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Thursday, December 8, 2011

Online Dating: Ladies, You Have the Right to Remain Silent

Posted By on Thu, Dec 8, 2011 at 8:30 AM

A guy wrote to me on OkCupid recently. He was nice, but not really my style, so I didn't write back. He then wrote again, giving me shit for not responding to his first message. This solidified my decision to not talk to him anymore, but I wondered: If I'm not interested, why would I write back to tell him that? Is this something people do? I don't want to be rude or anything, but it seems like a waste of everyone's time to respond to everyone's messages out of politeness.

~Message Machine

Regardless of whether it's rude, it is very common. Messaging someone online isn't the same as asking someone out in person, most obviously because rejecting someone in person by staring at them blankly would probably convey "mildly autistic" or "audio visual artist," rather than "not interested." On the innertubes, it's perfectly acceptable to not reply at all, ever, to people you aren't interested in communicating with. Evading creepy or unwanted suitors is easier than ever in the digital realm. Go team!

While we're on the subject, dating isn't about politeness. Straight women take note. You don't owe an explanation to every Tom's Harry Dick who expresses an iota of interest in you online. This is especially true if the message is a f*ck me form letter or anything blatantly sexual. Think of it this way: When a guy yells at you from a moving vehicle, would you shout back, "Thank you, but I have other plans tonight"? No you would not. This isn't to say you should be an asshole, or respond to inquiries with, "In your dreams, quack paddle!" It is to say, stop worrying about being nice and start worrying about your own interests. Online dating is a woman's turf. If you don't want to reply, then don't. If you feel like the guy in question deserves a line or two of explanation, then send that. But you should never feel guilty or inconsiderate for not being interested. 

Some people respond to most/all messages because they want to keep their little profile dot green, which means "replies frequently," which can influence your odds of receiving new messages. To me, it seems kind of condescending to get someone's hopes up, (Ooh, a new message from that person who also loves string cheese and Battlestar Galactica!) only to find out he or she has written the equivalent of a pity clap. "You seem terrific. I would love it if you never messaged me again."

But I apparently have a narrow view of OkCupid's potential. A friend of mine put it in another light. "Some people treat OkCupid more like a social network and less like a dating site, which it kind of is. I replied to several e-mails knowing I wouldn't date the guys. Some of them turned out to be the kind of friends that helped me move!" Another friend noted that she used the site to network professionally, which blew my mind. I mean, sure, I've had guys offer me jobs on there, but only the kind that started with blow.

Online dating is labor-intensive enough without adding any more unnecessary pretenses. Consider the occasional nonreply as your reward for having to deflect every waxed-chest guy at the bar who asks if you have your "one-eyed snake permit."

P.S. More?

Social-media mistress Anna Pulley likes to give advice about how to play well with others on the internets. If you have a question about etiquette involving technology, shoot her a question at 

Follow us on Twitter: @annapulley and @ExhibitionistSF or Facebook
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