So you met him online. He’s amazing. He has qualities you admire and he’s totally sexy, too. Good for you. Here comes the hardest part: After the first date, you’re going to want to visit him online. You’re curious, and your brain wants to gather as much information about him as possible. You think maybe if you reread that profile again, you’ll learn something new. Plus, when you visit his profile, you feel connected, and that makes you all warm and fuzzy, right? Wrong.
You like him. You think he’s terrific. You feel happy. So you do a drive-by online and notice his status says “ONLINE NOW.” Instantly you experience a moment of terror. Yes, it’s true. He’s looking at other women. Other women who could out-attract you. You just know it. He’s talking to the woman that has every quality he wants that you don’t. They could be emailing back and forth right now. You can forget any plans you had with him for the upcoming weekend because he’s moving on. Oh wait, he hasn’t set a future date with you yet? Your insecure reaction just magnified times ten.
Somehow you muddle along. The two of you keep dating, and when you feel like connecting with him, you check his status. It seems like he’s always online, and he’s not emailing you at the rapid rate you’d like. After experiencing this repeatedly, one day you log on for a visit, see the “ONLINE NOW” status, and you blurt out, “Fuck you!”
It’s official. This process has turned you into a crazy person, one who’s irritated with him when he hasn’t done one thing wrong.
Raise your hand if you know what I’m talking about.
The last time I encountered this problem I was two months (and seven dates) into seeing a man I was wild about. Unbeknownst to anyone else, I’d become a lunatic, mostly because I wasn’t getting the attention I needed from him. And how I ended the craziness is by going off the site completely. I didn’t tell him I was leaving it and I didn’t ask him to either. I quietly took down my profile. I did this because, left to my own devices, I was untrustworthy.
As a woman, one thing that makes us feel safe, loved, and sane is connection with the people we care about. Stated simply, when you connect with your (potential) man, you instinctively feel safe. When you go online and you see he’s not connecting with you, but instead he’s connecting with other women, you lose. Hopping online for a drive-by is not kind to your sweet little spirit, and you lose your capacity to be your best self when you’re with him.
You might think looking at him online isn’t that big a deal. And to be honest, it’s not a big deal . . . when you’re looking at the ones you don’t like that much. I recommend you try hard—very, very hard—to avoid peeking. The truth is, it’s not going to help your situation. In fact, it could be damaging it. It’s one of the things that drive women off a site, away from online dating, and even drive off the man.
Most men use dating site apps for their smart phone. Once logged in for a quick check, the phone will keep them logged in for the better half of the day making it appear as if he’s always online.
Keep in mind that you’re dating a single person. And single people are free to date anyone they wish, as often as they wish (it’s one of the perks of being single).
When you’re dating someone off-line, he could be dating other women, and you just don’t have access to witness it. I believe wholeheartedly that in this case, ignorance is bliss.
Need another reason not to be a stalker? On most sites your view is public. That’s right, stalker, he can see you looking at him! Some sites are smart enough to charge you for a privacy feature, so you have to pay them to stalk privately. Do you really want to make a dating site rich because you can’t control your impulses? (Says the woman who paid $9.99 a month for the privacy option on OkCupid. I write what I know.)
My friend Leslie had a brilliant perspective on the topic. When I described this phenomenon to her, she said, “Oh, so you’re snooping. You mean you just poke your nose into his private business?”
Holy shit! I’d never thought of it this way. (She’s a genius.) So in real life, I’m not a snooper. In my forty-five years, I’ve never read a man’s email, checked his phone, looked up anything on him. Normally, I’m not compelled to do this, and frankly, I don’t understand women who do. I think it’s weird. Even if I felt I had something to concern myself with, I wouldn’t go about getting the information behind his back. I’d sort it with him directly. So it was shocking to see that even I (a non-snooper) have in fact stuck my nose right where it didn’t belong. It’s none of our business. And let’s face it, snooping never turns out well.
Okay, maybe that’s not 100 percent true. I know a woman who dated a popular, eligible bachelor from Match.com. She was smitten with him like so many other women stumbling across his alluring profile. She too became a stalker (like the rest of us). As they began their courting process, she continued to “visit” him, and seeing his activity (or inactivity, in this case) gave her comfort and confidence in what they were building. He’d tell her, “Yeah, I only pop online occasionally just to answer the emails coming in.” His words matched his actions. As she visited his profile she could see he was going online less and less. He was who he said he was.
That story aside, I’m still sticking with my original position, which is that stalking is not cool. And I have to give mad props to my girl Leslie for her brilliant insight. I never did it again. Not that it was any less tempting, mind you, but once that I saw his profile as his personal business, it was just an integrity issue; I just couldn’t do it.
So what’s a smart gal do instead? You can start by printing out or downloading his profile. That way you have access to all that juicy information you crave at anytime. You can drag the photos right off the website and onto your computer. And voila, you have your very own file on your hard drive for your handy reference
Block him from view by deleting him out of your search results once you’ve printed out his profile.
After the drop and drag, go get yourself a bigger life. Use that time you’d spend stalking him to go to a café and read a book, take a hike, see a film, or have drinks with girlfriends. Here’s a novel idea: Use the time to keep dating other men. You’re single remember?
Here’s what we learned:
- Being a stalker is uncool.
- Snooping into his personal business starts with “visiting.”
- Your time is precious and valuable.
- Viewing his profile over and over will burn you out, and make you hate the dating process just ever so slightly more than you already do.
I’m Wendy Newman, a media-celebrated author & trusted dating, sex & relationship advisor. Pick up my book, 121 First Dates: How to Succeed at Online Dating, Fall in Love, and Live Happily Ever After (Really!) here!