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Things had certainly changed when I became single at the age of 39.
I had met my former husband when I was 23, much before online dating was really a “thing.”
While I admittedly held a bit of a bias for online dating, I figured that if I was prepared to give it a go, and I am a decent human, well, just by the sheer numbers game alone, there had to be others like me. And to be clear, there are. Like most services, it’s user-based content and quality.
This article is not meant to unpack the social anomalies that might make the practice of sharing photos of one’s fella so common in online dating.
Meeting me in a Starbucks as I await my Flat White, I would be most shocked to have you say “Hey, great smile,” and then promptly drop your jeans. And to date, that has not happened. So why is it okay online?
I suspect it has a lot to do with the complete anonymity of such platforms. But that’s not what this article is about.
While my profile spoke of my love of world travel, yoga, my charity, rescuing animals, and overall joie de vivre, I did go back and check—nowhere did it read: “The only thing missing from my life is a picture of your wee man.” My photos were classy, professional, sporty, and tasteful.
So as I began to virtually “meet” my various suitors on apps or websites, I could sense a pattern emerging.
There were times when a man’s profile read as though his grandmother or a worldly scholar had written it. They spoke of fine wines and seeking a partner to travel the world and experience all that this great life has to offer. But somehow, my thumb typing a simple phrase to move from the annoying apps that don’t always send message notifications, to text or similar options would often be perceived as an invitation to drop all respectful pleasantries and simply go for it.
Gentlemen, I can assure you that “Hey, do you want to switch over to text or Whatsapp, I find this app to be glitchy” is not code for “Boy, I could really use a penile portrait right about now.”
In fact, it actually prompted me to compose a little verbiage that I have saved on my phone. I copy and paste it, usually as a pre-emptive playful warning.
“Hey, not that you were going to, because I know that a gentleman wouldn’t do this, but if you could kindly refrain from sending me anything other than PG photos, I would be most appreciative. Call me old fashioned, but I’d really like to meet you in person before I see your junk.”
Despite my precautionary warning shot, some inevitably slip by the goalie. That’s when you need to be prepared.
When a “gentleman” strikes, mid-conversation, with a reasonable facsimile of his manhood, I have compiled a few responses that you may consider.
First and foremost, if you feel the least bit threatened—delete, block, and report. I don’t want to downplay the potential seriousness of online predators.
But if you feel like this is just another online expression of douchery, and you’re feeling up for a cheeky little chess match of sorts, read on. I like to offer up reactions they would never anticipate.
Some of my favourite responses have been: (followed by delete, block, and report)
1. “Is it cold?” (They will go away faster than you could imagine.)
2. Compliment him on the lighting. Or something in the background, like a throw cushion. Or, “Wow, I love your décor.” Ignore the subject.
3. But my favourite response, and not for the faint of heart goes like this.
My phone automatically saves pics that I receive. I discovered that little gem while scrolling one day with someone looking over my shoulder. So, unintentionally, I have cached an art gallery’s worth of said portraits.
So when I receive these unsolicited renderings, I fire back with one from “my personal collection.” Usually with a caption like “I see yours, and I raise you…”
4. At this point, I’ve written this suitor off completely so it’s my turn to f*ck with him. So I often go a bit further. I thank him for his submission. I advise him that his photo will be considered for the coffee table book that I’m publishing of all the d*cks I “meet” online. “You won’t mind if I use your bio face pic as well, or did you want to send me one of you smiling?”
This is usually followed by shock, sometimes outrage, and then accusing me of being some sort of crazy or immature. Shrug. I’m sorry, who started it? Perhaps this is a lesson in how you no longer have control over your photos once you send them “out there.”
Of course, our safety is always a top priority, so I always let these play out quickly, then delete and report.
And while there will always be that subsection of our population that represents poorly for the others, I feel I must qualify this by saying that I have met some wonderful people online. And I really haven’t bothered with my coffee table book. Not yet anyway.
Until then, I keep that special album on my phone at the ready. You know, for that inevitable invitation that succeeds a d*ck pic, and the phrase, “your turn…”