Monday, June 16, 2014

Dating: Why Assumptions Don't Work

I guess it's a pretty common thing to assume that if you're writing someone of the opposite gender, there are some safe bets on what is acceptable to say to them: Based upon your understanding of that gender, maybe what you've seen in the movies or what you guess they might be about, built on decades worth of stereotypes.

But you know what they say about "ASSUME." It just makes an "ASS out of "U" and "ME". So rather than thinking you can write some generic message and it will apply to every one of the female or male persuasion, don't. Do yourself a favor and bother to read their profile, find out as much as they let you know about them before you go and say stupid and ridiculous things that will get your messages deleted. You seriously cannot be angry at everyone for deleting your messages and never responding if you insist on making the same mistakes over and over again, assuming everyone is just a bitch or an asshole for not giving you the time of day. Chances are really good that you brought it upon yourself.

Here is a message I got just today from someone on one of the online dating sites:

Hello my hot sexy queen you look so fabulous and cute in all yours pictures I'm 000000 from 00000000 VA like That and would luv to get to know you better if that's cool with you hope to hear from you have a blessed day kiss kiss

Some people might think this is a sweet, while possibly slightly prusumptious message, but otherwise at least beats out "what's up?" or "How is your day?" But honestly, in some ways it's actually worse.

Right off the bat there are six glaringly obvious things wrong with this. 

1) He used a possessive term "My"

To describe someone he's never talked to and never met that's just a bad idea. At best it comes across as eager. At worst it suggests that he's arrogant enough to think he's already won the woman over and can now claim ownership of her like lawn furniture or a pet gerbil. Either way it implies that he may end up being the jealous, controlling type who would start off the getting-to-know-you phase by expecting he already has a lot of flexibility in what he can say and do because he doesn't respect boundaries.

Basically: You don't know me. You don't own me. Don't introduce yourself to me as though you do.

2) He called me his "queen". 

 Many little girls grow up pretending or wanting to be princesses, royalty, or super stars. Many grown women (especially of certain backgrounds) refer to themselves as queens which I believe suggests they want to be treated with a high level of respect, admiration with people egg-shell walking around them. And then there are women like me. I was a little girl who wanted to be a spy. I pretended I was an Indian warrior. And I dressed like a tomboy. While I embrace my femininity more now and definitely identify as a straight female, I still hold dear a slight disdain for all things hyper-feminine of the manipulative, demanding, pretentious and helpless variety.  I hear "queen" and all I think is "drama queen", "queen bee" and "drag queen". NONE of that do I want to be connected to in any way.

Basically: Look at my profile. See that I am an able-bodied, capable and hands-on person (who also just happens to be female). I'm not a "queen" and never would want to be. By calling me that, I can tell he doesn't respect the fact that I'm not a clingy, helpless damsel in distress who needs rescuing. And that just pisses me off since it couldn't be more obvious it's just the opposite. Either he's blind to it or willfully ignores it, while trying to cram me into the same pink frilly box that I resisted being crammed into my entire life. Why would I want to invite him into my life so I have to have those battles all over again?? I wouldn't!

3. He only referenced how I "look".

Every adjective or remark on anything about me was physical. "Hot", "sexy", "look so fabulous and cute". In my profile pictures I'm holding a camera, wearing a gun on my hip, climbing a rock wall and hanging from a door frame for crying out loud! I list as my interests martial arts, tools, weapons, cooking, philosophy, adrenaline sports, drawing, musical instruments and about thirty other things. I list my job as being an entrepreneur and small business owner. Clearly I am a whole lot more than attractively compiled tissue, bone, fat and muscle. But he either ignored all that or didn't care. All he saw was my physical attributes. Which means in his mind, I'm just a piece of meat to him.

So if we're just looking at the physical attributes, then the same rules apply to him. He damn well better have washboard abs, big biceps, nice glutes and a very attractive face. Oh wait, he doesn't. Probably because he's hoping I'll fall in love with his personality and care more about his other qualities over his looks. Shame he set the standard of noticing and caring only about a person's body.

Basically: If you are going to give compliments, make sure they're about things that matter. I'm pretty sure if he didn't find me at least somewhat attractive, he wouldn't have bothered to write me at all. So please, notice something that I've accomplished, beyond the obvious of keeping my weight in check.

4. He used a common religious term "Have a blessed day".

While there is nothing initially wrong with having a religion and a belief in a god, it's a red flag to someone who's not religious. To another religious person it's another layer of commonality. An anchor they can connect to and base their other life choices around. To someone who's not religious or even anti-religious it's an in-your-face implication that if I talk with him I'm going to be subjected to a whole diatribe on how I'm not saved, why I should start going to his church, make reading his religious material part of my life and basically re-identify who I am and my place in the world around his particular spiritual viewpoints. And some people meet someone they love and do just that. But you need to tread lightly with that kind of thing until you find out if the other person is at all receptive to that. Religions typically bring with them a whole cart full of routines, practices, activities, and very specific vocabulary and vernacular. By waving that flag in the very first meeting, I'm already leery about what is inevitably going to follow and I'm already headed for door and hitting the delete button.  

Basically: Most online dating sites have the option for people to list their religious affiliation. Pay attention to this! Dating sites are for meeting like-minded people who are looking for love. Not a new avenue for proselyting and converting people to your ideology.

5. His grammar is atrocious.

There is an apparent abject disregard for every basic first grade English rule of sentence structure. He doesn't use punctuation, proper capitalization or even proper spelling. He's closer to 50 than he is to ANY age in grade school, including all the high school levels. If he hasn't figured out how to write like English is his first (and likely only) language by now, he probably never will. I for one would learn to despise having to spend the rest of my life correcting him.

This is also a huge indication that he probably doesn't read, wouldn't understand philosophy and associates "debate" exclusively with the presidential political pre-election televised event. That is about four fields of intellectual stimulation that are automatically negated. And that's like air to me. Without it, I might as well resign myself to talking to potted plants when looking for intelligence exercise. No thanks!

Basically: If the person you are writing skips using things like .,?! and abbreviate words like love for luv, use words out of context or confuses their contractions (they're, their, there , If you're not sure you know which is which try checking out this link.) and clearly don't care much about articulation, you are probably safe sending them a message just as poorly constructed. They won't judge. Heck, they may not even notice. However for people who care about grammar and education, this is a major deal breaker. By not applying the effort, you have rendered yourself virtually invisible before they ever had a chance to find out if you're proficient at anything.

 6. He ended the message with "kiss kiss".

I can only think this was supposed to sound like he's an affectionate person. But like greetings that are too personal before you even know someone, ending a message with something that sounds like you are already close friends or lovers, is both creepy and annoying. Like point #1 of him calling me "his" anything, ending with  something as intimate as kissing implies that he doesn't have respect for space boundaries between strangers. And that's exactly what we are: complete strangers. He didn't even know me as well as he could have, given that he very obviously didn't read anything in my profile except my gender. 

Basically: Whether you use something formal or casual to start and end a message, make sure that it's not creepy. A good way to figure out if it's too personal: If someone of the same gender said that to you, would you be weirded out by it? If someone you think is way below your standards said that to you, would you laugh at it? Is it something you could say to one of your opposite gender relatives or friend's spouse and not have it be awkward? If you winced at any of those suggestions, hit the backspace on whatever you were going to say. It will inevitably be unwelcome because it's too personal, too soon!

What are your thoughts on this?

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