Why is he still going to Match.com?
May 19, 2006 4:30 AM   Subscribe

If a guy is not a player why would he continue to frequent a dating site a month into what seems to be a pretty good relationship for both of us?

First off let me say I AM going to have a talk with said gentleman once I get some feedback from everyone here, but right now I'm confused and afraid of getting hurt and need input on the situation. I've been single for many years but am NOT a serial dater - 90% of those years have been spent as a single, working mom, dating very little. So I probably don't have the street smarts I need for this kind of thing. Yikes.

A little over a month ago and six months after the end of a 1.5 year relationship with Mr. Wrong, my only truly *bad* choice in years of dating, I jumped back into the online dating thing. I met this Mr. Wrong on Yahoo!, which for me was bad because there's no real matching involved - anyone can and does e-mail you - and in my area the caliber of man on Yahoo! was pretty bad.

I went to Match.com and soon realized that, while the guys seemed to be better people, anyone can pester me via e-mail even though reading my profile would tell them explicitly what I'm looking for or what I'm about and that we'd be an obvious mismatch. Also, I recognized several faces that were STILL around from when I was on Yahoo! a couple of years ago. Guess the serial daters had just moved up a notch. Was about to cancel my membership and go to eHarmony, when Match offered a subscription to their similar new venture, Chemistry. So I signed up.

Chemistry promotes the kind of LTR I'm looking for. You have to answer a lot of questions and they send you a few matches rather than letting everyone search their database and mail anyone they like. For me, this works. I hoped to find the man I would eventually marry.

So I get a few matches who seem far and away above the guys whose profiles are on other sites, but for one reason or another they're just not quite "it." And then I got the e-mail about Mr. Right. So many of the things about him just clicked with me. We went through all their guided communication stuff and it just kept clicking, as did our in-person meeting. Lest you think it's simply that he's a hottie I must say he's just an average guy in the looks department.

So Mr. Right has been divorced for six years and hasn't had a steady relationship in two years. He is also a single parent. Match offered him the same deal on Chemistry as they did me. I never saw his profile on Match during the short time I was on it, but after he told me that was how he'd come to Chemistry I found it and checked it out. That's when I saw that it said "Active within 24 hours." Well, okay - I've only been seeing him for a couple of weeks...maybe he's still shopping. I, on the other hand, pulled my Match profile after going over to Chemistry, not wanting to be spammed by Mr. Wrongs any longer. And I've since cancelled my Chemistry membership as well, though I paid for a period that will not end for another month and a half.

When I had been with Mr. Wrong for a couple of months I found that he was still corresponding with women on Yahoo!, a fact that upset me to no end, though he dismissed it as just harmless flirting and said he just really got an ego boost out of it. Based on the fact that he was at my house practically all the time I'd say he probably didn't actually meet any of these women. But even if he didn't, what about the woman on the other end he is stringing along? What a jerk thing to do.

My relationship with Mr. Right has become physical. We see one another a lot. When we're not together he calls me and we usually have pretty lengthy phone conversations. So if he was seeing anyone else it'd have to be that he was getting two hours of sleep a night or something ridiculous like that. Because of my bad experience with Mr. Wrong I didn't want to do anything stupid when I should have known better, so last night I went to Match and found Mr. Right's profile again and, as it was a few weeks ago the "Active within 24 hours" was noted. If you are a Match member other members can see who's looked at their profile, so I went in anonymously with a different browser. I don't think my profile is accessible to anyone at all because I deactivated it but I didn't want to take any chances that he'd think I was still trolling around on Match - I'm not.

So, guys in particular, what's the deal? Is it a harmless ego boost? Is he trying to get something going with someone else? Even if it is just flirting it is not acceptable to me if our relationship is going to progress, and I will tell him that. But right now I just need to hear some outside opinions on the situation. I am in my early (gasp!) 40's and he is in his late 40's.
posted by terra to Human Relations (36 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Humor. Seriously--the number of people I know who surf Match and Craigslist just to see the funny stuff people write about themselves is unbelievably high (myself included).
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 4:35 AM on May 19, 2006

Harmless flirting often evolves into less than harmless activity. Beware.
posted by IronLizard at 4:54 AM on May 19, 2006

Perhaps you might consider alternatives to confronting him in the "what are you still doing on internet dating sites?" manner.

What I like better, is frequent "where are we" type talks, and going ahead and asking what someone's time-table for going exclusive is. That, plus a definition of what exclusive entails, has seemed to work well. Non-confrontational communications, early, open, and often, is my motto.
posted by NucleophilicAttack at 5:00 AM on May 19, 2006 [2 favorites]

Doesn't Match.com send out links daily of possible hookup people? Maybe he clicks those links and that makes him "active"?
posted by thilmony at 5:04 AM on May 19, 2006

My wife and I met on Match.com. We both still browse the listings every once in a while just to see what's going on and check on the familiar faces. We are definitely not getting on there and flirting with other folks or doing anything shady. We both spent a lot of time on there before we met and like to go back and see what's going on...

Similar to what NotMyselfRightNow said, there's a lot of humor and even morbid curiosity involved.
posted by daveleck at 5:07 AM on May 19, 2006

Ditto NotMyself. I surf the CL listings for entertainment, but I'd never consider responding to any.
posted by mojohand at 5:09 AM on May 19, 2006

Slow down. Seriously. I know you care about him. But slow down.

Maybe he's Mr. Right. Maybe he's not. But even the fact that one month into dating you consider him Mr. Right says you're moving too fast.

I honestly think, most of us, in the human condition, go too fast in relationships. We don't get to 'know" the other person. I consider this a reason that the divorce rate is so high. (fwiw, I'm divorced and have profiles on both Chemistry and eHarmony).

If the relationship you're in with him is right, he'll look at match less and less...but it's a possibly a little early for you to start dictating his activity...or investigate it. It might just be that he spent the money and has trouble going as fast as you are. Maybe he's chatitng with someone...and is keeping the possibility open for the future. You're not married yet.

I know you're struggling with trust issues. Mr. Wrong (and possibly other men have made it tough.

But at a month, he isn't Mr. Right. He's Mr. Potential.
posted by filmgeek at 5:14 AM on May 19, 2006 [2 favorites]

My first impressions are:

1)A month seems like a pretty short time to me. You seem to be a bit in a rush to get to the altar and this might scare some folks off. Try to lighten up a little bit.

2)Talk to him calmly as others have suggested. Just a guess, but I have a feeling his definition of looking for a LTR" is a lot more "carefree" than yours.

Good luck!
posted by bim at 5:16 AM on May 19, 2006

One more samll observation -- the original post was at 7:30. After about 3 answers and a half hour, the best answer was identified. Whew! Slow down! :)
posted by bim at 5:26 AM on May 19, 2006

I had a similar experience recently and what I realized was that my (and apparently your) attitude was "wow, I found a cool guy, whew, I don't need to log on to that irritating site anymore" and his was "I'm having fun but hmm, I wonder what else is out there." In my opinion, you should take it as a sign that he isn't taking this relationship as seriously as you are. Yet. It's early.
At some point you should bring it up in a non accusatory way, but maybe see if, as filmgeek said, he starts looking less of his own accord.
posted by CunningLinguist at 6:06 AM on May 19, 2006 [2 favorites]

In my opinion, you should take it as a sign that he isn't taking this relationship as seriously as you are.

Mine too. Give him time to come around, but for now, he's clearly not as invested in it as you are, and you should hold back a little. Don't confront him, don't distance yourself, just don't let yourself go into imminent-marriage mode. And for those of you who are saying maybe he's just checking out profiles for laughs, perhaps you missed this:

he dismissed it as just harmless flirting
posted by languagehat at 6:18 AM on May 19, 2006 [1 favorite]

He's hedging his bets. We've all done it before.
posted by DieHipsterDie at 6:43 AM on May 19, 2006

I wouldn't judge him solely on the fact that he shows up as active in the past 24 hours. If you hadn't set up a dummy account, so would you.

He may be looking out of curiosity. He may have received messages and wanted to read them. It's also quite possible that he's still trying to meet people.

I'd suggest talking with him about becoming 'exclusive'. You might think it's implied, but that will hopefully flush out his intentions. I would not mention that you've seen him on Match.

Good luck!
posted by justkevin at 6:43 AM on May 19, 2006 [1 favorite]

(languagehat, it was the previous Mr. Wrong who dismissed the behavior as harmless flirting - she hasn't discussed it with Mr. Right Now.)

Terra, you are trying to talk yourself out of being upset with behavior that is clearly upsetting to you. I assure you that someone who gave a shit would either tell you up front he's still going to Match for whatever reason - because unless he's stupid he knows that information is available - maybe just schadenfreude-trolling, whatever, or he wouldn't go at all. In my own experience with online dating, and with other people I know who've done it, that's a pretty standard convention, because pretty much all the sites display "freshness" so you don't bother contacting somebody who hasn't logged in for three years.

You are over-invested, and it seems like that might be a reaction to his lack of investment. It's hard, when you start seeing and sleeping with someone you like, and he's not really giving back what you put in. You want to rearrange the world so he acts like you want him to act, but that doesn't work and you're compromising your own comfort or boundaries. And you cannot have a successful relationship when you are doing that to yourself.

So, you can talk to him, but I think the gong has gonged already.
posted by Lyn Never at 6:44 AM on May 19, 2006 [1 favorite]

This really could be anything. He could be actively trolling for booty. He might be taking a rubbernecker's joy at observing the human wreckage. He may have simply forgotten to delete or hide his profile, and received a message that he wanted to respond to by saying "thanks, but I'm in an LTR and forgot to delete my profile."

I was on an Internet dating site for a while, and the last actually did apply to me. I didn't use the site actively after getting into a LTR, and almost never received messages from women {sniff}, so it was easy to forget about. Eventually I did hide my profile, after I did receive a message from someone.
posted by adamrice at 6:46 AM on May 19, 2006

He doesn't sound like Mr. Right to me, and you should probably stop calling him that.

Have you made it known you want the relationship to be exclusive? Because in my opinion, I don't think that any man should still be using dating sites for "an ego boost" if he has a woman right in front of him. Red flags all around.
posted by agregoli at 6:47 AM on May 19, 2006 [2 favorites]

LH, I think it was the old Mr. Wrong who dismissed it as harmless flirthing. Unless I misunderstand something, she hasn't brought this up with the new fella yet.

I don't think this is anything to worry about. You're only 1 month in and you seem not to have had any sort of talk about where you stand wrt each other and the future (and if you haven't had the exclusivity conversation, he has no responsibility to assume you are exclusive and nor do you). If he seems like he likes you, he probably does. That doesn't mean you're going to get married or even that you'll still be dating in 3 weeks. But it could.
The only way to find out is to do it and to communicate while you're doing it. If you want/need/would like to be exclusive, spell it out and make sure he's on the same page. Implying and inferring are just great ways to make sure nobody understands what's going on. And not understanding what's going on is a very common reason to bail on an otherwise encouraging young relationship.
Remember: you're only a month in. It's supposed to be fun at this point, not work. And your final decision is not supposed to have been made yet. There's a reason very few people get married after dating for a month.
One other thing, consider that checking up on his Match profile does constitute spying on him. Do you want him to spy on you? Do you want to be the kind of person who spies on her mate? He's not the same guy as Mr. Wrong. Would you want to be punished/spied upon/doubted because of his last girlfriend's sins?

On preview: It seems a little early to write this guy off, LN; there's no evidence he's made any sort of commitment here.
posted by willpie at 6:49 AM on May 19, 2006 [1 favorite]

you're stepping into a classic deal breaker. "passion paradox" or something to that effect. Essentially, a slight inbalance in emotional investment is exacerbated when the more invested person feels slighted and in one manifestation or another, takes it out on the other person. The other person will then distance themseves more - widening the gap.

my suggestion? start using your account again. don't talk dirty with anyone else, and don't set up dates, but put your feelers out. Meet other people. It might help put your level of investment on par with his so your relationship can develope at a healthy pace and at the very least - soften the fall should Mr Right not live up to the name.

definately have the 'where are we?' talk and don't give him the impression that you're expecting a particular answer. If he thinks you're picking out china sets already, he will be outta there. Be prepared for answers you might not like.

and to repeat - a month isn't that long and you're moving too fast. Keep in mind that while you're looking to get hitched like yesterday, he may see that as quite a ways off.
posted by Tryptophan-5ht at 7:07 AM on May 19, 2006 [2 favorites]

You are over-invested, and it seems like that might be a reaction to his lack of investment. It's hard, when you start seeing and sleeping with someone you like, and he's not really giving back what you put in.

Sweetie, take my hard won advice: don't let him know how invested you are, and try to pull back a little in your own head.
This happened to me and there I was saying to myself "I will play no games, I will let him know exactly how much I like him, I will be completely upfront" and feeling all honest and free of guile. But I'm pretty sure I just freaked the guy out. It turns out there's a reason for all those stupid coy games girls play. I'm not telling you to follow the Rules or turn into Miss Ridiculously Hard To Get or anything, but early in a relationship, men can be a little skittish and you don't have to heap a load of pressure on him.
posted by CunningLinguist at 7:13 AM on May 19, 2006 [3 favorites]

maybe he bought a six month subscription and just dosn't want to waste his money?

Match.com just charged me another $70, after six months of me ignoring the service I paid for. I need to do a chargeback...
posted by delmoi at 7:22 AM on May 19, 2006

Adam Rice has it--it could be anything, from harmless to malevolent. I am ten years happily married, but occasionally browse the personal ads in the back of the alternative weeklies. I don't see it as having anything to do with me, but just harmless voyeurism, the exact same thing that makes people read advice columns (or this thread!) Or he could be keeping his options open. Or, or, or, or, or...

A month is way too early for either of you to have any claims on the other's behavior. But it may be time for the "where are we going" talk. Don't come off as jealous or insecure, but as serious. I wouldn't bring up the online dating site at all in this conversation.
posted by LarryC at 7:30 AM on May 19, 2006

Get over your trust issues first by not checking up on him at Match.com. The question is what are you doing on Match.com now that you seem to have a working relationship? Maybe he has the same questions when he looks at your profile and see that you are active within the last 24 hours.

A month isn't a long time for a relationship. I was still going on dates with another woman after starting to get definite feelings for my current GF. Sometimes it is a difficult choice between two women. If you are serious about him, don't give Mr. Right a reason to question the feelings he has for you.
posted by JJ86 at 7:30 AM on May 19, 2006

justkevin has a good point about exclusivity. If you've got an explicitly exclusive relationship, then he's probably out of bounds (rubbernecking as a possible exception). Otherwise, it's one month in and he's still maintaining an awareness of the rest of the world, which is a sound practice for someone in an early, developing, nascent relationship, which is what you have.

I think exclusive long-term relationships are a goal, not a starting point.

posted by NortonDC at 7:30 AM on May 19, 2006 [1 favorite]

To everyone who pointed out it was the previous Mr. Wrong who dismissed the behavior as harmless flirting: You're right, and I should learn to read. I still think it's unlikely he's just doing it for laughs, though.
posted by languagehat at 8:41 AM on May 19, 2006

I've been in a relationship for a year, I pop in to the personals every so often in the office if I'm bored. I wouldn't consider getting in touch with anyone, let alone seeing anyone. Your bloke's behaviour could be dodgy but it could be perfectly innocent and it's quite possible you're getting yourself worked up over nothing. We - and probably you - don't have enough information to know what the motivation is.
posted by biffa at 9:20 AM on May 19, 2006

Ditto the people who keep telling you that a month is NOT a long time (and especially in the online dating world when you're meeting complete strangers, regardless of what the online dating process is). Even though YOU may assume that your relationship getting physical equals your relationship becoming exclusive, HE may not assume the same thing. Different people have different ideas about what defines a relationship. Unless you've had "the talk" about being in an exclusive relationship, you should not assume that he owes you anything.
posted by echo0720 at 9:25 AM on May 19, 2006

I met my boyfriend on okcupid, and I've been with him for over a year. I still sometimes sign on, just to see what's going on. It may mean absolutely nothing.

More importantly, if you're worried that you want to be exclusive and he doesn't, maybe it's time to have that talk.
posted by rosethorn at 9:37 AM on May 19, 2006

I've been in a relationship for the past two years, and I think it took me several months to finally decide to change my relationship status on MySpace and Friendster. It not that I wasn't committed to the relationship; it's just that one month isn't that long. My feeling was that it would've been pretty sad and embarrasing to change my status and then not have the relationship work out in another month or so. I think most people are still in wait-and-see mode at one month.
posted by lunalaguna at 10:44 AM on May 19, 2006

Dating sites are, like other forms of entertainment, designed to be mildly addictive. From my own experience, I find myself occasionally logging in just to browse around, even though I am in a deeply committed and satisfying relationship. I don't think it's much different from looking at girls on the street. As the saying goes, you can still look at the menu even if you're on a diet.
posted by randomstriker at 11:24 AM on May 19, 2006

Seriously, the fact that he logged into the site is not an indication at all that he's looking for another woman. You are overreacting, as mentioned above, there are plenty of reasons people log into these sites. I hope you don't even mention it to him, because he's going to think you're psycho.
posted by knave at 1:33 PM on May 19, 2006

Maybe he reads the forums (asssuming they have them - I'm not a member, but I know some some dating sites do). Those forums can be strangely addictive...
posted by Sparx at 2:36 PM on May 19, 2006

As stated above, it seems that while you're ready to be exclusive, he may not be. If you haven't had the explicit discussion about going exclusive, you shouldn't really be ascribing negative or suspicious motives to his online activity... he's within his 'rights' (so to speak) to keep looking. However, if he's still going onto dating sites after you've mutually decided to date each other exclusively, that's an entirely different matter that would totally justify your Ask.
posted by SenshiNeko at 3:14 PM on May 19, 2006 [1 favorite]

Oh, one last thought.

Perhaps he's going on to remember little details about you.

Favorite whatever, or whatever you wrote.
posted by filmgeek at 10:05 PM on May 19, 2006 [2 favorites]

Good points all around, and just what I needed to compete with the scared little girl part of me. ALL of my friends are married and have been for years and there's no one who would "get" this whole situation AND be brave enough to tell me honestly what they think.

Perhaps I am a little more emotionally invested than him. But I am not psycho over this guy and I *don't* think it would be healthy to feel like I have to return to Match and check up on him. The fact that I did it at all a couple of days ago bothered me as much as the fact that his status showed "Active." Anyway, many of you guys brought up the point that it could be a matter of curiosity. I am trying to maintain enough awareness to negate stupidity on my part - without jumping to conclusions. It's tough.

I subscribe wholeheartedly to the "He's Just Not That Into You" premise. Everything Mr. Potential (see - I listen!) does tells me he's into me. Except going on Match, which confused me at best and freaked the hell out of me at worst. I seem to be the one setting limits (e.g., no, don't come over tonight) and wrapping up phone calls, which is good. Maybe I need to do more of that. You boys do love the chase, right?

I think I'll chill out for a couple more weeks and see how things go, then have a conversation about making sure we're on the same page. I will *never* tell him I went to Match to see if he was still active. When you've been where I've been and you're as damn old as I am it's really easy to get a little too excited about clicking so well with someone. Oh, and the "M word" thing - I said I went to Chemistry looking for the person I would *eventually* marry. Mr. Potential could be the one, but if he asked me tomorrow it would freak me out - definitely waaayyyy too soon.
posted by terra at 4:51 AM on May 20, 2006 [2 favorites]

hi terra, one more thing that no one mentioned - is there an 'askme' kind of column on Match? I never signed up to Match but I did have a sub to another dating site long ago. That site used to have columnists that would answer dating etiquette questions, and these columns were updated every few days. Perhaps he's checking the advice column and that makes him 'active' in the system. All the best with your new relationship !
posted by seawallrunner at 1:50 PM on May 20, 2006

I don't necessarily think the whole "wait and see where it goes," style of dating is the healthiest. Essentially, it gives men what they want--a sex partner (assuming you aren't chaste) without any commitment (what women generally want). In this way, "dating around" seems to favor men.

I am friends with a lot of guys, guys who are otherwise nice, who have communicated to me that they know early on how much they like a girl. I have even seen some of these very same guys date a girl while openly seeing other people under the guise of "seeing where it goes," knowing full well that they don't really see it going anywhere long-term or exclusive. If there is enough of a connection, IMO, it's not going to take him months and months to come to that conclusion because he would be too jealous of the thought of YOU playing the field and seeing what else is out there.

If you are okay with an unclear relationship, or if this is the arrangement that feels most comfortable to you, then by all means wait a while and see how it goes. But it doesn't sound like you feel all that comfortable, and I would probably feel the same way.

So long story short, I suggest you take stock of what YOU want in a relationship and what you are willing to accept. Sometimes I think women accept the whole "wait and see" thing because it's too painful to acknowledge that maybe the guy just isn't that into you. I'm not saying that this is necessarily the case with your guy, and yes, some people may need to move unusually slow, but I think most people know early on how much potential there is. If you ask for more commitment, and the guy is really into you, I don't think he'd risk losing you for the chance to date someone he hasn't met yet.

By the way, this style of dating is not the only way...in many European countries, the whole "casual dating" thing is uncommon, and if you go on a couple of dates you're considered a couple. I personally feel that this sort of arrangement is more conducive to developing a committed relationship because both parties aren't always looking out of the corner of their eyes for someone better to come around, but are instead focussing on the person right in front of them.
posted by mintchip at 7:29 PM on November 25, 2006 [4 favorites]

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