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?
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!”
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.