A friend whom I’ve mentioned before posted a conversation to her tumblr recently which illustrates another irritating bit of online dating that I’ve run into. When I asked her if I could use this one as the lead-in to a blog post, she said “Yeah, no problem! Feel free to mine the treasure trove of my failed love life for material”, and so I am doing just that. To set the stage, she mentions multiple times in her profile that she’s looking for a monogamous relationship.
Guy on OKC: Stockings are amazingly hot to me, I’m obsessed with technology, and I’m at least in an open relationship looking for a female counterpart. Do those qualify for your interests in perhaps getting to know each other a bit? Oh, by the way, my name is. Nice to have crossed paths on the tangled webs of the internet.
Me: I am not entirely sure where the sense of entitlement that is so pervasive in the Seattle poly community comes from. You should be more respectful of people’s stated preferences.
Him: Someone is a little sensitive. Maybe you should lighten up a bit. 🙂
Him, again: I also wanted to thank you for giving me a glimpse of your true personality before it was too late. It would have been a waste of both of our time if I had found out you were such a miserable person later on in the friendship we could have had. I hope you can learn to enjoy life a bit more and eventually learn to not be so presumptuous.
Because, of course, she’s the one being presumptuous here.
I’m aware of this phenomenon partly through my own experience and partly through participating in the journals. A lot of online daters just simply don’t care what you say you’re looking for, and feel free to hit on you regardless.
Sometimes, perhaps most of the time, this is through ignorance; someone either misreads a profile element or simply doesn’t read the whole thing. The latter is probably forgivable in the grand novella that I’ve written about myself, but the average profile is not eye-wrenchingly long. At the very least, one should read the “You should message me if” section on OkCupid before, you know, messaging someone.
Often, though, it’s deliberate. I know of several people who explicitly ignore someone’s limits if they don’t match them. For example, several older men have written in the OkCupid journals that they feel perfectly justified in contacting someone who states outright that they don’t want to hear from anyone their age. I also know of a lot of women who will contact men who say that they’re not looking for anything monogamous on the assumption that they’re just looking for the right person with whom to be monogamous. And of course some men and women who are in poly/open relationships feel perfectly justified in hitting on people who explicitly state that they’re only interested in monogamy, as above.
It’s not everyone, of course, but it’s a sizable minority of at least OkCupid’s userbase. And it creates a sort of arms race of lies; I know lots of women who list an age range that’s smaller than they’re actually looking for because they know they’ll be contacted by people who are a couple of years outside of it, anyway. I know people who list themselves as “seeing someone” when they’re looking because they know that enough people will hit on them anyway (although I question the quality of person who would do so). And of course the limit-breakers know this, and so they increase the amount by which they’ll exceed someone’s limits, and so on.
What’s worst, though, is that so many of these folks feel like they’re entitled to do this. For an example, see the conversation above, where “Guy on OKC” gets incredibly snippy and implies that there’s some character flaw in the monogamy-seeking person he contacted for a) wanting monogamy and b) being upset with him for ignoring that explicitly-stated desire.
To some extent this is just human nature, of course, and probably unavoidable culturally. If OkCupid wanted to, they could add filters that prevent someone from contacting other people–they used to have something like this, but they’ve long since dropped the feature.
I don’t really understand why you’d want to contact someone who has essentially already told you they’re not interested. It’s always possible that they’d make an exception for you, but it’s vastly more likely that you’re wasting everyone’s time. Before I approach someone on any dating site, I’m careful to check what they’re looking for, including age ranges, genders, and special requirements they list explicitly, etc, and that’s courtesy to some extent but it’s also largely that I have things to do other than spamming strangers. Important things! Like I have this one blog I write where I complain about internet strangers!