Has Being Single Gotten Lonelier?

December 1st, 2017

NEW!, Online Dating, Red Flags, Rejection, Tinder



Name: betty
Question: After reading your column The #1 Way To Look Like a Creep On Tinder & OKCupid, I was reminded of a date I went on where there was mutual disinterest. Days later I received a very long text about why he was disinterested, how he wasn’t attracted to me, yada yada yada. My response: “ditto.” This just seemed really presumptuous as I had been radio silent since our date and would’ve preferred it to stay that way.  In another case, after I basically ghosted a guy who said he wouldn’t be available to date for a month, I receive another very long text weeks later about how he can’t date right now, has all these emotional issues, etc. Again, totally unprompted. These incidents made me wonder if there are people in the online dating market who like rejecting people. Instead of just going with the flow, they really really need you to know they can’t date you. I wonder if you’ve come across these people, or if your clients have, and what motivates them. Would be curious to hear others’ stories. Thanks!
Age: 37


Days later I received a very long text about why he was disinterested, how he wasn’t attracted to me, yada yada yada. My response: “ditto.” This just seemed really presumptuous as I had been radio silent since our date and would’ve preferred it to stay that way.

You just answered your own question. His ego couldn’t deal with the fact that you had rejected him, so he emailed you his lengthy “explanation” to lessen the sting. Now he can delude himself into believing he rejected you and not the other way around.

These incidents made me wonder if there are people in the online dating market who like rejecting people.

I think what you’re experiencing has little to do with a desire to reject people. I tend to believe people who launch into verbose explanations like the ones you detail in your letter are just…damaged. Either they’re full of contempt because they’ve experienced persistent rejection or they’re still smarting from a split and looking for a shoulder to cry on.

Dating – both the act of it and the niche itself – has become extraordinarily toxic and repetitive. I can’t scroll through my Twitter stream without reading the same ten listicles, articles, and blog posts. People are bored and angry. The process has become exponentially more difficult. As a result, singles are exhausted. And pissed. And broken. I can’t use any app or site for more than a couple days without needing to step away for a few days to regroup from the constant rejection, fading, and unmatching. It’s just too much.

I think online dating has warped people’s ideas about dating, sex, and attraction. I mean, now “dating” includes sceanrios where you’ve emailed/texted but never met the person. We’re getting very comfortable with these kinds of detached connections. I don’t doubt that there are people out there pouring their hearts out to strangers. I think we, as a society, are starved for for connection despite living in an age that is defined by how effortlessly we can connect.

So, while I do think there are people who get off rejecting people, I think the root cause of the majority of these unsolicited explanations is a garden variety loneliness. There’s a lot of pain out there, I think. People’s self-esteem are taking one hell of a beating.  That guy who reached out to you to explain he wasn’t in the right place to date anyone? My guess is he was just looking for someone to talk to. I don’t think he had sinister or malicious intentions. I honestly believe he was feeling lonely and wanted to connect with someone.


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9 Responses to “Has Being Single Gotten Lonelier?”

  1. fuzzilla Says:

    Probably the nastiest online dating experience I had (in the one-and-done date category) was that I messaged this guy a couple times after the first date. He didn’t respond and finally I was direct. “Hey, where’d you go?” He was like, “I didn’t see an ‘us’ and I didn’t like the thoughts running through my head during our date.”

    I’ve had plenty of one-and-done dates. It happens; doesn’t make anybody a bad guy. I don’t expect a follow-up, nor do I follow up with them. I did in this case since we made out on the date and he was all over me, plus he sent me a, “Hey, whatcha doin’?” text a day or two later. I thought he seemed too flaky to be a boyfriend but thought he might be a decent FWB candidate. But apparently since I didn’t screw him immediately, he did a complete 180 and then acted like I was crazily pursuing him or something. I just said, “Um, okay. Little confused by the texting, then” and left it at that. Asshole.

    The LW’s response (“ditto”) was absolutely perfect. Yup, it sucks out there. Take breaks and try not to get too discouraged.

    • Parenting Says:

      Been there and the disappointing part is that he was the brother of my childhood best friend and knew me well as a kid not some stranger. We went on one date after reconnecting. He drove everything about the date: invited me to lunch, planned a hike, and mid-date invited me to stay for dinner. At some point during the long drive back, we both separately decided we werent a good match. Instead of driving me to my car and bidding me farewell, he freaked. Started texting constantly while driving without explaining why. When we arrived at his home, surprise(!), his buddy just happens to be waiting for him…in his FRONT YARD as if he needed “saving” from a rapist. He made some random excuse about suddenly having to do something with his friend and scurried away seemingly relieved. Nothing like being treated like a psycho stalker when you want nothing of the sort.

      • fuzzilla Says:

        Sheesh, what a drama queen he was.

        I’m guessing I should’ve “gotten the hint” is why I got down votes. I proceeded in good faith as if he was interested since he acted like he was. I guess he acted like he was interested in sex more than me as a person. But he didn’t act like he thought I was repulsive, and as I said, a FWB situation didn’t sound too bad to me at the time. I’ll only do that on my terms, though. Bullet dodged.

  2. Nia Says:

    I too feel a shift in culture around dating, friendships, and LTR. I’m almost 40 and I used to be able to casually meet people constantly: at work (I worked in retail and I would often date or go out with fellow mall-workers), out at clubs and bars, through friends, at parties, at events, and at school. In my mid-30s I lived in Asia and I was still meeting guys, but what was once a flood was now a trickle.

    People were married, and I was more particular. I was also looking for a LTR not a fling, but either guys were WAY TOO INTO IT or not interested.
    When I got back to the states, online dating apps were just taking off and the whole online dating scene had really changed.

    I feel like the culture around dating has gotten very callous and impersonal, as have a lot of online interactions. Remember all those articles about having to “like” every single post by friends on FB and all the intricate etiquette around social media that we saw a few years ago? Now those places are mostly toxic argument pits and full of trolls, flame wars, and racist, sexist or extreme conspiracy theory garbage.

    I believe that feminism has failed men in that it has not clearly spelled out the new expectations for men *in a positive way*. It has (justifiably) been occupied with stopping sexism, racism, assault, harassment, and rape, as well as dismantling the patriarchy. But in its place, what do we want and expect from men? Who are the role models for the new men? And I don’t mean drooling over a man as if he’s an object or saying that objectifying them is feminist, coz it ain’t.

    Men used to have a clearly defined role of provider and protector. Now that’s off the table and honestly offensive and unwanted to many women, but what’s the new expectation? Many women don’t even know themselves! It’s like “don’t be a pig, loser, and groper. But I’m not sure what else to tell you.”

    I do feel that it’s not women’s job to educate men and raise them up as adults and get them “woke”. But if women are dissatisfied with the dating scene (for good reason!) we need to clarify what we DO want, and not in vague terms. Not “treat me good!” Be more concrete!

    okay, end of rant :)

    • Speed Says:

      I’m afraid I can’t agree here. Feminists have often laid very detailed, shifting and expanding “codes of conduct” for men. You can find them everywhere from college textbooks and rulebooks to blogs to NY Times articles. I have also seen very long codes posted on women’s dating profiles. Whenever I’m in a big “blue” American city, I’d say up to 20% of women’s profiles have such codes posted, oftentimes scathingly so.

      So, the codes are there. The issue is that, generally, men (including me) don’t want to follow them.. Men are not your adversaries. We are your fathers, brothers, partners, and longtime male friends. But many people, men and women, see feminism as completely rejecting this, and simply being a radical wing of the progressive movement. This is why, according to even the HuffPo, only about 18% of Americans identify as feminist.

      I also don’t see that the role of men as “provider and protector” is gone, dead or offensive. Tens of millions of American stay-at-home moms have embraced men in exactly this way. There must even be some number of ardent feminists who have opted to become stay-at-home moms. Some have even left lucrative careers to do so.
      Traditional gender, marriage or family roles may not be for everyone, but for tens of millions of Americans they are. Outside the West, these roles are overwhelmingly dominant.

      Anyway, “women”are a huge, extremely diverse group, with different needs, expectations, and goals. Therefore, it is implausible that they could ever form a monolithic bloc to somehow issue a progressive slate (or any other slate) of rules, guidelines and expectations to “men” (another highly diverse bloc).

      I see plenty of dating profiles where the woman writes she is looking for “woke” men. I say, keep looking.

  3. ATWYSingle Says:

    I feel like the culture around dating has gotten very callous and impersonal, as have a lot of online interactions.

    I strongly agree with this and think social media is to blame. We have become a society full of avoidants. I say this a textbook and diagnosed by a therapist dismissive avoidant. The more difficult online dating became, the more fearful we became. I’m struggling now with putting myself out there or continuing to stay in the safe space I’ve created for myself. It’s safer to crush on someone at the gym who shows a modicum of interest than to actually put myself out there and risk rejection. I find myself getting spooked very easily now, and that unsettles me. If a guy seems too available I pull back. I’m trying to find a happy medium, where the guy makes his interest clear and we get to know each other slowly so I won’t get scared off.

  4. Bluegrass Says:

    Yeah, people sometimes talk a lot of surprisingly personal stuff right after meeting once. I think maybe he wanted to talk to you about what he wanted, cos maybe he didn’t think anyone else would care. A little strange oblivious, but I don’t think it was done out of malice. It’s another thing if the person is really obnoxious or forceful about it.

  5. Eliza Says:

    It’s funny how all this technology is supposedly created to enable us to “connect” with one another, yet I believe it has accomplished just the opposite. I go out with friends and see couples dining out – and they don’t even look at each other, they eat and look at their cellphones the entire time. Most people prefer to text over talking. People want to share their every move and thought on social media. As for dating, it’s beyond impersonal. I will confess I have to push myself so much more to go to a networking event…but as for going online…I don’t put any emphasis on those sites.

  6. Rob Says:

    Guy #1 wants to feel validated, not ignored.

    Guy #2 wants to feel heard. He wants his negative self worth either questioned or validated.

    Both are about control. We ghost because we want to be in control of our own feelings, rather than putting ourselves at risk of an argument and feeling bad. Ironically, we respond to a ghost because we want to feel better than the other person.

    Most of my ghosts are people I feel should have known they wouldn’t hit it off with me. I take half the blame for putting myself in a position where they ghosted.

    1) The divorce attorney looking for instant chemistry who psychoanalyzed me on the phone before even meeting
    2) The foreign service woman who was surprised I wouldn’t take her seriously when she said she’s going overseas in fourteen months
    3) The woman who travels here for work every two weeks who goes out on three first dates a week looking for someone specifically for frequent travels with and nothing more

    I was annoyed when they ghosted, but not surprised. I was more annoyed that they wasted my time. And honestly, I was annoyed that I wasted my time.

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