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:

  1. 1
    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.

  2. 2
    Delery brown

    “Behavior generally speaks for itself”
    Of you’re just dating then yes, it’s been “blown out of proportion.”
    But when you are a tight item.. Or married!! “Behavior speaks for itself,”
    He’s looking to ‘trade up.’
    Or worse yet- ‘hookup’ and stay with you.

  3. 3
    Josie

    “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.”

     This says it all.  

  4. 4
    Lizzie

    I am so glad I found this. I have been agonising over an online dating dilemma and the final paragraph was a lightbulb moment. Actions definitely speak louder than words- when the right woman comes along, a man will pursue her no matter what!

  5. 5
    R

    I broke up with my last boyfriend for this very thing. Imo if you are dating someone seriously and being intimate with them it is disrespectful to keep going online shopping. Plus, why would I want to be with someone thats okay with other men emailing and asking me out daily. That is if I stayed online as well.  And if you know the person has been cheated on in the past its even more understandable they may need the security of knowing you arent actively looking.. I am far from needy and honestly this is the ONLY thing I asked for in the relationship. I was very patient and allowed things to go very slowly other wise. Ever other area of the relationship was great.

    The website will let you rejoin! Its not like you cant go right back on if it doesnt work! Its a red flag and I chose to cut my losses and not waste any more time with someone that didn’t value me enough to do that.

  6. 6
    R

    I broke up with my last boyfriend for this very thing. Imo if you are dating someone seriously and being intimate with them it is disrespectful to keep going online shopping. Plus, why would I want to be with someone thats okay with other men emailing and asking me out daily. That is if I stayed online as well.  And if you know the person has been cheated on in the past its even more understandable they may need the security of knowing you arent actively looking.. I am far from needy and honestly this is the ONLY thing I asked for in the relationship. I was very patient and allowed things to go very slowly other wise. Ever other area of the relationship was great.

    The website will let you rejoin! Its not like you cant go right back on if it doesnt work! Its a red flag and I chose to cut my losses and not waste any more time with someone that didn’t value me enough to do that.

    I take your advice seriously Evan and may have not known what to do had I not read your articles regulatly. The writing was on the wall & I read it!

  7. 7
    Lisa

    Well the problem is no matter my age if I met a man that I was interested in pursuing I took down my profile and focused on him.  And yes I got a large volume of contact of men online in my 20s and in my 30s, but that is not why I was on there.   I did not do it to get attention, attention was old, I was tired of that. I wanted to meet a man to spend my life with. So when I met someone who fit the bill I focused on that man.  I was talking to one of my married guy friends telling him about how when I dated online my inbox was filled to the brim and I found it to be frustrating and overwhelming and he stopped me and said well I think that is awesome, I never get any attention from women why are you complaining?   I think this is where the disconnect arises.    Most women who date online get tons of attention.  Most women who are attractive or even average looking have received volumes of attention from men in their lifetimes, like Evan says online dating levels the dating playing field.  We are tired of it. I know its sounds ungrateful and my friend totally thought I was being ungrateful.   But if one more man told me how pretty or hot I was I was going to lose my mind.    See because I was told that my whole life and it never got me anywhere.  I was looking for one strong connection.   You cannot develop that connection if you don’t focus. If you are constantly distracted by the 10 other men or women you are talking to, or the 30 others that you look at online when you go home post date.  Because you will ALWAYS find someone that is better looking, younger, smarter, more successful you name it, and they will quickly distract you from that wonderful man or woman that you have been seeing or gone on three dates with.  That is just human nature, it is not anyone’s fault.    Studies show this occurs and I think it is why many people do not do well in dating these days.   So if you are a guy that was married and divorced and back on the dating scene or one that maybe never got attention before you likely will enjoy this attention, most women don’t and they don’t understand why men do.  And if the men do the likelihood that they will develop a relationship is slim to none.  It just is.    You need to be able to focus on getting to know people in order to develop that connection.  You cannot do that when you have tons of people flying at you on dating sites.    So I disagree.  Does it come down after the first date no of course not.  But if it is three months in and it is still up I do not date that man.     Sorry.   Personally like I said mine comes down very early on.

    1. 7.1
      Kh77

      I agree, although I don’t take my profile down necessarily, the site I’m on allows you to “hide” your profile and if I’ve met someone promising or chatting with several promising guys (before the meet stage) I usually do that so I can focus. As a woman, and I believe an attractive one as well, the guys are plentiful but I genuine connection is not. If I’ve met someone I think has potential and we have a second date planned I generally put my searching on hold. I honestly find going on a bunch of first meets a bit tiring so if someone has promise I just don’t see the point in juggling a bunch of men. I’m not looking for validation or to keep trading up, just a real connection and like you said if you’re constantly on the hunt then the great person you actually just met can get buried under all of your new shiny searches

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