As a straight woman in the online dating world, I have discovered that men can be creepy. I’m sure there’s a men’s rights activist out there right now clutching his fedora and angrily shouting, “Not all men, m’lady!” So I am going to address that right now: Yeah, duh. No shit. In fact, I’ve actually dated some of the men who haven’t approached me online in a moronic manner. Only later did I find out how moronic they were.
My inbox is flooded daily with strangers asking me questions like, “Can I suck a cucumber out of your butt?” and “Biggest dick you’ve sucked?” Every message reads like something a right-wing political cartoonist would have Bill Clinton say in the late 90s. I started to chronicle these messages on my Instagram account, because laughing about it helped me deal with the pain, which is the only way to solve any of my problems. That’s basically why I became a stand-up comedian.
Before I knew it, I gained a small following. People were interested in my grotesque dating life, but then I started getting messages from angry men saying the messages were my fault—I must have somehow been leading them on, tricking them into sending me such messages. Sorry, but my dating profiles are genuine—except for the part where I say I worship Satan.
Guys, I’m actually on your side. Kind of. I want you to have successful dating lives. Kind of. I think the real issue here is that you are being misguided, probably by horrible pick-up artist message boards and your horny friends. Instead of asking other men how to approach women online, how about you get some advice from an actual woman?
If All You Want Is a Hook-Up, Make That Clear (But Not in a Porny Way)
This goes for Tinder, especially. Tinder has confused the crap out of people. Is it a hook-up app, or is it something more? What’s the end game? Not enough people do this, but I think you really should say what you’re looking for. Just some sex? OK, that’s fine. A relationship? That’s fine, too. At this point, I wouldn’t be offended if, after having some conversation, a man revealed to me that all he wants is to have sex. I would most likely decline, but I wouldn’t think he’s a bad person. There’s a difference between talking to someone and them eventually saying, “I’m going to be honest with you, I only want a casual hook-up” versus being greeted with “Let me fuk that asshole.” Come on, at least spell fuck right.
And whatever weird porn fantasy you’re trying to live out, stop.
Also, stop telling us you can make us come. You probably can’t.
Oh and for the love of god, stop telling us that normally you’re shy or that usually you are not so forward. Not only do we know this is bullshit, but it does not make us feel good to be the exception to your usually, and normally.
The way I read this: Normally, I don the facade of a decent human being who doesn’t approach women in such a vile manner. However, one look at your profile and I thought, “She looks desperate enough to engage in intercourse with me right now.” In this guy’s defense, one of my pictures is of me crying while eating a burrito.
Don’t Call Us “Cutie,” “Sexy,” or “Babe”
Calling a woman you don’t know “sexy” or “cutie” is not as flattering as you might think. You become the catcalling construction worker of the internet. Then there’s “babe.” Babe bothers me on many levels. First off, it’s the name of a pig from a popular children’s film. That pig, while he was alive, made more money than I will ever make in my lifetime. It’s also very close to sounding like “baby,” which is the title of a Justin Bieber song. Justin Bieber is currently someone who makes more money than I will ever make in my lifetime. More importantly, an early definition of babe is literally, “an inexperienced or naive person.” This, if you didn’t know, is demeaning. So, even if I somehow manage to make more money than swine, or a fictional pig named Babe, this word would still make me cringe.
The only exception is if I’m dating Ted Logan from Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure. He can call me whatever he wants.
Don’t Tell a Horrible Joke
Yes, humor is attractive. However, copy-and-pasting a joke from some men’s humor website is not you showcasing how funny you are. On multiple occasions I have gotten this couch gag, which unfortunately has nothing to do with The Simpsons:
This joke is funny because not only does he not want to use a condom during sex with a stranger (which greatly heightens his risk of getting and spreading sexually transmitted infections), but he also wants to keep his sperm inside the woman he is having unprotected sex with so she could very likely get pregnant. It’s a classic bit, actually. The real issue here is, Chaplin did it better.
Then there’s this dead baby joke. Fortunately, I have only received this once:
This guy is not only a pedophile, but a cannibal to boot! That’s like finding a lawyer who went to med school.
Stop Sending This Message
This is a popular one guys are mass-sending. I have a strong feeling that whichever PUA site started this one was definitely trolling. Saying you’re not a creep almost instantly makes you a creep, especially if you later use the words “squirt” and “uncalibrated.”
Don’t Be an Asshole If We Don’t Respond
Sometimes on Tinder, it’s a match and that’s as far as it goes. I have endless matches who I’ve never spoken to and have never spoken to me. Some matches will send me a message, and get angry if I don’t respond. For a few, it only took them a couple of hours to yell profanities at me. Don’t take it personally, and don’t make yourself look worse by flipping out on a total stranger.
Don’t Send Dick Pics
Tinder thought it would be a good idea to have a Snapchat-esque feature called “Moments.” The concept is that you take a picture and that picture goes out to all the people that you matched with. Those people see the picture, and swipe left if they don’t like it, right if they do. Most “Moments” are selfies, or pictures of dogs, or meals, or erect penises.
Like Snapchat, there is also the option to write messages on your pictures or draw something. Thanks to Tinder, I have seen more than one dick overflowing with heart-shaped sperm.
Straight men: You need to stop thinking that your penis is attractive. Do you know how many lunch breaks you’ve ruined? Just face the facts. The sight of your veiny, erect penis does nothing for us. We will never see your penis and get wet. That’s why foreplay exists.
If you do want to send a horny pic, show us other parts of your body. I can see myself enjoying visuals of a nice man-butt, or a hairy chest. Better yet, a picture of you fully clothed, buying me whiskey.
Don’t Try to Make Us Sing a Journey Song
This is self-explanatory.
Don’t Ask Too Many Questions or Make Your Message Too Long
All this does is make the potential responder feel like they just got a homework assignment. When the questions are too specific or personal, it also comes off as odd. Do you want to go on a date or steal my credit card information? Starting with a simple “hello” might be boring, but going paragraphs further than that is just as boring—especially if you’re just talking about your day. It’s reminiscent of having to hear my mom talk about the pillows she bought on sale. I don’t want anyone I could potentially have sex with to remind me of my mom.
Now you know some of the things you shouldn’t do. What should you do? Be nice, genuine, avoid graphic sex talk, and save the dick pics for at least the fourth date. Also, never forget that online dating will always be dismal. At the end of the day nothing will change this crushing fact. Perhaps with this guide, it will help relieve just a little bit of the misery.
By Alison Stevenson for Vice