When matches turn mean; the dark side of online dating

We’ve all experienced it.

Perhaps we didn’t respond fast enough. Perhaps we didn’t respond at all. Or perhaps, God forbid, we politely declined his advances. But all of a sudden his ‘Hey babes, hi darlings, and his “Um, are you still theres?” turn to pure vitriol. Suddenly you’re getting “You’re ugly AF” or “Maybe you should try to lose some weight” or the ever accusatory and entitled; “You’re the same as all the others.”

Ah yes, all the others that expect to be treated like human beings and not just faceless, voiceless, opinion-less receptacles for unwanted “compliments”.  

Most of these guys I just delete, but sometimes I question why they would react like that. Strangely, not one has ever apologised for speaking to me that way, not one has apologised for making me feel uncomfortable, not one has admitted that they didn’t realise they were offending me and assured me it wouldn’t happen again. Not one has apologised for being presumptuous or pushy or entitled to my time and attention. Not one has apologised for being flat out rude. Not one.

The most common reaction is actually explosive anger, followed by the age-old accusation that I need to learn how to take a compliment. Excuse me, sir, but you need to learn how to give one.

Then there’s the tirade of insults, abuse and sometimes even physical threats. In short, these men that are self-proclaimed gentlemen in their bios, suddenly become mean, offensive and often frightening.

I assume it’s more manly to react to these situations with anger? Because God knows in 2018, it would be completely inappropriate for men to respond to rejection with sadness or vulnerability.

There is also this crazy idea of just shrugging and moving on, but perhaps we can revisit that possibility in 2075.

I know I should be grateful for the fact that these men are even speaking to me. I know that at my age, thirty-eight, I should be thankful for their attention, and most importantly, I know I should be grateful that they want to fuck me in the ass until I bleed. That last one was a particularly romantic suggestion from Matt, 33, frighteningly located 500 metres away from my house. Wow, thank you soooooo much. And thanks to all the guys who have reminded me just how lucky I am to have their attention in this geriatric period of my life. I am basically an old maid now. Dried out, shrivelled up, ready to be put out to pasture.

“Maybe you should be thankful for these dick pics you’re getting. You’re almost forty. You won’t be getting any dick pics then.” Thanks, Peter, 46. Can I be forty now, please? But more on dick pics in another post.

It is tough dealing with men at the age of thirty-eight. Getting them to give a shit about what I think and say, getting them to take me seriously, to treat me with respect and dignity. But it was also tough at twenty-eight and eighteen and eight. It’s always been tough. It’s going to continue to be tough until we start to change the culture that puts women second, a culture that suggests we are just here to be subservient to men, a culture in which there are far more consequences for women than men, a culture that allows white men to basically do whatever the fuck they want without any consequence at all.

Nobody likes being rejected (it sucks for women too) but it only seems to be men that react with violence. I have been rejected by men but I have never verbally abused them for it, I have never yelled at them for leading me on, I have never threatened to strangle them or stab them. God knows I have never tackled a guy in a football jersey and then when questioned about it, answered with, “Well, look at what he was wearing, he was clearly asking for it.” But I have sadly been on the receiving end of all this behaviour from men (not the football jersey part because football – ew) and I know I am not alone. In 2019, women are still being berated and blamed for saying no.

It’s not just rejection rage that women have to deal with either. I have been sexually harassed too. I had one guy hound me with messages for weeks about “how good he could eat my pussy”. Fifty-six is the number of times this guy used the word ‘pussy’ in messages to me. Finally I had to threaten to go to the police with his messages if he didn’t leave me alone, which only turned the sexual messages into threatening ones and then finally dismissive ones. “You’ve probably got a smelly pussy anyway.” Guess you’ll never know, Jeff, 43.

Blocking and reporting is an option but if they already have your phone number, it gets a little trickier. Once they have your phone number, blocking and reporting is not really an option. I could block their number but they don’t know I have blocked them. So they can continue to text. What if they get more and more aggressive? What if they threaten physical violence? How will I know ow scary they have become if I have blocked them? So I have to put up with these awful texts, just to be safe, until they give up or find someone else to harass.  

We shouldn’t have to get to the Block and Report stage. Men just need to behave better. Men would not be able to behave this way in a bar or a café or at work without being asked to leave or without having a drink thrown in their face. But unfortunately in the online world, men get away with this behaviour all the time because there is little that victims can do except attempt to ignore the behaviour, block and report, and hope they don’t figure out where we work or worse, where we live.

But there have to be boundaries and consent matters. Just because a female is on a dating site does not mean she is ‘asking for it’ or that this sort of behaviour should be expected, accepted and tolerated. To assume the act of simply being on a dating site is an invitation to sexual harassment is not unlike blaming a victim of rape for attending a party.

This just in: men are able to control themselves.

And as a result, they must be held accountable for their words and their actions.

Even if women are on dating sites purely in search of casual sex, there have to be boundaries and consent matters. Respect also matters. But there are a lot of men on these sites who think that if a girl is up for casual sex, she does not deserve respect, and that simply isn’t true. Can we please move on from this tired stereotype of women who enjoy a lot of sex being denigrated as sluts and men who enjoy a lot of sex being celebrated as gods? It’s 2019, people.

Digital mediums, like dating apps, mean that men can stand at arm’s length from their behaviour, that men can avoid being accountable for their words, but wouldn’t it be great if this kind of behaviour didn’t even cross their minds? If this kind of behaviour didn’t even exist? Men are not blind suitors, fumbling in the dark for a light, and I don’t think they are as clueless or blameless as they claim to be when someone calls them out on their shitty behaviour.

It’s so hard. How are men supposed to know how to treat women in this era of #metoo, where men can’t even sexually assault women anymore without being held accountable? How can men be expected to know what is okay and what is not okay in this culture of hyper-feminism in 2019?

Here’s a crazy idea…

Just ask.

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