Tinder’s #menprovement campaign is looking like some cheap misandric bullshit.

Tinder has launched a new advertising/social awareness campaign, they’re calling #menprovement.

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The premise is that there a lot of douchebags on Tinder, and so there’s a scientifically themed effort to improve the quality of men on Tinder.

It features videos of women scientists like these:

And charts like these:

Now obviously this is intended to be a fairly lighthearted kind of campaign – but humour like this doesn’t exist in a vacuum. The reason that this campaign is considered a good idea, is because there is genuine sentiment that there are too many douchey men on Tinder.

A starting point – let’s acknowledge the existence of douchey men and abuse women face on the internet.

I want to be clear. I acknowledge that women on the internet, and on dating apps like Tinder, likely face a lot of verbal/written abuse in the face of rejection, sleazy messages, unsolicited dick pics etc.

I’m generally of the opinion that men and women have opposite problems on online dating – where women suffer through unwanted attention – men suffer from a vacuum of attention, and loneliness.

If we consider the wider issue of rape culture / consent culture – it’s very reasonable to consider conducting social campaigns aimed at changing the way people behave, and in this case, the way men behave in the context of a dating app.

So getting that out of the way – I acknowledge that there’s a problem of douchey behaviour from men on dating apps like Tinder, and it would be a good thing to improve on that.

Tinder’s campaign does not address actual douchey behaviour

This image is probably the egregious example:

Wanting a partner who has a job and is nice to your mother? Great – that’s just the kind of thing we want to encourage.

Being six feet tall? – Is that really the problem with Tinder? That there’s not enough tall men? Are short men guilty of being douchebags?

I’m not going to pretend that we shouldn’t have physical qualities that we find attractive, and I’m not offended by the proposition that many women prefer a man taller than them.

The issue I have with this image is the gross insensitivity it demonstrates.

For example, where I think the fat acceptance movement is dangerous; I think obesity should be treated as a health condition, not an acceptable lifestyle, I think all people should be treated with respect – and not be the subject of cruel jokes.

So while I think it’s ok for someone to have a preference for slim women for example – I don’t think it’s ok to make fat jokes. The same goes for short men – show some sensitivity.

Let’s examine some qualities of what Tinder considers douches

 

  • A self employed CEO
  • Has a bluetooth
  • Tips minimum
  • Late because charging vape
  • Is into fitness, and you should be too
  • Posts gym sessions on instagram
  • ‘This body wasn’t built for monogamy’
  • Eggplant emojis as opener
  • Come hungry as closer

Of this list, I’d say tipping minimum is perhaps the only actual douche behavior, and eggplant emoji, depending on whether you’re into that kind of thing.

Here’s where Tinder needs to get it straight:

There’s nothing wrong with being into the gym, being non-monogamous, or owning your own business. 

It’s straight up misandric bullshit to try shame men for possessing these qualities – things that they’re probably quite proud of.

If I’m to hazard a guess here – that these stereotypes are seen as acceptable targets – because they’re ‘successful men’ – and can therefore take take being taken down a notch.

However – what Tinder needs to realise – is that it’s not just men fitting the stereotype, or men who water rolls of the duck’s back of,  that sees these videos.

I think we need to consider men in the context of having higher rates of suicide, and higher rates of computer and video game addiction. Within that context – we shouldn’t be trying to tear men’s sense of self esteem and value away from them. If men get that from owning their own business, or working out – that that should be encouraged, not criticised for being douchey.

What it suggests to me – is that Tinder’s willingness to go along with this campaign – means that they don’t value men’s feelings nearly as highly as women’s. That again reinforces the social norm of male disposability.

Douchey behaviour that Tinder could have used.

The thing is – this could have been quite an interesting and positive campaign – if Tinder had seeked to address actual toxic or unappealing behaviour.

Here’s a quick list, if they need inspiration:

  • Boring first messages, ‘Sup’, ‘How are you’ guy.
  • Main hobbies are playing video games and trolling on the internet, and nothing outside of that guy.
  • Ten days unwashed dishes guy.
  • Responds with abuse at rejection guy.
  • Only wants to talk about you guy.
  • Only wants to talk about him guy.
  • Never suggests going on a date guy.
  • Insists on a first date at your place guy.
  • Is cheating on his girlfriend guy.
  • Selfish lover guy.

How women can foster non-douchey behaviour Tinder

Let’s get this ball rolling.

  • Send the first message. Set the frame for the conversation. Want flirty banter? Want a challenging argument? Want a standard get to know each other conversation? Your message determines that.
  • Unmatch severe douches. Train men with negative reinforcement.
  • Call out mild douchey behaviour. See if there’s a correction of behaviour.
  • Respond to desired behaviour with positive reinforcement. Personally, I like the 😍 emoji

God. This must be what being a Cosmopoliton writer must feel like.

‘But it’s just a joke David, stop taking it so seriously’.

Jokes are never just jokes. Jokes are generally funny because they have a kernel of truth (or what the joke teller purports to be the truth).

Just like how telling racist jokes creates a hostile environment for black people, or telling sexist jokes creates a hostile environment for women  – these guys of jokes create an hostile environment for men.

Now – I would suggest that there’s a brand of feminism that is ok with this – men need to be taken down a notch because either that’s justice, or because that makes it easier for women to achieve equality. I don’t want to get get into this line of argument here – but I would make two points – that this is likely to be not effective, it’s just likely to cause division between men and women, and that this philosophy directly contradicts the argument that ‘feminism is for the interests of both men and women’.

Reactions from the internet

The reactions on their Twitter and Facebook threads has been almost entirely negative – mostly pointing out that it’s sexist and douchey in itself. There’s also a lot of comments from men saying how they don’t get matches – would would seem to confirm comment I made in the first section.

This does take us to a point of personal conflict for me. While I clearly agree with the commenters in this instance – in other gendered hot topics on the internet – there is often a reaction of faux victimisation from what can be fairly considered alt-right types. (I’m struggling to think of examples here right now though – maybe revisit this later).

Bottom Line

A pretty gross campaign.

Not the right way to go about creating a society of confident, respectful men, at all.

I’m curious to hear from my feminist friends about this. While Tinder has faced a bit of criticism on social media about this – the feminist community as a whole are quite quiet about it. There’s definitely no social media storm about it – which does suggest that people simply don’t care about this kind of toxic gender dynamic.

There is though – the chance that this is a long running deeper social critique – that explores things like gender norms around height attraction, and all will be revealed in time. If I was taking a bet, I’d bet against that happening though.

What do you do when someone doesn’t message you back? v2.0

The last post on this subject  gets the single most traffic on this blog, but it’s a bit long, so here’s a more concise and more practical version.

Here’s the situation: you’re on Tinder, and one of these two situations has happened:

  • You’ve been chatting with a girl for a while, and you send a message ‘Yeah that’s funny haha. Do you want to get coffee this weekend?’ And boom – you don’t hear any thing back from her.
  • You’ve just matched with her on Tinder and you send an original message like ‘Oooh hey I like your dog! I have a dog too. He’s a Jack Russel named Calvin’; you get no response.

If the situation is that you’re just sending a message like ‘Sup?’, ‘Hey, how are you?’ and not getting responses to those, then you need to take a step back and appreciate that girls on internet dating sites and inundated with messages like that, and yours does nothing to stand out from all the others.

So you’re sending creative, interesting messages – and you don’t get a response – what do you do now?

The most important thing is to preserve your own mental and emotional state.

Dating, especially the early stages of dating, should be fun.  If you’re a creative and interesting guy, and you genuinely like yourself – that’s a good thing; that’s what all us should be seeking to be in life – and what we are typically seeking in a partner. So if you genuinely like yourself, then don’t change those things that you like about yourself because you’re not getting a response; it’s better to be alone and liking yourself than to be with someone and feeling like you’ve sold yourself short.

If there are things that you don’t like about yourself – then work on fixing those things.

I suggest the following steps for dealing with no-replies:

Don’t fixate.

In the scenario where you don’t know this person particularly well (eg. You matched on Tinder), then don’t assume that this is on the one person for you. Remember that it’s a wide world with lots of opportunities[1].

Maintain social and mental state.

If you’re frustrated, then go do whatever you need to do feel better. Go for a walk, have a shower, talk to a friend, play a video game. The frustration will pass.

Calibrate

Flirting is a balancing act between being bold and being respectful. Too forward and you appear inconsiderate and disrespectful. Too reserved and you’re boring.

If you don’t get a reply, chances are your message falls too far on either end of this spectrum. So calibrate, try new things.

Should you send a second message?

This is something I’ve gone back forth on. On one hand the argument for sending a second message is that it’s a pragmatic acceptance your message might have been lost amongst all the others, and that it needs to be you who reinitiates the conversation. On the other hand – it’s back to that main thing – maintaining your own social and emotional wellbeing. Sending a second message might make you feel worse and erode your sense of dignity.

I’m currently of the opinion that, generally you shouldn’t send a second message. Dating should be a two way street, and at least in my experience, I’m going to hold some resentment if it feels like I’m investing more effort into the relationship.

Instead, let it go, for at least a couple of weeks – and then perhaps, if you are still interested then, try pick things up again then. In that time you might be chatting someone else.

[1] If you happen to live in a small town with few opportunities – then do consider moving. One’s success with dating does depending on their available dating pool.

What I swipe left to.

On Tinder, the assessment about whether you swipe left (don’t like), or right (like) on a profile – is often made in a matter of seconds, if that. (I would love to see that statistics for how long it takes men to swipe vs women).

Here are a few things that will make me more inclined to swipe left:

  • No picture of themself. 
    I assume that they’re not attractive, or they don’t think they’re attractive, or they don’t want others to know that they’re on Tinder, all which are unattractive qualities (the last being – they’re not playing fairly).
  • Smoking cigarettes in the pictures.
    Nuff said.
  • Pictures of just kids. 
    I get that you love your kids and want us to know that – but Tinder is a dating site – prominent pictures of your kids is creepy. A picture of you and your kid is ok.
  • ‘Not DTF’. 
    I think reflects a cynical attitude toward all potential mates. I get that you might receive several ‘DTF?’ messages – but I’m not one of them. Putting ‘Not DTF’ in your profile suggests to me that you’re going to be quite suspicious and untrusting, and that’s not what I’m looking for.
  • ‘I prefer tall guys’. 
    I’m a tall guy myself, but this line seems incredibly insensitive.
  • The dog or flower wreath snapchat filter. 
    I can’t stand them. I don’t know what it is.
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  • All MySpace angle pictures. 
    This is a common technique used by larger women to make their photos look attractive, despite their size.
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    It indicates a lack of confidence – I’d rather see you rock your body no matter what size it is. I’m much more likely to swipe right on a large girl that has a full body photo,  than one who has just MySpace angles.
  • No profile blurb. 
    It tells me that you think that your pictures are the solely enough to attract a mate (which is likely true), but this seems self centered to me.

 

So that’s some things that will likely make me want to swipe left, here’s what will get an instant right swipe or super like from me.

  • Mentioning liking puns or bad jokes in profile blurb.

Sending costly signals.

http://joss7.deviantart.com/art/Virtual-Rose-170342184

In my last post I outlined why in online dating, a guy might send generic easy-to-write messages to scope out a girl’s interest before investing more effort in the conversation.

The problem with these messages is that the message is likely to get lost in the noise of all the other low cost messages.

The opposite approach is the utilise the sending of costly signals. 

Paul Oyer outlines this dynamic in his book Everything I ever needed to know about economics, I learned from online dating.(My review here).

Costly signals allow a potential match to differentiate themselves from the rest of the competition.

Costly signals can be used in other matching markets. An example Oyer uses, is Google who recieves more than two million job applications a year needs some way to filter through the candidates to decide who to begin interviewing. Google is obviously a desirable place to work, and the cost for a college graduate, regardless of their technical skill level, to send Google their CV is minimal. One way Google could filter applications, is to require applicants attach a $10 application fee. For the lower skilled applicants this would make applying for the job too costly, while for candidates who stand a reasonable chance of being employed, the potential benefits of working for Google make the fee worthwhile. Paying the $10 fee effectively signals ‘My cost-benefit analysis determines that I’m of sufficient skill level that I have a reasonable chance of you employing me’.

A different costly signal Google could require would be completing a challenging coding exercise.

The idea of a $10 application fee leaves a bad taste in our mouth, and there are all sorts of reasons that Google might choose not to use this method of filtering (A coding exercise probably being a lot more effective), but this example gives a good starting point for thinking about costly signals.

Oyer mentions an experiment done in South Korea, where participants took part online dating market and were randomly assigned between two and eight virtual roses, which they could elect to attach to messages to show special interest. The study found that the virtual roses had little effect in eliciting responses from the most attractive in the dating pool, but were much more likely to elicit if sent to those in the mid-range of attractiveness.

Tinder has recently added a such a costly signal function. Users are a single ‘super like’ each day . The super like always shows a notification to receiver and gives them an option to then like back.

This completely changes the game for Tinder. For attractive girls on Tinder, it’s common that every right swipe they make will result in a match. Because super likes are so limited they are likely to be a much rarer form of validation. Tinder’s research shows that people are three times more likely to respond to the a super like. While users are allotted only one super like per day, they have the option of paying for additional super like. This is clever monetisation by Tinder – it’s not intrusive as well as providing a service that has real value.

Paul Oyer suggest another form of costly signalling – attaching donations to charity to messages. A user could send a message and also have the option of making a donation to charity when he sends the message. When the recipient receives this message they fact of their donation is highlighted. What this shows is that the guy is so willing to talk to the person that they’re willing to spend money to get their attention. I think this would be very effective on a dating site like OkCupid, which in my impression has a high percentage of left leaning politically engaged women, who are likely to appreciate the idea of giving to charity.

I personally would use such a service, and I’d be willing to pay a 10% fee to the dating site for the service. I’d be willing to pay up to $5 a message. I donate to charity anyway, and so any amount that I’m paying via a dating service serves as a double use of money, I’m buying both the feeling of goodwill for donating to charity, as well as buying a (hopefully) effective costly signal.

Low-cost strategies

Source: http://winningattinder.tumblr.com/
Source: http://winningattinder.tumblr.com/

A common complaint women have in online dating, is that men send them messages that ‘aren’t trying’. Messages like ‘Hey, how are you?’ or ‘DTF [down to fuck]?’.

Sending these kinds of messages are what I call a low-cost strategy.

On the flip side – it can be frustrating (and time consuming) for a guy to craft out a personalised first message that addresses the girl’s profile, only to receive no response. Remember there are potentially dozens of girls in the dating pool that he might consider dating matches, and he doesn’t necessarily have the time or the inclination to craft out messages to each one individually. From his point of view, it makes sense for him to prioritise putting effort into messages where there’s some level of reciprocal interest.

A low-cost strategy is sending a first message requires little effort, time, or emotional investment, and waiting to see if it gets a response. A more sophisticated low-cost strategy is to create a template message that one simply copy and pastes to every person they’re interested in talking to. For example off the top of my head a message like ‘Hey! You look really interesting and fun to talk to! How are you finding the online dating game?’ This message could be tweaked and tailored as the guy works out what works and what doesn’t.

What’s advantageous about this strategy from a guy’s perspective is the initial low cost of initiating contact and starting a conversation. If the girl replies the message then it’s an indication that she’s read his profile and she has some level of reciprocal interest, making it worthwhile for the guy to now put investment into the conversation.

The content of the first low-cost message also serves a self selection filter for the kind of person you’re wanting to talk to. Email scammers use this strategy – email scams are intentionally written in broken English and in a way that’s fairly obvious it’s a scam. This serves to filter out the people who are too smart to fall for the scam. The scammer doesn’t want to waste their time corresponding with people who will eventually work out it’s a scam and not follow through. So instead the write the email in a way such that only people who are stupid enough to fall for the scam, reply to the email in the first place.

This is essentially what ‘DTF’ messagers are doing.  They’re not assuming that every person they’re messaging is there for immediate casual sex, they’re filtering for the people who are going to respond to such a lazy message. There are more sophisticated versions of the ‘DTF’ message. For example a friend received this message:

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Which in my opinion is a bit more clever (with the exception of the unfortunate choice of abbreviation). If a girl responds to this message then he knows how to proceed. (My friend didn’t continue this conversation).

In my opinion ‘How are you’ and ‘What are you up to tonight?’ messages are actually pretty reasonable, and it’s a shame that they’re considered unattractive.

These messages can be interpreted as an invitation to start chatting. Presumably if you’re both online at the same time you’re bored or you have some free time, in which case why not engage in some banter? I also think that ‘What are you up to tonight’ or ‘What have you been doing today’ is a good conversation starter. If the person is an interesting and active person, they’ll have a good story to tell. ‘I’ve been surfing’, ‘I went for a run and then had coffee with my friends’, ‘I’ve been doing some writing’. This gives a good and attractive snapshot of the kind of person they are.

I suspect that the reason a ‘What are you up to tonight’ message doesn’t stand out from all the other ‘What are you up to tonight’ messages. That’s where pursuing a copy-paste strategy might be more effective.

Wrapping it up

If you’re at a point with online dating where you’re frustrated then you might be taking it too seriously. My intention for this post is not to suggest that sending copy-paste messages is absolutely the best the strategy (though it might be worth experimenting with, why not?). It does shed some light on why men may act the way they do on online dating.

Personally I find myself swinging between high-cost and low-cost strategies. Sometimes I’m in the mood and send a personalised paragraph or a clever joke, and other times I’m bored but impatient and send a message like ‘How do we start a conversation?’.

Amusing anecdote

While I was writing this I decided copy paste a message to a few girls on OkCupid. However, I was switching between doing that, and editing this, and I accidentally copy pasted a line from here instead.

What I was meant to send: “Hey, so I’m interested to hear about your experience on online dating, are you wiling to to talk to me about it?”

What I sent: “From a guy’s perspective, sending these kinds of messages are what I call a low-cost strategy.”

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.

Online dating as a pick-me-up.

Online dating, and in particular Tinder, has been subject to criticism recently for enabling their users to become non-commital and flakey when it comes to relationships. The argument is that popular dating apps like Tinder allow people to see of their dating options, and never commit to a relationship because the ease of casual sex or new dating options is right there on your phone. The term ‘dating apocalypse’ has been coined – popularised by this Vanity Fair article. In my opinion the article is pretty awful. It reads more like a bad fiction story, and I question the veracity of it. Even if the people in this story are real, I don’t think they’re representative of Tinder’s overall userbase.

But the argument does have merit.

If we take Paul Oyer’s (author of Everything I needed to know about economics, I learned from online dating.) premise – that everybody is seeking the highest value possible mate (however ‘high value’ is defined – and is perhaps subject to person’s own values), even if successful in romance, they will continue searching for higher value mates, so long as their cost of search doesn’t prevent them. Because online dating makes cost of search much lower, (people don’t need to spend an entire Friday night out at party or social group in order to meet potential mates), people will be less inclined to settle with their current romantic match, for fear of missing out on a higher value match that’s just around the corner – if they have the security of knowing that they can easily find an equal value match with a couple more swipes and few interesting text messages.

I deleted my Tinder account about three weeks ago. I found I wasn’t enjoying it anymore – I wasn’t getting as many matches as I used to, conversations were stilted, I’d arrange dates that would flake out, etc. So I deleted my Tinder and decide to focus on meeting people the IRL way – through social groups, parties, etc.

Two weeks later, I was feel lonely. While joining social groups and generally putting yourself out there is an effective way to meet people, there are two difficulties with turning it into romance.

Firstly, there’s a lack of social signal about their availability (whereas someone’s mere presence on a dating site indicates that they’re single and interested in dating). This can lead to an awkward conversation.

Secondly, there’s a lack of continual contact with the person. For example if you meet someone at a social group that meets once a week, unless you get their phone number or Facebook straight away,  you only have the opportunity to talk to them in the time that you’re together at time each week. Whereas with online dating, you can maintain a prolonged conversation throughout the day and the week. This means that establishing a connection with someone you’ve met in real life, can take a lot longer than one where you’re able to talk online.

I ended up getting quite depressed, and on the weekend reinstalled Tinder, and signed up to OkCupid. I started chatting to some girls, and you know what? It was fun! I enjoyed myself, and I felt good.

This has led to a rethinking of my online dating philosophy. Online dating should be treated as a flakey and non-committal dating experience. This isn’t to say that it doesn’t have value.

Instead of being seen as a primary and serious way to meet a romantic partner, it should be seen as fun and non-committal ‘pick-me-up’. That is, continue building your social networks in real life, as these tend to be a bit more reliable than online dating relationships. Use online dating for a fun pick-me-up during the day, or as an activity as you’re unwinding at the end of the day.

Of course – online dating matches can turn into a real date, and then a real relationship, and there’s no reason not to pursue this option. But your general expectations for going into online dating shouldn’t be ‘I’m here to find a mate’, it should be ‘I’m here to have non-serious fun, by chatting to people I find interesting or attractive’. Anything that goes beyond that, is a bonus.

Now this might sound a bit cynical, dishonest or unethical. If I’m treating online dating in this non-serious manner, then it could be considered dishonest to the people I’m chatting to if they’re taking a serious approach. Three points to counter this – firstly, not being serious about online dating doesn’t mean you need to act like a jerk. Secondly, I can be fairly upfront about what my intentions are. This is quite a good piece of writing, and I’d be happy to share it, to at least gauge reactions. Thirdly, people don’t have an obligation to act in a way that other people want them to. This ‘don’t be serious’ approach is fairly self-contained, and there’s no explicit agreement that you both have the same intentions when chatting. People need to take their own responsibility for recognising that others may have different values or intentions in their social interaction, and that doesn’t mean you’re both not compatible for a fun chat.