Phone Screeners

30 Apr

So, have you ever been married?

Because I’ve spent so much of my dating career as an online dater (never an easy thing to admit but I had to clear my conscience), sometimes I come across phenomena that I can’t place as either standard dating behavior or a particularity of e-dating. Among these trends is what I call “phone screeners.” These are women who, despite understanding that online dating starts out online, insist on an interstitial screening by phone. (I can’t be sure of the other side, but come on, how many guys do you know that like to yap on the phone?)

Maybe it’s women’s greater affinity for “voice,” or maybe there’s something reassuring about getting the audio before the video (please weigh in with a Comment), but several women either requested or insisted that I call them before we met up. In a couple of cases, where it was a clear demand, I found it a really awkward requirement. There’s something kind of pathetic about bursting that bubble of warm feeling and flirtation that grows from written communication with a bureaucratic mandate.

At least two girls grilled me at length on my marital status, the presence of children, and my dating history. I was supremely annoyed given that this information had already been disclosed in my profile. On the other hand, one of them told me she’d been burned before when one or more guys lied about their availability and commitments to other ladies. Fine. It’s not that I don’t like talking on the phone. When you’re with someone special, having those endless conversations can often be really romantic. But when you haven’t met the person once, those 1- and 2-hour conversations really add up, and will seem less charming and enjoyable when you finally meet for that coffee and quickly realize your spider sense steered you wrong.

I’ll do the phone, but that’s where I draw the line. A couple of girls’ profiles that I’ve come across basically dictated that there would be a lengthy Skype video call prior to any face-to-face interaction. Bye-bye, next. If you’re so frightened by the very idea of meeting someone off the Web, then DON’T MEET PEOPLE OFF THE WEB. Go back to that bar, library, coffee shop, or park, and wait for your prince to come galloping over on his Razor scooter. Please don’t suck all the life out of the pre-rendezvous excitement by going through a series of dry investigations. Or, if you do, you might as well hire a private eye to shadow the guy around for a month or two before sitting down for that coffee.

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6 Responses to “Phone Screeners”

  1. dudewheresmyboyfriend April 30, 2012 at 3:56 pm #

    I’ve never tried online dating, so I can’t speak to that aspect of what you’re discussing here, but the phone call/extensive questioning thing sounds like it would get old quickly. To me, it seems to make dating in reality feel more like a reality show–like how on The Bachelor(ette) all of the contestants grill the would-be man or woman of their dreams about previous relationships before they’ve even gone out on a first date! Of course this is stuff we all want to know, but shouldn’t it (and doesn’t it) come up naturally over time? The phone interview method kind of takes the fun out of meeting someone–and it could also potentially change the caller’s opinion before they give you a shot in person. Upshot: agreed that this is a “really awkward requirement.”

  2. Datestable April 30, 2012 at 4:18 pm #

    Good point. Dating is supposed to be fun, but some people treat it like some Middle Ages matchmaking process. We’re out of the shtetl, people!

  3. lovelabors April 30, 2012 at 10:12 pm #

    I think it might be somewhere along the line of desperation? Seems like many people doing online dating have reached their wits end. They no longer care for the fun and bubbly anticipation, they’d like to be efficient. The fairy tale is over, the wrinkles are settling, and all they want is someone who isn’t going to waste anymore of their pressure “beauty years.” What’s more efficient than a mandated all you can ask, hands free conversation, while washing dishes, folding laundry, or painting your nails? You never know what’s on the other end of the line. I for one like the anticipation, but I also have a blog dedicated to my dating follies, so…happy trails.

    • Datestable May 1, 2012 at 9:57 am #

      Well put, and well prosed, too. Inevitably some people have bad experiences (in some cases because they’re poor screeners themselves) and the fallout from those poisons their attitude. Which is a shame, because there are decent, cool, and interesting people out there, not all of whom are looking to cheat on their mates or whatever.

  4. JessicaRae May 1, 2012 at 10:00 am #

    I wouldn’t go to the extent the girls in your experience have put you through but I can say I would have been saved a date (and expense of a babysitter to go on said date) if I had done the preliminary phone call to screen as I would have realized the guy I was about to meet was in fact gay and still clearly in the closet. (Yes, I will admit it has happened more then once!)
    That being said, I do not grill or demand an hour long plus phone convo, rather perhaps I would make the phone call to arrange where we should meet or what we plan to do on our date etc then an interrogation :)

    • Datestable May 1, 2012 at 10:10 am #

      JR, I understand why girls sometimes want to hear the voice of a person they’ve never seen on the street, and characters like your closeted gay man looking to make you his beard, while bizarre, must surely exist. The hardcore grillers, in my experience, are kind of weird in real life.

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