Mild stalking?
January 28, 2013 4:39 PM   Subscribe

Occasionally I notice men checking out my online dating profile repeatedly, but they never send a message. It's neither here nor there really, but it strikes me as somewhat odd to hover but never reach out. Any idea why people do this? I imagine this varies from person to person, but it seemed interesting to me.
posted by amycup to Human Relations (34 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I like to window shop on OKCupid. I look at the profiles of other women, or of people I find interesting, or even people I don't find interesting. I do this mostly without messaging. It's most of the fun of that site.
posted by amodelcitizen at 4:42 PM on January 28, 2013

When I used OkCupid, I used to catch myself on the same people's profile in this way because they would show up with a different picture in one of the related areas.

Having been away for awhile, I think that the less you think about visits to your profile the better your life will be. This was true of me, at least.
posted by feloniousmonk at 4:45 PM on January 28, 2013 [3 favorites]

By repeatedly do you mean the same person checking you out over and over again? That's kind of weird and a little different than amodelcitizen's window shopping example.

Maybe they are shy about reaching out for whatever reason. If you like them, send them a message!

Also what site are you using? I think OkCupid doesn't show multiple views of a profile - or that's what they say anyway.
posted by sweetkid at 4:46 PM on January 28, 2013

Depending on the site you're using, it's possible they happen to find you really cute but haven't taken the plunge yet to pay for the subscription features that will allow them to actually contact you.

If this is happening on OKCupid, it might be that you have elements that they're looking for but they aren't sure how to make the first move. It's hard to approach people, you know?
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 4:48 PM on January 28, 2013

Could be they forgot they'd looked at you before; could be they think you're cool but aren't sure what to message you about so they keep putting it off; could be that they have dozens of OKCupid tabs open in Chrome to look at later and their computer keeps crashing and then whenever they turn their computer back on they keep restoring all tabs, causing the page to refresh... NOT that I have ever done such a thing.
posted by showbiz_liz at 4:48 PM on January 28, 2013 [12 favorites]

Depends on if it's everyday, or like once a week. They could forget, accidentally come back or being doing "research" before they reach out to someone and are mulling it over. Maybe you can block them if it bothers you?
posted by AppleTurnover at 4:51 PM on January 28, 2013

It's possible that your profile fits some very narrow scope which is within what other people are looking for? I have a few people I used to see all the time on OK Cupid (i.e. guys whose profiles I was checking out a lot) and it was mostly because they fit the fairly narrow criteria of what i was looking for but maybe weren't good for other reasons but OKC kept serving them to me. Maybe you've changed up your profile so this is happening to those guys and they don't know it's you?
posted by jessamyn at 4:54 PM on January 28, 2013

It's really fun to look at OK Cupid profiles without the intention of messaging anyone. Way better than Facebook.
posted by no regrets, coyote at 4:54 PM on January 28, 2013 [6 favorites]

This happened to me. I noticed this guy had checked out my profile a couple of times, and I thought he was pretty cool, so I messaged him. We went out and I eventually asked him why he didn't message me. He said it was because he was a year out of my preferred age range, and he thought he should "honor my wishes". That was nine years ago. We're still together.
posted by kimdog at 4:54 PM on January 28, 2013 [36 favorites]

I had a guy on OKCupid look at me every day at around the same time. It gave me the creeps after about three weeks of this, so I hid and blocked him. Whatever he was doing, it made me uncomfortable for someone to be looking at my pics every night at like 11pm.

Most of the time, though, and especially if it just happens once or twice, I think people forget they already looked at you (especially if you change your pic a lot), or they're trying to think how to approach you.
posted by Countess Sandwich at 4:56 PM on January 28, 2013

It's okcupid. Sweetkid, I think OKC removes your previous view in the queue so you only show up once...but it will reset the time stamp. If you're being looked at repetitively it becomes obvious because they show up at the top again.

I don't feel the need to block anyone - I just thought it was somewhat curious and I was interested to hear possible explanations.

Kimdog, your story is the cutest!
posted by amycup at 4:57 PM on January 28, 2013

I do that. I'm just window-shopping too and I'm pretty lazy & forgetful about who I've just seen in browsing and who I've actually clicked on & looked at their Q&As. Can't remember their religion or politics because you can't see that until you actually click on them. I didn't realize you could see that the person's come back more than once. Some of these guys must think I'm lurker-creepy when really I'm just absent-mindedly passing the time. (And yes my profile says I'm just window-shopping, why waste anyone else's time.)
posted by headnsouth at 4:59 PM on January 28, 2013

At minimum one of those guys is masturbating.
posted by juliplease at 5:01 PM on January 28, 2013 [13 favorites]

Juliplease - definitely a scenario I've considered. Hahaha! Christ.
posted by amycup at 5:04 PM on January 28, 2013

When it's repetitive I tend to think it's because they aren't sure. I've also had guys keep visiting my profile after I've already e-rejected them, and I think it's because they're trying to figure out why -- either why I said no, or why they thought they had a chance in the first place. Or something.

My boyfriend looked at my profile (I don't know how many times but probably once or twice) but didn't message me -- I looked at his and and messaged him. Eventually, I asked why he hadn't messaged me, and he told me that he was just kind of testing the waters/checking the site out and wasn't sure he was ready to take the plunge on messaging anybody. So there's that, too.

I actually used to turn the tracking off -- then I can stalk to my heart's content without knowing who was stalking me, but whether that's a smart dating tactic is debatable.
posted by sm1tten at 5:05 PM on January 28, 2013

The "had tab open, browser crashes, reloads page" thing has definitely happened to me many times. So has "forgot I already looked at that person and disliked them, saw the cute thumbnail pic, clicked again, remembered why I disliked them."

As far as the whacking off, yes, it's something people of both sexes do, sometimes while looking at pictures of others they find attractive, and sometimes you just have to be a grown-up and realize it happens. But the majority of repeat visitors are not necessarily doing this.
posted by drjimmy11 at 5:33 PM on January 28, 2013 [2 favorites]

I am a chronic repeat viewer, for all the reasons showbizliz lists. Also because I intend to email people, but after a day of constant work email I just. can't. make. myself.
posted by mercredi at 5:34 PM on January 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

Based on these responses, there is a non-zero chance that merely visiting someone's profile will lead to them messaging you, so perhaps for some this a way of meeting people in and of itself.
posted by Lorin at 5:40 PM on January 28, 2013

Maybe they think you're out of their league, but hope you will contact them.
posted by b33j at 5:41 PM on January 28, 2013

Yeah...not sure about okc (its more g-rated right?) But more vote for guys browsing
posted by sexyrobot at 5:42 PM on January 28, 2013

I do this. In my cases, it'll be one of the following:

1. When looking at profiles, I'm typically doing it on my phone while waiting in a line, or other situations where I have a few moments to spare but I can't stop and write a letter. Meanwhile, people who are marked favorite or people who match the search criteria, are going to come up repeatedly, and I might reread a profile many times over the weeks - while sternly telling myself "See - THIS awesome person is why you need to put aside some proper time for using this site and actually write some letters!"

2. A profile that I'm really on the fence about. Not in the sense of "Oh you sound nice enough I suppose", but in the sense of there being a lot that really really appeals, but something else that is enough to make me pause. (I prefer not to write an email unless I'm sufficiently sold by the profile to already be up for meeting the person. I'm not interested in trying to figure people out from extended email exchanges.)
2b. While I'm doing that out of indecision, in two cases the person updated their profile in a way that resolved the question mark (such that I decided not to contact them).

3. Someone who regularly updates or changes their profile can result in me clicking on it again before seeing that it's a profile I've already seen. And again...

4. Misc random stuff. Eg, when I have a vacation coming up, and there is someone I plan to write to, I wont write - it just seems stupid to write to say "Hey we can't really talk until a few weeks from now, but...", so I put it off. But in the meantime, I'm interested in what they've written and what I'd most like to ask about.

None of these are particularly brilliant and masterful ways to use the site, but I've done them regardless :)
posted by anonymisc at 6:21 PM on January 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

I do this, hopefully not to a creepy extent. Usually it's "I'm interested and drafting a message in my head but don't get around to actually sending it" (or the related "dude, that would be a cool conversation starter but I bet everyone thinks that") or "I forgot I already looked at your profile until I read it again".
posted by spaceman_spiff at 6:31 PM on January 28, 2013

When I was on OKCupid, I'd do this, not accidentally or anything for any number of reasons:
1) I enjoyed reading the profile, and was re-reading it. Some people actually have entertaining profiles.
2) On paper, I thought we'd click pretty well, but they lived 100+ miles away or something or had some other sort of dealbreaker.
3) Checking to see if match/friend/enemy things had changed or any tests had been taken, or when they used to have the overlapping wave graphs showing where you and the person who's profile you're looking at are based on the general site population
4) Your profile's been flagged a bunch of times and I'm voting on deletion of certain elements

While I was on there, I actually had a few women who showed up in my stalker queue a couple times, and I'd guess they fell under categories one or two.
posted by LionIndex at 6:33 PM on January 28, 2013

It could be the online equivalent of glancing over at a stranger in a bar, hoping to catch their attention and see if they glance back. Basically, looking for a non-verbal signal from you that an approach would be welcomed. If someone checks out my profile *right after* I've checked out theirs, I often feel more encouraged to write.
posted by Dixon Ticonderoga at 6:45 PM on January 28, 2013

Maybe they are shy about reaching out for whatever reason. If you like them, send them a message!

Yep. Mostly harmless. I've viewed certain profiles multiple times in the span of months, but that's only because that person might have showed up in a search or match email and I didn't immediately recognize the username.

And yeah, that's why the feature is there. To encourage breaking the ice. There are many ways to go about doing this.
posted by gjc at 6:52 PM on January 28, 2013

I think my (now) husband and I did this to each other on okcupid without realizing. I always thought I was the one who sought him out and made the first move, until relatively recently (two years after we were married) when I searched my email nostalgically and found out otherwise. In April, he was in my quiver for three weeks. In May, he chose me on quickmatch! In June, I sent him the first message! My point is, who knows if they're masterbating or just absentmindedly clicking around. (OR BOTH! MEEP!)
posted by two lights above the sea at 7:29 PM on January 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

When I was using it, I definitely ended up looking at a few of the same people repeatedly if they came up at the top of my match list. I tended to just middle click down the whole list if i was browsing and open up a bunch of tabs. Also be aware that people know that you know you can see them and might be using repeated visits to see if you'll message them first (out of shyness or whatever)
posted by empath at 7:57 PM on January 28, 2013

I tend to browse with a lot of open tabs which I have set to automatically reload when I re-open my browser. Anyone that browses like that and has a bunch of profiles open will show up as looking at all of them every time they turn their computer back on, even if they haven't looked at them since they first opened them.
posted by deadwax at 8:13 PM on January 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

I definitely look at profiles repeatedly on OKC and realize this can creep some folks out so shell out the cash for "anonymous browsing". As to why I do it is a combination of factors. But, mostly it is about the internal debate of who to message, or whether to send a message to someone new at all this evening. It really is mostly re-reading the profile, or maybe skimming through the questions. If both you and the other person have answered hundreds of questions this can be a few evenings of entertainment alone.

Given the effort of really trying to see who someone is and then put together a reasonably personal note, I try to be pretty careful about who and when I actually message. So, all sorts of factors may conspire to make me not do so at the last minute, and then likely revisit several times before possibly trying again.

I'd treat it like the guy who keeps glancing at you in the bar. If you are interested reach out, if not, a turn in the other direction (hiding him) means you don't need to notice. I'd be willing to bet the cause is shyness or uncertainty far more than any other explanation.
posted by meinvt at 9:25 PM on January 28, 2013

I just forget who I've looked at. Eventually if I notice I've looked at someone more than once I decide to either message or block, to avoid looking yet again and seeming creepy.
posted by ead at 10:08 PM on January 28, 2013

"I'll respond back to that girl I was setting up a date with."

"OKcupid suggests that I may like these three similar women? Ok, let me check one or two out."

"Interesting. Too bad I'm late to a party. I'll message her later when I have a free moment."


"OK, time to check out the profiles. Who was I going to write to again? Right, her. Oh crap, a phone call from my bestie now? I guess I'll get back to this later."
posted by wolfdreams01 at 10:43 PM on January 28, 2013

I'll click through the profiles of people OKC spams me on my email and just about no one else.

Even then, I hardly message anyone. Outward geekery on OKC has become more and more rare.
posted by Slackermagee at 11:33 PM on January 28, 2013

Oh God, I hate this feature of OKCupid. It is so, so stupid. The fact that someone casually browsed to your profile page should not be public information. All it does is create exactly the sort of unsolvable anxiety that you're showing right here. Ever since they rolled it out I have repeatedly filed service requests that it be destroyed forever.

The solution to your problem: go to your OKCupid account settings and turn that feature OFF. This is doubly good, since then your own casual poking around on the site won't set off other people's alarm bells either.

It's not "being creepy" and they're not "looking shyly" at you. It's just the normal way people use the World Wide Web -- you click on every link presented to you, skim down each page, and decide if it's even relevant. I click on every link of Ask Metafilter too; it doesn't mean I want to answer all those questions, it just means a title and 1 line isn't enough info. (And if Ask Metafilter told you everyone who looked but didn't comment, you'd get annoyed at all those jerks who don't care!)

Eat flaming death Cheetos, OKCupid stalker notifications!!!
posted by Harvey Kilobit at 3:17 AM on January 29, 2013 [5 favorites]

Harvey, I don't mind this feature - come to think of it, it's actually the only way I browse random profiles. Opening the match section is like cognitive overload. Plus, in terms of the OKC business model, it creates the only real incentive to become a paid member, so I don't see them removing the feature any time soon.

Anyway, thanks for the input everyone! It's fascinating to hear everyone's different browsing styles.
posted by amycup at 8:14 AM on January 29, 2013

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