The Biggest Online-Dating Mistakes Men Make

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Online dating is a pretty popular topic here at AskMen. I’ve written about it along with just about everyone else with a computer and word processor. But what we don’t always hear about are people’s firsthand experiences. That’s why Ouiser Boudreaux (a pseudonym) created A(n)nals Of Online Dating, a site where online daters can share their horror stories. Naturally, most of the biggest gaffes come from us men, so I sat down with Ouiser (love that band) over Gchat to learn more about the site, why men can be such huge creeps and what we can do to avoid showing up on her blog.

The conversation has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Ian Lang (IL): First things first: Are you, in fact, seated?
Ouiser Boudreaux (OB): Yes. Why?

IL: Don’t worry about it. I just don’t like to lie to my readers.
OB: OK…

IL: So I guess first it’d be great if you gave us a brief synopsis of how and why you got started with the site.
OB: Sure. I started the site because I was online dating, and so were a few of my friends. We were all on the receiving end of some pretty bizarre messages, which we’d circulate by email to each other and roundly mock. One day, while bored at work, I decided it could be fun to put that mockery on the broader internet and A(n)nals of Online Dating was born.

IL: Imagine that: Guys on a free dating site are creeps.
OB: Ha. Shocking, I know!

IL: So it started with just your experiences, but you take submissions now, correct? How many of those flood your inbox every week?
OB: I do take submissions now, and nearly everything I publish is submitted by readers. I’ve never actually counted how many I get in a week, but a solid amount — depending on how regularly I’m posting, I’d say anywhere from 50 to 100 submissions weekly. And, of course, the best is when I get the same submission from multiple people — so one guy was copying and pasting a nearly identical creepy message to multiple women.

IL: I imagine there’s a fair bit of that. I used to be on a site myself ,and even bothering to send a small but obviously personalised message seemed to set me apart. Of the submissions you get, would you say it’s mostly men?
OB: It really does! Those are the only ones I reply to, personally. Yeah, the submissions I get are 80-90% submitted by women who are getting crazy messages from heterosexual men.

IL: Any theories as to why that is? I mean, in my experience, it’s the men who have to do most of the blind initial messaging, so maybe it’s a law-of-averages thing — with so many messages, some are bound to be creepy.
OB: I think it probably is in part a law-of-averages thing and in part a cultural thing. Despite increased gender equality, it’s still expected that men do the asking out and the leading when it comes to dating. So men pick who they want to date, and women either accept or reject. And online that’s magnified because you have so many people to choose from and none of the visual cues that help you to differentiate between creeps and not-creeps in the real world.

So you have a lot of guys who are trying really hard to set themselves apart and end up coming off as really weird or creepy, like guys who use pickup-artist techniques online. And then you have guys who say or do things online that they would never do face-to-face, because it would be too awkward — like initiating a conversation with “I would love to put my tongue in your ass.”

IL: I mean, at least with that guy, you know what you’re in for.
OB: That is one thing I like about online dating — sometimes, separating out the weirdos is really easy.

IL: In the real world, women are ultimately the selectors, so online that’s magnified 100 times. You don’t even have to shoot a guy down; you can just delete his email.

OB: Exactly. I also think that in the real world, women are pretty strongly socialised to be nice even when we don’t want to be. So we’ll be polite but cold to the annoying dude hitting on us at a bar, and inevitably he won’t read the social signals we’re sending and it’ll segue into us being increasingly rude until he finally gets it and goes away. And then everyone feels badly about the situation. Whereas online, it’s easy to just decide “Nope!” and not respond. Then no one (or at least no one normal) feels like they’ve wasted their time.

IL: Why do you think so many of these guys come off as weird or use lame techniques? Is it laziness? Is it actual ignorance as to how to interact with women?
OB: I’m really not sure — maybe a combination of those things. There are obviously different reasons for different men, but a few themes that I see played out are (1) the Pickup Artist guys, who frequent these PUA forums and literally exchange ideas of “funny” messages to send women, which are almost always super-lame and weird. I think the idea is that a woman will think you’re quirky or funny if you send her a weird message. There are a couple of really common ones, like, “Hey, I’ve already married and divorced you in my mind,” that are just stupid. But these dudes are often a little socially awkward and they believe that this PUA nonsense works.

(2) The slightly-too-honest guy, who thinks that because he’s online he can just say whatever he wants. Which ranges from “I love to eat pussy, wanna go out?” to “I’ve never been with an Asian woman and would like to try it.” Again, it’s some combination of social awkwardness and incredibly poor judgment.

IL: What about girls? Do any guys send you any cringe-worthy submissions?
OB: Yes, definitely. They aren’t as common, but there are some batsh*t crazy women on online-dating sites too. Like the women who wear “GOLD DIGGER” T-shirts in their profile photos.

IL: The men lack self-awareness, but some women are a little too self-aware?
OB: Yeah, or a little too lacking in the judgment department. I was a nanny for a while, and there’s this phrase that teachers and parents use, which is telling a kid to “be your best self at school.” That’s what I want to tell a lot of these people: Be your best self online. You don’t need to lie, obviously, or mislead anyone. But maybe don’t put all of your crazy right out there and all of your illegal activities and personal problems.

IL: Absolutely. So I guess as the last official “interview” question, do you have any advice for guys looking to succeed at online dating without making a fool out of themselves?
OB: Sure. I would say: Be nice. Be genuine. Be directly responsive to items in the profile of the woman you’re interested in. Keep the conversation appropriate and don’t say anything online that you wouldn’t say to a new “real-life” acquaintance. And stay positive — online dating involves a lot of misses for everyone, so just use it as a way to practice dating and maybe meet a few interesting people. Don’t assume that the results you get are any reflection on your attractiveness or you as a human being. It should be fun, so try to enjoy it. And if it’s not fun, shutting down your profile is an easy fix.

Ouiser Boudreaux is the proprietor of A(n)nals Of Online Dating. You can also read all-original content in her regular Buzzfeed column.

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Categories: Sex

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