Dear women of and OK Cupid: WTF is wrong with you?

Women – and men – in online dating communities are acting like goddamned sociopaths. This needs to stop.

Okay, not all of you. But some of you. Men, too – I’m guessing this isn’t just women. See if you recognize yourselves below.

On multiple occasions I’ve been talking to women I met through OK Cupid. Things going great, we really seem to be hitting it off, and then we agree to meet. The woman has even been the one asking me out, in fact. I say yes, then … poof. Gone without a trace. Never hear from her again.

This is odd behavior, especially when she just asked me out, right? Am I saying yes wrong? WTF?

I asked my Facebook friends for some insight and got a predictable range of supportive answers. I also got a couple that really stood out. Apparently this kind of behavior happens all the time. Check what friend #1, who knows a good bit about the online dating world, had to say.

It’s not probably even you. Really. Online dating brings out the worst in everybody, and bad behavior like this is rampant. She’s probably just terrified — it was one thing when she was flirting with you abstractly, but quite another when a real meeting was in the offing. This is why men’s profiles (at least — dunno about women’s) are always full of stern warnings about playing for realsies. Apparently, this happens to all y’all fairly routinely.

You have to be kidding, I replied. Then friend #2 waded in.

Don’t take it personally, Sammy. This happens to everyone on dating sites – happened to me, too. Many people go on just to browse and flirt (to work up the courage, pretend to be unmarried, feel good about themselves, role play, etc.), not to actually meet someone in person. It’s truly effed for people who are serious about dating, but I think it just comes with the territory and you have to blow it off. I had a rule that I wouldn’t have more than two email exchanges with someone interesting without setting up a coffee date – and NO phone calls before meeting. Men evaporated on me many times at that point, or wanted to draw out the email/phone exchanges, which is never a good idea. Try to take your emotions out of the mix and just move on.

Pretend to be unmarried?

[counting slowly to 10…]

Okay, I guess now that I think about it I’m not surprised. Of course people are behaving this way online. Duh. This is the Internet, which was invented because we had run out of ways to behave badly in real life.

I’m nonetheless appalled.

Listen, I get that you may like flirting. I get that role playing might be fun for you. I get that online exchanges can represent a safe environment in which you can perhaps boost your self-esteem. I certainly understand that you want to feel good about yourself – so do I. This all makes sense.

But, and this is key: both people have to be in on the goddamned game.

Fluffing your own ego while damaging the self-esteem of others isn’t okay. It’s pathological. It’s amoral. It’s patently sociopathic behavior. There are people online – especially people past their early 30s – who are emerging from bad marriages. It may have been years since they braved the harsh emotional minefield that is the dating world. They may be scarred, they may be utterly terrified of submitting themselves to the marketplace. What if no one wants them? What if they’re not good enough? Are they going to be alone forever?

Your insincere flirting might be doing wonders for your sense of well being. But if the other person is acting in good faith and isn’t in on the game, when you vanish you may have shoved them even deeper into their shells.

It’s easy enough to say that we have to be tough and not take it personally but you know what? People do take it personally. What could be more personal than being rejected as not even worthy of a meeting for a cup of coffee after you have invited them to have a cup of coffee? I guess we’re all quietly rejected lots of times each day as someone sees us in public and thinks nah, not my type. But there’s no confrontation there. You don’t even know it’s happening. Psychologically, someone not approaching you is a very different thing from getting shot down.

Ladies: If you see yourself being implicated in this scenario, you need to cut it out right now. If you have female friends who do it, you need to talk to them. Today.

Guys: If you’re someone I know and you’re doing this and I find out about it, I’m likely as not to take a swing at you, you clueless self-absorbed son of a bitch. Not only is this kind of behavior indefensible on its face, you’re making it harder for the rest of us. The perfect woman for me may be out there, and she may decide not to bother replying to my message because the last guy she talked to online asked her out then disappeared without a trace when she said yes.

Goddamn it people, this isn’t rocket science. Think about somebody besides yourself for a second.


  • Finally, somebody gets it!

  • i have never tied it probably because it costs money. if i had to guess you could be talking to a man, who is playing games for what ever reason. this might be way off base, but could the site have people answering to keep the money flowing. i do know that land you are playing in really makes people do and say things they never would in real life. it seems it gives them a feeling of power and invincibility, even if it is not true. they feel no one can find out who they are. company is nice, but sometimes the best company is your own.

    • Not all cost money, Art. OK Cupid is free, for instance.

      Some of the perps may well be guys, although if you get to the point where you’ve had a phone conversation that isn’t going to be the case.

  • One X factor here, Sam. As you set up dates, it’s kind of SOP to swap phone numbers in case somebody’s late or there is an act of God or something. If there are any of these cases where they disappeared AFTER they got your number, it was phishing. I have had that happen to me with someone on OKC. Don’t ask me how it works, usually they’re way more obvious, what with a gossamer cheesedick “blonde” profile, giggly monosyllabic flirty messages and trying to usher you immediately to texting, but I have also had an actual extended online conversation with someone anterior to a date, enough to make them seem real, then, zoom, gone once they get the digits. Not hard to deduce that where there’s a pattern, that’s basic data collection going into some gangster’s computer in a basement in Volgagrad.

    • Good lord. I hadn’t thought of that. In my case that isn’t likely to be it – I stay way the hell away from anything that looks vaguely scammish (and report anything that smells that way), but jebus, if that’s going on I guess let’s be even carefuler, huh?

      • Yeah, usually when they can actually hold a conversation without resorting to cut-and-paste blather, you start to figure it’s a human, but like I said, this one avoided the obvioso grifter conventions via actual responses to actual questions and seeming to have a personality. Who knows if there’s a layer of that business that’s more refined that is more just dedicated to building profile information on your digital data, like maybe instead of Volgagrad, it’s a boiler-room outfit in a disused stripmall in Orlando — which is where all those “Card Services” jackholes set up shop — but frankly this kind of thing makes as much sense as a total yoink.

  • This just about as messed up a thing to do to someone else as I can imagine. Damn.

  • I came up in the late seventies and thought the games people played in pick-up bars were awful. Little did I know those were the good old days…..

  • Fascinating. The internet is like a car. You’re invincible and invisible all at once. Yuck.

    It kinda proves my point though about the nature of these sites, though. They don’t benefit from you finding the woman of your dreams. Helping people find their ideal matches would put them out of business. Instead, they’re in the business of stringing you along.

    When you posted that thing a few weeks ago about that mathematician who went on over 90 dates before finding his match, I couldn’t help but think I probably haven’t been on 25 dates in my entire life. You have better odds just by putting yourself in social situations where you have things in common with other people.

  • Herr Smith: I have had the most success meeting new people while confined in an institution where people have much in common and plenty of time to develop a meaningful relationship. This also solves the problem of where to go on a date and no expenses are incurred creating a democratic, egalitarian society where the common concern, “when do i get out of here?’, brings a warmth and closeness difficult to obtain in this era of instantaneous gratification. An illusion is created by the false promises that these sites offer and may result in disappointment and frustration leading to a profound sense of inferiority. I feel that participating in these electronic charades is counter-productive to the practice of proper mental hygiene. Wishing you good fortune and a gluten-free America.

  • A couple of weeks ago, I had jury duty and was stuck on a trial. Over the course of the trial, I made friends with several other jurors. I found I really liked them even though, most of the time, I don’t like anyone. Another friend suggested that the effect might be a variant of Stockholm Syndrome. Maybe you should start a new dating site where people are grouped based on their compatibility and are somehow forced to be around each other for a week; a sort of dating vacation for groups of singles.

  • I tried to find Sam’s email but couldn’t so I’ll try posting this here. I wasn’t sure if this was comment worthy, but it’s a good article dealing with online dating:

  • “There are people online – especially people past their early 30s – who are emerging from bad marriages. It may have been years since they braved the harsh emotional minefield that is the dating world. They may be scarred, they may be utterly terrified of submitting themselves to the marketplace.”

    Yes, I was and it had been over 20 years since I went on a date. After on-line dating for a few years, I’m questioning whether I ever want to date again.

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