A couple months back, I received an email from a man online in response to my profile. He opened his message by saying that my profile had “no wiggle room” and that I’d be a “tough haggler.” He then asked me if I was “so set in my ways.” He ended his note by referring to my mention that I don’t exchange phone numbers or offline emails addresses until a first meetup is arranged. He said that he doesn’t meet anyone unless a number exchange occurs in case there is a change of plans or due to “perennial NYC flake syndrome.”
Okay. So what did we learn here?
First, there’s an implication in his opening sentence. A tone. The result – whether intentional or not – is probably going to take the recipient off guard and put them on the defensive. Did he mean to do that? I have no idea. The no nonsense tone continues throughout the message.
He ends by referring to the “perennial NYC flake syndrome.” What can we take from that? That’s he’s had a number of women flake on him.
I replied and thanked him for his message and ask him what he meant by there being “no wiggle room” in my profile. I explained that I try to be as concise as possible so as not to attract the young twentysomethings. His response? He never hears from twentysomethings so I must be doing something to attract them.
I decide to step back and not reply to his last email. Within 20 minutes I get a subsequent message saying that he “gets it” and that I like to be the one in control.
I never replied.
Conversations like this are rare for me. This is why I tend to keep most discussion for offline interactions. There’s too much room for misinterpretation. I considered for a moment pointing out how combative his notes sounded. I decided against it because I could tell, simply by how aggressive he was, it would probably get ugly. So I simply stopped responding. I didn’t block him because that, to me, seemed antagonistic. There was no need to further rattle his cage. I do employ the block feature. Just not in situations like this. I block people that email me with whom I didn’t wish to communicate. I do not block people that I’ve already talked to and where the conversations have been terse. That is likely to make things escalate. Should someone really want to have the last word, they’ll just create a fake profile to do it. Give them their win so they’ll go away.
I’ve found that some people just like to argue and think being antagonistic is a good way to ensure a response.
Take this recent email. A little back story first. I created a profile on OKCupid for a woman who was looking for short term dating and casual sex. I wanted to incorporate the response the profile received in to our upcoming podcast about sexual messages/how far do you go before yous ay no. The photo I used was a cropped shot of myself from the thighs down. I Google Imaged the photo before I posted it, just to be sure. It’s a photo I’ve posted on Facebook and on the old blog, so people have seen it. With in an hour of creating the profile, I received this message:
I’m curious, Moxie. Why Brooklyn and not Queens, SI, or the Bronx? Also, I’m obviously a reader of your blog, and I must say this profile doesn’t sound like you. It’s very negative. I personally steer clear of such profiles. If a woman has anything about what she’s not looking for it’s usually not a good sign. I think it’s better to just deal with the multitude of varied responses, otherwise you risk alienating some good people….probably the best kind of people. Of course, if you’re just looking for some douchebag for some down and dirty rough and tumble with no commitments, you may find it with such a profile. I guess that’s what you’re going for here, huh?
The sender was a 46 year old male in Manhattan. His profile was bare except for close to 200 answered questions. Many of which were about sex. I replied back and said that it was me and explained what I was doing. I asked him how he knew it was me. He replied with:
I recognized your legs for one. And there were other clues. The type of work you do, that you work for yourself, your screen name, but I guess it was mostly your legs. I thought it might be research for you, but I wasn’t sure. I’m just a reader of your blog. You wouldn’t know me, and I’d rather not end up in your blog, so I’d like to remain anonymous. I’m sorry. I know this kind of thing eats at me a little when it happens, but you understand where I’m coming from, right?
Now, I realize that I’m giving this guy exactly what he wants by writing about this. Any time someone emails a blogger, and a well known one at that, and plays the “Oh, I’m really private and don’t wish to be discussed on a blog” is lying. They absolutely want to be deconstructed on a blog. Remember what DMN said a couple weeks ago. Ignore the words and pay attention to the actions. The guy was intentionally antagonistic in the hopes of getting a response. When I didn’t go on the defensive, he immediately took a different tone. His goal was to engage. That’s it. He thought the best way to do that would be to call me out or imply that they’re somehow “watching” me, thinking it would make me feel vulnerable. Someone who is vulnerable becomes easier prey. It’s a perverse way to get attention.
Here’s another message I received about a month ago.
Howdy . . . as a fellow writer, I feel compelled to point out a typo in your answer, although 98% of the world won’t notice.
(Yeah, I’ve become one of those . . . peace!)
I found this question from your public answers. See mine here:
Full question text: “On average, do you think people of the world are too sexually repressed, not repressed enough, or just about right?”
I’m not sure who is out there teaching men that a good way to get a response from a woman is to try and bait her in to an argument or put her on the defensive. I will say that only someone truly insecure is going to get down in the mud with that person.Whenever I read a blog post from a woman who takes some sort of smug satisfaction from “putting the guy in his place” I face palm. No. You didn’t teach him a lesson. You gave him what he wanted – attention.
I see this sort of angle quite often in profiles. Attempts to emasculate men and make women insecure. To me, all this tells me is that that person is seeking attention more than anything else. They want to get under someone’s skin enough to get a reply. They want to bicker. To them, conflict is normal. It’s how they gauge someone’s interest and investment.
Just one more red flag to add to the list, folks.