Online Dating and Expectations
November 19, 2017 8:09 AM   Subscribe

Are my online dating expectations reasonable, or should I try being more open/giving people more chances?

Almost-39, straight woman here.

I've online dated off-and-on over recent years and I've gotten frustrated by two types of men (seemingly the only types I encounter that are interested):

1. a guy who immediately wants to get physical (sex) without spending much time getting to know me (by 2nd date) or

2. a guy who immediately wants to get emotionally intimate and seems to want an insta-girlfriend. (also usually by 2nd date)

Here are some recent examples:

Last night I went out for the second time with a guy (our first date was under 2 hours, talking at a bar). I thought he seemed nice, smart and interesting- wasn't necessarily feeling huge sparks at date 1, but that's fine.

On date two, we talked a bit and then he mentioned that "37 questions to make you fall in love" thing published in the NY Times a while back. He wanted to try asking each other the questions- I said sure. However, when we got to the second level of "deeper" questions- specifically, "What is the worst memory of your life"? I said I wasn't quite comfortable answering that- I wasn't really in the mood for a sad topic. He seemed disappointed and said, "Maybe I can answer and then you'd feel comfortable answering." Honestly, I didn't want to hear about his sad memory either, on a second date! So he moved on to another question, also too personal for me. I told him that I prefer to get to know someone better before talking about these types of things. He seemed disappointed and asked me what I needed to know about him before opening up more.

I now feel uncomfortable...

Scenario 2:

Starting chatting with another guy online. We moved to text. This morning I texted that I was making breakfast and he wrote back, "I would kiss and rub up against you as you were cooking." Ewww. We've never met in person.

These are just two examples but honestly they are pretty representative of who I have met; the fast-moving physical type is more common though.

I don't really feel comfortable putting my profile here for critique. I tend to date/meet younger men, but not always.

Is this just an online dating thing? Am I being too uptight? Or am I not giving these guys enough chances? I've dated a fair amount, but essentially have never been in a long-term relationship. It just never seems to work out.

Happy to answer other questions. Thanks!
posted by bearette to Human Relations (23 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
You're being totally reasonable. The thing with online dating is that there are a lot of people out there on the internet who are looking for different things - hookups, insta-partners, whatever, and that makes it harder for you when you're looking for something that takes a slower pace on both counts because you have to filter it, but what you want is reasonable, and how you're handling it is just fine. Take these signs as red flags and move on. You're not going to find the person you're looking for by tolerating more nonsense that you're not into.
posted by bile and syntax at 8:13 AM on November 19, 2017 [26 favorites]

As as single woman who's been dating online - on and off - for some time, I'd be uncomfortable with both of the situations you describe and wouldn't take things any further with either.

I put in my profile that I'm looking for someone who wants to take things slow. This seems to weed out some of the men who aren't looking for the same things - provided they read my profile.
posted by bunderful at 8:24 AM on November 19, 2017 [9 favorites]

You are not being uptight, at all. You are respecting your very reasonable boundaries that are important for your emotional and physical safety.

You are definitely not shortchanging these guys in the ‘chances’ department. Guys get all the chances from me to not be gross, emotionally or physically, until they violate me (or suggest they’re ok with other women being violated - crap about how other women are sluts, or angry, or lazy, but I’m special? That gets a hard pass from me.), especially when they make it clear that they think I’m being uptight or ungenerous.

I’m looking for the right person for me. While ymmv, for me this means a person who doesn’t have to be trained in basic human patience and decency. Unsolicited sexual innuendo via text may be really hot for some people, it is not hot for me, and I don’t like to be surprised by it. Don’t tell me what sex things you’re planning to do to me before you know what sex things I like!

You’re not alone and you’re not wrong to feel this way.
posted by bilabial at 8:25 AM on November 19, 2017 [13 favorites]

I theorize that there are three categories in the pool: a) desperate for sex, b) desperate for a relationship, and c) not desperate.

But forcing people into a category as a short-hand may short-change your opportunity to see a more complex person. IDK.
posted by puddledork at 8:28 AM on November 19, 2017 [1 favorite]

Both of the scenarios you describe would gross me out, too. I don't think it sounds like you're forcing people into categories, but rather that you're recognizing the category that they're very clearly showing you they are part of through the behaviors they're choosing. Bile and syntax has it exactly right: You're not going to find the person you're looking for by tolerating more nonsense that you're not into.
posted by DingoMutt at 8:42 AM on November 19, 2017 [21 favorites]

Think of it this way: we all want to be in a relationship with someone who has good judgment. These actions are showing you that these particular men do not have good judgment.
posted by Automocar at 8:43 AM on November 19, 2017 [6 favorites]

So both of the guys that I went on second dates with that wanted to do the 36 questions turned out to be MAJOR creeps. My theory is that this is because those questions are designed to build intimacy way too fast. These are things you'll just learn over time as you date a person. When guys want to do the questions this is, at least for me, a giant red flag.

You don't have to give people chances if you don't want to do so. I don't give chances to the 36 questions askers anymore. I also don't go on dates with the hyper sexual guys who push me for sex too fast. They've always turned out to be creeps, too.

You do you and date who you want and if you're turned off by something it is FINE to just walk away, especially this early in the dating process. I'll say this: my dating life has gotten a lot easier the more ruthless I have gotten with my own boundaries.

Best of luck.
posted by sockermom at 8:50 AM on November 19, 2017 [25 favorites]

A lot of people, after 30, are ready to cut to the chase. To have sex soon if it seems like fun, to open themselves up to emotional intimacy quickly. Especially in online dating, when everyone is obviously looking for something, rather than meeting by chance in real life and neither of you know if the other is open to _anything_ yet. I don't think it's fair to judge people for that.

But if that's not your scene, you shouldn't put yourself through it! You might consider putting something in your profile like "I like to move slowly" to hopefully give them a clue to back off.
posted by metasarah at 8:55 AM on November 19, 2017 [4 favorites]

I am a not straight guy who is pretty open to moving forward quickly in relationships. So when i started reading your question I thought maybe I'd see some of myself in these guys and give the general advice that it's perfectly fine to want and look for people who like taking things the same speed as you.

Then I read the actual situations and was like "HAHAHAHA heck no." Those people are, charitably speaking, not quality dating material.

You are fine. You are very fine. Keep those boundaries.
posted by Zalzidrax at 9:25 AM on November 19, 2017 [28 favorites]

Starting chatting with another guy online. We moved to text. This morning I texted that I was making breakfast and he wrote back, "I would kiss and rub up against you as you were cooking." Ewww. We've never met in person.

Straight 38 year old man here, so broadly in your target market. Will happily move one to physical stuff on the second (or even the first) date if it looks like there's mutual interest.

This is not fast-moving-dater behavior, this is clueless bozo behavior. Unfortunately, the low cost of online dating will encourage such ridiculous antics from men (the theory being, there's a chance she's into it and hot sex magically ensues? I don't know). Reject with extreme prejudice and go on your merry way.
posted by Dr Dracator at 10:02 AM on November 19, 2017 [5 favorites]

dating these guys (your type 2) is like starting a chess game with a man whose strategy involves begging you to just let his pawns get close enough to your queen to tell her how they really feel, and then collapses weeping on the board, scattering all the pieces on the floor. if you object, because this is not really how it is done, that is just proof that you love playing games.

what online dating has taught me is that they're right, I do love games and I do love drama. because in a drama, you take turns speaking, share the spotlight, and stay aware of your audience. and in a game, both people play by the same rules and agree on what they are. they are, in essence, ways to make it tolerable to date strangers. these guys are trying to find a third way, a shortcut: pretending you aren't strangers at all. (Or else it isn't even sincere, and they think women want passionate declarations that soon, which is even simpler to understand as a bad sign.)

I do not advise dating men who think meeting you is an occasion to remove their inhibitions the way they would take off their shoes and jacket in their own home. you aren't their home yet.
posted by queenofbithynia at 10:11 AM on November 19, 2017 [22 favorites]

You are reasonable. These guys are creeps. Dating is just a numbers game, keep at it and eventually you'll come across someone worthwhile.
posted by emd3737 at 10:49 AM on November 19, 2017 [1 favorite]

To note: I've tried having sex early on. In my experiences, I've felt uncomfortable and the guy disappears soon after. Not saying that's everyone's experience, but it's been mine- perhaps due to me and/or the men not respecting my boundaries.

There's nothing wrong with it, if that's what you want in a given situation. But it hasn't been what I've wanted with those particular people.
posted by bearette at 10:50 AM on November 19, 2017

Online dater here, also female, mid 30s in my case. For perspective, I was talking with a guy friend last night in his 30s about some of these exact issues and was shocked to discover that the sexual stuff you describe here is not a deal breaker for some women. He told me he has been solicited for dick pics, received nude pics, and some women have send explicit responses that were so direct he was shocked. I always assumed some women were more forward than I am but it was interesting to really hear it from someone. A little piece of me did generalize and think, how do guys still do this? It can't ever work! Well, apparently it does, so that's why.

I don't think your standards are off at all. Those people just aren't right for you. Try not to take it too personally - they don't know you and you don't know them. If it starts to feel really personal and demoralizing, it might be a good moment to take a break until you feel less sensitive to the misfires of the online dating world. It's an inevitable part of the process.
posted by amycup at 12:52 PM on November 19, 2017 [2 favorites]

He seemed disappointed and asked me what I needed to know about him before opening up more

I think what you need to know before you can open up is that you can trust him, and that is not something he can tell you - he has to demonstrate it. This is why it takes time to get to know someone. I think that holds true for wanting to get to know someone a bit better before sleeping with them as well. Wanting to be able to trust someone before becoming intimate with them, physically or emotionally, is totally reasonable. When guys are trying to shortcut the process of building trust you have every right to feel uncomfortable, and to question why.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 1:52 PM on November 19, 2017 [13 favorites]

Online dating has taught me a valuable lesson- namely, that I am allowed to want what I want. And if what I want seems incompatible with what A Guy wants, that does not mean I am obligated to change, that I am wrong, or that anything whatsoever is my fault. This has been extremely empowering. If a guy I've met (and maybe even dated a few times) starts to send vibes that I don't like, or gets antagonistic when I stick to a boundary, there's great freedom in leaving that behind.

There was a time when that disconnect would have made me very anxious and activated all sorts of self-criticism, self-doubt and insecurity. I internalized all that, and believed that if I was better/prettier/sexier/whatever, he would not be expressing anything negative. I now realize that every one of those experiences was a bullet dodged. If three dates in, he's still making me feel weird, or giving me inconsistent responses, mixed messages, etc., then that's all I need to know. AND IT'S OK to do that.

Don't dumb down your standards. If anything, be even more selective. Read this for some interesting perspective.
posted by I_Love_Bananas at 2:04 PM on November 19, 2017 [10 favorites]

It's normal to have mismatched expectations/desires, especially with online dating, just keep talking to guys and feel free to not go on a first date at all when the communication/connection doesn't feel right. I experienced both of the scenarios you describe (early 30's dater), it's nothing you're doing wrong or sending out vibe-wise.
posted by lafemma at 4:15 PM on November 19, 2017

If you haven't seen this ted talk on online dating, that might provide an alternative way forward for you.
posted by gusset at 5:37 PM on November 19, 2017 [1 favorite]

Unfortunately the vast majority of available men probably fall loosely in to one of the two types you describe. I'm not saying you're looking for a needle in a hay stack but generally a lot guys either want to get physical quickly or want to get emotional right away. Some times both. But as far as guys who want sex a guy and I think 2 dates is two fast. But at date 3 and on sex seems more reasonable. Now that doesn't mean you have to move at the same pace. If you're dating a guy who wants sex right away tell him you're not ready. But you don't necessarily need to end things. He's not necessarily a bad guy just because he's quick to jump into bed. If he's willing to wait till you're ready then give things a shot. Guys want sex. They do. And many will seek sex early on. Some people have sex on date one and end up getting married. Others wait months and the relationship doesn't work. I'd probably fear the overly emotional guy over the fast moving physical guy. It's tough out there. But some food for thought and your hope...i met my wife online. Happily married now 6 years. Got physical around date 5. So just giving you some info. Stick with it. It's a numbers game. Eventually you'll find a guy who takes things slow both physically and emotionally.
posted by ljs30 at 9:05 PM on November 19, 2017 [3 favorites]

If he's willing to wait till you're ready then give things a shot.

This^^. This is a much better filter than simply 'he wants sex on date #1 (or whenever), he's out' - it gives him a chance to respond to your wishes and values, and if he does then maybe that is potentially a plus for him. Anecdata: I would have jumped into bed with my partner on date #1 or #2, but she wanted to do things differently, and we are still together 10 years later.
posted by GeeEmm at 10:38 PM on November 19, 2017

My suggestion about having sex early on and taking it from there was deleted. But you’ve replied already that it wasn't necessarily your thing.

My second piece of advice would be to widen your horizons in terms of age, class, race, body type, etc (and yes, even political persuasion). I know from experience in recruiting and dating that it’s very easy to stick to one’s comfort zone all the while thinking we’re not biased or prejudiced. Try engaging with various types of men you find reasonably attractive but wouldn’t naturally have considered dateable, and see what comes of it. You will learn something about them and also about yourself.
posted by Kwadeng at 2:04 AM on November 20, 2017

He told me he has been solicited for dick pics, received nude pics, and some women have send explicit responses that were so direct he was shocked.

I wouldn't necessarily conclude anything from this. It is widely known that men pose as women online to have explicit pic and convo exchanges with other men. Unless male friend actually met those women in person, I would assume he was talking to men.
posted by rada at 7:42 AM on November 20, 2017 [1 favorite]

It is widely known that men pose as women online to have explicit pic and convo exchanges with other men. Unless male friend actually met those women in person, I would assume he was talking to men.

I know plenty of women who are into swapping hot photos with strangers. It's not something that only men do, by a long shot. I wouldn't make any assumptions except that the world is full of very different people and that's okay.
posted by bile and syntax at 8:29 AM on November 28, 2017

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