I have a theory about dating sites and it includes a huge generalization. You can bash me for generalizing, but I’m going to do it anyway. I think dating sites are, by and large, a clearinghouse for nutcases. I say this, and I’m a veteran of dating sites. I’ve also been told by the men I’ve met who have stayed in touch with me as friends, that I’m an anomaly in that I’m sane. I’m not sure I can agree with that, since I once dated a guy who called me “bat-shit” crazy, but he’s a friend of mine, and he says that while it’s true, it’s in a good way.
I think there are several reasons people use dating sites. Speaking from the female experience, I can say that there truly was a point when I wasn’t sane. This was around 5 months after my husband and I separated. I did what many people do when they’re in relationship pain – I hopped on a dating site in the erroneous belief that getting a new man interested in me would help ease the pain caused by the split with my husband.
I wonder if everyone is as naive as I was when I joined my first dating site. I actually believed that if a man evinced enough interest in me to see me for more than a month, and see me two or three times a week that he wasn’t seeing anyone else. I was a serial dater, and I simply assumed everyone else was one, too.
My first experience with a troll came as quite a shock to me. Here I’d been dating this man for three months, very regularly. We’d become physically involved and by the end of the third month, he was at my home almost every day. One day I woke up and realized I hadn’t taken my dating profile down, and since I assumed (silly me) that I was in an exclusive relationship with this man, the right thing to do was to make myself unavailable online. So I headed out to the dating site…to find my boyfriend’s face staring at me with “online now!” glowing brightly beneath his chin.
His IM was open, so I IMd him asking why he was “online now!” His reply made me want to shower, immediately. He said: “Because I’m looking for dates.” It was nonchalant, in my face, and I felt used, dirty, angry, hurt, and above all – STUPID.
I sat there, stunned for a bit, and then replied back: “How long have you been doing this?” He replied: “what do you mean? I’ve had this account for almost a year.” Well, that told me what I needed to know. I broke it off with him in IM. I simply said: “Oh. So the entire time you’ve been practically living at my house, eating my food, taking me out and about and sleeping in my bed, you’ve been seeing other women? He replied: “yup.” Clearly no remorse there. He even had a key to my house. I replied: “Okay. You can have the other women, I don’t want sloppy seconds. Bye. Locks are changed today.”
Three years later, I get an email from the same man, on a different site, introducing himself to me. I obviously made a huge impression on him. Sure, my photos weren’t the same as they’d been three years earlier, but it was still me and I hadn’t changed the way I looked. He didn’t remember me – AT ALL. That was established when he replied my email that said “what, you don’t remember me?” with: “No, should I?”
It’s so nice to know I’m not the least bit unique. (snort!) I replied: “Ahh. It’s nice to know I’m not the only stupid woman out there. Obviously there are plenty who will allow a dumbfuck shit like you to practically live with them for three months.” He didn’t even have the good sense not to reply. Instead he whines: “I don’t see why you have to call me names.” Yeah, whatever.
I took my profile off all sites and gave myself a break from online dating for a year. During that year I got leered at by toothless 80-year-old men and groped at a gas station by a 20-something. I was asked out by a gorgeous podiatrist who was a regular at the coffeeshop where I was a regular. He gave great foot massages – until I found out he was married. My next date was a guy I met at the local fine arts museum. He SAID he was single. He APPEARED to be single. He very obviously didn’t share his apartment with anyone else. Turns out “single” to him meant having an 11 year affair with a married woman who, when she found out about me, started stalking me.
So I gave up. I spent another year just being by myself. I still went to museums and lectures but I turned down all dates. I couldn’t trust men at that point. I couldn’t trust myself to be able to tell if a man was a GOOD man. Then I re-upped on the dating site. The emails came pouring in. I had more date offers than I could accept. This time, I watched each man I dated. Each one of them evinced “serious” interest in me, lavished me with attention, and every night, I’d hop online, hide my profile in a flash, and go looking. There they were – all of them – each man who was “serious” about me – trolling.
I recently asked a male friend why men continue trolling even after they’ve become involved with a woman to the point where they’re having sex and are spending most of their time with her. He said it’s because dating sites create the illusion that there’s always something “better” around the corner. He also said that his circle of single male friends, all of whom were on dating sites, were there simply because the pickings were so easy. They could have sex with a different woman every night of the week if they wanted to. Some were in “committed” relationships with two or three women and their rationale for this behavior was that they were entitled to do that, because what if they dumped the others in favor of just one and that one turned out to be “crazy?”
Dating sites perpetuate the myth that the grass is always greener elsewhere. My N is still out there trolling. I keep an eye on him because when he stops trolling I know he’s fallen into self-pity mode and will soon be contacting me. I like to be prepared and since his profiles are all public, I don’t have to belong to any site to see them. My N, by the way, has been trolling dating sites for just over seven years now, and he trolled his way through a six year “relationship” with the victim prior to me. I’m really glad I never became physically involved with him – God knows what STDs he has.
It’s the trolls and my experience with my N that sent me running screaming from online dating for good. Why should I invest any time in a man who is obviously only seeing me until he finds something “better?”
See, that’s the problem with online dating. People seem to think that if they don’t continue trolling they might be “settling” in some way. Pop-psychology, and all sorts of relationship self-help books would have us believe that we are entitled to have everything we want and that there is ONE person out there who will magically have every quality we’ve ever idealized about, and that ONE person is just around the dating site corner.
I’m now convinced that online dating is just a relationship disaster waiting to happen.
I’m also convinced that if you’re on a dating site, and you’re fit for human consumption, you will figure out, sooner rather than later, that dating sites are Darwin’s waiting room. Those who are fit leave and survive by getting REAL lives. Those who remain (the ones whose profiles show them as being members for more than 6 months, and always show as having been online within 24 hours) are doomed to the emotional stasis found in chasing shiny objects across the universe.
If you find your date “online now!” directly after a date with you, dump that idiot and move on, otherwise YOU are the idiot. If you date someone who has been a member of a dating site for more than 6 months and you’ve seen that person is online daily, YOU are the idiot. That’s my opinion. Feel free to disagree, but don’t come posting here when the door to Darwin’s waiting room opens and your name is called. That’s not mean, it’s common sense.
Of course, if all you’re looking for is a one-night stand or a quick heart-break, have at it. There are trolls a’plenty hidin’ under them there dating site bridges!