This is the first in a series of posts about dating online, inspired by friends who are new to it and having a bit of a hard time. Their struggles are all familiar, and things I've gone through myself - I've been using online dating sites on and off for more than a decade. Back in the day it was AOL and ICQ, more recently Plenty of Fish (POF) and OkCupid (OKc).
When I first started, I wasted hours with guys who said inappropriate things, were horrible dates, and who just wanted to have sex with me (not what I was or am currently seeking). I made all of the same mistakes.
Online dating has changed quite a lot in the past few years. Hookup apps like tinder are very popular now. Sexual (and non-sexual) harassment of women has increased dramatically in recent years. Fetishization of fat women, women of Colour (especially Black and Asian women) is an epidemic.
My 2015 was a year filled with great dates with attractive, intelligent men. There were some not-great ones. None of them turned into LTRs - sometimes because I chose it, and sometimes because my dates did - but my goal to "date more" in 2015 was met. I'll expand on how to get more actual dates in a later post.
Before that, I'd like to cover a few things I've learned to expect over the years I've spent dating online. Note that these are based on my experiences of dating/seeking cisgendered straight or queer men for dating and/or relationships AS a fat woman. Your mileage may vary, and the less marginalized you are, the better your experiences may be.
EDIT: This is an illustration of the bleaker side of online dating. It is NOT all bad - if it were, I wouldn't do it.
1. Most guys will NOT read your profile.
They will simply look at your pictures and message you. You should still have a great dating profile (more on that in another future post) if you're looking for more than a casual hook-up. In my experience, guys who don't read profiles are only interested in looks and/or sex. If you want to see if they did read it, add something to your profile for them to mention. Mine used to say: "I am a professional assassin, mention this for a response!". If you can't even be bothered to read my profile why should I bother responding to you? In my experience, these guys are flaky and/or superficial.
2. Most guys will send a very boring and/or generic copy/paste message.
This is also ties into #1. This TED talk explains a bit more about why (with some unwarranted sympathy for these guys), but basically a lot of the guys on dating sites are playing numbers games, assuming that the more women they message, the more likely they are to get a response. I ignore anything that is obviously a copy and paste - but I also state in my profile to send me a unique message. I've injured my eyes countless times while perusing my inbox.
|Eye-rolling related injuries are VERY SERIOUS. Beware.|
I especially ignore them if it's written to sound unique, like (actual message that I received multiple times): "I'm usually shy about messaging women, but something about you seems so genuine. I'd love to get to know you better". (BONUS: if you watch the TED talk, you can see me getting abused and harassed in the comments below it because FAT WOMAN)
3. You WILL be sexually harassed.
It will be gross, offensive, and completely inappropriate. You will get dick pics. Unless you're asking people to send you sexually graphic messages or have a sexually charged profile, it's most likely NOT because of your profile (though your profile will somewhat determine the types of guys/messages you'll attract). Do not engage these guys. A lot of them do it to get a rise out of you, and I'm sure some of them are at home wanking themselves off to your angry response. Side note: If, like me, you jokingly request to be paid, many guys WILL want to take you up on your offer.
|No one wants to see your pics, fuckhead.|
If you're using POF, report and block (POF are pretty good about removing such users). If you're on OkCupid, also report and block (they are not very good about removing them). Sadly, in both cases, your profile will still be visible to the user. On OKc they will still be able to send a message, but you won't ever receive it. On POF, they will receive a message which I find very satisfying saying "this person has blocked you, find someone else".
4. You WILL be non-sexually harassed.
If you're fat, confident, a feminist, clear about what you want, deemed "ugly", unapologetic, too sexy, not sexy enough, or really... are just a woman... men will harass you. Some will send rude messages for no apparent reason. Some will get pissed if you ignore them, or don't answer them quickly enough. Check out the Bye Felipe Instagram for endless examples of online fuckery. Some will create multiple accounts and even get IP blockers (once POF bans their IP) to get at you once you've blocked them. Report and block is your friend.
5. You will be insulted.
Even if you're society's very definition of attractive and dateable (white, thin, young, hip, conventionally pretty) you WILL be insulted at some point. Dating sites are filled with insecure men who do all of the above and then feel bad about themselves when no one responds to their bullshit attempts. Some of them are angry and want to tear you down a notch or ten in a vain attempt to feel better. I've had countless men whom I've (politely and respectfully) rejected call me ugly, stupid, worthless, say "I don't like fatties anyways" (though they were VERY into fatties 30 seconds before), or get really mean and say "no one is ever going to want you", "men don't date fat women", etc etc etc. Sometimes they try to mess with your head and accuse you of being superficial, racist (or use other clues from your profile against you - yeah, they'll read your profile after you say no). Some of them WILL zero in on the one thing you are super insecure about (your eyebrows, your acne, your curly hair, your crooked nose, etc.) and just run with it.
This may bother, hurt, or trouble you at first. On a bad day, you might cry. There is no shame in it. Especially as a fat woman, I've been told my entire life that I am worthless and unloveable. When I am already feeling down, hearing TOGuy6969 reiterate my deepest fears and insecurities can be hurtful. Try to resist the urge to respond. Also resist going onto dating sites when you're feeling lonely/down, or wanting attention. Seek solace elsewhere. But if you must respond, take a deep breath, know they're projecting, and remember that it isn't personal. You may just spark some hurt inside of them, remind them of an ex, or seem unattainable. Speak your truth. Like this:
|Alternate response: I am made up of Jess molecules. I am literally full of myself. LOLZ|
6. You will talk to countless men with whom you think you're connecting, and they will disappear.
Literally. You will lose count. The kids call it "ghosting" (and I talk about it a bit here). It's shitty. It is SUPER common. Some will even BLOCK you for no apparent reason. It will most likely cause you to ponder what you did or said, didn't do or didn't say. Am I too fat/ugly/dark/clingy/annoying/short/tall/sexy/insecure/old for him? Maybe. Most likely, he lost interest, or just wasn't that into you. Perhaps he realized you wanted more than he could give (or vice versa), or that he couldn't get what he wanted from you. Or you were on the bottom of his online dating priority pile. Maybe someone he deemed better took an interest in him. Don't fall into the "maybe he didn't see my message" or "maybe he was in an accident" trap. He most likely wasn't, and is just uninterested. Once in a while is normal, but look for patterns of inconsistent communication.
Often times, guys who poof without warning magically re-appear, months later, mere days after you thought of them again and realized how foolish you were for wanting them to like you. These guys are HIGHLY susceptible to the "lost phone" phenomenon.
7. You will go on actual dates with men whom you think you're connecting with, and THEY TOO will disappear, and you will not have closure. And it will suck.
Ah Dani. I'm using his real name because fuck it, he will never see this. We had a few dates in 2015, and I thought we got along quite well. Great conversations about various subjects, fun dates, we made each other laugh. On our last date we saw a movie, and held hands the whole time. We finally kissed when he brought me home, and it lasted like... 6 or 7 hours. No sex. Just kissing, laughing, and ridiculous chemistry. He told me how much he liked me. My style. Even complimented my makeup. It was hot and I couldn't wait to "cook dinner" for him (e.g. have him over for sex). I liked him a lot. He was gorgeous, funny, sent me links to awesome music, and he turned me on. But as he left on that last date, I felt that something was a bit off.
I heard from him a few more times, but he claimed he was too busy to meet, and eventually... he disappeared. I emailed once (saying I missed him, and asking what happened), but got no response. I still wonder what happened to him. I assume he just wanted sex from me, and when he didn't get it that day, lost interest. Maybe the thought of dating a fat woman was too much (which happens often). Maybe the chemistry was all in my head. Maybe he wasn't really "separated" and/or got back together with his ex (I'm now VERY cautious about "separated" men). I have no idea. These experiences are harder to brush off, and are reminders that this type of behaviour is common in our culture, and that it takes time to really get to know someone. You just have to accept the lack of closure, delete that message thread and their number, cry if you must (I did), and move on when you're ready.
8. You will meet guys IRL (In Real Life) who look NOTHING like their online photos. Some of them will actually be different people.
There seems to be this erroneous notion that women are less interested in looks than men. Rubbish. Looks (and really, physical attraction) matter to people of all genders. A lot of folks assume that if they win you over with their personality, you won't care if they look completely different in person, or are 20 years older than expected. And some won't. But to me? It's SHADY AS FUCK and completely disrespectful.
Time is precious in our modern world, and I don't want to waste anyone's by pretending to be something I'm not. I specifically show recent photos in my profiles (and update them every couple of months), that give guys a good idea of how I look, how fat I am, and what they can expect when they meet me. I expect the same. I'm not everyone's cup of tea, and I want to meet people who are into what I've got going on.
I expect the same in return, but I don't always get it. There have been a few guys (Dani, mentioned above) and another man I met this year who were WAY better looking/more attractive in person. Often though, the guy I'm meeting is barely recognizable, is much older, or - as in a few instances - is a totally different person.
If the guy is a bit different-looking, and you're feeling it, go with it. If it's a different person entirely, GTFO of there. That is some shady shit, and you have to wonder why he doesn't want his photo on a dating site badly enough to USE A FAKE PHOTO.
9. Most guys will just want to bone you.
Like YEAH. I want to have the sex too. ALL THE SEX. But I want it to be within the context of a relationship, with someone I know and am comfortable with. There ARE guys out there who will want this too. The closer you are to "ideal" (i.e. thin, white, pretty, young) the more likely it seems you are to find those guys (who doesn't like a pretty trophy?). But despite this, there will still be an endless supply of men who are pretending to want more than they do, or who DO want more, but just not with you. Luckily, they are pretty easy to spot, but there are some sneaky ones. They will woo the shit out of you, ask you about yourself/your day, and keep the conversation non-sexual. They will act like you're in a relationship. Until they get the sex. Then they will scurry away like the dishonest little rats that they are. There are plenty of women online who want casual sex, but for some reason many guys love getting it from women who are clearly wanting more than that. More about spotting them in a later blog post.
10. You will be called a prude for not fucking some random guy who asks you.
They will also suggest you "just loosen up and live a little" as if you have no clue who are or what you want.
11. You will interact with men who think you're connecting, and you will have to let them down. And it will sometimes suck.
Sometimes you're just not feeling it. If you're like me, and have a reliable intuition, just trust it. When you feel that first hint that this isn't someone for you, you're most likely right. Maybe they said something vaguely racist, or are super inconsistent with communication, or need too much attention, or are always asking for pics, or just can't hold a conversation. Whatever the reason for not feeling him, I've always found it preferable to rip that hope bandage off sooner rather than later. It's especially bad when the guy is sweet and totally dateable - but just not for you.
12. You will interact with men who think you're connecting, and you will have to let them down, and they will react passive-aggressively.
They will do and say all manner of fucked-up shit. One guy, after I told him I wasn't interested in meeting any longer, ignored the message and - on the day we'd arranged to meet pre-rejection - messaged me the following (while I was on a lunch date with another guy): "I decided not to come meet you today. You clearly have deep issues of hatred towards men, and you've judged me based on your past experiences. Best of luck". The reason I decided not to meet him in the first place? After our third text exchange, he messaged me saying "is it really bad that I jerked off to your picture after my run?"
The same guy messaged me several times after this on POF asking if I still had any interest in meeting, despite having turned him down, ignoring his texts, and blocking him. Online dating is all about intersectional fuckery.
13. You will interact with men who think you're connecting, and you will have to let them down, and they will react VERY badly.
Anything from blowing up your phone, to stalking you online, to messaging your friends on facebook, to verbally assaulting you are all within the realm of possibility. They may also send you an incessant string of whiny messages demanding to know why you aren't into them. I personally will give them a direct, honest, and concise answer - if it feels safe to do so - and then stop responding. Nothing good has ever come out of engaging those demands. They will just try and break down your reasons, ignore your refusals, and never be satisfied with any response.
14. You will get called fat and/or ugly even if you're not fat and/or ugly.
Fat is the most popular insult of our times! You're most likely not fat, and if you are, there is nothing wrong with that. It's merely a descriptor! I've seen my 95-pound vegan friend get called "fat" after turning a guy down. I've seen the most beautiful (by any standards) women get called ugly. I've been called both countless times. Also (just a random sampling that comes to mind): cunt, lazy, gross, whale, elephant, unhealthy, stupid, narcissist, disgusting, pig, bitch, feminazi, too picky, and my personal favourite... entitled. It used to bother me. Now I literally just laugh at it because these people do not know me, and I do not care. Report, ignore, and block.
15. You will date awesome guys and have to tell them you aren't feeling it. It will suck sometimes.
Just be honest with them. They're awesome, and will understand.
16. You will date shit guys and have to tell them you aren't feeling it. It will suck sometimes.
It's A LOT easier than having to let down an awesome guy though. Just do it and move on.
17. You will question yourself, and possibly your sanity (see above).
Online dating isn't for the weak! Guys will attack your self-esteem, looks, personality, very existence, so having a good sense of self and an abundance of self-love is essential.
18. You will date guys and they won't be into you.
If they're awesome, they'll let you know asap and you'll both move on like proper adults. If they're not awesome they may: disappear; disappear after having sex with you; play some games and frame it as your fault, possibly resulting in number 17.
19. You will chat with guys who have no intention of ever meeting you.
Some of them are pic collectors. Some of them are just avid sexters. Some of them are just insecure and wanting attention.
20. You will be your honest, raw self, and it will totally backfire.
Being honest about things like insecurities, sexual history, expectations, etc., can and most likely will be used against you. Guys often SAY they want an honest, open, and straightforward woman, but many of them actually want to play games and aren't even aware of it. They may also mistake your strong of self and confidence as snobbishness and/or mistake your vulnerability as weakness. These people aren't dateable.
21. You will be your honest, raw self, and it will endear you to someone.
In my experience, this is quite rare. But, this is still generally the way I approach dating. I figure if I can't be myself with someone, how can I ever be in a relationship with them? Obviously, I don't disclose every childhood trauma in my profile or until I know someone better, but being up front about what I'm seeking and who I am - a shameless and unapologetic fat feminist - is the only way to go.
22. You will encounter dudes who demean other women.
Some of them will do this as a means of charming you, e.g. "oh, thin women are so gross" or "Black women are so bossy" or "you're not like most women, you're cool". Do. Not. Engage. These men are just misogynist, sexist, racist, fetishists, or horrible combinations. Some will just have palpably bitter profiles. Some will just hate all women because their sense of entitlement over our bodies remains unfulfilled. Some of them are just garden variety MRAs. These guys WILL demean you too and are potentially dangerous. RUN.
23. You will meet guys who are absolutely shitty dates.
They will stick you with the bill despite having asked you out. They will be rude, cranky, insulting, or spend time discreetly negging you. Some of them will complain about every woman they've met, or hate on their exes, or be totally rude to service people. Some of them will interrupt a sweet kiss to pull your hair and tell you to shut up (true story, happened to me). There is NOTHING wrong with walking out. You don't even have to explain why.
24. You will meet guys who are absolutely awesome dates.
Just enjoy them. They are rare, wonderful gems, and they DO exist.
25. You will want to give up. Don't. Or do. It's up to you.
Just know that if a fat, highly opinionated, hated-by-society, anti-oppressive feminist killjoy like me can find awesome guys to date, you almost certainly can too. But if it's just too much for you, delete your profiles. You can always come back to them later. Do something nice for yourself. Spend time with your friends. Do the things you love. Online dating will be here when you're ready again.
26. You WILL be blamed for ALL of the above.
Friends, potential dates, family, etc. Some of them will be well-intentioned, some of them will be mean. They'll suggest that "your whorish pics" are "making" guys send you pics of their dicks. They'll say that if you're tired of being insulted, just lose some weight. They'll tell you which parts of your profile are "attracting the wrong kind of attention" (more about that in a future post). While you can do things to minimize the fuckery you'll encounter, there is no way to eliminate it completely. It's NOT your fault, and unless you specifically asked for it, you didn't ask for it.
Obviously, there are countless other things you can and will encounter in the online dating minefield. If you feel that I've left out something crucial, please mention it in the comments below.
Stay tuned for more Adventures in Dating posts!