Compatibility and the spectrum of cynicism.

I would argue that the main thing the prevents people from getting into relationships isn’t a lack of basic compatibility with others – but a mismatching of their level emotional cynicism and bad timing.

Let me explain.

Basic compatibility

There are some core things are basic deal breakers about whether someone is a romantic match for us or not, things like:

  • Whether they’re a smoker or not
  • Their level of exercise
  • Whether they do drugs or not
  • Their age
  • Their employment and/or social standing
  • Their political views
  • Their religious views

Different people are going to have different deal breakers. Many of us would never consider dating a smoker – but some people are ok with it. Some people couldn’t stand the thought of dating someone with an opposing political ideology, others are political apathetic and don’t care.

The point is – of the entire dating pool, there’s a subsection of people of people who you’re actually going to have some semblance of realistic compatibility with.

Now, if you’re an intelligent progressive-minded person living in a small shittown – then it’s likely that your eligible dating pool will be unworkably small – and working with that is not what I wish to deal with here.

For somebody in a decent sized progressive city – your compatible dating pool is still going to contain hundreds or thousands of prospects.

Chemistry

After basic compatibility is met – there’s still whether the two of you get along or not.

It’s possible that you both have similar lifestyles and share similar world views – but you go on a date, and you just don’t get along. You don’t find their jokes funny, or you finding their flirting wooden. Maybe they have a certain physical appearance that you just don’t find attractive.

But even if after we eliminate all of these – I would still say that people in decent sized progressive cities still have a healthy sized dating pool of people they’re compatible with, and are attracted to – so what prevents people from getting into relationships?

Perhaps people are too picky

Let’s get this point out of the way first. It’s plausible that many people are being too picky. They want someone who earns $100k a year, and has rock hard abs, and is super intelligent, and likes dogs, and shares their taste in movies, and always knows the right thing to make them laugh. If they’re not considering dating anyone who doesn’t meet all of these criteria – then perhaps they narrow their dating pool too small to be workable.

I’ll concede that this may be the case for some people – but I don’t think it’s the primary factor that prevents most people from forming relationships.

Enter the emotional cynicism spectrum

People, in a given moment, have an emotional state that fits on a spectrum of distrusting and cynical on one end, and joyous and willing to love on the other.

Being more cynical will mean when a guy says hello in the supermarket line, the person is more likely to dismiss them as a creep or give a curt response. Whereas existing on the more open to love side of the spectrum will more likely result in a friendly conversation that leads to a date.

The point here is – whether this date happens or not – isn’t due to their inherent compatibility, but their respective emotional states at the time.

People’s day to day life experiences affect their emotional state. For example, being sent some abusive messages or being ghosted will likely make someone more cynical – while having a stranger pay for your bus when you were out of cash will make you more willing to love.

Our emotional state is likely to fluctuate. You go on one friendly date – it goes well – you become more willing to love. That allows a date with a different person to occur. You get ghosted. You become more cynical.

It’s this dynamic that ultimately makes finding a mate seem difficult, despite the apparent abundance of potential romantic partners – we may be just meeting each other at the wrong times; had you met that person a week later – the date might have gone entirely differently.

There’s a couple more points I’d make:

  • Both partner’s being open to love isn’t what’s necessary for a pairing to occur. I would argue that both partners being cynical can also allow a pairing to occur – as both go in with a more standoffish stance – and both feeling like that’s what they deserve. I would say though – that this kind of relationship is ultimately going to be less satisfying – or, at least not what this writer is looking for.
  • I think there’s also a similar timing problem in terms of social maturity. For example we might be meeting people who we’re fundamentally compatible with, but who still find upfront communication awkward. This kind of timing problem doesn’t have the same fluctuation that the emotional cynicism does; it tends to be something that develops in a linear fashion.

The cute optimist in me says that in considering this – maintaining an optimistic emotional state in response to events that might make you cynical is the important takeaway here – as it’s the being optimistic that is going to be opening the doors.

That said – it’s good to go in optimistic, but with an attitude of detachment – anticipating that there’s a decent chance that something won’t pan out. That atleast lets that eventuality not affect your emotional state as much as it might have.

It’s hard to say what this means in practice. Say you’re arranging a date for a Friday night. A common likelyhood is that they’ll flake on the date. I guess a healthy technique to manage that outcome – is to have also made plans for what you’ll do if that happens, one that doesn’t involve acting cynically yourself. For example you might make plans of ‘If this date doesn’t happen, I’ll go for a run instead’. I don’t think this would necessarily negate all negative emotional experience – but it’s the best you can do.

It’s funny – I feel like the tail end of this post might spread a little cynicism. But I think it does objectively demonstrate a healthy and emotionally mature thinking. I would hope this has an uplifting effect in knowing that there are others out there with with this kind of emotional consideration.

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So it’s apparent that they’re not interested, now what?

It’s a common theme in contemporary dating, you’ve been talking, you’ve been on a date, and… they haven’t messaged you back. Have they just forgotten? Are they feeling anxious? Are they just not into you? I’ve written about this here.

But what’s the next step? You figure they’re not into you, what do you do now, to improve things best for you.

Here’s a few simple tips:

  • Unfriend them on Facebook, unfollow them on Twitter, Instagram, etc.
  • Turn off chat on Facebook.
  • Delete the conversation thread on Facebook.
  • Delete their number.
  • Delete the conversation thread on SMS.
  • Delete any emails you’ve exchanged.

turn off            delete

Sounds drastic?

Not really.

The most important thing to do now – is what’s best for you. Seeing them on your newsfeed, or seeing that they’re active online, is just going to trigger a twinge of rejection.

By deleting their social media presence, they’re out of sight out of mind, and you begin to forget.

I’ve been rejected many times in the past. One particularly poignant heart break, I wrote about here.

The thing with all of these heartbreaks, is at the time it feels intense. These days, unless I’m actively trying to remember times I’ve been rejected, I don’t even think about them.

That’s the state you’re going for, not thinking of them, and to do that, delete the messages and unfollow them on social media.

 

Pre-kiwiburn anxiety

lightmatter_burningman

Friday 27th January, 1:30pm: I’m still in the office though I’m now off the clock. Going to write this as quickly as possible because if I’m going to make it to Kiwiburn before it gets dark, I really need to get moving. As an experiment I want to write and publish this post now, before I leave, and then compare it to how I feel when I get back.

I haven’t been to a festival in years. Like six years. I haven’t taken any psychedelics in the that time either. What’s commonly happened when I’ve been on psychedelics is that I’ve been all ‘This is really beautiful, but I’d be enjoying this so much more if I had my life sorted out’.

Since six years ago – its fair to say that I’ve gone through something of a positive transformation – albeit not without some major bumps on the road.

Where I was six years ago, was that I had just finished a year’s intensive supervision through the justice system, for my apparently incorrigible graffiti habits (I also received a second jail warning), and I was committed to not getting in trouble with the law again. New Zealand has clean slate legislation which means that your convictions will be wiped if you don’t offend for 7 years (providing you haven’t committed some serious offences, haven’t been to prison, and the clean slate applies in New Zealand only).

My convictions have been clean slated. I’m now employed in IT and am on a positive career trajectory. I have other projects I’m working on. My spending habits are for the most part under control. I have fairly healthy eating and exercise habits. I’ve since been diagnosed with ADHD and am generally better at impulse control.

I quit drinking six months ago – and the effects are mostly positive. I’m more energetic, my mood is better,  I save money (though I spend more on pinball now) and I’m losing weight. The downside, is that I’m easily agitated and quite impatient.

I’m starting to feel bored. 

lsd_microdose

So, taking psychedelics kind of sounds like a good idea. I’m at the point where I feel like I’ve got my shit sorted (though of course I can always trim away my internet addiction, be a more pleasant person, and generally be more productive), so let’s have an inspiring psychedelic experience?

The context I like to take psychedelics in is at good music festivals. There’s good trippy music, other trippy people, and if that’s too much you can go hang out in nature.

I want to be clear – you don’t need to have drugs to enjoy a festival – but if you want to take drugs – I think a festival is a good place to take them.

Here’s the rub. I live in New Zealand and the police and customs are way too effective at their jobs. New Zealand, being a small country on the corner of the globe makes it easy to police contraband. In recent years there’s been growing discontent about the lack of cannabis at this time of year. Time magazine even wrote an article about it. 

Kiwiburn, the New Zealand equivalent of Burning Man had been on my radar since around November last year. But a combination of misreading the dates, not wanting to go if I didn’t have a big sack of weed to go with, and not having much leave accrued at work meant that I ultimately decided to pass this year.

Until last weekend – when I went to a small outdoor music gathering, enjoyed the music, and really wanting to have a holiday decided to go.

So my decision to go to Kiwiburn is decidedly last minute. I found a ticket, booked and my leave, and now (actually right now as I’m writing this, I feel ok) last night, I’m feeling quite anxious about going. Primarily, I’m concerned that I’m going to go to this festival, and be stuck there, not enjoying myself.

Specifically the concerns I have are:

  • I don’t have a tent. I thought I did, but apparently I’ve lost it. If it rains I’ll be screwed. I can hope/ask for shelter when I get there – but generally I don’t think it’s a good philosophy to rely on the kindness of strangers. I’m a capitalist like that.
  • No drugs. Am I going to be bored/uncomfortable being completely sober in a paddock somewhere?
  • FOMO – Relating to the drugs thing. Feeling like everyone around me is having a good time, and I’m not.
  • Fear of rejection – Because I’m in a situation where I need the help of strangers – I feel like if I’m refused that help that will be confirmation of my unlikableness.
  • I have to hitchhike. Fear of getting stuck in the middle of nowhere in the middle of the night.

A lot of this comes down to my unpreparedness. Given that I only made the decision to go this week, a lot of these concerns would have been alleviated if I’d made the decision to go months ago – I would have had time to find a crew to go with etc.

And this comes back to impulsiveness – I feel like I may be making myself a victim of my own impulsiveness/second guessing myself. There’s comforting and respectable about being deliberate in your actions.

So that’s where I’m at now. Writing this has served to make me feel a bit more anxious, and I’m otherwise trying every mental trick I can to feel a bit better. At the moment I feel a mix of reasonable concern (‘is it going to rain?, where am I going to sleep?’), and nervous excitement. I guess that’s a good way to be.

See you in three days! 🙂

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I don’t like the term ‘fuckboy’.

If you’re not already word, there’s a new slang word in youth culture – fuckboy.

The meaning of the word isn’t without controversy.

This slate article provides an interesting read about the term – acknowledging that the meaning isn’t concrete:

Here are two true statements about the word: Everyone knows what fuckboy means. And no one knows what fuckboy means.

If I’m to define the word myself, I would say that ‘fuckboy’ is used to as a disparaging term to describe a man who sleeps with women without commitment to them. Essentially the male equivalent of a ‘slut’.

It’s important to note that all words are defined by the context they’re used in, and in fact that’s how new words are added to formal dictionaries. 

To suggest that there is ‘one true meaning’ of a word, and any other use of the word is just incorrect usage, is a no true scotsman fallacy. 

I’m going to continue this post with the assumption that my interpretation is correct. A context it was recently use was when this poster was pasted around Auckland:

1453879002957

Here, the guy in question is having the label applied to him because he’s, whether ethically or not, slept with the woman without committing to her.

Now let’s acknowledge that this is possibly either a fringe case of crazy on her part, or perhaps the guy genuinely was quite awful, or a bit of both. As such, perhaps we shouldn’t take this particular case as context for how the word is used.

Certainly, some men can conduct themselves in a manner that is callous, or disrespectful, or abusive, or whatever other adjective you want to use. But we already have a word for this, they’re called assholes or dickheads, and women can be those things too, meaning that the term fuckboy doesn’t hold any additional value above those, other than being gender specific.

I think it’s fine to acknowledge that people can conduct themselves in a manner that while isn’t rape or sexual assault, is still hurtful or disrespectful when it comes to sex.

What I suspect is that ‘fuckboy’ has been cultivated by the women using it as a means of personal empowerment – a means to get back at men who treated them badly, or to relatively improve the power position of women by tearing some men down.

I don’t think using gendered, sex specific slurs is not the right way to deal with this. It’s divisive, and doesn’t serve to alleviate shame in our already, though getting better, sex-negative culture.

The term conveys an additional role of responsibility for feelings to the men, in heterosexual interactions. The implication being that beyond each party having the responsibility to obtain sexual consent, the men are also responsible for the feelings of the women afterward.

This is a very regressive attitude toward sex – belonging in the same ballpark as ‘women don’t enjoy sex’ and ‘men only think about one thing’.

To provide a contrast, imagine I’d slept with a women, and she didn’t call me back afterwards. If I were to say ‘She slept with me then didn’t call me back! What slut! What a whore!’, I’d immediately be called out for being immature and not respecting her sexual autonomy – and this is a good thing. Along with sexual automony also comes the responsibility to protect your own feelings.

Most modern men (or am I simply projecting my world view and understating the prevalence where men do infact do this?) have learned this lesson, – when an interaction doesn’t go their way – they don’t jump on social media and call her out as a ‘slut’ or a ‘whore’, they know it’s immature and unattractive. Women should hold themselves to the same standard.

I recently called out a Facebook page for its casual usage:

fuckboy.PNG

What do you think? Does the term fuckboy have an legitimate usage, or is another unacceptable slur with no place in civil society?

Book review: He’s just not that into you.

I’m the only single, unmarried child of me and my five siblings. My mother gave me this book with the advice ‘It’ll tell you what not to do’.

The first three chapters irritated me as I disagreed with several depictions they made about dating dynamics. I read on though, while I still thought it was a low-brow read, I could start see some sense of purpose to the book – not as a general dating advice book, but to be used as a nudge to friends to get out of some specifically bad relationship.

This fits in to a general opinion I have about dating advice books – I often can’t take them seriously. People’s perceptions and strategies for dating are dependent on their experiences of dating – who they’ve dated and what kind of relationships they’ve been in. Because everyone has had different experiences and different values when it comes to dating, there’s no one-size-fits-all set of dating advice guidelines. However, it is possible that a given set of dating advice guidelines will apply to a specific subsection of society.

The book outlines several signs that a guy is ‘just not that into’ a girl:

  • He’s cheating on you.
  • He only wants to see you when he’s drunk.
  • He doesn’t want to marry you.
  • He’s breaking up with you.
  • He’s disappeared on you.
  • He’s married.
  • He’s a bully.

It was at these chapters that I got an inkling as to how this book might be useful. A woman might be in a relationship that is obviously toxic, but due to a variety of cognitive biases everybody is subject to, not recognise it and be playing mental gymnastics to find reasons to stay in the relationship. As a friend one could tell her how obviously toxic the relationship is, but giving advice to friends may not be effective and may damage the friendship. By externalising the advice to an ‘expert’ the advice might be taken more seriously. The book even includes a section on ‘how do I give this book to a friend’.

I agree with the general premise that there can be a dating dynamic of someone being ‘not that into’ the other person. The book has been effective in giving the dynamic a label.

It was the very first chapters that I disagreed with.

One of the chapters is ‘He’s not that into you if he’s not calling you’. An example it gives is ‘I met a guy at a bar, and he gave me his number’. The advice? ‘He’s not that into you, if were into you he would have got your number be calling you’.

I disagree with this. There are several reasons why a guy might opt to give a girl his number, rather than asking for hers – the primary being that a girl may not feel comfortable giving her number out. A guy offering to give his number provides both the advantage of expressing respect for her privacy, as well require a clear signal of interest on her part to move the relationship forward. The fact that he has given her his number is a clear indication that he has some level of interest in her.

In the same chapter another example they gave was a girl who fancied her gardener. She had brought beers out to him and they’d chatted. She said that she suspected that he might be interested in her, but he hasn’t asked her out because he’s afraid to. Again the advice is ‘Nope! He’s just not that into you’.

This paints all men, (or all men worth dating at least) as having perfect social perception to gauge the appropriateness of making such a move, as well as the confidence to do it in a manner that they think will be attractive. Given that the gardener’s livelihood and professional reputation is at stake in this situation, it’s quite easy to see how a guy, even if he fancies the girl, might decide that the risk of offending her by asking her out for a drink and the subsequent potential damage to his reputation, outweighs potential benefits. From his point of view it might be better to hope that she continues chatting to him until he’s more confident that asking her out isn’t going to cause offence.

Both of these examples paint unrealistic and outdated gender stereotypes. While I’m not of the opinion that all differences in gender behaviour are solely the product of socialisation, (for example I think men genuinely do have a higher sex drive, though I think there is also socialised behaviour to act in a hyper sexual way as well) the model expressed paints men as very one dimensional (it doesn’t acknowledge that guys might genuinely be shy) and doesn’t acknowledge the increasing empowerment of woman to ask for what they want.

Does the book’s use as a hint or nudge for a friend to leave a relationship make this a good book? I don’t think so. But – I would accept that perhaps this book has indeed helped some people. I think though – we should be concerned about propagating unhelpful or unhealthy depictions of dating dynamics, and I think it’s more important is to criticise the book for its simplistic and naïve depiction of gender roles.

What do you do when someone doesn’t reply to your messages?

Hello! This post is a little long. Read the more concise and practical version here. 

If you want advice on how to get over someone – read this post. 

 

Note: While this post pertains to dating advice and dynamics, it’s also entirely relevant for general social pursuits – eg. Expressing interest in a platonic friendship of someone you admire, or forming a business/professional relationship. In fact it’s these kinds of relationships that I’m more interested in, but discussions of romantic pursuits is a relatable and common starting point.

Teeneger-quotes-I-do-this-really-cute-thing-where-I-read-your-message-then-forget-to-reply.-The-Simpsons

Recently I saw this image posted on my Facebook and it got me thinking about my own experiences with not receiving replies to text or Facebook messages.

I’ve found a common dynamic when it comes to dating and friendship is I’ll invite a friend or a romantic interest to spend some time together, and I’ll either get no response from them at all, or I’ll get a some kind of ‘I can’t this week, but maybe next week?’ or ‘I have to look at my schedule’.

While these two responses are distinctly different, what they have in common is that being on the receiving end it can be unclear what the response means, especially if you’ve talked before and the engagement has been cordial.

In this post, while I use online dating as an initial vehicle for discussing the dynamics of no-reply and I’m-busy responses. The more important dynamic I’m really interested in, is these responses from people who you know a bit better.

It’s important to acknowledge here that it’s possible that when someone hasn’t replied they may be perfectly interested in whatever relationship it is you’re seeking, but have forgotten/got busy/are feeling depressed. I know personally I tend to stop replying to messages when I get depressed, and it’s not because I don’t like the person who’s messaging me. Equally possible though, is that they haven’t replied because they’re simply not interested.

Why even talk about this? 

It might be tempting to suggest that these kinds of social dynamics simply don’t merit this much thought – an emotionally healthy person will simply forget about it till the next time they consider messaging a person. An alternative phrasing is to suggest that these kinds of dynamics apply to people who ‘playing games’ and that socially mature people communicate honestly and in an upfront manner. I think both of these arguments are dismissive and don’t appreciate the complexity of human social interaction. A quick google of terms like ‘sometimes I forget to reply’, ‘when they don’t text back’ reveal plenty of results and memes about the subject, which suggests that it’s a wide spread experience, and is thus worth theorising about.

No reply as a not interested.

In online dating, not replying to a first message is the accepted standard that says ‘not interested’.  This isn’t bleak reflection of the state today’s social dynamics, it’s just how it works. It might not be a satisfying conclusion to the person being rejected, but the alternative that the rejecter faces is facing abuse for their rejection, or a person otherwise persisting in the face of explicit rejection. Tinder provides a good mechanism for this kind of rejection – by unmatching the person it both sends a clear signal that you’re interested, as well as not allowing them to send another message protecting you from any abuse.

If we can accept that a no-reply in this context is socially acceptable, and not rude, then we can extend it to include real life dating and social interaction as well. For example, that cute girl you met at a party, who you got the number of, may have decided that she’s no longer interested, and simply not reply.

This ‘silence means rejection’ can further extend itself into rejection of established relationships – notably in the practise of ‘ghosting’ whereby one breaks up with someone by simple blocking them on social media and never talking to them. A technique for ending or toning down friendships is the ‘slow fade’ where one consciously stops initiating conversation, or replying to messages and the relationship naturally winds down.

While I think ghosting might be warranted in some circumstances (eg. the person is the person is a stalker, or following a big fight in which you break up), I’m generally of the opinion that this isn’t a progressive social technique. In my opinion it’s more indicative of social immaturity, and a desire to ‘win the break up’.

I’m busy as a not interested.

In a similar vein, ‘I’m busy’ type responses can be used as a less confrontational alternative to saying ‘I’m not interested’. One could be honest and say ‘I’m not attracted/interested in you’, but that can be quite an awkward conversation, and lead to further awkward interactions in the future. Instead, one uses ‘Sorry, I’m busy that night’ and hope that they get the hint, and the lack of explicit rejection allows the parties to continue interacting in a platonically friendly way.

This is more appropriate where you know the person in real life. For example a mutual friend or a colleague asking you to coffee or a drink after work. In online dating it’s not necessary to give a ‘I’m busy’ – because not replying can suffice.

How to respond to receiving one of these responses?

For the person who’s message isn’t being replied to, it can be difficult to decide how to proceed.

By the nature of a no-reply it can be hard to tell whether:

  • As suggested in the meme, the person has simply forgotten or has got busy.
  • The message didn’t catch their attention enough for them to be excited enough to reply.
  • They receiver actively considered the message, and consciously decided not the reply.

One of the key points to acknowledge here, is that when someone doesn’t reply to a message, it can be either consciously (they see the message and thing ‘No I’m not going to reply’), or unconsciously (they see the message, but don’t get around to replying to it and eventually forget, or they remember later but it feels to awkward to reply then).

Add into the mix an optimism bias, which is seems likely that men have in regards to their attractive appeal, and you can have a situation where the person whose reply has gone unanswered will interpret it as a ‘they’ve forgotten’ rather than as a ‘they’re not interested in me’.

Similarly, receiving an ‘I’m busy’ reply can be ambiguous. It hard to tell whether:

  • They’re genuinely busy.
  • They’re not interested, and are letting you down softly.

However, with I’m busy messages it can be a bit easier to indicate levels of interest. If the person saying they’re busy is interested in meeting for the date, then they can suggest an alternative date. This removes the onus on the person asking, from having to ask, and expose themselves to rejection again.

This creates quite a clear communication protocol:

The person asking for a date: If you ask for a date, (or have a date cancelled), do not ask again, it’s up to them to suggest an alternative.

The person being asked for a date: If you’re unable to to make it on that day, or you have the date arranged by have to cancel – then if you’re interested in dating that person it’s up to you to immediately suggest an alternative date. If the other party is following this model, they won’t ask again.

So ideally if everyone was following this model, then it would work quite well. The problem is, not everyone may be aware of etiquette to suggest the alternative, and instead for example be too shy to suggest the date alternative themselves, or be assuming that the other will continue to initiate requests.

However, the problem with this robust protocol, is it doesn’t account for asymmetry in social value or importance.

For example, say for the purposes of general interest or career improvement you want to catch up for coffee with a famous politician. You can send them a nice email explaining who you are, and why you want to meet them. They may be genuinely interested in meeting you, but unable to meet you at time of the year. It wouldn’t be reasonable to suggest it’s then up to politician to make the next move to arrange the appointment – it would be up to you to persist and ask again in three months or so.

A simple counter point here is to suggest that if the politician is genuinely interested, they should tell the person ‘Sorry, I’m too busy at the moment, can you try again in a couple of months?’.

Asymmetry of engagement

When I meet a girl who I’m interested in, I’m usually pretty excited about them and think about them a lot, and have to distract myself to avoid texting them too much.

However, it’s not necessarily true that she will have a reciprocal level of engagement toward me.

We could put one’s levels of engagement on a scale like this:

In love Thinking about future together, what your kids will look like.
Excited Looking forward to seeing the person again.
Pleasant Enjoying the person’s company, but don’t miss their company when they’re not here.
Neutral Either you remember the person but didn’t find them particularly interesting, or you don’t remember the person.
Adverse You remember the person, but consciously dislike them. You found them offensive.

Now of course this scale is very naive and can’t reflect the multidimensional nature of our emotions, but it’s a good starting point.

If someone is at the top two tiers of engagement, then they aren’t going to have any trouble messaging the person they’re interested in, because they’re already thinking of them. However, if they’re at a lower tier, they the thought might not occur to them.

It’s tempting to argue that any successful romantic pair occurs when both parties are excited about each other. But this excludes the possibility that a romance can occur when one party isn’t on the other’s radar, but increases their level of engagement through persistence. For example, sending a second opening message on online dating, or continuing talking to someone when you see them in mutual social circles.

In online dating, the initial message may very well have been not a particularly interesting one – perhaps the sender was in an uncreative mood at the time, or perhaps they misjudged things. In this circumstance, sending a second message to pique their interest may be a good idea.

Unfortunately on traditional online dating sites like OkCupid, the reciever can see the previous attempt, and that possibly will reflect badly on the sender. A good feature OkCupid could implement is a ‘delete previous message’ option, though this could be subject to abuse. On Tinder you can unmatch the person, and hope to match again for a clean slate.

Sending a second message

One suggestion is that if one has initiated a request for a date, and for whatever reason it hasn’t panned out (plans got changed, or they didn’t reply), then to simply move on and accept that the relationship isn’t going to happen.

I think this is a naïve strategy that throws the baby out too quickly. It discounts the potential value of initiating a conversation that piques their interest, or discounts that someone might simply have forgotten to reply.

I have a good example to demonstrate this. My older sister met her husband on online dating. They had exchange some messages, but for whatever reason a date didn’t pan out. A few months later, he messaged her again, mentioning that they’d talked before, and this time a date did happen, and less than a year later they were married and pregnant.

The husband-to-be in this scenario could have held the thought that ‘I’ve already tried here, it didn’t happen, therefore I shouldn’t try again’. But as you can see in this example, his sending of a second message did work out for both parties.  Edit: my sister clarified that it was her that reinitialised contact by sending him a ‘smile’. He then messaged her again and told her that they’d talked before.

As part of my research for this post I googled ‘persistent male dating strategy’ and found some interesting results.

This Hooking Up Smart article framed and addressed the issue of general persistence well, the question asking:

> I hear so much about how women love to be pursued, but it seems the line between pursuit and stalking, and confidence and desperation, is very thin, with said line moving depending on the girl’s preferences.

As well as saying ‘It’s not one size fits all’, one of the cautionary answers given was:

>No woman wants to feel stalked by a desperate male.

This answer strikes at why this subject is worth thinking about. If this dynamic didn’t exist then one could just continue sending messages, and it wouldn’t really be a problem. Because not many men want women to feel uncomfortable around then, seconding that message requires more consideration.  The article deals with persistence in a broader scope and is well worth a read, but let’s dial it back to just addressing second messages or date requests in face of either not receiving a reply, or getting a ‘I’m busy’ with no alternative suggested.

Let’s ask and answer why shouldn’t you send a second message?

  • It’ll make them feel uncomfortable/be unpleasant for them.
  • It’ll be counterproductive to your success – second a second message may make you look desperate, and thus less attractive.
  • It’ll be unpleasant for you, if you face a second rejection.

When it’s framed like this the answer to whether you should send a second message in online dating question is pretty simple. There isn’t much harm in sending a second message. Someone isn’t going to be instantly creeped out if you send a second message, and so long as you’re pretty accepting that you might not get a reply, then there’s not much harm to yourself either.

For people you might have already talked to or just met, the answer is similarly casual – a second message isn’t going to do much harm, so long as it’s friendly and relaxed. A no-reply to the second message does more firmly indicate a conscious decision not to reply.

Conclusions

Unfortunately, the conclusions I have on this dynamic aren’t especially… conclusive. There’s no hard and fast rule I can suggest. Instead I would suggest that your response depends on how well you know the person.

If it’s someone you don’t know well, then as I’ve suggested, sending a second message isn’t unwarranted, but at the same time because you don’t know each other that well, I’d suggest taking a low cost approach to the second message (ie. Not getting to emotionally invested, don’t put a lot of consideration into the second message, and crafting a message such that you’re perfectly prepared to get no response).

For someone you know a bit better you can consider if perhaps they’re depressed, (‘Hey how are things going?’), or reevaluate the nature of your friendship according their response. Generally I would suggest that the longer/better you know someone, the more leeway you can give them before giving up completely.

On the other side of things – if you ever find yourself in a situation where you’ve forgotten to reply to someone’s message and you’re still interested in them – acknowledge it – ‘Hey sorry I didn’t reply to this earlier, how are you?’.

If you’re too busy to make a date but are still interested, then be the one to suggest the alternative.That’s a very proactive way to maintain and generate a friendship.