So, you met him online. He’s amazing. He has all the qualities you admire and he’s totally sexy, too. Good for you. Here comes the hard part: After the first date, you’re going to want to…ah…” visit” him online. You’re curious, and you want 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 feel all warm and fuzzy, right? Wrong.
One night, you do a drive-by past his online profile 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 even set a future date with you yet? Your insecure reaction just magnified tenfold.
Somehow, you muddle along anyway. The two of you keep dating, and when you feel like connecting with him, you check his status instead of shooting him a text or email. 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 blurt out, “Fuck you!”
It’s official. This process has turned you into a crazy person—one who’s blaming 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 total stalker, mostly because I wasn’t getting the attention I needed from him. I ended the craziness by logging off the site completely. I didn’t tell him I was leaving, 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 women, one thing that makes us feel safe, loved, and sane is a constant 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—worse, that he’s connecting with other women—the only person you’re hurting is yourself (and your self-esteem). Hopping online for a drive-by is not kind to your spirit, and in doing so, you lose your capacity to be your best self when you’re with him.
You might think checking in on him online isn’t that big a deal. And to be honest, it’s not…when you’re looking at the ones you don’t like that much. I recommend you try hard—very, very hard—to avoid peeking at the ones who could be keepers. The truth is, it’s not going to help your chances. In fact, it could be damaging them. It’s one of the things that drives women away from online dating and drives off potential partners, as well.
Most men use dating site apps on their smartphones. 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. Single people are free to date anyone they wish, as often as they wish—it’s one of the perks of being single. Until you’re exclusive, he doesn’t owe you his undivided attention (nor do you owe him yours).
When you’re dating someone offline, he could be dating other women and you just don’t have the ability to witness it. I believe wholeheartedly that, in this case, ignorance is bliss.
Need another reason not to let yourself turn into a stalker? On most sites, your views are 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 by the 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 that way. (She’s a genius.) In real life, I’m not a snooper. I’ve never read a man’s email, checked his phone, or looked up anything on him. I’m not compelled to do these things, and frankly, I don’t understand women who are. 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 out with him directly. So, it was shocking to realize that even I (a self-proclaimed adamant non-snooper) have in fact stuck my nose right where it didn’t belong online. It’s none of my business, online or off. And let’s face it, snooping never turns out well.
I have to give mad props to my girl Leslie for her brilliant insight and teaching me some dating 101. I never did it again. Not that it was any less tempting, mind you, but once I saw his profile as his personal business, I saw it for what it was: an integrity issue. I just couldn’t do it.
What’s a smart gal to do instead? You can start by printing out or downloading his profile. That way, you have your very own file on your hard drive or desk for your handy reference whenever you need to remember if he said he likes sushi or Mexican (or want to take a peek and his pics again).
Then “hide” him from view by clicking “don’t’ show him anymore” out of your search results once you’ve saved his profile. This is different than blocking.
After the drop and drag, go get yourself a bigger life. Use that time you’d otherwise spend looking for his online-now 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 at best, and downright creepy and untrustworthy at worst.
- Snooping into his personal business starts with an innocent “visit.”
- Your time is precious and valuable. Don’t spend it obsessing over whether some guy’s online or not.
- 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!