Friday, November 27, 2020

Today's Dating Scene

Many of you will read this letter and exclaim: Thank God I’m not dating. Sent to Carolyn Hax the letter describes what must be a fairly common situation. Two people meet over a dating app. They exchange text messages. They do not talk on the phone. They have never seen each other, even for a cup of coffee.

It is somewhat reminiscent of a story called “Cat Person,” published last year to much fanfare in The New Yorker. Link to my comments here.

While the characters in the Roupenian story did actually meet once or twice, the single mother who is texting her prospective paramour did not meet at all. They communicate through writing.

I understand that certain philosophers, especially those who tout the virtue of deconstruction-- a fancy term for pogrom-- believe that Western civilization is a vast conspiracy designed to repress writing in favor of speech. Apparently, if you only communicate through writing you are more likely to be a sociopath. And thus a recruit for the Storm Troopers. And besides, not to belabor the obvious, but if you only communicate through writing you do not really know who you are talking to. If you do not communicate face-to-face you are not communicating.

Anyway, the letter writer here is a single mother. We do not know how old she is. We do not know how old her fellow texter was. She does not tell us the words that she found especially offensive, assuming that we all know what they were. For my part I do not, but, then again, I do not text.

The important part of the letter involved her sense that the man was dangerous. To which Carolyn Hax responds that if she thinks he is dangerous the chances are very good that he is. She has made no commitments to him and owes him nothing. Hax offers the best advice, namely to get out while she can.

Anyway, here is the letter:

I gave my phone number to a man I've been messaging on a dating app. The pace of messages picked up considerably after that. He asked to talk on the phone, but I declined because my kids were home and they're very nosy.

Anyway, over the course of the "conversation" — about two hours of intermittent texting — he sent things like, "I hope you give me an opportunity to show you who I am," and, "Will you open up your soul to me?" in addition to a few other references to wanting to get to know me, show me he's a great guy, etc. We had made plans to meet for coffee in a few days. He signed off with a certain affectation, an identifiable term, so I'm not using it here.

I'm a little … uncomfortable. Like, too much too soon. One "let me show you I'm a good guy" is okay, especially if someone seems hesitant or nervous. But this felt like too much, especially with his sign-off.

Earlier I told him (honestly) that I'm not dating any one guy right now, and that when I am, I stop searching on the site. This is one of those dating sites where you can see that someone is online. He texted this morning to wish me a good day.

I mentioned I was uncomfortable with the term he used before, and that we haven't even met yet. He didn't acknowledge this. Since then he's texted again, asking if there's any chance we could meet sooner.

 Should I even keep a date with this guy? To me, the warning flags are waving that he doesn't have appropriate expectations. I'm a people-pleaser and have a history of giving people what they want because it's expected of me. But I've also been accused of being too picky or too judgmental, though perhaps not by people with a history of healthy relationships.

— Uncomfortable

Hax responds thusly, and correctly:

You’re uncomfortable, so cancel the date now. It’s not even a close call. You don’t need this person, this date, this information on whether your suspicions are founded or not. The benefit of your doubt isn’t a debt that strangers have any right to collect.

Don’t explain why you’re canceling, either. If you give nice-sounding “reasons,” then you’ll open the door to his countering or refuting your reasons. 


trigger warning said...

Not to worry, Mzz Uncomfortable... if you cancel an Uber there's always another Uber.

Who knew that the 21st Century would give us online date-hailing? :-D

David Foster said...

"Online date-hailing"....years ago, I heard a presentation by Esther Dyson, who observed that while society is viewed as having evolved from Status to Contract, it is now further evolving from Contract to Transaction. IIRC, she was referring both to business transaction and to personal relationships.

Sam L. said...

Me, I'm married. First wife died. My two female neighbors set me up for a meet and greet, at a restaurant with three exit paths out of the parking lot. We've been married 12 years.

370H55V said...

Did anyone see this one back in 1995?

Sam L. said...

Nope! Never heard of it. That was before my wife died.

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