Ask Wendy

Why Are Online Daters Not Efforting?

Friday, October 25, 2018
man and computer
Today we’ll hear from Kristen & Annie

Hey Wendy,

I've noticed an increase in men whom I've connected with online/dating app who completely drop off when I suggest we go from texting to a phone call, often with the intention to see about meeting up for the first time in person. I'm an introvert and not a huge fan of chatting on the phone, but it seems like a very reasonable way to get to know someone before setting up a date. Part of me thinks well, if they can't participate in one phone call then just move on; however, since this is happening often, it's making me pause and question my strategy. Where are the men who have the basic social skills to go from online to in person with one phone call in between? I mean WTF?!

Kristen in Davis, CA


Hey Wendy,

In Australia, Tinder is by far the best platform to meet men. and aren’t popular here. Most men have a fairly short bio (if at all), and due to the nature of the app, once you get a match, messages are generally sent as short texts rather than wordy emails. I find myself chatting to a lot of men (most of whom initiate the conversation with me) that just do not seem to know how to ask questions! In my messages, I will reveal a little something about myself and then ask a question to keep the conversation going. I try to keep the chat fun and interesting.

I’m getting frustrated and I presume that this is a representation of his real-life character. I mean, if he simply replies with a statement and no question in each message, it seems like he’s either very self-focused or clueless about how to talk to people, right?! After speaking to quite a few single women, this question-less conversation thing seems to be a relatively common problem. A different, but equally frustrating subset of men are the ones who use generic emails for everyone and don’t pull out anything personal. Am I being too judgy?

Annie, Melbourne, Australia.

Hey Kristen and Annie!

Thank you for giving voice to an issue that so many women around the world experience. Yeah, dating is frustrating—I hear you! There are a ton of guys who have zero game; daters who are clueless about how to succeed by paying just the slightest bit of attention to what makes up basic conversation; there are people who have no intention of ever meeting you face to face and are just reaching out because they’re lonely; and then there are the bots (i.e. not even real humans!) writing you text messages using basic emails and scripts that pull keywords—sorry about that.

And yet, dating sites/apps are still your best source for gaining access to real, live, amazing people you do want to date and who you don’t have access to in your everyday world.

When online dating was new, a journalist said, “A dating site is a lot like the community pool on the hottest day of the year.” A ton of people you don’t want to see naked or share a lounge chair with, and a few that you do. So, treat making online connections the same as you would if you were at the largest community pool on the hottest day of the year. Be discerning about who you speak to (or continue to speak to) so you don’t burn out or get grossed out.

And nope, it’s not too much to ask that your dates be able to string a couple of well-crafted sentences together and bring a little curiosity to the conversation. Your friends can do that, right? Hell, randos on the subway on your morning commute can do that. Your dates can—and should—even be expected to pick up the phone to say “hi” before you meet face to face.

Now, that said, when it comes to the phone, most of us don’t like talking on it much anymore. I actually don’t see a problem with you running a little science experiment of just meeting right away without that call in between if you like their profile well enough and you’ve had some smart, vibe-y banter back and forth. The last dozen or so dates I went on, I didn’t talk on the phone first (I don’t think) and the quality of my dates didn’t decline.

With the phone, you also run the risk of accidentally ruling them out too soon because you make a bad judgment call as you’re trying to have an organic conversation with a stranger who can’t see you. It’s not easy, and can easily go south.

I would rather you meet right away, and if they delay meeting up with you, that’s your red flag. You don’t want to spend too much time in text-land, because that’s where the potential catfishers live.

So, you two lovely ladies (and all your single friends), you get to say where your minimum standard lies. Just like if you were at the community pool on the hottest day of the year. If a guy you were interested in wasn’t giving you the time of day or asking good questions, you’d stand up and move somewhere else, right? If he was coming on too strong, you’d find a way to politely excuse yourself. You can get as strict about your minimum guidelines as you’d like, and on days where your patience tank is full, you can give people a little leeway and run science experiments with them. When your friends are complaining about the guys who aren’t following up or asking any good questions, you can say, “Oh yeah, I totally don’t talk to those guys. They’re gone the moment I figure out that’s what’s up—voop, I just swipe left!”

If you’re using one of the big sites or apps like Tinder, and you happen to live in a decent-sized city, you’ll be fine. You’ll never be alone in that big community pool, and when the selection starts looking a little sparse, remember new people jump into that pool every single day.

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