Several months ago, I wrote a piece entitled “Online Dating for Vintage Girls” to open up a dialogue about online dating and provide a bit of a primer for the newbies in the scene.
Fast-forward several months later, and here I am again, feeling a need to revisit this topic.
First, let me preface this by saying that many of my dating experiences have been positive. I’ve met some wonderful men and enjoyed some interesting dates. I haven’t really had a ton of negative experiences with the people I’ve chosen to meet in person. However, I feel like some basic guidelines or ground rules need to be put out there for those who are engaging in this particular form of dating.
While the men I’ve met in person have been by-and-large pleasant companions, there have been many more that I’ve chosen not to meet because of our interactions online. So here are a few basic guidelines for those who participate in online dating.
1. It’s not 1951, so throw out your antiquated views of women and relationships.
Quid pro quo is not the way it works. As a matter of fact, we are perfectly capable of purchasing our own cup of coffee. We certainly don’t need to f*ck someone to obtain one. So if you ask us out, do so because you’d like to get to know more about us. Not because you think you’re owed something.
I’m sitting here, rolling my eyes pretty hard that this even has to be explained. For every single person who wants to assert that feminism isn’t needed and that women are equal, let’s just take a pause here and reflect that when we have a dating culture that treats women this way, we have a need for feminism.
There should never be the assumption that we should pay for a date with our bodies. And there should never be verbal abuse that results from refusing to participate in sexting or phone sex or an assignation of any kind. I’ve been called a b*tch and told I should stay single or had a number of hateful comments made simply for standing my ground and for requiring a basic level of respect and courtesy.
So let’s remember that the year is currently 2016 and dial back the massive chauvinism and the treating of women like objects. Capice?
2. If chivalry is dead, then maybe you killed it your own damn self!
Chivalry and feminism are not contradictory. We can be feminists and still expect a base level of courtesy. If I get to a door first, I will open it, regardless if a man or woman is the next to cross through. That’s courtesy.
Chivalry is still appreciated. It’s just good manners. So open the doors and pick up the check. Be a gentleman. There’s not a single excuse not to be one. It’s not 1951, but chivalry is one of those qualities that is timeless. Common courtesy never goes out of style, and we all appreciate it.
3. Compliments should be flattering and complimentary, not creepy.
Women love compliments. Let’s be honest: everyone loves compliments. We all enjoy hearing that we look attractive or have a great personality. So be generous with compliments, but try not to cross the line into creepy.
For example, if I say that I’m at the gym, there’s no need to ask for a hot, sexy, sweaty, cute gym pic. That is nearly a direct quote from one of my matches. First of all, I can send a hot and sweaty gym pic. Or a cute one (pre-workout). Or a sexy one if I felt like it. But I don’t think it’s possible to send one that meets all of those requirements. And I’m just not the kind of woman who takes pictures of myself at the gym. I’m actually there to work out, to get in good shape, to improve myself. For me, this request took complimentary right over into creepy. I didn’t find it flattering.
There are a number of other ways matches may cross the line into the creepy world. If a compliment is sexual in nature, assume it may be creepy. Keep the comments out of that arena with someone who is still a stranger. I mean, have we met yet? Why would you think we’re close like that?
4. Realize that this is online dating, not the circus, and we have lives, too.
So many people online seem to think our job is to entertain. It’s exhausting trying to single-handedly hold up not only our end of the conversation but yours, too. We have busy lives, and we can only be so interesting when we’re the only ones making the effort. So don’t expect to be dazzled if you’re not putting in any effort on your side.
So much of online dating seems to be about getting, and keeping, someone’s attention and that’s understandable since it’s unlikely we’re the only person they’re interacting with in the land of online dating. And that’s fine. We should just make sure our expectations our realistic.
I was once accused of spending my time talking to a bunch of other people and ignoring a message when in reality I just had work and children to take care of and hadn’t had a chance to respond yet. So it’s important that we all remember that we each have busy lives and to allow time and space for that.
5. Honesty is still, now and always, the best policy.
Be direct and up-front. I know, I know: this is totally revolutionary. But we should be direct, particularly about our intentions. If we just want to have lots of sex with strangers, say that. There are always people who are going to be cool with that. If we want a relationship, we should say that, too. Whatever it is we’re looking for could really just be put out there. It saves all of us time to know up-front who (and what) we’re dealing with.
There’s nothing wrong with saying what you want. There is something wrong with being deceptive. No one appreciates that.
I’m not saying we should over-disclose to strangers, but we should operate at a basic level of honesty. I have found that there are few too many strangers telling me what I want to hear and not nearly enough honesty.
Dating is complicated. It was complicated before we took it online.
Many of the problems in the dating world have always been a challenge. But I do think online dating has exacerbated a few issues. With a lack of personal contact, many feel free to say and do whatever they want without consideration for the other person. We’ve all been depersonalized because the Internet keeps us one step removed from each other. So it’s easier to harass or abuse a stranger when there doesn’t seem to be a direct consequence for doing so, and there’s no need to see the hurt or fear or anger in their eyes when it’s done.
With this in mind, it’s important to remember that the basic rules of common courtesy and interaction are still great guidelines for online dating. We can take old-fashioned chivalry and respect and combine it with an appreciation for gender equity. We can take quid pro quo out of dating altogether. We can try to genuinely connect with others and remember that they’re trying to get to know us, not impress us. And we can lead with honesty so that we’re not misleading others about our intentions.
It sounds simple because it is.
Chivalrous and honest men seem to be an endangered species, and I’m sure many would say the same for women. And if we feel that way, then we must make sure that we’re taking the initiative to be that kind of person in our own dating interactions. We need to stop being part of the problem and become part of the solution to our dating woes. We’ll never be able to control the actions of others, but we’ll at least know that we’re being honest, direct and kind in our own relationships.
So let’s not make this so complicated.
Equity, respect, chivalry, honesty—none of this is too much to ask for, and we’re all capable of doing our part to set the standard for our dating experiences.
Author: Crystal Jackson
Image: TheNamesAnna via Imgur
Editor: Catherine Monkman