DEAR DR. NERDLOVE: Why do men get so angry on dating sites? When I started using them I’d answer to be polite but learned very quickly not to do that if I’m not interested. So I stopped. But I get yelled at if I don’t respond.
I get chastised if I don’t answer right away (I was actually called the “c” word. I didn’t answer right away because I was at work).
I canceled a subscription. I thought it would delete my profile but it kept it up and allowed people to message me. I’d get notified that someone left a message but I’d ignore it since I canceled. I went back on about a year later and my inbox was full of men yelling at me for being rude. I never saw those messages!
It’s to the point that I lay off dating sites for a while, but I’ve met some wonderful people on so these sites so I go back on.
I don’t get it, if I message someone and they don’t answer I just go on with my life. Why do they get so hostile?
Shaking My Damn Head
DEAR SHAKING MY DAMN HEAD: Short version: some people are a--holes.
Slightly longer version: dating apps moved to a mechanic that encourages rapid responses, people have entitlement issues that can be exacerbated by the mechanics of an app, the algorithms affect who we see or don’t see in ways that create mismatches and also: some people are a--holes.
OK, that’s probably not really satisfying. Let me elaborate a little more.
There was, at one point, a sweet spot for dating apps, where the focus was more on messaging and longer profiles, but also didn’t have bulls—t charges built in. I’m old enough to remember things like Spring Street Personals on every site out there, where you had to buy credits in order to message people. OKCupid coming in and eliminating that was like an earthquake in the online dating space. Then Tinder came along – stealing much of its mechanics and vibe from Grindr – with an emphasis on high-speed, low-drag interactions that were (theoretically) supposed to help you find a hook-up with people who were near you. The swipe mechanic and limited room for information in your profile meant that the emphasis was placed more on photos and instant “yes/no” choices. The immediacy of “IT’S A MATCH” if you and someone else swiped right on each other helped create a sense of urgency and speed. Since Tinder was originally a hook-up up/same-night lay kind of app, there was a certain expectation of things moving at a rapid clip.
It also didn’t help when apps moved from a more email-style form of interaction to direct-messaging… complete with read receipts and notifications that this or that account are currently online. What was supposed to create incentive to talk – hey, you’re both online, here’s an interface that mirrors iMessage or WhatsApp – instead creates an expectation of immediate gratification, on top of the swipe mechanic. The immense popularity of Tinder and the consolidation of dating apps under a few companies – looking at you, Match Group – meant that these mechanics ended up becoming a de-facto standard across the board. This why even apps like Bumble have a similar interface.
So that sort of high-speed interaction became much more of an expected norm… even if that’s not how most users actually took it.
That’s one part. Another part is that a lot of folks on dating apps are assholes who have entitlement issues. Part of it comes from the toxic alpha-male bulls—t that’s convinced them that as long as they have this cargo-cult mentality about masculinity, women should be dropping panties at their feet. When women don’t play along with “the rules” that say “I’m a dominant man with a lower third that could cut steel, you are supposed to give me what I want, when I want it”, they get pissy. They feel like they’re being cheated out of their rightful rewards for following a bunch of retrograde ideas they picked up from dodgy subreddits and online grifters. And since it can’t possibly be that they were sold a bill of goods, it’s clear the problem must be women’s fault for not going along with it and then they throw a temper tantrum in your inbox over it.
Then there’s the fact that many of these same guys don’t quite understand how dating apps actually work, vs. the version they have in their heads. The swipe mechanics in particular tend to push folks towards overestimating the interest from the people they match with and what they’re supposed to expect from their matches. It’s an expectation – based more on their desire to get laid right then and there with minimal effort than actual courtship – that doesn’t match with the reality. Even folks who are interested in a no-strings, casual hook up with a relative stranger that night are going to want to do a little more communicating and vibe checking before doing the deed. After all, just because you matched on an app doesn’t mean that you actually have chemistry; it just means you liked their profile and pics and vice versa.
But this actually leads to the next issue: the folks who get pissed when you don’t respond immediately or say “thanks but no thanks” don’t realize that matching isn’t the end of the process, it’s the start. You see this a lot when folks complain about how “easy” women have it on dating apps or how “well, I used a photo of a model and I had chicks all up in my business”, or dudes who swipe right on everyone in order to maximize potential matches and then message folks after they decide who they’re interested in. They tend to see matching as being the hard part and that after you’ve matched, it’s all done bar the squishy noises. So when their new match doesn’t immediately respond, or doesn’t show “appropriate” levels of interest (that is, they don’t immediately respond with “here’s my address, come take me now you stallion”), they get pissed because they just got smacked upside the head with the hobnailed boot of reality and they don’t like it. And as a result: they throw a tantrum because they’re not getting their way.
And then there’re just folks who are entitled a--holes who think that Galileo was wrong and THEY are, in fact, the center of the universe. Many of them also tend to actively dislike or resent women. A--holes are gonna ass, no matter what mechanics are in place to encourage NOT ass-ing.
The good news is: this is how nature says “do not touch”. Guys who behave like this – who expect you to be Jill-on-the-spot and are gonna lay down weird rules and get mad when you don’t follow them like you didn’t agree to – are self-selecting the f--k out of your dating pool. The ones who throw those tantrums are showing you that they’re a classic case of “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Douche Canoe” and your best move is to go ahead and unmatch them, block them and go along your merry way. So while they make dating apps a misery for everyone – how eager are you to keep swiping after a few of those responses? – they at least make it clear that you dodged a bullet, if only by accident.
So take breaks when you need to, unmatch and block your way to happiness. There’re good people on there; they’re just not as loud as the dickheads.
Please send your questions to Dr. NerdLove at his website (www.doctornerdlove.com/contact); or to his email, firstname.lastname@example.org