is way too much analysis for what is a pretty simple situation. When a guy is crazy about a woman, he does whatever is in his power to make her his girlfriend. If he fails to do that, she’s just ignoring the writing on the wall. If she’s choose to exit a relationship that’s not progressing, that’s certainly within her rights. If he follows her, then she knows he cared. If he lets her go, she just saved herself a lot of time and trouble.

I’m no psychologist, but people’s behavior generally speaks for itself, don’t you think?

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Comments:

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    hespeler

    This is so spot on.  I just had a conversation with someone yesterday and we talked about how the playing field is level.

    I find online dating very frustrating but I do get a decent response rate and get unsolicited contacts from time to time.  That said, I am NOT a player and am marriage-minded.  It’s usually feast or famine and I tend to get stretched pretty thin as I try and exercise my options while giving the proper consideration to a date.  It gets really difficult to balance all this and I usually wind up with nothing in the end.

    On the other hand, I’ve been out on a few one date wonders where a woman would not give me a second chance or e-mails would abruptly stop or my overtures would be completely ignored.  I always see these same woman back online eventually trying all over again. 

    We’re all doing the best we can and are all facing the same ups and downs on this whole merry-go-round.  This is why I am getting better at handling rejection and the whole concept of “out of his/her leaugue.”  Not sure that’s even applicable when it comes to online dating.

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