I am just old enough that I have experienced the shift from picking up at bars to the anonymity of the online dating world. Having experienced organic and sometimes raw first meetings, either by chance or by booze I am aware of the lack of tact that certain people can have. As a result, I have witnessed men getting slapped for being rude, or having a drink thrown at them. I personally have kicked a guy in the nuts as hard as I could to stop him from harassing me on the dance floor. The simple fact is, if a guy was rude, there were consequences. Taking a guy back into an alley to knock sense into him, was a real thing. Cops were rarely called. It wasn’t always about violence. Instead, it was about dealing with people who crossed a line and setting a standard of acceptable behavior.
Again, I started dating at a time when there were consequences. Now, enter the world of anonymous online dating. For the most part, I find it feels consequence free and this is a growing problem. There is such a thing as a cyber bully and that has serious consequences. But what does one do when a guy is simply a jerk, rude or sends dick pics. Your options are to report and block them which can seem extreme and unsatisfying or just ignore it and hope they go away. It is a whole new way of interacting. You do not know this person or their motives or their body language as they type away and you shouldn’t have to.
Here is the most recent interaction that I had which necessitated a behaviour correction. I had a guy message me on a popular dating site where I clearly state I am with someone and looking for couples. He sent a pleasant enough message but when I looked at his profile said he was single. So, I nicely let him down, saying we weren’t looking for the same thing, and finishing with my standard good luck! The guy decided to pursue me further, by saying he was in a relationship too. When I inquired why he didn’t state that anywhere on his profile, he piped up that “it is privacy”. I replied by pointing out that this information wasn’t on his profile, and openness is important to me, so best of luck to him yet again. And then this guy gets mad. He writes a message back stating that “his DG thinks I am ugly and a bitch anyways”. I assume DG is dog, or perhaps GF? I have no clue, either way, this crossed a huge line. So, what does one do?
As I mentioned earlier, it is just not satisfying to just block or ignore behavior like this. It seems empty, unfulfilling even. But your choices are limited here. And so for a long time I wouldjust ignore and delete the messages, but after talking to E about it, I realized that this is not a solution. These messages are a form of harassment and if a stranger’s message makes me feel bad, I should act. Also, I realized that they were probably sending the same type of messages to other women. And that was enough incentive to make me take action.
Now, I report these messages. And I encourage others to do the same. I am still not 100 percent comfortable with what feels like tattling, but that is what this online environment has created. Those are the only safeguards currently in place for us. These are strangers so you cannot verbally or physically spank them when they are bad. But we can use the tools at our disposal to take action. If a person cannot handle rejection in such a risk free environment, then perhaps having their account shut down or suspended is reasonable. I know calling in the site moderators feels passive aggressive, but I am getting over that. It is better than ignoring it, or hoping it goes away.
Online dating is changing the way we interact. Social media is severing how we communicate with other humans. It makes us indifferent and unprepared to handle one on one interaction. We need to stop ignoring and move towards action, even if it feels a little strange at first. Stand up to rude, or crude internet behavior with whatever tools you have. Be a person of action, in a world of inaction. Recognize that this is a form of bullying and intimidation. It is unacceptable to treat another person with cruelty or rude words, even if you do not know them. Who knows, maybe if you get blocked enough times from online dating sites, you might have to go and meet new people in the real world with real consequences. And that could be just the kick in ass you need to change.