Is He a Player or a Keeper?

Got a question on my MySpace page from a reader. Figured I’d address it here – with her permission, of course:

Hey Evan.

I love your blog. I read it all the time and have sent some of my girlfriends to it as well. Very informative. I’ve been doing the online dating thing since the first of the year and it’s going ok. Here is my question for you. What do you think about men who have a profile on just about every online dating site out there? Are they serious or just players? Thanks again for keeping us single gals hopeful.


Thanks for the kind words, Lori. Glad to hear you’ve got hope. I’m inclined to think it might be the most important of human emotions. But that’s another column for another day.

As for your question, I really had to rack my brain back to a time when I had a profile on every dating site out there. A time before I had a girlfriend. A time when others might consider me “a player”.

That time was four months ago. And also the seven years before that.

I had profiles on Match, JDate, Nerve, eHarmony, Chemistry… probably some sites that don’t even exist anymore. I never dated for research, I dated to fall in love. And I’ll be the first to tell you – it doesn’t happen very often. Once a year, if you’re lucky. And I’ve been pretty lucky. I found my first love on Nerve in 2004. I fell in love with a woman who wrote to me on JDate in 2005. And I found another eight month relationship off of JDate in 2006. (The current girlfriend is a “real life” person, alas).

Moral of the story is that I’ve gone out with hundreds of women since I started dating online in 1997. And I have no doubt that a number of them were convinced that I was a player. But as I’ve said before and as I’ll say again, a player is what a woman calls a guy who doesn’t want to go out with her. It may have absolutely no connection to his intentions. It’s like the part in “When Harry Met Sally” when Sally is lamenting her ex-boyfriend, Joe, who just got engaged. “It’s not that he didn’t want to get married,” she says, “It’s that he didn’t want to marry ME.”

This is not to suggest that there aren’t all sorts of players online. 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.

But this doesn’t answer your original question. Your original question is whether a man with profiles on multiple sites is necessarily a player. To which I’ll ask you:

How do you know he’s on multiple sites unless you are, too?

See? It doesn’t take a player to desire more options.


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  1. 1

    I’m on two sites, J-date and Match. I primarily joined Match just so I could write to one particular guy who sounded amazing… unfortunately, he never wrote back, but I’ve met some other potential guys as well.

    I just like to keep my options open — especially because I AM looking for a serious relationship.

    I also tried eHarmony at one point, but didn’t like it at all.

  2. 2

    I met my husband on Jdate. He was, what many women might call, a player. He was looking for love, but figured it’s a numbers game. The more you meet, the more chance you have to meet the right one. He went on dates with about 100 women (on and off-line) in the 18 months before I met him. And none since.

  3. 3

    Good post. I would, however, define a “player.” Differently. A player, in my estimation, is a person (man or woman) who dates/sleeps around without the intention of settling down. They just like the chase and the game. This may just be a temporary phase in their lives or a long-term trait. Either way, it is not that they just don’t want “you” they don’t want anyone for the long term.

  4. 4
    Dating Goddess

    I’m writing to see if you’re interested in swapping blog links. I write a popular blog for women after 40 who are reentering the dating scene. I’d be happy to post a link to your blog. Would you do the same?

    Dating Goddess
    Adventures in Delicious Dating After 40

  5. 5

    I thought a players were men (or women!) who already had one on the line but were secretly looking to add to their cache? No?

    Of course people have profiles on multiple sites–duh! Casting a wide net, so to speak. This does not a player make. In fact, it may instead speak to how earnestly they are looking to find someone right for them.

    I think a player is someone who is looking to have multiple (physical) relationships without actually telling all interested parties. That’s my definition, anyway. It is not only not friendly or honest, it is a health risk. With this in mind, people who won’t come out in the open and post a photo, who are odd about meeting, meeting times or places, are red flagged.

    But, that’s just me. I like a bright, sunny, well-lit room.

  6. 6

    Evan said: “a player is what a woman calls a guy who doesnt want to go out with her”

    Actually I’ve only heard the term “player” used by men. “He’s a player”, a male friend said just the other day, with a knowing, ‘boys’ club’ type expression on his face. It isn’t condoned by the mature man as acceptable behaviour for a man in his late 20s on, but it’s acknowledged as a recognisable behaviour pattern that most women are naive about.

    Specifically, from what I can gather, a player seeks the experience of multiple or successive sexual partners without having an intention of forming an ongoing relationship with any of them. I suspect it’s due to having been hurt in the past which leads a sensitive guy to actively harden his heart to avoid further pain. There’s an article that describes such a process:

  7. 7

    I completely agree. Its never personal and make no mistake , there is nothing wrong with YOU. He or SHE has issues with committing to a long term relationship and just enjoys the beginning “fuzzy” , “butterflies in your stomach” stage. After thats over (usually after the first year or so) this type of person’s attention tends to stray and he or she will find reasons to pick fights with you, blame you for them in order to take an easy way out of the relationship.
    But what they do not realize is ultimately  they are really “playing” themselves when they are old  “senior career internet daters” and everyone thinks they are a joke….a lonely 60 something year old joke.

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