Why Online Dating Sucks for Men
Continued from previous page
This is not the behavior I would expect of a feminist, sex-positive 21st century lady. It’s not behavior I’m particularly proud of either. Why don’t I write messages first? Why don’t I reach out to the dudes with the funny handles and good taste in books, the ones who post pictures with goofy faces and like tacos almost as much as I like tacos? Why do I not respond politely to every message, even the ones I’m not interested in? Why do I alternate between playing the damsel and the playing the demanding entitled a**hole? Because it’s just so easy.
Ugh. I’m embarrassed to have written that. I wish the evidence pointed to something else, something egalitarian and modern, but when I get real with my own online dating M.O., it’s the truth. I’ve sent messages to guys before, sure, but the ratio is small. Ten to one? Twenty to one? Once in a blue moon? I don’t have to, and so I don’t make myself go through the scary exercise of asking for consideration and possibly being rejected or ignored. Why would I put myself through the rollercoaster of the drafting, the editing, the sending, the waiting, the hoping, the checking, and the sighing in disappointment when the fact of my gender (and let’s be real; that’s really all it is) means the attention comes to me? This is not how I want this work, but I condone it with my inaction.
Once we make it out of the safe cocoon of the Internet and into the real world I’m better about aligning my actions with my values. Out here, at a bar or restaurant, I work really hard to make sure that you know we are equals participating in a traditionally unequal transaction. You don’t order my wine and we split the check because we are peers. Why should you buy my food? I have a job, you have a job, we’re all on a budget, and I did eat most of the sweet potato fries! Down the line, we can trade off and treat each other and enjoy the security in knowing there will be a “next time,” but for now, we both walked blindly into the same bar, so let’s walk out having equally invested in the last hour. Why can’t I apply this “equal investment” attitude to the getting of dates and not just the paying for dates?
It’s a little too far past January 1st to call this a New Year’s Resolution, but I’ve decided to make a change. I do not want to be a passive participant in my romantic life. I do not want my dating choices to be limited to the guys who are still optimistic enough to send a message; I might miss some good ones who are just tired of being ignored and I can’t blame them. I’d get tired of that too.
I asked above why I should bother to get on the rollercoaster ride of being the asker instead of the askee, and I think the reason it’s worth trying is the reason it’s worth trying many things that make you uncomfortable; empathy. Many times in my writing I ask men to try to understand how women feel out in the world, to take a walk in their shoes, to try on a different perspective to understand their own privilege. I believe exercising those empathy muscles is what helps us be better, kinder human beings, but it’s not fair of me to ask without trying to reciprocate.
There is plenty of privilege to go around, and while I spend a lot of time thinking about the big things I’m afforded due to my lucky draw, the little things I get are worth considering too. I hypothesize that it will feel shitty to spend time on a nice note and to be ignored, but I don’t know, because I haven’t really tried. I think it’s about time I try to understand my digital privilege. Are you with me?