Dating Apps—And the Men On Them—Are Making Her Miserable. But Is Loneliness Worse?

Comments

1

You poor darling, hugs to you. That sounds brutal. Do you write these douche bags and tell them off for being so rude. At least you could get some of your feelings cleared.

2

With a few changes this letter could have been written by me. I also have recently made the decision to get off the dating/hookup apps; they weren't going anywhere and casual sex with guys who just want to get off gets old fast and you start to get bitter and cynical every time you get ghosted by someone you like, or when you invest all this time and energy in talking to someone who seems wonderful and then when you meet them in person for the first time it is obvious they are not into you after all.

My mom once told me that I didn't need to find a man to be happy (ironic for her to say that as she and my dad have been happily married for 40 + years), and that building a life that I enjoyed on my own terms could be just as rewarding and if someone wonderful came along that I could share it with, well that would just be a bonus.

2

Here to affirm that this ghosting pattern is definitely a thing! Being about to meet makes people stop and re-think. The considerate ones say, "I've realized we're not a match. Good luck to you!" The inconsiderate ones just ghost.

DON'T INVEST. Treat it as a numbers game. Make it a goal to have 100 contacts that don't work out. Literally keep a tally sheet.

3

Perfect answer Dan, and true. I love my single life, LW. Nobody telling me what to do. My housemates:various roaming children
and I ask each other and nobody is boss. BlissVille. I never feel lonely. I have a million books left to read and paintings to paint and people to joke with.
That’s me. And I’m a few yrs on from you.
Yes, stop what is making you miserable. Dur.
Get to the gym and put effort into eating properly. Dan said it all. Happiness comes from within.

4

Firstly - ghosting amidst a mutual trip to a foreign country is complete cut-off, no questions asked. You are fully authorized to never speak to that person again unless compelled to by law. EVER. That's so far beyond-the-pale unacceptable that if violence occurred, it'd still be "wrong" but totally understandable. On the off chance it's true and there were no other alternatives... I'd require very high levels of proof that someone exhausted every option to get in touch before considering forgiving them.

Secondly, if 30% of your matches lead to conversations, you're doing great. FWIW, my experience as a guy in the bay area is that you'll only ever meet 10% of the people who agree to meet, at best. I'm personally to the point where a late cancellation/reschedule is also a first and last strike - if you're having to reschedule an agreed-to date because of work stuff, you probably should pick days in which you can guarantee your availability. I've eaten maybe $250-$500 in event/movie tickets on flakes, so I just throw the baby out with the bathwater now - someone's available on my schedule or they aren't (not to mention, if someone's so busy with work/other stuff, those aren't going to disappear once you're in a relationship)

Thirdly, it helps to be strictly real with your expectations: You've never met, you've never spoken, you don't owe this person anything beyond basic respect for their time and energy - show up, be a full participant, if it works out - great, if it doesn't work out, no foul.

5

The best advice on dating, apps and all, and which I've seen play out positively in my life and my friends' lives over decades (and which also include Dan's advice) is included is in the books All.the Rules and Not Your Mother's Rules.

Buy them, live by them, if you want a good long term relationship.

6

"Some time later we semi-rekindled the relationship (or so I thought) and agreed to spend NYE together in Cuba as friends."
This stuck out to me. If you thought you had semi-rekindled the relationship, why did you agree to meet together in another country for the new year's eve holiday as FRIENDS? That sounds like you were lying to yourself, lying to him, and/or doing that thing where people pretend like their expectations/hopes/dreams are one thing and then get really sad and angry and disappointed when that thing happens because really their expectations/hopes/dreams were a different thing altogether.
A vacation no-show is jaw-droppingly rude and you should never talk to him again, even if he shows up again after his alleged divorce goes through.
In general, my advice is to stop investing so much so soon and in unavailable people. Don't consider them available until you meet in person. Don't consider yourself available if you can't meet in person until the following week. Cut that app-to-meetup time in half, at least. Use the apps that have more of a relationship reputation than hookup, whatever those are in London.
And stop eating your feelings, all that does is create new feelings and a lot of work to get back to the body you had before if you don't like the new body.

7

Great answer Dan. To the LW and others: The only way to happiness in a relationship is through your own happiness with yourself. Changing the behaviors and thoughts that make you unhappy will fundamentally change your personality and your life, and that may very well lead you to being in the right place at the right time (online or elsewhere) where you meet a person that it makes sense to be in a serious relationship with - someplace you never, ever would have been if you hadn't started by working on your own happiness.

8

She needs to read the book Attached about attachment theory. It helped me tremendously in a similar predicament.

9

Dan's right--I lost my husband 3 months ago. Being with someone is not a replacement for building a life for yourself--you never know how a relationship will play out.

10

Forget this crap and make a happy single life for yourself.

11

Oh, JunieGirl — I'm so sorry for your loss. My heart goes out to you.

12

I’ve heard it put this way: the best way to live is happily partnered. There will be ups and downs, but you don’t have to face them alone.

Next best is to be happily single - living your life, doing interesting things, enjoying cool experiences that you might not be able to if you had kids or a partner in the equation (spontaneous road trips to Vegas, blowing half a paycheck on bubble bath and candles, whatever).

Then there’s being unhappily single - sitting on your hope chest, waiting for Mr. or Ms. Perfect to come along, making yourself feel miserable when they inevitably don’t. It’s a lonely and depressing existence, for sure, and even the people who are happiest to be single can sometimes have that one Sunday afternoon where they just wish they had someone to cuddle with on the couch. But there’s always the hope that you can get to the happily single or married stages; you’re not stuck here forever unless you choose to be.

The absolute worst, though, is to be unhappily partnered, especially when there are kids or finances involved. You’re trapped in a complex web, and getting out often requires major sacrifices - losing custody of your children, living in a car or domestic violence shelter, dodging a violent soon-to-be-ex, or just a long, dreary legal battle that sucks up all of your time, money, and energy.

So, long story short, being single forever, even if you absolutely HATE it, is still better than tying yourself to the wrong person, which it sounds like you already know. For now, maybe focus on moving up to “happily single,” and don’t go into any future dates looking for The One; go into them looking for a new experience, and then if one of them goes farther, hooray! Maybe you two have a shot at being happy together. But if they don’t, you still met a new person and had your new experience, and that’s not a bad thing.

13

Another person can't make you happy. They can share your happiness and you can share theirs, but unless you have something to offer them other than quick sex, then figuring out how to be happy on your own might be the best productive use of your time.

14

JunieGirl. Hugs to you. Be kind and gentle on yourself.

15

We just live in a particularly flaky time in history. I've had this experience three times in the past two weeks, not with dating, but with people from whom I'd arranged to buy secondhand furniture on Gumtree. Even when I was literally offering to turn up at their front door and give them money, I was being ghosted and stood up. The thing is, I'm pretty flaky too, so I can't really judge. It just seems like very few plans make it to actuality these days.

16

One thing that people seem to overlook in telling someone to just be happily single is that some of us won't be. Of course, if that's you, the best you can do is be as happy as you can be under the circumstances, and lead the life you want to. (So the advice still isn't bad, by any means.)

Personally I have always wanted someone to share my life with, and sometimes struggled to be ok just by myself. Especially during phases when I couldn't get seem to even the time of day on dating apps—forget about finding someone to be with, it's demoralizing when you can't even seem to get the process started, like the LW, and can be hard not to take as a referendum on your characteristics, or how likely you are to ever find someone to be with.

It can take time to find somebody, and I agree there's no sense in going about it in a way that makes you miserable. Got to get off that treadmill sometimes and focus on other things. (I've found it hard in particular because I'm bad at short term involvements, so tend to have been single and celibate for years at a time between relationships—it seemed like forever until I read a letter from someone who'd been in that boat for 15 years. Dan's column is great for getting some perspective.).

I've actually always had better luck meeting people through shared interests, as it turns out (and it's turned out well, getting married this month to someone wonderful!). But that has resulted in 2 relationships in 10 years, definitely not frequent dates like people can get on apps.

Hang in there, SLAP! Dan's advice and most of the comments here are on point.

17

...He was totally unstable (in the middle of a divorce) but I fell for him hard. We had a six-month, drama-filled relationship, until he ditched me when he decided to go traveling. At the same time he confirmed my suspicions that he had never been faithful to me and made a point of telling me about a sexual encounter he had had before he had even set off for his travels. SOME TIME LATER WE SEMI-REKINDLED THE RELATIONSHIP...

(What!?)

LW, you are making BAD desperate choices, it’s no wonder that they aren’t working out ‘cause people can smell that desperation and no one (rightly) wants to deal with it. Stop chasing “the relationship” and focus on getting yourself in shape physically and mentally, find a passion, a passtime, a hobby. In my life many times I met a romantic partner when I WASN’T trying to. Relax and enjoy life. It will make you a more attractive possible partner, but in the meantime you don’t need someone else to validate your existence.

18

Yeah, @6 + @17. You are doing some self-defeating things here that you can change! Show your therapist those two comments and take what you can use to work on.

19

I think there are 3 different issues here:
1. The ex-boyfriend you were supposed to meet in Cuba is an asshole. That type of ghosting is different than the chat/schedule a meeting/ghosted. If a guy treats you poorly, don't go back with him. He's going to do it again because you let him and he's an asshole.

There are the dudes who are ghosting when you haven't even met. I have no clue what this is about in general. There are a number of business blogs that say prospective employees do this as well: show up for multiple interviews, do well, and then never return calls when they are offered a job. I have no clue if this is a generational thing or just some general learned pattern of behavior. I'm a guy with plenty of faults, but I would never ghost someone. I'd say I wasn't interested if I wasn't interested. Now, if someone reschedules me three or four times, I would say this isn't for me even if just a hook up and move on.
To reiterate Dan's point: it seems like the apps aren't for you. Make time to do things you like to do that are social. Join some meetup groups. See if that works. And as Dan said, only join things you like. If you don't meet guys then at least you're having fun.

I have no proof of this because I don't know guys who fit this bill but I think that men understand that they can wait to partner off because they can still make babies later in life. So they just want to fuck around while they can. The sense that dating apps are really hook up apps helps them live that life.

20

I agree with Dan’s answer but I would also add that a good reason to spend more time investing in yourself and building a life for yourself even if you are sure you would rather be partnered is because if/when you meet that person you will be in better place emotionally, more interesting, and have more to offer. Obviously first and foremost do it for yourself, but from what I’ve seen amongst the people I know in search of relationships is that those who spend the most time on courtship pursuits end up having the least luck because over time they have become boring. Their free time that used to be spent on their interests is increasingly given over to looking for dates. So what do they have to talk about with their dates about? At a certain age it’s dull to talk to people about their hypothetical interests, rather than what interests people are actually invested in, and if you spend all your time looking for dates hypothetical is what your interests become. The amount of life experience stagnates, you become an increasingly less interesting prospect and what you might have to offer is less clear.

21

SLAP, dating isn't easy, and while online dating makes finding potential partners easier, it introduces all sorts of new challenges. If I were you, I would focus on a few great positives. First, you are living in London, one of the world's great cities, and not a small rural town far from the nearest city. Online dating is a something of a numbers game, and playing in huge metropolitan area is a big boost to your dating life.

Second, you are not going to meet "The One" without meeting a number of "Mr. Not Close Enough." The fact is you have been meeting a lot of men throughout your 30s, and while you classify some of these relationships as merely FWBs, you were attracting men with whom you shared mutual sexual chemistry and some personal affection. It is not clear whether all of these guys were poly, and if so, you needed to be more firm in avoiding dating poly men, but three month relationships, while brief, suggests that you were actually having some success in meeting men interested in getting to know you. There are lots of people on dating sites having less success meeting people and none of the sex you are getting.

Third, as an attractive woman for whom 30 percent of her matches result in conversations, you are generating a lot of opportunities to date. So if you are routinely not converting these contacts into dates, something is off in your interactions. To start, you are now very unhappy with online dating, but if you have been conveying (even subtly) in your messages a negative attitude about the process, that will be evident and would turn men off. Staying positive is really important. Another thing that jumps out is your unavailability to meet, and how you present that to potential dates. Definitely cut down on the amount of time between your initial exchange of messages and actually meeting. In addition to timing, think about what else comes up when making plans. London is a big city, are you amenable to meeting at mutually convenient location, or are you asking men to travel 50 minutes on the Undergound to somewhere close to you? Are you suggesting meeting for coffee or a glass of wine, or do you make a point to suggest he should treat you a nice dinner? Men would certainly lose interest in a woman who is unavailable to 10 days, and then requires him to travel to her, so he can spend 140 pounds on a first date.

22

On the clubs/hobbies/London being brutal thing, London is a series of villages that are still there even though merged into a city. It really helps to find out where the physical and cultural boundaries of your London village are, and connect with the people who hang out there (both in person and online). Pub quizzes, art trails, music events, sport clubs, carnivals, neighbourhood forums, school governing boards... That involvement does build a sense of kindness, fun and community which is key to the happy life Dan talks about and, I think, to finding a partner.

23

A few things jumped out at me:
"I've always been slim and fit, but now I'm starting to fill out" -- YOU'RE 42. It's called middle-age spread. Accept it, accept yourself.
"I was seeing a therapist for some time to help me work out my feelings but she is not versed in the nature of app dating" -- Get a different therapist who is.

Yes, everyone in London is busy. Yes, London (and other big cities) is probably worse for this because for every person someone ghosts, there are literally hundreds of thousands more. SLAP, you're on the right track in trying to meet people more organically. Dating apps are killing your self-esteem, so get off them. If you're monogamous, straight and vanilla, you shouldn't need apps because you have no dealbreakers that are awkward to disclose. Focus on living your life and put yourself in places where you might meet men. The gym -- which will serve the dual purpose of helping you get in better shape, which in turn will make you more confident. Coed team sports. If you like board games and see the charm of geeky men, go to gaming groups. These groups have way more men than women, so watch your self-esteem rise! And bonus, playing games is fun in and of itself. Another idea, based on this week's letter, is to cultivate your Dominant side and watch men flock to you. I'm sorry you've had such a run of bad luck. Sending hugs from not far away!

24

Donny @17: "LW, you are making BAD desperate choices, it’s no wonder that they aren’t working out ‘cause people can smell that desperation and no one (rightly) wants to deal with it." Bang on! Anyone would run away from someone with a "MUST MEET SOMEONE!!!" attitude. You know what you need to do -- take some time out. Can you go on a holiday with an actual, platonic, female friend? Do stuff that boosts your self-esteem, to make up for the damage all this ghosting done to it.

25

Single heterosexual lady living in London here.

Yes, London is brutal when it comes to dating and human interaction. This said and after reading her letter i come to the conclusion this poor lady has the self esteem of a doormat. She's not giving herself any value, she never has, all her life has been a " just clinging to the next joe who gives her attention". This applies to both real life and internet dating. She's not ready for online dating, she needs to step back for a while and "get herself together" because she's descending into a path of emotional self destruction. She needs to make a list of what she wants on a partner, stick to her guns and be incredibly picky. Guys smell a desperate woman from a mile and she's not realizing this. How are men going to respect her when she doesn't respect herself first?

26

I like Dan's answer a lot.

I join Lava in sending sympathy and hugs. I disagree with Lava's suggestion that you tell off the guys for being so rude. They sound like the sort of assholes who would get off on knowing they'd gotten a girl to fall for them and then disappointed her. They KNOW they're rude. They like being assholes. Don't give them more of what they want in the first place. For all we know, they're keeping track in a notches on the bedpost sort of way.

As for practical advice beyond Dan's excellent practical advice. I don't see anything in your letter about friends. You may already be doing this, but in case you're not. Could you see sex and friends as separate? You like sex and can get it from a friend with benefits or from any number of guys who would be willing to screw you casually. You also crave companionship, closeness, intimacy. Perhaps there's a straight woman who's in the same situation. You mention therapy but not a dynamic group of women who meet regularly for lunch and laughs. Or just one woman. Or a roommate so you're not coming home to an apartment with nothing in it save a bunch of cats.

Loneliness is a killer. Imagine a friend you'd have coffee with in the morning before heading off to work. Imagine a roommate you'd coordinate dinner with. Those hobby/interest groups where you're not meeting guys? How about meeting friends there. They're a big part of the rich and rewarding life with or without a partner.

27

I’m not up on dating sites LW. I tried it for five minutes and returned to trusting my karma. Have you tried Bubble. I’ve only heard of it because this site was involved in making it illegal for men to send unsolicited dick pics, in Texas. They say there are women friendly.
What Dan and others are pointing to LW, is that life makrs no promises, it can end and will end at any time and what is the point of pining away what life you have? If you focus on developing a rich inner life, people will be attracted to that. If you enjoy your solo sex sessions, people will sense you know how to look after yourself.
Nobody wants a desperado coming at them.
You are a young woman still, be in your body and your strength and enjoy your life. Visit Galleries, see great movies by yourself. Follow suggestions above from fellow Londoners.
You have a solid career, so that’s a plus. All this stress around rude men serves no purpose.
Whatever we do, takes effort. Having a relationship or not, finding meaning in our lives is what’s important. Not collapsing into others and thinking they will make us whole.
Meditation might help you move out of the negative thought loops which bring on the body stress. Think positive thoughts about yourself and look to the next outing or adventure or book or movie. Feeling whole in one’s own company is very liberating.

28

(Following up with the last paragraph I should have put on my comment of 27.)

Here's the other thing about friends. I don't know what it is or this works, but it's almost like guys can smell a whiff of desperation that scares them off. They (meaning some guys or some of the guys who are ghosting you) don't want to have to be all things to one person. They want their date to look forward to meeting them but not if they get the idea that things are moving too fast. That's why the advice to text a few times while making an appointment to meet but not stay in constant contact is good. You want it to be obvious that you're busy with other things. Not just work other things but actual fun people-oriented friend other things. Remember the 1950's advice to play hard to get? That's awful advice. But the idea of actually BEING hard to get is great advice. Be someone who's busy with a commitment to get together with a friend. Tell the truth when you say you promised your roommate you'd watch a baseball game with her on t.v. Have so much fun with your interest in the game (could be a classic movie or an event watching dogs catch frisbees in the park) that he wishes he could be invited too.

29

A bit of practical advice— don’t start communicating/swiping on the apps until you have a couple of nights free IMMEDIATELY. Most guys want to meet as soon as possible. I’m guessing that is why they are flaking— you are too busy to meet them right away. Momentum is everything. Everything. The volume of people on these apps in a large city is huge and while I’m sure you are amazing/special/the whole package, these men are also texting with potentially dozens of other women. If you aren’t able to meet for a week that is just too long for most people to wait. Maybe it “shouldn’t be that way”, but it is. Don’t swipe and expect to get to know them over text. Swipe, match and meet for coffee as soon as possible. That’s the only way it will result in anything. Good luck.

30

Hmmm... He needs to share his messages with a friend he can rely on to provide honest feedback. All of his messages -- not just the ones he thinks are relevant. The next time this happens, he should hand over his phone and say, "What do you think?"

He seems to be struggling with self-esteem issues. I think they're is a decent chance that his loneliness, coupled with his excitement at the prospect of a date, leads him to come across as desperate or emotionally needy in a way he doesn't realize.

31

Just a note on your embarrassment to admit to being ditched by Cuba guy — I used to awkwardly cover for being dumped by pretending it was at least mutual, out of embarrassment and fear of being pitied, until one friend broke up with her boyfriend but told everyone that SHE’D been dumped. I couldn’t understand why in the world she would do that, until she explained that it means you get to revel in everyone’s sympathy, which makes getting over it much more fun. So yeah, tell the world and REVEL in it, because fuck that guy, and let your friends remind you of that fact over and over.

32

It seems to me that the LW is only on one app and trying different apps is probably a good strategy as well. If you're stuck on the hamster wheel of tinder you aren't going to meet someone. There are more apps out there that focus on dating. Also spreading yourself out across apps widens your pool of potentials. I'm a fat old gay guy and I've learned that I am going to get a couple of hundred rejections before I get one positive response. It's a numbers game.
The other thing that really stood out was your work schedule. Like Dan said you have to be ready to engage. No endless chatting. Just enough to make sure they are reasonably sane and then meet in a public place as soon as possible. Not two weeks later. If you don't have time to meet someone for coffee then how can you have time for a relationship. If you are always pushing off meeting for work deadlines then I would ghost you too. It shows that you don't prioritize dating.

33

I think that the ability to be happy alone is necessary before one can be truly /fully/ happy when not alone.

SLAP, good luck with the dating thing; the ones that disappeared weren't right for you, try not to torture yourself by looking back. "Treat it as a numbers game" per Absent Minded Professor@2.

34

It took two years of online dating, a lot of self help books, and therapy re: my first marriage to realize I kept being attracted to people who were totally wrong for me based on the values and beliefs I said I wanted. The risky "will he or won't he show up?" guy with the drama was where the attraction and chemistry was because I actually liked the drama in some ways even though it made me miserable - I thought the highs outweighed the lows. instead, I made myself give it some time with someone who was solidly...solid, no drama, no magic "chemistry" off the bat, and after a few weeks realized this was what I wanted. yes, there's attraction and chemistry but not the crazy-making. it sounds like this person knows the red flags,but you actually have to act on them.

35

@34 Wisk
"...I actually liked the drama in some ways even though it made me miserable"

I can relate; when I realized that that exciting drama-energy was toxic my life became infinitely happier.

36

I think we all saw "Sex in the City" back in the day, and I think the Dating Apps have taken that casual singleness / hook up culture to the logical extreme. The anonymity of the big city just makes it too easy to treat people like disposable fuck dolls. It's your job to decide if that's what you want to be or if you have greater value. Not to judge, but I'm willing to bet you only really follow up with the guys who look / act sexy... not the rather average guy who may love you endlessly and provide a wonderful life for you. It's a two way street.

37

@27 bumble is garbage. It's women friendly because it only allows women to send the first message, but 99% of those messages are "Hey".

38

SLAP needs to get off the dating apps, work out her frustrations at the gym, and find a therapist who, although s/he might live in a cave, technologically speaking, can help her work through her most recent LTR. It ended in betrayal a dozen years ago, and left her utterly miserable.

As other commenters have noted, we straight guys can detect the scent of a desperate woman a long ways away, and we’ll either run like hell the other way, or use her and dispose of her. SLAP has to avoid even giving the appearance of desperation, or she’s cruising for such bruisings. Working with a good therapist will help her build self-esteem sufficient to avoid this miserable trap.

Shorter version: SLAP, work on helping yourself, and the rest will follow.

39

I think @Ankylosaurus at 6 makes some great points in addition to Dan's.

You need to find a way to be less invested in these interactions from the get go. Don't even think about it til you've met someone in person, and try and schedule that in person meet up much faster (before days/walls of text have been exchanged).

I also like the point made in comments that there's a chance you're goofing something up in your interactions, some subtle misstep socially that could be partially responsible for your ghosting issue.. if you think this is the case LW and you want someone to practice on, shoot me an email at lisadayrider at gmail, and I'd be happy to "play" a flirtatious online interaction out with you-- and give you 100% honest thoughts if the vibes get weird/turn offy at any point.

Lastly-- if you really think London dudes might be part of your problem, and work allows some travel flexibility, maybe set your radius to a smaller city/community outside of London? I don't know if it'll have much impact, but maybe the "types" you match with will be less fast paced, less ADD than what you're getting in the city.

Good luck to you, and feel free to reach out if you want to "practice" and get feedback.

40

I live in London, and it's awesome - there are loads of single people of all ages, so I don't feel the pressure to be "coupled up" like I've felt in some smaller cities. My advice is to just forget about the dating apps - get out and meet some fun people and enjoy all that London has to offer. My single friends and I have a way better time than most of the couples I know (they mostly seem to stay home watching Netflix).

41

I love you Dan, but you've never fully wrapped your head around straight men.

It's called the hookup ally-oop. (Not sure on spelling, like in basketball). Men that drop you before meeting aren't free. They are using low effort strategies to pass you to their future self incase they become available. They are happy to keep you in the air for a couple weeks or even months if you fall for it. These men are essentially lying to you because they have never had any intention of being available to you. This happens to all women regardless of age, status, or beauty, so don't take it as any indicator of yourself.

Find strategies that avoid this: 1) spontaneity - chat in the morning with some one you like and ask to meet that evening, 2) declare on your profile that you don't chat and will only meet up, and then ignore anyone that can't make plans, etc.

Another concept I've heard is dating in second tier markets. Women in NYC have this problem, so they date in Boston or Chicago, where ever they might travel often for work or may have connections. You could ask a friend in Manchester to open bumble for you there and select twenty swipes, then you chat with them and then take a train out there to meet guys on a sat. There are growing networks of women in big cities that do this. Make your own.

42

I think many of the men who ghost aren't actually interested in meeting women. They're partnered, but seeking the rush of feeling desired. That's their online game, and they were never planning on meeting.

Make a specific time in your life for dates, and keep it free. That same time (say, Thursday evenings) will be the core of your dates with your partner if & when you build a solid connection. And don't chat with people who can't accommodate your schedule.

43

@41 flounder28
"declare on your profile that you don't chat and will only meet up"

I think that might be a bit extreme. Zero interaction leading straight to meeting on a dating app can be the sign of a scam. Enough so for me that I might pass.

44

I've learned so much in this thread. Thanks daters!

One thing I already knew though, the bigger the city and the more ambitious the population in it, the worse the relationship scene and the better the hook up scene. London's gotta score high on both counts. That doesn't match well with what you want.

46

@45 cockyballsup
I see what you mean but I guess we're taking Dan's (headline) word for it.

47

Interesting pronoun choice, Pythag @30. Leaving aside the headline, SLAP never directly says she is female.

Charles @32: "If you don't have time to meet someone for coffee then how can you have time for a relationship. If you are always pushing off meeting for work deadlines then I would ghost you too. It shows that you don't prioritize dating." Great point.

Cocky @45, the tone did sound like a woman to me. Then, I haven't dated any gay men, so it's entirely plausible that it would read like a gay man to another gay man. Perhaps we are all seeing ourselves in this LW's travails.

48

"No need to ask permission when you want to go out fishin. Never have to ask for the keys."

49

Is it sexist of me that I read these two bits as suggesting the LW is female?

"I had palpitations whilst I was home on my sofa gorging on chocolate" and "I've always been slim and fit, but now I'm starting to fill out and this troubles me."

Isn't "fill out" more of a positive word in reference to the male physique?

51

I don't know if the writer is male or female, but I wanted to offer some reassurance--it's not you, it's them. I get the same reaction on FetLife and I know for sure that I am in demand there. As a female lifestyle dominant who is into crossdressers and rope, I get a 90% ghosting rate with online contacts, and 100% of the time that's with men who initiate conversation with me. It makes setting up scenes with my partner and a special guest exhausting. I think Dan is coming from a different place, but maybe not.

I don't know if it's married men, men in committed relationships, bots, Romanian paid trolls trying to drive non-pro-domme women off FetLife/dating apps or all of the above, but the net effect is to create more and more incels. Putting on my tinfoil hat, maybe it's an op. The numbers have definitely jumped up in the past few years. My practice is to get to coffee ASAP, and in the meantime ask some questions about obscure local stuff that some Romanian or married man living in Nebraska with fake pix wouldn't know about.

52

duh, it's in the headline--yep, LW is female. This is a thing.

53

I definitely echo @42. I think that a lot of them are probably just people seeking validation online.

The schedule thing really could be an issue; it is entirely possible that these people think that the LW is playing games with them or is never intending to meet them.

I partnered before dating apps existed, but my general understanding is that it is more of an immediate thing. The LW should definitely be establishing base contact and then move towards meeting. Having "eight days of very long messages" prior to meeting for a first coffee date seems excessive to me (this is unfortunate, but that seems to be how we live now). My guess is that these men are talking to the LW and then find someone more available/looking for a quick hookup in the interim and lose interest. In an emoji world, it is possible that having over a week of actual conversation beforehand makes one high maintenance.

Finally, I also want to echo those who have mentioned acquiring some female friends. The reason for this is threefold:

Having friends will enrich her life and make being single a less painful experience.

Having a good time with friends in public presents a good, happy image and may increase the likelihood of people approaching her in real life.

Lastly, I realize that most people meet on dating apps now, but expanding one's circle of friends also greatly increases the chance that someone will know someone that is perfect for you and try to set you up.

People do still meet that way as I understand it.

54

The "men just seeking validation and never actually intending to meet" sounds convincing to me. If I were on any dating apps (which I'm not and I won't) that's probably what I would use them for.

55

EricaP @49, I don't know many men who have been happy to develop dad bod. And I can picture a gay man gorging on chocolate. I think all of us who date men are in the same boat here!

Marrena @52, it seems to be a thing for gay men too, judging by the gay men who've commented. And the LW did not write the headline. Did the e-mail come in to Dan as is, with a name on it, or otherwise identifiable gender markers? We don't know for sure. LW probably is female but if he's a gay man, the advice would be the same -- join a gay men's chorus or volunteer group, get off the apps, live your life.

56

I suppose my point is that I don't think she should give up on dating apps. Do the other IRL stuff, yes, but dating apps are still where available men are most likely to make contact with you. I think her problem is that she's understandably taking it personally, thinking these are all actual men on the other end, rather than seeing that there is an enormous amount of money being funneled to radicalize and recruit sexually frustrated men into the whole Red Pill/Proud Boys movement. "The Proud Boys discourages its members from masturbating and watching pornography so as to motivate them to get "off the couch" and meet women." They wouldn't be able to recruit if these incels were actually getting some. Any woman online is a target, particularly women who are looking for sex/a relationship.

57

And I don't think Dan is even aware this is a thing, because, how would he know? He wouldn't be a target.

58

@49 EricaP
"Isn't "fill out" more of a positive word in reference to the male physique?"

That sounds like a good argument to me.

59

London IS brutal -- it nearly killed me! I am so sorry you're going through this. xxx

60

curious2 - by the way, thank you for the book recommendation back in that long "Hard Truths" thread. I'm very much appreciating Who Dies?.

61

@60 EricaP
Thank you very much for saying so. I thought it was worth mentioning (I think it is a classic on the topic), even though it's point of view isn't mainstream. (And I'm sure I did a bad job at respectfully putting into my own words what it taught me.)

Thinking about what I said then, I wonder if I acknowledged my own fear of death. Which I didn't even really know I had until a couple decades ago a number of times I had an issue such that I couldn't breathe; being minutes from death made me know I did fear it.

Lately I've been trying to make time to occasionally embrace that fear by reading and taking time feeling:

"The Five Remembrances...

I am of the nature to grow old. There is no way to escape growing old.

I am of the nature to have ill health. There is no way to escape ill health.

I am of the nature to die. There is no way to escape death.

All that is dear to me and everyone I love are of the nature to change. There is no way to escape being separated from them.

My actions are my only true belongings. I cannot escape the consequences of my actions. My actions are the ground upon which I stand."
https://www.yogajournal.com/meditation/embrace-reality

Every time I open myself to sitting with and feeling these words for a couple minutes, I know I fear death.

62

curious2 - I like what the author says about seeing every experience of pain as an opportunity to practice opening up to pain rather than resisting it. Doing that work is helping me work through my fear of suffering during the process of dying. Actually not being here anymore (as EricaP.) isn't scary to me, but the process still scares me.

63

Marrena @56: Well, that post certainly took an unexpected turn. I agree she shouldn't take the ghostings personally. As other posters have pointed out, many of the people using these apps are simply "window shopping" and not available. Many may indeed be turned off by her lack of free time. Many are probably messaging a dozen women (and/or men) at a time, deciding on a whim whom they're actually going to meet and whom they're going to blow off. And some are, uh, brainwashed incels who are being instructed to message women and then not meet them because... uh... you lost me. Anyway, if she is going to stay on, or preferably, come back to the apps, she will need to not get her hopes up for dates, to not see a date as a certain thing until the person actually shows up, not when he says "yes, Monday's good for me."

64

@62 EricaP
Very interesting, hmm, maybe I was wrong, I think I fear the experience of suffocation orders of magnitude more than I fear a resulting death.

I mean, I /want/ to live hundreds of thousands of years, but I don't fear /not/ doing so. Particularly since my life circumstances are more than a bit of an ordeal.

Ya know, I think you're right! I'd consider death a 'loss', but my literal fear is mostly about the experience.

65

curious2 -- it definitely seems like the kind of book I'm going to re-read every year or so. I'm sure I'll get different things out of it as I age.

66

Maybe I'll read it again, even though I felt it could have been edited for length.

Actually getting old does change one's perspective. That reminds me of something that struck me about Ram Dass' book "Still Here: Embracing Aging, Changing, and Dying" (which I don't particularly recommend, despite considering his book "Grist for the Mill: Awakening to Oneness" a quarter-century earlier a great classic in it's genre).

In the 1976 book he presented himself as someone who would be beyond struggling emotionally with the challenges of aging...but once he actually was aging by the time of the 2000 book, he had as much trouble with it as anyone would.

67

SavageMarquis @53 - totally agree with you on the effectiveness of meeting potential partners through friends in the dating app age. I met a partner just that way. After I made an offhand comment about how hard dating in my large city is at a party, the friend hosting it made it a point of introducing me to people they thought I might click with at the next social event we both attended. I’ve been dating one of them ever since.

68

Ms Junie - A rueful "welcome" to the club.

Ms Erica - It depends on the type of gay. Those of us who don't want to look like bodybuilders or attract those who do would probably not take, "You're filling out," as a compliment. "Palpitations" struck me as a weird word. A gay version of Mr Woodhouse would probably be from the not-quite-Deep South.

Ms Fan is on quite good form this thread, getting a Valentine Award for making the age 42 significant to her response and a State Farm Award for good driving (not drifting into somebody else's lane). I was going to call it a Geico Award, but there were numerous State Farm commercials during the tennis about their Safe Driver Discount.

My sympathies to LW; it can be so difficult to stop unproductive patterns.

69

Nowhere in her letter was SLAP explicit about what she wanted. She said she wanted 'emotional connection', but, beyond that, didn't spell out what this would look like or feel to her e.g. a loving, monogamously committed long-term relationship. I would think she needs the courage to examine herself to discover what she really hopes for--especially if it's children, at this late stage. This doesn't mean telling herself she's a failure if she doesn't get it; it rather means being upfront with herself about it and strategising about how to give herself the best shot at it.

And then ... she should put it on her profile, surely? Something like 'no longer interested in hookups and looking to settle down'. She would get less interest from men--but still some interest from the right kind of man (for her)? She is no longer at a stage of her life where she needs to get male approval through sex. It sounds like it feels empty to her now; it doesn't feel emotionally connected; it feels like those casual fucks (the men and the sessions) are wasting her life at 42. So there's no need to use sex to look for intimacy.

70

Dear SLAP, the first thing you need to do is dump the dating apps. Those apps make the odds of finding a suitable LTR about as difficult as finding a virgin in a whorehouse. My advice to you is to involve yourself in organizations that help the poor and downtrodden. It takes selfless people with big hearts to commit to this kind of service, which should be the kind of person you're looking for in a LTR.

However, do not treat these organizations like "meat markets". You have to patiently navigate the waters as you form initially platonic friendships with lots of your fellow volunteers. Over a period of time, you'll be able to tell whose dedicated to selfless service and those who are faint of heart. For Long Tern Relationships, you should be looking for someone with character instead of someone who IS a character.

71

@3. Absent Minded Professor. Lots of the ghosts aren't who they say they are. They don't have a person to meet in person with (or not the person on their profile).

@9. JunieGirl. I'm sorry--condolences on your loss.

@19. surfrat. Meetup groups rather than dating apps--workable suggestion!

@21. Sublime. You are right about the lw's low rate in converting conversations into dates (given what I would think is a high or high-ish rate of her 'likes' resulting in conversations). I'd say to the lw, 'once (you think) you find the guy attractive enough to meet in the flesh, work your conversations towards meeting in the flesh'. Sure, talk about mutual interests; elicit some essential facts. But aim to have arranged a date in 3-4 messages. Something low-key--a 30-45 minute coffee. Don't think he has to ask. Ask yourself if he seems compatible the fourth or fifth time you speak.

Another thing (this will be more debatable) would be 'don't make attractiveness the first sorting criterion'. I think some cishet women 'like' men they find hot and wait to see which of these guys like them back enough to initiate contact. Poor strategy. They're all going for the same, over-subscribed guys; and some of these men will be players with superbly put-together photos. Instead, make your first selection on compatibility of long-term goals ('wants a serious relationship'), apparent stability and some matching views or interests. There will some guys who match on these criteria and are stand-outs on looks. MESSAGE THEM. Don't rom-com it and wait for them to like you.

Of course, attractiveness and chemistry are, and completely have to be, the first exclusion criterion ... but you find this out on your 30 min. coffee date. Most dates as dates are over in three seconds (for people with good nostrils for pheromones). No hardship in a friendly half-hour chatting over coffee.

72

I feel I'm the only person who thought Dan's advice bad (until he got onto the practical pointers re dating app use e.g. not investing too much in someone you haven't met). Yes--it's true that everyone should strive to have a happy solo life; but that's not what SLAP was looking for--she wanted reassurance she was date-able or could still find love.

She hasn't the confidence to state what she wants. Where does she want to be in three years' time? With a monogamous husband? Would she be happier (?)--still happy?--with four poly partners--with whom she has an 'emotional connection'? (The answers here may seem manifest to some people--but SLAP hasn't been clear). Bring everything to light, confront your faults and frailties, in deciding what you want, then make a rational plan for getting there.

73

I wish the poly people on here would get that the vast, vast majority of people don’t want to be poly. Most want to be partnered with one person who loves them, and therefore don’t consider polyamory an option. Its a fringe lifestyle, at least anywhere outside of the upper northwest of the US. Same with the people who take offense with people assuming the gender of the LW (which in this case is clearly stated in the headline!). Truly, get over yourselves. You aren’t helping your “causes”, you’re just being annoying and obtuse.

74

@73 Truthspeaker5
Why so cowardly? I see that "Truthspeaker5" was a hit-and-run username, since just 4 minutes later the account had been deleted.

75

Haven’t read most of the other comments but can confirm the ghosting/flaking is a thing on the apps, even for just casual sex meetups - so it can’t be just about a “desperate” (ugly word that) vibe. I’ve had people unmatch me the second I told them where to meet for sex and people who claim they’re on the way and then text at the last moment with an “emergency” - I always act like I believe them - benefit of the doubt - but in my head I immediately write them off because there are just not that many emergencies in the world! And while I’ve never been so rude as to ghost on a meeting, I have just stopped responding when it’s clear I’m not going to be interested. I won’t pretend it’s not incredibly frustrating - it is and I’ve used apps less because of it - but I have mostly learned not to take it personally.

76

I've had a 100% ghosting rate with online dating every time I've decided to give it another shot, and a much lower response/chat rate than 30% for the (personal, not generic) messages I've sent out. I've now read a number of articles suggesting that a substantial proportion - perhaps even a solid majority - of people on dating apps and websites are using them as momentary entertainment, intending only to get validation matching with people and maybe chatting with them but never really intending to go out for an actual date (or perhaps theoretically intending to do so but being too anxious about in-person social interation to ever follow through). Here's an example - https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2018/12/the-sex-recession/573949/

I think Harriet @71 is probably correct about this, at least to some extent: "I think some cishet women 'like' men they find hot and wait to see which of these guys like them back enough to initiate contact. Poor strategy." I've had WAY more women like/star/whateverthehellitisnow my profile on OKC than message me, which isn't even slightly helpful because I'm not paying for a subscription, which is necessary to see who has actually "liked" your profile, so unless I happen to stumble across their profile and "like" it (it will tell you if you have a mutual match), I'll never find them (in a county of 1.2 million people, the odds are low, even with their sorting algorithm).

Based on my experience and reading, my top recommendation for women is to ignore 100% of unsolicited messages. This has the direct benefit of cutting out a lot of dick pics, scams, and harassment, as well as the extremely thirsty men (there's a natural correlation between the people who are putting in tons of effort to find a partner, any partner, in order to find your profile and message you and the people who are also doing so to meet/hook up with OTHER people, even after you've started dating them). Instead, search and browse profiles with no regard for whether they've messaged you and initiate contact with the men you find interesting and attractive. This has an added benefit: there are indeed some men who will discount any woman who takes the initiative, and these men are by definition very sexist, so them discounting you is a feature, not a bug. Ditto anyone who thinks that approaching men makes you seem "desperate" - these people have fucked-up views of sexuality and relationships, and you're well rid of them.

My second suggestion applies to a lot of people, though it sounds like maybe not the LW: don't exchange more than a handful of messages to establish compatible communication styles (and flag sexist/racist/homophobic/nationalist/etc. "jokes" or even unvarniahed comments) before setting an actual in-person date. I've had countless people think it was weird or "forward" that I was suggesting going on a date after a few messages back and forth… ON A DATING SITE WHERE THE PUTATIVE PURPOSE IS TO FIND PEOPLE WITH WHOM TO GO ON DATES. Getting to know people is why we go on dates with them; we don't need some sort of pre-dating step to take care of that, and spending lots of time chatting with someone only to find out zir photos are all from 10 years ago (or of somebody else!), zir voice is incredibly annoying, ze smells terrible, ze treats waitstaff like shit, etc. is a massive waste of time and energy. Nobody is going to murder you in the middle of a crowded cafe; do your vetting in person, where you can vet a lot more than you can online. This also helps cut down on scammers, as scammers usually have no intention to meet you at all (there may be some advanced, old-school cons that work like that, but most scammers target people for minimum effort). And it cuts down on flakes - someone with no actual intention of meeting you is less likely (though, per the letter, still might) to set up a date at all.

77

SLAP: Oh, you poor thing! My heartfelt condolences for the number of douchebag assholes who have hurt and disappointed you. Sending big hugs, positrons, and VW beeps. Be kind to yourself.
@Juniegirl: I am sorry to hear about your loss. Heartfelt condolences, hugs, positrons, and VW beeps.I feel your pain, SLAP and Juniegirl, and all gets better soon.

78

@1 & @3 LavaGirl and @17 DonnyKlicious: Thank you and bless you both. So spot on.
@69 Harriet_by_the_Bulrushes: WA-HOOOO!! Congrats on scoring the Lucky @69 Award!

79

@78. Griz. Thank you!

@76. John Horstman. My rate of success for getting sex on the hookup apps is lower than it was in the old 'cruising' days--so much so, I gave up on the apps. I think straight women have to respond to some of the messages they get on okc, if they find the guys attractive--but not overthink it, not over-invest, just get to the date. And have many dates.

SLAP is hurt by a guy she doesn't even know ghosting her. There are many plausible explanations for his behavior--and by no means all of them reflect on her. It shouldn't hurt so much. The whole idea of online dating is that it shouldn't hurt so much. The power of choosing rests with you, especially with you, the woman. If there were 9-10 guys that SLAP, or those in her position, were corresponding with at once, one dropping out wouldn't make much difference. In fact, if she's going to persist with online dating, this is probably a strategy she should try: don't talk to one, angling for a date, without also talking to another eight.

Good luck to SLAP!