The Offensive Dating Behavior Absolutely Everyone Gets Away With Online

Pairs well with You Don’t Know Me by Ben Folds

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Take your pick.

I often touch on the topic of manners. Online dating does not have them. It’s a free space, void of common decency or the basic tenets of human interaction. It’s a virtual Burning Man, free from rules or traditional societal requirements. So we can get away with this shit.

I’ve often wondered what it would be like to take the online dating behaviors I’m exposed to and bring them into real life, to see if things typed and uploaded into phones would be offered as freely and with as little conscience as they are online. Of course they wouldn’t be. One of my favorite movie scenes is when Thelma and Louise finally confront their vulgar, gesturing, tongue-wagging truck driver, who looks as confused as a puppy in a mirror when they ask him to explain his revolting behavior, and tell them what he’d hoped to accomplish by it. And then they blow his truck to hell.

What is so inherently freeing about the digital space? Certainly it’s becoming less and less like a “fake” version of you, and beginning to hold more value toward your actual self. And yet the online dating world is nothing more than a room full of children behaving as though the substitute teacher’s back is turned.

I don’t think these things are acceptable, and would like to compare and contrast online with real life behaviors in an attempt to do my part for the single people of this country, and quite possibly the world. Maybe by pointing out the ridiculousness of these behaviors, I can begin the end of them. At least I hope.

These are four real conversations I’ve had with men online:

Conversation 1:

Him: Hey

Me: Hi

The end.

Conversation 2:

Him: Hey does cilantro taste like soap to you? [I reference a cilantro aversion in my profile]

Me: Yes!

Him: Any particular brand?

Me: Something cheap for sure.

Him: I just noticed you live in Brooklyn. Cobble Hill is a really nice area.

Me: I love it there. :)

The end.

Conversation 3:

Him: Hey Shani. So you don’t like Mexican food?

Me: Love it. Just have to avoid certain garnishes. :)

Him: I agree with that. I like margaritas The food in ancillary.

Me: Ha, you need to try better Mexican then. My favorite is Hecho en Dumbo

Him: How’s the margaritas?

Me: Excellent. They have a spicy tamarind one that’s really good.

Him: Then that’s the place! Is it in Dumbo or is it a Disney property?

Me: I think it started as a pop up in Dumbo. Now it’s on Bowery. I wish it was in Dumbo though, I live in Brooklyn.

Him: Where in Brooklyn do you live?

Me: Cobble Hill [this is a lie, I never tell them where I live]

Him: Easier to Manhattan than Dumbo from there. Or maybe not, what do I know?

Me: They’re about the same. :)

Him: When are we going?

Me: When should we go?

The end.

Conversation 4:

Him: If you’re free anytime soon, we should meet up. [we had been chatting for four or five exchanges before this]

Me: Definitely. I could grab a drink after work tomorrow?

Him: [10 hours later] Hey sorry just seeing this. I can’t tomorrow. How about next week if we can? You live in the city?

Me: I could do Monday or Tuesday after work. I live in Brooklyn by my office is near Bryant Park so it’s easy for me to meet pretty much anywhere.

The end.

Imagine you’ve just met someone at a party. They don’t even need to be a potential sexual or romantic interest. They can be entirely platonic, a friend, a married person. If they walked up to you and said:


And you, having manners, said:


And then they just walked away, you would likely spend the rest of the evening not only avoiding that person but telling everybody else you know what an absolute weirdo they are.

When making plans with people, any kind of plans really, it is incredibly rude to arrive at the actual point where a date/time/place is set and then simply cease communicating. Can you imagine? You’re setting a meeting with a colleague to discuss something and then:

“Yeah that sounds great, we should meet to discuss. When are you free?”

“How about tomorrow afternoon?”

And then you just never met? The goal never got accomplished? Douchebags who think they work in Boiler Room call this “dropping the ball.” In the dating world we just write it off as less than nothing. A shoulder shrug. The final fizzle in a flat Diet Coke.

What if your doctor or dentist did this to you?

“So we’ll need you to come in and see us about that rash you mentioned.”

“Okay, do you have any appointments tomorrow morning?”

And then nothing?! How is this okay? Why do professional or health scenarios warrant more respect and follow through than the practice that is (in theory) supposed to lead people who are alone, lonely, and actively searching for companionship to something everyone in life should have?

We’re being shit on, that’s all, shit on. [That is from Wayne’s World but it is one of my favorite lines of all time so it’s going in here and you can deal with it because it’s online and I CAN DO WHAT I WANT APPARENTLY.]

I have never understood why single people are subjected to such a lack of respect. Can you imagine the happiness score of a marriage where conversations and future plans were nothing more than a series of hanging chads?

It’s not just fizzling out. It’s not just being flaky. It doesn’t matter less because we should know what online dating is like by now. Online dating is like what it’s like because we forgive it almost all its sins. We allow each other to walk away from conversations without an explanation or farewell, something that would be considered the height of rudeness in person.

My online person is a person. A person exhausted by failed almost-plans and useless conversations that have wasted hours if not days of my time. I am not afraid to call it out, to offer it an explanation and a farewell. You, you there, the man behind the iPhone. Don’t start a conversation with me unless you intend to either finish it, or walk away from it in a dignified fashion. You do not get to wave me off without thought. You do not get to rely solely on me to provide the entertainment or direction in a two-person conversation. You are not dating, you are dawdling. You are not “chill,” you are a coward.


Written by

NPR once called me a humor essayist, let’s go with that. Host of A Single Serving Podcast. shanisilver[at]gmail

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