Monday, July 28, 2008

Some Rules of Engagement

So, we're about a week into this dating site membership, and I'm going back and forth via email (and, on rare occasion, chat) with several guys. I've been out with one of them, and my calendar reflects a few more meetings lined up for the next week.

I'm playing by some (loose) rules on the correspondence front for the moment, which include (but are not necessarily limited to):

- I respond to messages that include: appealing substance, an adequate exhibition of wit and/or intelligence, and/or a reasonable amount of intrigue.

- Most of my former dealbreakers (excluding those involving safety, creepiness, or wearing a chain) are currently considered inadmissable for the purpose of opting out of pre-date communication [and initial (1-2) date(s)].

- I do not respond to any message on the same day, but I respond to all messages (that warrant responses) within a day or two.

- If a guy stops contacting me, I do not attempt to revive communication.

- If a guy creeps me out, I cease communication immediately.

- If a guy doesn't creep me out and finds the nerve to ask me out, I accept.

- I'm not pussyfooting around anything this time 'round. No finessing any facts or fine-tuning self-portrayal for the sake of glittering myself up. And no apologies. I am who I am, and they get what they get... take it or leave it.
I'm also a bad blogger who received a book for review many months ago and (gasp!) has yet to review it. As of now, though, I'm officially following The Four Man Plan, by Cindy Lu. We'll consider it a social experiment of sorts, and the review will be chronicled in the results of this endeavor.

More to come on Ms. Lu's Plan and Belle's new venture onto the dating scene...


Ben said...

Hi, thanks for your post.

As a guy I don't understand the purpose of some of your rules...

"- I do not respond to any message on the same day, but I respond to all messages (that warrant responses) within a day or two."

Why? If you are interested in the guy, why not respond at your convenience, rather than after some arbitrary delay? If you're only going to respond 1 or 2 days later it's going to get tiresome real quick and there won't be much opportunity to build a connection.

- If a guy stops contacting me, I do not attempt to revive communication.

Again, why? If you like him, why not contact him? The worst he can do is not respond.

- If a guy creeps me out, I cease communication immediately.

This seems sensible, but hinges on what "creeps you out" means. I had a girl pull this on me once over a misunderstood IM. Up to that point she was interested and we got on well. It seemed like a waste (on her part) to absolutely call off the whole thing over a mis-communication. Arterall, we all make mistakes and social faux pas sometimes...

Jamie said...

I've never done online dating before, but I second Ben's notion, especially about the time to respond to a message. I think this applies to any new dating situation.

There seems to be an idea that calling back or responding to an email when you get the message (assuming it's convenient) -- versus two or three days later -- is some kind of massive faux pax. And god forbid someone should actually answer the telephone.

Quite the opposite, I find it really annoying when I call or email a girl (who I've recently met) and she doesn't respond for a day or two.

Believe it or not, men don't all run screaming if a girl shows a level of interest beyond "aloof." Quite the opposite, when someone plays that game with me, I tend to lose their number pretty quickly. We're all grown up here, and I'm not interested in participating in a month-long game of who can act the least interested in the other person before we actually get to spend some time together.

At the end of the day a lot of people do act this way, and it's annoying. But the only significant relationships I've had have come from people who did NOT act this way at the beginning but just acted like themselves. They weren't afraid to pick up the phone when I called or even call me if they felt like it. Life's too short for that kind of game.

M@ said...

I have to agree w/ Ben about the coy attitude. Just be a human being and stop playing games. Maybe you'll make someone's day by sending him a message, for crying out loud.

And what constitutes creepy these days? Nude photography or does penetration have to be involved.

Women are a mystery.

Jamie said...

"women are a mystery"

So a man finds a bottle on the beach and opens it. A djinni pops out and says, "I'll grant you one wish - name it, and it's yours."

The guy says, "OK, I've never been to Hawaii because I'm afraid of flying. I want you to build be a bridge from California to Hawaii."

The djinni says, "Umm... can you maybe think of something a little more practical? It'll take me years to get all the concrete and steel and build that thing for you."

The guy says, "OK. Well, I've been having trouble with my marriage. I just can't understand what my wife wants. She says one thing and does another. She acts like there's something wrong, but then says there isn't. I'd really just like to be able to understand women."

The djinni says, "So, how many lanes you want on that bridge?"

Katherine said...

I've been doing eHarmony for a few months and it has lead to blah dates at best, stunningly horrific dates at worst. There was the guy that tried to make me eat sushi despite my stated allergy, there was the Excessively Ugly Boy Who Just Wanted to Get Laid, there was the Unemployed Liar, there was... Point being, do what feels right, don't forget to laugh, and good luck.

Shannon said...

Thanks for this post, Belle! I've done a lot of online dating myself, so I totally sympathize.

I think a lot of guys are confused about what constitutes "creepy" - which might be why there are so many creepy guys out there!

Diagnosing creepiness is an instinctive thing - but here are some things I look for. If something about the guy seems off or strange, or the guy seems far too interested, or sends ungrammatical sexual poetry (really happened to me!).

I'm put off by guys who make sexual comments or act like they already know me. I also tend to be suspicious of any guy who invites me for a first date late in the evening, at a bar near his apartment.

Also, grammar and punctualization are your email that reads like it came from a 13-year-old girl, but came from a 38-year-old attorney, is way creepy.

I think it's worth knowing that it's not about "miscommunication" or women being too sensitive. A sensible woman will stay far, far away from any guy who sets off her creep meter and might pose danger to her. Remember, a really bad date means a guy goes home alone. A really bad date means the girl winds up getting stalked, raped, or dead.

Shannon said...

...and I'd like to add I'm not being an alarmist with my last statement. I've been stalked, and, man, it's terrifying. I don't look over my shoulder all the time, but I do pay close attention to my instincts about a person.

Anonymous said...

The problem (okay, one of MANY problems) with on-line dating (and all dating, really) is that people read too much into the actions of others. The how-long-does-it-take-to-respond issue is good example of this. Sometimes it means absolutely nothing that a person doesn't respond to an email the day they get it. Or it means that they're busy and emailing strangers for the purpose of engaging in tedious small talk over drinks isn't their # 1 priority. It could also mean about a million other things as well. My point is that people drive themselves crazy establishing ultimatums that attempt to read into the random behavior of almost complete strangers. If a woman doesn't respond to you right away she might not be playing games, she might also just have a rich and busy life and isn't that what guys are always saying they want?