Silence Is More Honest than Words, and Always Clearer!
There are many fundamental differences between men and women, and thank god for that, on behalf of the world of straight guys. Women generally smell and dress better, think longer and better before they speak, are more considerate of other people’s feelings, pay more heed to ethics, and, let’s be honest, they’re much more pleasant to look at. They’re often caring and meticulous as nurses, more patient as teachers, and more stable and rational as executives. But there’s one area in which women, in my experience, do not excel, and that is clear and direct communication in the online dating world.
If you’re an “experienced” (euphemized) online dater like me, you’re very familiar with this scenario: You look through a girl’s profile, and something sparks excitement. She’s different, you say. In this wasteland of cookie-cutter work-hard/play-hard, just-as-comfortable-at-home-as-going-out, dreams of Machu Picchu, ambitious-but-silly dating resumes, she rises to the top of the pile. So you’re inspired, you’ve found your muse, and you use your 15-minute coffee break, lull before sleep, or (if you’re a truly busy professional) toilet seat-based smartphone session, to compose a really meaningful message. Maybe you both love the same amazing book. Maybe she used your favorite quote from Family Guy. Maybe you’re responding to that really deep thought she had at her last Yoga class. Or maybe you use your very best material, something I’ll call “UberBanter,” to draw a distinction from the countless one-liners you typically use on lesser speciwomen, to woo her virtual attention.
Whatever the case may be, your hopes are up. This is the part where, as a guy, you click send, make the hand-washing gesture, and congratulate yourself on a job well done. Your message disappears into the mysterious void that no man is allowed to go: the female psyche. No man has ever entered, though many have tried. The truth is, none of us dudes really know what happens in this fascinating world of neurons, synapses, complex thoughts and feelings. We simply don’t know what happens, but we’re pretty sure it’s slightly different than the typical “hot-or-not” analysis performed by the typical male. (Not to say that girls don’t have visceral reactions based on physical attraction—we know the ladies are just as sexual as us, just less scoundrelly about it).
Now, let me pause here for a moment to address the ladies: Ladies, I realize that I have no mandate or capital to influence your decision-making, but allow me to beseech you. What you do next has the capacity to get a guy excited and put a smile on your face, but in rare cases will it dramatically affect his life. So there are three distinct possibilities here:
- YES! You write back an enthusiastic reply indicating similar interests, modestly hinting at some spark, or even going for tit for tat and zinging him back on his banter. Awesome! A potential match is in the works, Both parties read a book, masturbate before bed, and go to bed dreaming of unicorns/superpowers/social justice, wherever your interests may reside.
- MEH. You get this amazing email and really want to connect with the dude, if not for his giant nose, ears, facial hair, and whatnot. Whaddayagonnado? Or maybe you’re just not feeling it, it’s too forward, esoteric, insecure, whatever. Cool—no response required and you move on to the next of your 47 daily Cupids.
- URRR. You get this great message. It flatters you, sets your heart aflutter, makes you laugh. Then you look at his giant nose, ears, facial hair, or what have you, and wonder whether you’d find him as funny while wearing heels, or if you could really rock it with a dude who’s not into spelunking and skydiving as much as you. Pass…but wait. Unlike the rest of these assholes, he took the time to write a long, thoughtful, funny response. He’s probably a pretty decent human being and you shouldn’t just shatter his fantasy of feeding you grapes in bed, planting your vegetables in his community garden, and making angels cry at your destination wedding in Peru. So what do you do? What DO you do? I know! I’ll write him back a courtesy message validating his sense of humor/intelligence/interest in me but just brief and noncommittal enough to confuse him on my interest in meeting him for a fair-trade latte and potentially shagging at some point.
I don’t know what really goes through a woman’s mind, but based on responses that come in Scenario #3 I can imagine it’s something akin to this. Girls, as much as you like nice guys but love bold men, many of us dudes feel the same way about you. It’s not that we don’t appreciate tact and responsiveness, but if we’re sending you a message, especially a lengthy or thoughtful one, chances are we’re interested in you and all we expect in return is a direct indication of interest or lack thereof. This is the wrong time to offer an unwittingly patronizing “There, there” or “Well isn’t that special.”
What gives? Maybe it’s a difference in expectations and the way we process/perceive acceptance and rejection. Men are used to rejections, whether with women, jobs, or in basketball games. It’s a numbers game for us and in this respect we’re always at a competitive disadvantage as the hunters. We apply and await decisions and women make the call. As sexual shot-callers, maybe women invest more of their emotions in showing interest or going after something, and expect that guys react to disappointment the same way. Thus good intentions effect unproductive outcomes and obfuscate communication in an already strange virtual environment.
So, ladies, the next time you get that funny or heartfelt message from a nice guy who just doesn’t fit the bill, the best practice is the easiest thing you can do: nothing at all. He’ll get the message. Trust me.