Avoid The Online Dating Attention Seeker

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.

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13 Responses to “Avoid The Online Dating Attention Seeker”

  1. dimplz Says:

    I worked in a HS for “at-risk” students. The worse kids who would curse me out when they didn’t get what they wanted wound up being the ones who wanted the most attention. When they received it, in a positive manner, most of them straightened up. However, they never learned how to get positive attention because they were raised in an environment where only negative behaviors were happening so they behaved negatively and wound up in the school.
    I think what happens today is that people have so many distractions to keep them from having to interact in person that they’ve become socially reclusive and have to say something attention getting on the internet. They are used to commenting on sites, facebook, tweeting, that their day to day socializing is not face to face. Therefore, their only way to get attention is to behave troll-like. It carries over into dating sites, and you have people provoking another person to “stand out.” I don’t think there are more jerks, I think there are more people behaving jerky in order to provoke a response.

    • Brad Says:

      Dimplz, reading your experience with HS kids made me remember Act Two (Lewis Time) of This American Life

      Great point about people being socially reclusive. For a guy, going into a date having been on a computer all day is a formula for disaster. Personally, my solution is to call an anonymous blogger whose name rhymes with “Bloxie’ and get myself in a chatty mood on the way, it’s definitely made me a better dater.

    • Howard Says:

      Someone is teaching both men and women this nonsense or there must be something in the water. On early Sat eve, my buddy and I were having a cup of tea and talking about some future business ventures together. Two women enter the cafe, walk all the way over to the window table we are at and one says. “You guys are sitting at our usual table and if you’re gentlemen you would get up and give us the table”

      No need to regale you with the outcome of this, but I have been seeing this attempt of shaming thing more than often. The people pointing out spelling errors in online profiles, the need to neg on someone’s attire or behavior and the blanket indictment based on group association.

      What most people don’t get is that they are supposed to be humorous if they venture into this risque approach. If no attendant humour is there, you come off as rude, nasty or mean spirited.

  2. Rebecca Says:

    I totally agree with you, Moxie. And if I detect a tone, I’ve been dating long enough to not want to waste any more time, so I don’t even go as far as you did in replying. No thanks. I was on a first date this weekend with a great prospect for a hundred different reasons, and several times during the date he mentioned other OKC girls he had dated, for one date or several, and how “hot” one was, and he even joked about me writing a recommendation on OKC for him. It made me feel like shit for a millisecond, and then I realized that this is what this guy does. Makes women feel bad so he can feel better about himself. Or at the very least, he stirs the pot and sits back and watches. I gave him no satisfaction…was pleasant until the end of the date, and now won’t see him again.

    Like you said, I don’t know who is teaching guys this stuff…Maybe it’s that myth that we like bad boys?

    • Rebecca Says:

      Oh…and this:

      “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.”

      Yes, yes, yes!! Ladies, seriously, step away from the keyboard.

      • Andthatswhyyouresingle Says:

        I wish women – especially bloggers- would become more aware of the fact that everything they say in their emails or on a blog is being used as a personal reference. Like every douchey guy who pulls this isn’t pointing women in the direction of the blog or sending them that email or text. Women think they have the monopoly on this stuff. Hate to tell you…we don’t. Guys will literally drag women they date to a blog or let her read an email so she can see how “crazy” he made her. These women don’t understand that the guy is bragging.He’s trying to get the woman to go ballistic for his own amusement or so he can have proof of how impressive or “right” he is or how “crazy” she is. That Frisky article? Yeah. You can be sure that guy is pointing people towards her piece with great pride.

        I don’t know if anyone saw The Good Wife last night but there was an interesting scene between Matthew Perry and Julianna Marguiles. Perry shows up at her office and asks her to write some review of a panel on which she sat. Her boss walks in to her office and Perry immediately says that Marguiles invited him to her office and asked to write that report. Totally lies to the boss. Then he goes on TV to announce his Governor candidacy and reveals that Marguiles asked him to change the report so it would not implicate her husband. Again, a lie. So she goes to his office to confront him. Perry flat out denies that he’s lying, and Marguiles turns around to see one of his aides standing in the doorway. All of this is done so he can build a defense should she ever come out and publicly accuse him of anything.

        Men can be just as calculating as women.

        • Rebecca Says:

          Oddly enough, I just finished watching that episode five minutes ago. Ladies, also avoid pathological liars/sociopaths if you can. Ha ha.

        • Howard Says:

          Only in the movies my dear, and rather unfortunately, I must say. Men, we just were never conditioned to acquire the skill. Women make the best spies.

        • MrWombat Says:

          “Men can be just as calculating as women.”

          I neither agree nor disagree, but are you aware that “The Good Wife” is fiction? Fiction cannot be used as evidence for factual statements such as the above. Note that Rebecca also accepts the TV show as demonstrating something, where Howard, like me, points out that it’s television.

          ONe doesn’t wish to be overtly sexist, but jeez sometimes it’s difficult.

  3. Christina Says:

    I’ve actually seen guys being given this advice on one or two dating advice blogs. It’s seen as a way of standing out from the crowd of “nice” messages, and a way to get women to engage. Maybe some of these guys just normally are this confrontational. Maybe some have had success getting dates this way.

    But yeah, I’m with you. Those kinds of messages always made me think of the five-year-old throwing a tantrum for attention. Just not appealing at all.

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