I don’t know why, but last week was a particularly bad week for my inbox. Every now and then I think, “hey, maybe if I use the site more and send more messages, I’ll actually find someone decent who also wants to date me.” I conveniently forget that when I’m more active, I also get more pointless messages and more obnoxious messages. But this exchange made me really disappointed in humanity.
SirBoringPants: Are you still not dead?
Me: Uh, what?
SirBoringPants: Apparenrly I messaged you a year ago and that was the last thing you said.
What, did you go through all the rounds and come up empty? Why would you message me again? Maybe he’s celebrating the most absurd anniversaries in the history of stupid celebrations?
Me:Yeah, that probably means we were having an unpleasant conversation
So, sometimes when I get really boring messages, I’ll respond. Not because I think it will go anywhere, but because I’ve been told I’m being far too selective because I want a message that has, you know, content in it. And I’m clearly not in a position to be picky. Okay, no one says that last part, because it’s not socially acceptable to do so, but i’s pretty heavily implied. Because despite any good qualities that I have, my being a 29 year old fat woman means I’m supposed to take what I can get. At least, that’s what society, and a guy who messaged me once, tell me. Not even kidding. After messaging me to tell me how beautiful I am and give me his number, when I said that I wasn’t interested in someone whose priority was my appearance, this jerkwad told me, “That’s ok because I’m prob the only one there will ever be that thinks that”. Which…ew. So sometimes I talk to the “hi”s. And you know what? They are, 99 times out of 100, exactly as boring as you would expect. So this guy must’ve asked me how I was doing, and I must’ve answered that I wasn’t currently dead.
SirBoringPants: Actually I just asked how you were doing. Maybe you were having a bad night?
Me: Oh, no, that just means that I spent a lot of time writing a profile and that was all you could come up with.
I don’t know how many times I can go over this. Unless you are looking for really shallow relationships, you need to actually make it clear that you read the other person’s profile when you message them. Otherwise, it just looks like you sent the same message to 500 other people in the span of 10 minutes. While I know that I’m not more unique than the next person, I do at least want the person I’m dating to see me that way. Is it really asking too much that the guy write a sentence that both acknowledge a common interest and asks about you? If you are genuinely interested, it’s not hard.
SirBoringPants:Oh well Goodluck with that attitude…
Not sure he’s in a position to assume that my attitude is the problematic one – he’s run through all of the women in one year and is circling back to the ones he didn’t get completely ignored by.
Me: Good luck not reading people’s profiles and wondering why people don’t respond!
SirBoringPants:I read your profile, that’s why I messaged you.
No, those two things don’t always have to follow one another. Guys will message women because they like the picture. Or click on the profile, look at the rest of the pictures, and then send a message. I’m sure some women do it, too. Messaging someone /= “I definitely read your profile”.
Me: Well, “how are you doing” gives no proof of that, so you look exactly like every other dude who can’t be bothered to read a profile.
Again, this just sounds like something you could shoot out to every attractive woman in a 25 mile radius with minimal effort. Also, you have not met me. Do you know how many rat’s asses you give about how I’m doing? Zero.
SirBoringPants: Maybe you could send out a questionnaire when you get the first message. Or talk to them? I dunno crazy right?
Some day, a guy will respond by saying, “you know, you’re right. I hadn’t really been thinking about how to make my messages more individualized to the woman I’m sending them to. Thanks for the tip!” (Actually, I’ve gotten thanks when I give feedback in the past, and I have to say, it raises my opinion of the guy quite a bit). But this was not that day. Naturally, I am the problem. It’s not the person sending the message doing it wrong. I’m doing it wrong by not taking the most mundane question and turning it into a riveting discussion about pet kangaroos. Not that I’ve ever told a guy on the internet that I had a pet kangaroo. Definitely never did that.
Me: See, if this person were meeting me in the real world, with no information, that would be one thing. But I have an entire profile’s worth of stuff to talk about. Your way requires me to do all the work, but you’re not giving me any reason to *want* to do that work. Why is it my job as the person *receiving* the message to be the interesting person?
Don’t get me wrong. I’m obviously fascinating. Oscar Wilde reads my blog and thinks, “Man, I need to get a life!” But sometimes that is too much pressure. It’s unfair that I have to always bear the burden of brilliance. If you’re the one trying to catch my attention, shouldn’t you…actually do something attention-catching? Shouldn’t you tantalize me with your words? If a model showed up on a runway in wrinkled jeans and a plain white t-shirt, the designer wouldn’t walk out and tell the audience that they should “make that into fashion! If you just asked questions and used your imagination, it would be amazing!” No, fashion designer. Do your job.
SirBoringPants: See, I figured you get the message check my profile and from there decide if I’m worth the time. That’s the way it’s been in the past.
…And here you still are on this website. Desperate enough to message the same women who weren’t interested a year ago. Maybe I should decide that he’s worth exactly as much time as he put into “how are you doin”.
Me: Again, putting the work…back on me. When your part of the work was a generic message you didn’t even bother to think about. Seems fair.
So I’ve been in relationships that were like this. I don’t mind doing work. I actually like a lot of it. But I don’t want to be the only person doing said work – it should be a joint effort. And I’ve been on that date. Multiple times. I drive home drained and then stare at the ceiling all night because I can’t sleep when I’m wondering how I could have made the date more interesting. Because I tend to assume that I was the one dropping the ball.
SirBoringPants: I think that’s equal work I read your profile and you piqued my interest. You read my profile and then you decide? Is it really that hard? You come off as the lazy in that respect.
Okay, so how about this scenario. I respond to “how are you doin” with “fine”. Then what? I did the bland thing, like you did. There is no direction to go in. The only way to fix this is to ask a question that actually starts a conversation. Which, again, means I am doing the legwork of being interesting, or at least interested. Which, in this case, I really am not.
Me: No, YOU come off as lazy. You couldn’t even bother to tell me what you found interesting in my profile. Since usually it’s some version of “I like how you look”, I need more to go on in that. Why is it that when *you* read *my* profile, you don’t have to do anything besides “hey” or something as boring, but *I* have to turn it into a conversation?
Seriously, it is my fault no matter what? I don’t want to date the guy!
SirBoringPants: We’re just going in circles here.
Nah, I think you just realized that I have a point, and don’t want to admit it. It’ll feel good, I promise.
Me: Trust me, I’ve had the conversation with the person who can’t be bothered to ask about anything interesting. It’s boring.
SirBoringPants: Yeah but you kind of came off as boorish though, maybe just don’t respond.
There it is again. How I’m doing ALL THE THINGS wrong.
Me:You know what happens sometimes when women don’t respond?
A lesser version of When Women Refuse. Google it if you’re not familiar.
SirBoringPants:What’s that. For the record I saw that coming haha
Not sure why this is funny to him?
Me: You get called a bitch, or racist, or get threatened with violence.
True story: about two days before this conversation, a guy messaged me three times before I had to explain that no response generally = not interested. He then told me, “Fack you, racist”. I didn’t know that in order to prove myself not racist, I have to be willing to date literally any guy who approaches me, despite having nothing in common, and finding the him to be awful.
SirBoringPants: So these hypothetical people who react like that to being ignored will respond well to you being rude?
Here’s when I get stabby. First, they are hypothetical people? No. These are actual men who have messaged me. Who have messaged my friends. Who have messaged millions of other women. They have the freedom to be cruel, disgusting, obscene, creepy, predatory, and abusive, but yeah, I’m the bad guy because I’m “rude.” Screw. That.
Me: Seriously? That’s your response? Not, “oh, it really sucks that you and other women have to deal with that”. No, but when I’m a little sassy, it’s rude.
SirBoringPants:I’m saying those people exist, so just avoid them entirely instead of messaging them at all. I think it is horrible that women get treated like that but it’s sad to say not surprising.
Ah, the backpedal. No, you referred to them as “hypothetical”. That very much implies that you do not think they exist. And that I am making them up, or preparing for a threat that doesn’t come about. But you can brush it off with a “it’s not surprising”. It must be nice to not have to worry about it happening to you. Sure, on the internet, most of the time you won’t get someone who will stalk you in the real world, or get a chance to physically harm you. At some point, though, being harassed by strange men on the internet because you aren’t giving them what you want eats away at your self esteem, your energy, your sanity, and, frankly, your empathy. Dating gives me enough anxiety as it is. I don’t want to have to worry about my mental safety, too.
Me: Dude, did you miss the part where when I ignore them, they message me anyway and say nasty things? This has happened to me several times. I’ve ignored messages. I’ve rejected politely. I get nasty responses 95% of the time, no matter how I respond. It seems only fair that I can respond however I see fit.
This is kind of the crux of it for me. Sure, I could not respond. I could take the abuse, block the guys, and move on. I did some version of that for so many years of my life, while being bullied by nasty middle school girls, when being told by a boy on my bus that my legs were too hairy, when people assume that I can’t do something because I’m female/fat/was an English major/work in human services/insert other things about me that our culture has negative opinions about. And honestly? I’m tired of doing that. I’m tired of being the bigger person. Sometimes I want to just be angry at people who deserve it without being called a bitch or something worse. I want people to get back the same shit sandwich that they give. I don’t call people names or threaten them with violence, I just shower them with snark and a big helping of The Way Things Are. And as frustrating as it is to go through the same thing over and over, it feels good. I’m finally standing up to one of the bullies, and on my own terms. It can be incredibly freeing to decide that, you know what? This one guy probably thinks I’m a big meanie bitchface jerkasaurus. But it turns out, I don’t actually care what this one guy thinks. I can stop feeling bad for telling someone off because they’re being an asshat. Well, I can try, at least.