In 2011, I remember having a discussion with a lady who had tried internet dating. I can’t remember how we got onto the subject, but she seemed very keen to tell me that she wasn’t having much success because, in her words, “Most blokes just want to get their leg over.” I had no experience of internet dating and my view of it then was rather skeptical, as I thought of it as a very synthetic and desperate process to “find love” and that’s all I’d heard they were used for. She seemed very sad about it and I didn’t know what to say. What went through my mind at the time, given how little interest I had at the time for dating, romance or sex, and how much I enjoyed my independence, was “You’re better off on your own.”
When I started using dating apps four years later I had no expectations, specifically in regard to relationships. Yes, I wanted to satisfy my sexual urges, but not at any cost. In the beginning I was thrilled with the treatment I received and the experience, being taken on very pleasant dates with very pleasant men, getting to know them and just generally having a nice time. I didn’t WANT to be in a relationship, but equally, with the right person, I wasn’t opposed to it either. Dating apps simply gave me the opportunity to meet people and see what would happen, naturally. There was never any guarantee of sex and I had to continually make this clear to my dates.
I have now reached the end of my yearly dating app adventure and what have I learned?
- It’s easy to get sex when you want it.
- It’s not easy to get/find/achieve anything more profound than this.
- I can meet very nice people on dating apps, but they are few and far between.
- Misogyny and sexual harassment is rife and inequality is vast.
- People will comfortably (try to) take advantage of me.
- Do not trust anyone.
I was once an enthusiastic, excited, largely patient, somewhat naive woman who wanted to explore my sexuality and hopefully make friends along the way. Now I am a cynical, slightly bitter, slightly damaged, exhausted woman who feels my sexuality has been taken advantage of.
It has taken a while for that realisation to sink in. That’s not to say I regret the experience as a whole, and there have certainly been a lot of highs and a lot of mutual respect and enjoyment, but I had to search very hard to find those kinds of people to share that with.
The single biggest gripe I have about the experience is the outright disrespect and dishonesty. A lot of men blatantly IGNORE what I want and have tried to manipulate me. Rather than simply say “We want different things” or “We’re not a suitable match” they would pretend they were open to the possibility of something more simply to get me into bed. This would become apparent very quickly, after giving them a chance to prove themselves, by their insistence on turning any conversation to sex at the earliest opportunity. I still gave them further opportunities and they still let me down.
I never wanted to be the kind of person who tarred all men with the same brush and say “Men only think about one thing” and “Men are all the same”, but this is how the experience has made me FEEL. I was told time and time again, by men, that dating apps are hook up apps and “if you want to find a nice guy, go to church.” The men who say that are using their sexual aggression to turn the apps into ONLY one thing because it suits them, with total disregard and ridicule for anyone who might want something else.
OkCupid provides four options to specify to other users what you are looking for: New friends, short-term dating, long-term dating and casual sex. A user can also specify the age range for potential connections, gender, sexual orientation, location etc. But due to the app’s open door policy, these preferences are more often than not ignored or overlooked by other users. They simply have no regard for what another person wants. It is only what THEY want that matters. I have to go to explicit lengths in my profile to stipulate what I am NOT interested in, even though my preferences make it very clear, and that still doesn’t stop them. Every day, time after time, I am plagued with casual sex offers, threesome offers, “send me nudes” requests and sexually related comments.
So what’s the solution? I stand firm and maintain my EQUAL right to be there, or I allow these predators to make it such an uncomfortable place to be, giving me NO choice but to turn my back on the apps altogether in order to preserve my peace of mind. Countless women have told me that their experience has resulted in the latter outcome, and now I’ve made the same decision. The positives no longer outweigh the negatives. I am sick to death of having daily battles with men due to their dishonest, disrespectful and predatory behaviour. There are not enough decent men on the apps to sufficiently dilute the more unsavoury ones. It feels like a very lonely and disgusting place to be and I no longer have the energy to fight it head on.
Someone recently said to me “Once I lost my sense of humour with men on dating apps I knew it was time to step back.” When I asked why she had lost her sense of humour, she said “Well I suppose I became cynical. At the start that message would have brought a smile to my lips. In the end I thought ‘fuckwit’. I had heard it all.”
Cynicism: an inclination to believe that people are motivated purely by self-interest; scepticism.
I don’t believe people become cynical because they lose their sense of humour. I still have a sense of humour and I still love to laugh. Not finding the same repetitive, nonsense or comments funny does not mean I have lost my sense of humour. I’ll concede that my patience has been depleted enormously, but is that my fault or the people who are continually testing me? One person can only take so much bullshit.
Why am I so cynical? Here is the most recent example to explain it.
Three days ago, I connected with one of multiple men on OkCupid, while I had reverted my profile to a non-dating profile (New friends only) and was simply sharing my blog with the OkC community because I needed a break from dating. He, along with multiple others, contacted me to seemingly show support for my blog. He identified as a feminist and we had a very pleasant discussion. I told him that I was on a dating hiatus.
As our discussion progressed, he said “I’ll be in town a bit during December. Would be up for meeting if there’s a place for that in your current plan of things. Dating or otherwise, you seem interesting.” He was nice, so I gave him my number and subsequently disabled my OkC profile. I was open to the possibility of meeting him and was happy to stay in touch, with absolutely no pre-conceived ideas beyond that possibility. This morning he was back in touch:
Good morning. Is today a work day?
—Morning. Today is a uni day.
What are you studying?
—Lol. As Jane Austen would have said 😉
Haha. I don’t know anyone that lives in Canary Wharf. Is it fancy? Are you fancy?
—No dear. I only live here because I used to work here. I’m from Brighton. Most people make wild assumptions about Canary Wharf. What’s with the questionnaire this morning?
I know you’re from Brighton. Sorry, I’ll chill with the Q&A. It’s early. But I’m interested in you, in simple terms.
—Likewise. I don’t mind answering questions.
Do you like Vietnamese food?
—Yummy yes. I love all Asian except Chinese.
Have to been to Cafe East? Surrey Quays.
—Nope. Aww are you asking me out?
Not specifically 😉
You’re not dating right now. I remember that much. My main commitment today is checking into an Airbnb at lunchtime. It looks to have a freestanding bath. I’m going to use it.
—You’re right. I said I wasn’t dating at the moment, but somehow I ended up giving my number to you hahaha. I have such strong willpower, evidently. All dating apps disabled now though.
Exclusive access. Nice.
—I hate baths but I’d probably make use of the free standing ones too just for the novelty. Are you moving around a bit?
I’m in London til Thursday this time, then heading to Leeds.
I am pretty footloose at the moment, though. Not meaning to sound cagey at all. Life is a little unconventional at the moment.
—In what sense?
I just got back to the UK after living abroad. I’m between jobs at the moment and I’m living off a redundancy settlement. So I have a lot of freedom.
—Haaaa lucky you. That said, I can imagine you have some decisions to make too.
This is true, yes. Are you studying all day? Is that home-based?
—I’ll be at uni until 3pm.
If you can conquer your bath phobia, you’re welcome to come and get in mine when you’re finished this afternoon.
—Another day, another offer of sex. Marvellous.
I didn’t offer anything explicitly. But, yeah, a fair appraisal of things.
—Explicit or implicit, makes absolutely no difference to what is meant in the end. This is why I’ve had enough of you all. You’re all too cheap to pay for sex, but want me to be a free sex worker. I am really disappointed in you. Now it’s time to say goodbye.
You needn’t be disappointed. I’m by no means after just one thing. I apologise for speaking out of turn. It wasn’t my intention to demean you. I’ve been enjoying our conversation. I misjudged things but please take it as meant playfully.
On reflection, your comments are very scathing and sweeping. It appears to be reflective of accumulated negative experience. I’m sorry that you feel that way, but I understand why you may. Goodbye.
—Yes, of course it’s my fault.
Is my accumulated cynicism undue? Is it appropriate for someone to invite me over for sex when they have never met me and when I have given them no indication that doing so interests me? Does such an offer give me any indication that he really cares about me or is interested in romance or anything long term? Can you see how he tried to manipulate the situation at first by saying there was no EXPLICIT/DIRECT offer of sex, but then admitted that his IMPLICIT/INDIRECT offer was just that? Every single time they do this and I call them out on it, they use the “I didn’t mean it” or “I was just joking” card. Do you think that if I had taken him up on his offer that he would have said “Sorry, only joking. You can’t come over”?
This was a test of the boundaries and one giant leap too far. He then further tried to manipulate the situation by getting defensive and suggesting that my “scathing” reaction to his offer was because I am damaged goods, yet goes on to say that he understands why that may be. Well, of course he understands. He’s just contributed to the exact same thing that all the others are guilty of – that is, to make an unsolicited offer of sex to a stranger when there is no mutual indication or agreement that that’s what they BOTH want. There was absolutely no point in giving him any opportunity to wriggle out of what had just happened.
Ultimately, it comes down to this: he has sexual desires that he is struggling to contain and I am seen as an easy solution to his predicament. I am the FREE sex worker, for which he need make little effort or develop feelings. I am a transaction. I want something deep and meaningful and he wants an easy and convenient fuck. Just being present is enough effort for him. He teased me with the possibility of dinner and then backtracked when I showed some interest. It doesn’t matter to him what I want. If I don’t fulfil his sexual desires, I have no use or value to him.
If he had told me that this is what he wanted when he first contacted me on OkC, I would have said goodbye at that point. Instead, he lured me closer to him with “dating, or otherwise”, leading me to believe we might meet up for a platonic, possibly romantic, encounter, when actually all he wanted was sex. He did not want to be honest about his true intentions because he KNEW I would have said goodbye, as so many women often do.
Instances like this are a drop in the ocean of my daily dating app experience. I stipulate what I want (remember “New friends” and not dating) and men try to manipulate me to get what they want instead. To them, I am an object of desire that they can play with at their convenience.
Sexual objectification is the act of treating a person as an instrument of sexual pleasure. Objectification more broadly means treating a person as a commodity or an object without regard to their personality or dignity.
“Hey beautiful/babe/sexy/darling. You look pretty/fit/sexy. Nice tits/ass/lips/legs” Objectification does not put me, a woman, at equal standing with men. In the beginning, I overlooked such comments because I saw them as innocent comments and/or compliments. When you analyse the meaning of language, not just the literal sense (dictionary definition), but the figurative (metaphorical) sense too, it opens your eyes. It’s often referred to as “reading between the lines”. What a person SAYS isn’t necessarily what they MEAN.
Being called beautiful is not such a bad thing, right? Some people might like that validation of their appearance. From an egotistical point of view, that’s all this kind of comment is good for. Beyond that, it is meaningless and irrelevant. If someone contacts me on a dating app, I’m hardly going to think they believe I’m unattractive, in whatever sense of the word. It is simply a sweetener, to get me onside *flutters eyelids*. Great. How far will that ego boost take us? What about if we go on a date? Will there be anything to talk about or will they simply say I’m beautiful over and over again?
I accept that we are all conditioned to certain habits and that is very difficult to escape. I am still learning and I try to make allowances for this when I speak to people on the apps, but at the same time I should not compound the issue by letting it slide and simply saying “thank you”. Opening lines and general comments like the above are continually reinforced in every day life through the media, for example, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t always opportunities to learn and be better, to treat every single person on the planet with the same dignity and respect, no matter the gender, colour/appearance, nationality, age, mobility, etc.
I am a human being with the same blood running through my veins as men and, SURPRISE SURPRISE, the same sexual desires. Yet I don’t treat men like walking dicks. I don’t sexually harass men and ask them to send me nudes so that I can masturbate. I am not dishonest. I wouldn’t want to use someone’s existence to do such a thing because I have more respect for people, their feelings and their dignity. I expect the same treatment in return. Does that make me entitled? Yes, it does. I will not stop expecting this.
Just because I was interested in casual sex yesterday, doesn’t mean I have to be interested in it today. So many men have misconstrued my intentions behind this blog and I have recently had to cut ties with several of them, or at least set them straight, due to their intrusive and inappropriate comments about my sex life outside of the blog. Yes, I spoke about my dates and sexual experiences in a lot of detail, but that was not to provide an avenue for perverts to sit at home masturbating or suggest that I will go to bed with anybody or that any desperado who isn’t getting lucky can come knocking on my door for a favour. I did this to give women a voice, to show that we are as much interested in sex as men WHEN WE CHOSE and that we can live a sexually free life as they can. It is not a requirement to be in a relationship to have sex or be intimate with someone and you can break from societal norms. It is absolutely nobody else’s business what you do with your body and your life, as long as you don’t harm other people.
So, to summarise, after being on the dating apps for a year, I have met many wonderful men and had some great times, great conversations and great sex. But I’ve also made mistakes and I let things get out of hand. I let my guard down too often and gave people chances they, frankly, didn’t deserve.
The men who behave in a predatory manner have succeeded in pushing me off the apps because they simply will not respect my wishes and continually lie to me to fulfil their own needs, not to mention the misogyny and sexual harassment. That has now tainted the experience for me to some degree and of all the genuine men out there who are respectful and actually want to date, because now we women, largely, do not trust them.
- Ask yourselves why women match and don’t speak.
- Ask yourselves why women won’t respond to your banal and inappropriate messages (I’ve just given you a clue).
- Ask yourselves why women are reluctant to meet you.
- Ask yourselves why you never or rarely have any success.
- Ask yourselves what YOU are going to do about it.
Unless things change for the better, I envisage dating apps will become full of men and no women at all.