Originally published on Elite Daily, 6/27/2016
Repetition runs rampant on dating apps. The men who use it may have never met, but a shocking number of them say, and seemingly want, the same things.
Phrases like “please be active” (code for thin), “work hard play hard” (code for finance bro), or “keep me on my toes” (code for I like it if you’re a little, but not too, crazy). Your basic bread and butter.
For the most part, I find it amusing that people seem to categorize themselves so easily. Adjectives are doled out like they’re ordering a woman off a fast food menu (extra mustard). What they say about what they want says so much about them, too. I’ve been online dating long enough and have read enough articles on dating stats to know that there are in fact so many of us “options” out there that a guy can ask for precisely what he wants and probably get it.
Your life is your own; ask for anything you want. I’m in no position to tell someone what to like or who to spend his time with. If I take issue with a man when online dating, it’s usually because he’s not single and invading my single person space and is therefore greedy. Or he’s using photos that belong to a D-list celebrity to creep on women and he must be reported to the authorities immediately. Your garden variety lack of manners typically doesn’t bother me much. Not anymore.
But recently, I’ve come across a bit of repetition that I find perplexing, off-putting and, truthfully, insulting. Men are asking women to be “busy.”
I don’t like to allow the realities of online dating to get me down. I try to ignore it when I swipe right on 20 men, match with five, send messages to five and get responses from zero. I try to grin and bear the men who do write back to my messages with one-word answers and no questions to further the conversation while wondering why they bothered to match with me or write back in the first place.
I try to laugh off the men who say “impress me,” like they’re extending a challenge. Just go ahead and say “I had sex with three women from this app yesterday. I can have whatever I want. How are you going to hold my attention long enough for me to get an erection?”
I try to take online dating with a block of salt, but some things are just a little too confusing, a little too illogical, a little too much.
“Busy.” What is that code for? I can decipher most things. For example, I know that a guy who only wears newsboy caps is bald and has a problem with it. A man who only has photos of himself skiing or rock climbing will certainly have difficulty with my documentary marathons and men who ask me if I can “keep up” with them need to be locked in a basement somewhere and forgotten.
But what does busy mean? What is a man really asking for when he asks that his next date be busy? Is he asking that she have hobbies? Does he have a specific number of extracurricular activities that she should be engaged in? Does book club need to occur twice a month or just once? Should her business hours span from sunrise to sunset? Should she volunteer all day Saturday and Sunday or is one day off per week acceptable?
No, that’s not what he means. This isn’t a literal request. Of course, what he is asking is that she be too “busy” to care. Too busy to care about him, to ask anything of him, certainly to need anything of him. Asking a woman to be busy is a man’s way of asking for a relationship with a woman that requires the least amount of engagement and commitment possible.
You can date him, but you’d better be chill. So chill you almost don’t exist. Too busy to give him a thought, apart from when he thinks about you, which — you should know this from the get-go — won’t be often. He’s busy.
What is the assumption otherwise? That we’re not busy? Like a guy is letting all of the not busy women know that they needn’t bother? What do they think we’re doing? Are we in some holding pattern of nothingness until we meet a man who will give us something to do? How insulting can you be?
Perhaps “please be busy” is code for “please don’t want to spend time with me.” If so, then why are you here? Explain yourself, heathen. Why are you here?
Our entire generation of single men seems to like to keep a toe in the water. Just one toe. Maybe not even the big one. Wanting something without wanting something. Kind of doing things. Sort of participating.
Dating has become a contest of who can do the least. And there isn’t a prize at the end except more singleness. It’s like all single straight men and women are constantly walking down a sidewalk toward each other and when they meet, neither knows if they should move to the right or left to let the other one pass and it’s awkward. “Eh…um…do you want to….uh…should I…um…sorry…bye.” Whew, that was close. You almost did something.
Why bother with busy? He’s clearly got enough time to swipe through enough women to earn him a match or two to interview and determine her current level of daily obligations, so why not just leave out busy and stick to good ol’ hookups he’ll never text again? Why dangle the carrot of a relationship in front of a woman if all you want her to do is ignore it and eat her own fries? Honestly, what are you doing?
I’m insulted by “busy.” It’s one in a long and undistinguished line of manners-free behavior exhibited by men in the modern dating landscape that perpetuates the culture of effortless, affectionless, attachmentless dating.
When did people become so “whatever” about life? When did companionship become so unimportant? When did it become OK for a man to ask that a woman be busy, while behaving in the dating world like a lazy sack of crap? Because really, what women needed was another double standard.
It’s not OK. This isn’t something men can do. I’m calling it out as the utter bullshit it actually is.
You know what I miss? The “looking for” dropdown menus. I think they need to come back with new additions. Seeking: Marriage, Long-Term Relationship, Casual Sex, Friends, Women I Can Freely Ghost, Women I Can Play With In Much The Same Way A Dog Plays With A Stuffed Animal, Women To Join Threesomes With My Girlfriend And Me, Women Who Won’t Ever Ask Why We Always Sleep At Her Place, Women Who Never Develop Feelings For Men, Women Who Will Come Over And Not Speak And Have Sex And Leave And Not Expect To Be Paid, The Tooth Fairy, A Unicorn, Santa Claus.
At least then we could search by preference, you know?
Of course I’m busy. I have a job and I take care of myself and I see friends and try new things and travel and watch Peaky Blinders. I read and I walk everywhere and I cook and take wine classes and write letters to my grandfather.
I live a life, even as a single woman. Imagine that. I’m not sitting at my Ikea kitchen table waiting for my phone to light up with a message from a man who will finally give me something to care about. I’m waiting for my phone to light up with social media responses to the content I’ve just distributed for the brand I work for. I’m busy.
What I haven’t got time for is you. The man who wants “busy.” You can’t actually have it, not in its true form. I start my workday at 6:30 am and end it around 12 hours later. I spend my weekends writing essays because they keep me creative and help me develop my writing skills. And sometimes they help other single, straight women feel less alone while they’re dealing with people like you.
I exhaust myself in an attempt to further my professional success because that’s an area of life where I actually see return on investment. And in the spare moments I have to give to online dating in the hopes that those long days of mine might not start and end alone, I wouldn’t dare waste even the rightward motion of my thumb with someone who is, essentially, just kidding.
I don’t want busy; I want hardworking. I don’t want chill; I want interested. I am not just kidding. I want real. And I don’t care if that makes me less desirable to you. I don’t care if my normal human emotions and reactions scare you away. I don’t want someone who can be scared away by availability. Someone who fears text messages.
I don’t want a coward. I want a man. A man who sees value in companionship, not burden. A man who takes pride in treating a woman well, not relief in treating her like a used Kleenex. A man who sees value in building friendship, love, sex and memories with someone, not someone who finds effort too difficult to fathom.
I don’t have time for men who string conversations, plans and me along. I need more than “hey” once a week and I don’t care if you somehow manage to think that’s needy. What I need is someone who prefers when I’m around and I’m trying to find him. I’m a little busy right now.