Is it Possible to Have a Conversation With a Guy Online Without It Getting Sexual?

Man staring on a photo of a woman

I want to know if it is possible to have a conversation with a guy without it getting sexual? I’m not talking about a little flirting, I’m talking about body parts being described, how they would be used, etc. I’m all for a little flirting, but it seems like the internet puts no barriers on what a person will say. I mean, if I met some guy at a party, after a little flirting, he wouldn’t tell me how hard his C$(K is, now would he?!?! And he wouldn’t want to know how I think that would feel, either. Now, he may very well be thinking these things, but he would never come out and say them in person, especially after knowing me only a few minutes.

I’ve even had some quality conversations, that after a few days of talking, turn into this kind of a discussion. Is this just the way it is? Is this what I am to expect?

I don’t have a problem with a man telling me I am sexy, but if I acknowledge that, am I setting myself up for these kinds of conversations? Is there a way to avoid it, or should I just avoid these men if they go into it?

I’d love some advice on this. I’m getting a bit fed-up!


Hey Leah,

What are you wearing right now?

Sorry. Too easy.

And that’s the thing with conversations that devolve into sex talk. It’s simply too easy to go there.

This is the nature of online communications. Millions of people hiding behind their computers to connect. Except some of them are dorks parading as big shots. And some are men acting like little girls. And some are women being brazen when they’re super-shy in real life. But the one thing we know about online communications is that people can be whoever they want to be. With one amazing caveat — they’re never held accountable for their actions.

The one thing we know about online communications is that people can be whoever they want to be. With one amazing caveat — they’re never held accountable for their actions.

I want to do something revolutionary here and change that statement to “we’re never held accountable for our actions”. Because when we’re talking about policing online behavior, it always seems to imply that it’s everybody else who’s wrong, when, in fact, WE’RE what’s wrong.

No matter how you slice it, this is a societal problem from the presidency on down — we’re a bunch of hypocrites who lie and cheat and misrepresent and fabricate – and cry and complain when everyone else does the same thing. This isn’t about you, Leah. This is just something I needed to get off my chest.

Sure, I’ve gone there before — notably when discussing liars. See, it’s okay when I say I’m 5’10” instead of 5’9”, but it’s awful when a woman claims to be 130lbs when she’s really 150lbs. It’s fine when I say I have an “athletic” body instead of an average one, but it’s not cool when she says she’s 35 when she’s really 37. Telling the truth is for other people; we want the right to play fast and loose with the facts as we see fit. Because WE’RE good people. And THEY’RE bad people.

But good people steal office supplies. Good people get “creative” on their taxes. Good people write nasty things on blogs. And we do this for one main reason — because we’re never held accountable. If we were, we’d clean up our acts REAL fast….

Take the hypothetical “test” that the military asks its members to consider before making decisions. It’s called the Washington Post Test: “If you are facing an ethical dilemma, ask yourself what you would do if you knew that your actions would make the front page of tomorrow’s Washington Post.” When faced with the idea of being “outed” for the world to see, our standards of behavior skyrocket. Would anybody leave a profane message like Alec Baldwin did for his daughter if he knew it would make the nightly news? No f-in way.

This disconnect between what we do in public and what we do behind closed doors is WHY we have private lives — so we can hide things that might be considered embarrassing.

This disconnect between what we do in public and what we do behind closed doors is WHY we have private lives — so we can hide things that might be considered embarrassing.

God knows I’ve probably done some foolhardy things over fifteen years of dating, and I can only hope that those women have forgiven me. And I’ll tell you — after seeing media figures raked over the coals of bloggers, haters and little people — for nothing more than being themselves — well, I’m just bracing myself for that day when some of my old bad karma comes back to haunt me.

I know this isn’t really an answer to your question, Leah, but it feeds into something just as important — the understanding that lowbrow, shady, embarrassing, perverted, negative behavior flourishes on the internet like bacteria in a Petri dish. Sure, you can minimize it by not tolerating it, but idiots will always be idiots. The quickest way to teach them a lesson about dirty talk is to block their profiles instantly. Maybe then they’ll get the idea that it may be fun, but it’s not going to get them a date with a quality relationship-minded woman. 


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  1. 1

    Leah….men AND women have approached me online, only to end up trying to have this online sexual experience. You have to make it clear you are not interested in that type of conversation and block them as Evan suggests. There are many good, decent people online, who are interested in quality friendships, so don’t be discouraged!!

  2. 2

    Is it Possible to Have a Conversation With a Guy Online Without It Getting Sexual?


    Leah, not all men are like that.

    The best way to handle ANY rude behavior online is to ignore the person doing it. These people are often seeking the reward of attention ( consciously or not ). It doesn’t matter if it is positive attention or negative attention. Ignoring such people does not encourage their bad habits further, if they get no results ( attention ).

    Their behavior is also not worthy of your attention or your time. When you ignore such behavior you save both. Wouldn’t you rather have spent the 15 min of your time submitting your post to Evan chatting with a good friend who you value more than some arrested adolescent on the internet? Do you see what I mean?

    If you can’t be rational about it ( I, on occasion can’t ) do one of two things.

    Send back a one line message ala “That was crude, I’m ending this conversation”.

    You can also forward the crude message to whoever polices the site. Like Evan said, sometimes accountability can help prevent a mess for the next person.

  3. 3

    Steve hit the nail on the head, Leah. The shorter your message is, you cut your time spent on the conversation. Your message is also more powerful to the recipient.

    Hey, I’m a guy and there’s no secret that guys generally have sex on their minds. HOWEVER, a man who’s reading you correctly and who’s looking for a relationship as opposed to a booty call, will know better than to go in the direction of sexual discussion so early. He’ll be a gentleman, not a Neanderthal.

    Be mindful that when you flirt, that you convey the message that you want him to respond to.

    Evan, thanks for your masterful response to Leah’s question. It covered a much deeper question and it caused me to examine my own behavior.

  4. 4

    I’m glad to have read all of this! I will definitely cut these conversations short from now on, block the guy, and possibly report it so he *is* accountable. I do realize that not every single man is like this while talking online. I’ve had many conversations that didn’t even mention sex. It’s just that I encounter it often. When I get an IM that starts with one word: “playful?” I don’t even respond to that! (And yes, I did block that guy.)

    Cindy–I’m not discouraged, I do know that there are a lot of good people out there…I’ll find the one I want. 🙂

    Steve–you’re right, it’s not worth my time!

    Robert–thanks for the reminder about flirting…also, glad you’re looking deeper into yourself. 🙂

  5. 5

    I put on my wizard’s hat and robe…

  6. 6

    Women having to deal with the dating site sex talk is like men having to deal with emails from women from Russia, Ghana, and Nigeria. If you engage them in conversation, you’re likely gonna get screwed. If it gets sexual, and you’re not interested, just ignore or block them.

  7. 7

    I question whether a guy who comes on very strong (sexually) in early emails is interested in dating and getting to know someone better. I can’t believe men would be so off base that they would actually think that sending messages like that would cause the women to be interested in meeting them. I am sure that most men must realize that they need to be respectful if they want to get further with someone they’ve met online.

    I think that the men like that don’t represent the average guy who just accidentally let a comment slip out because he doesn’t think he will be held accountable. I think these men are just one of the groups of men online who simply want to engage in a bit of sex talk, just to get off on that, and have no real intention of meeting the woman unless it is for no strings sex. A man like that will find the internet as the ideal place to conduct his fantasies, as he may never actually meet the woman face to face.

    It is probably why many women put some qualification statements in their profiles (ie. “please don’t write if you are looking for a one night stand). As Evan has written before, those qualification statements may turn off decent guys, but the woman was probably driven to write them after getting to many nasty emails.

  8. 8
    Michael Ejercito

    Another reason men might do this is that they are not really interested in the lady, and are just having fun.

  9. 9

    Of course, women never act inappropriately online.

    At least that is my conclusion after doing a search for online babe pics. Jees, I could not find ANY pictures of naughty women engaged in any sex acts or acting crude online whatsoever!! I mean, I searched Google, Yahoo, you name it, and could not find ONE website where a woman had her clothes off, did a dirty home video that she’s willing to share with ANYONE regardless of their age. And I couldn’t find one adult dating site where a woman was looking for hot sex with no strings attached.

    So, I can only conlcude that yes, it’s just men who act like trash online – just as Li-Ann states.

    Give me a fukkking break already. Since women are so innocent and chaste, who put the gun to their head and forced literally millions of them to feature themselves in compromising positions on the Net?

    Wake up, people. If you’re looking for an honorable man or woman, they’re in the minority. Common sense tells you how to handle the ones who don’t fit your standards.

    No if you’ll exuse me, I have a date with Rosey. Or as I like to call her, “Ms. Palmer.”

  10. 10

    Leah, this is definitely the big drawback to online dating for women. Every girl I’ve met via dating sites or just polled has told me a sketchy story almost exactly like this. If you’re on match, use the “report a concern” function and block users like it’s going out of style. Maintain a thick skin, cause you’ll keep getting those sketchy emails.

    EMK, I love your rant. Rock on dude!

    Robert: you’re bringing up something that is important. I’ll admit, I’ve online dated to find girlfriends and ALSO just to look for sex. I’m no freak, and I also know how to flirt online and read the situation. If and when the conversation goes sexual, it’s wanted by both parties. Good flirting skills are super important when doing the online thing, especially for guys where it’s a challenge just to get an attractive women to respond to you.

  11. 11

    I totally agree with Zeus, and I want to add that women ultimately want to dictate a relationship. The situation is very simple to solve, she can just simply ignore him, but no, she has to talk about it here, ask all those “why” men are this and why men are that questions. Subconciously, she, like many women, want men to behave exactly which ever each woman want, and if it didn’t go her way, she bitches and ask why he is not like this or that way! This is what happens here.

  12. 12

    Umm …

    “zeus” and “frank” are trolls, right?

    (‘Cause it’s pretty clear that they’re not reading what LiAnn actually, literally wrote; they’re projecting their own hate on what they think she wrote, and it’s not worth the typing energy to actually try to respond if they’re just flapping their online gums at the site.

    Much like the men the OP talks about.)

  13. 13

    Zeus, Frankie;

    You are both absolutely right. The next time a woman on the internet, without solicitation, sends you a nude a photo and telling you her opinion of your various body parts you should tell her that she is being crude and block her as well as using the other suggestions in this thread.

  14. 14

    m Feb 22nd 2008 at 02:55 am 12
    zeus and frank are trolls, right?
    ( Cause it’s pretty clear that they’re not reading what LiAnn actually, literally wrote; they’re projecting their own hate on what they think she wrote, and it’s not worth the typing energy to actually try to respond if they’re just flapping their online gums at the site.


    I think you are absolutely right that Zeus and Frank’s responses are over doing it. I don’t feel comfortable calling them trolls. They might be trolls, but their behavior is not that different from intelligent people with something to say who regularly post here.

    Some of those people have been burned by individuals of the opposite sex and seem to unconsciously transplant that conflict into other unrelated conversations.

    A good example of that was the thread about the woman who would get dumped after 3 months of dating after being told that she was too emotional. Several people immediately assumed that a gender based biases were involved and assumed that the woman was not overreacting despite not having any of the details of what was exchanged between her and her dates.

    Another example is people bringing up how women, as in “all women” are frequent gold diggers, use men, screw men over ( often true ) in divorce, etc. I’m not saying that this isn’t true, but it often has little to do with the topic as Zeus’s and Frank’s comments do.

    I think Zeus, Frank, many of the decent, intelligent regular posters who deserve to be unsingle….especially me have picked up axes to grind, wounds that aren’t completely healed that flare up at the mention of key words.

    I haven’t read Evan’s second book, I plan to as a reward once I lose a ( the last ) 1/2 pound, but I bet there is a section in there about clinging too much to the battle of the sexes ( justified or not ) as being a contributing factor for being single longer than you want to be.

  15. 15

    Nicely — and extremely civilly — put, Steve.


    “I bet there is a section in there about clinging too much to the battle of the sexes ( justified or not ) as being a contributing factor for being single longer than you want to be”

    I hope so. Because no one likes to be hit in the face with hate of one’s entire sex, even if one is a woman (imagine that!)!

    I think this ties into Evan’s comments to the OP in that it might be important for both men and women to at least consider the behavioral preferences of the other sex — and the extent to which they might be *gasp* reasonable — even as we don’t necessarily have to wrap ourselves 100% around those preferences.

    Like, wait for the vulgar sex talk until you’ve at least established a comfort zone with the other person and determined whether or not they’d even be comfortable with that kind of talk. Like, accommodating the other person’s wants might even get you closer to what you want!

    Wow! What a deal! (Not sarcastic. Not really.)

  16. 16

    Thanks for defending me. I wrote: “I think that the men like that don’t represent the average guy”. Which means, I think only a small per cent send rude emails.

    I have never had a man speak to me in person like the original poster described in person. I am obviously aware that most men are not like that. I haven’t used online personals yet, so I don’t know what will happen then, although I’ve heard stories. The women you describe who undress etc., are doing so to make money and get your credit card number. These are not the ones we are talking about – ie. women who want a real relationship.

  17. 17

    Gratitude and respect to m and Steve for correcting the drift of the debate and raising the standard by working towards consensus via fairness and humanity.

    You’re both right: there is far too much gender-biased bashing going on in many of these threads. One or two one-note wonders typically push a single argument at all times and in all places – often inappropriately, and always to the point of monomania. This practice is tedious beyond belief and, as you both intimate, unhelpful – not to say unedifying. All too often it is just plain rude, as these posters shout down more reasonable voices.

    We’re here to learn, discuss and understand – which involves making progress, not getting stuck in an obsessive groove. Thank you, both of you.

    Leah: I am sorry to hear your story. I think, as Evan rightly suggests, you MUST report this type of response. Do check how you present, just in case – you never know; or it could be that you’re just very pretty and look quite sexy (lucky you, in that case: hooray, and celebrate it, kid!). Or maybe you have inadvertently selected a site which attracts men who normally approach women in this way. Although, I fear, there appear to be a few nasties on just about every site – just as there are in life!

    All the same, I’d recommend you aim your sights higher and opt for a more overtly respectable dating site, one with more filters and stricter boundaries for members.

    Perhaps you might make it clear (politely but firmly implicit in your details) that you: have plenty of healthy self-respect; expect respectful, courteous responses, and prefer relationships to develop naturally. EMK’s work will give you more – and more useful – pointers than these.

    I do wish you good luck, and hope you meet someone right for you very soon – whether off- or online.


  18. 18


    I have lots of girl-friends with online adds. The creeps are in the minority, but almost every woman gets an “interesting” mix of creeps sending them creepy things.

  19. 19


  20. 20
    Michael Ejercito

    I am a member of Cupid.Com .

    I have received several messages whose authors were deleted for violations of the terms of use. It seems there were Nigerian scams asking for money.

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