Recently I had a chat with a mate of mine who is signed up to a couple of dating sites. Tinder, OKCupid, whatever it is the kids these days are using to hook up with people. She explained to me that her greatest bugbear is guys who – after she’s ignored their first message (or more likely first deluge of messages) – say ‘hey, you could at least tell me no rather than just ignoring me. It’s polite to say something, after all.’
Hear this: I can totally see why your average dude might be confused by that. That unequivocal ‘no’ looks a bit harsh, doesn’t it? If you’re someone who sends a lot of dating messages only to be met with tumbleweed, you might think ‘hey, GOTN, that’s not very nice. I’d reply to everyone, so why shouldn’t they reply to me?’
We all receive a lot of emails, don’t we? It’s the 21st century, after all, so anyone with an email account will get not only a bunch of messages from friends/colleagues/your Mum, but other messages too: viagra sales, LinkedIn recruiters, foreign diplomats offering you a briefcase full of dollars, etc.
Being a woman on a dating site who is open to messages from men means you’ll get a hell of a lot of dating spam. Not as many messages as you get from LinkedIn, obviously, because LinkedIn is the biggest spam farm known to man, but still a fair amount. So instead of wondering why people don’t reply to what you send them, consider instead why you choose not to reply to certain things. Instead of deleting stuff or sending it to your spam folder, what would happen if you replied every time? Let’s have a look.
You’d waste ALL of your time
And I don’t just mean that it takes a long time to type a quick ‘sorry, no.’ That stark ‘no’ that I wrote at the beginning sounded pretty harsh to those of you it affected, didn’t it? Imagine how much worse a ‘no’ sounds in response to the question ‘do you like me?’ On a dating site your first message might say something charming:
- ‘Do you fancy a date?’
- ‘Awesome profile!’
- ‘Ur tits r gr8 lol wanna suck me’
Ultimately, though, they’re all variations on the same question: do you like me?
A stark ‘no’ in response to that is a pretty bold move. It’s a loudly slammed door, and understandably people don’t often want to use it. Problem is that an obligation to be polite often bleeds into an obligation to be just the right kind of polite. Hence, people who tell you that you should be polite to unsolicited messages usually also think you should send something more than just ‘no’:
“Thanks RandomGuy64, I’m delighted you like my tits. While I’d love to suck you, I’m afraid you mentioned in your profile that you love dogs, and I’m allergic. Please accept my most heartfelt apologies, and have a lovely, fellatio-filled life.”
It took me a couple of minutes to type that, and that was just a guy I made up. Can you imagine the time it’d take if I had to compose a personalised, polite rejection to three or four real guys every single day? Sure, it’s not writing War and Peace, but it’s still more time than you’d want to take out of your day to perform a task that isn’t really necessary. It’s polite to hold a door open for someone who’s just about to come through – you probably wouldn’t slam it in their face. But no one’s obliged to stand there all day holding the door open for everyone who wants to stroll on through.
Replying takes up a hell of a lot of time. Don’t believe me? Pop into your inbox right now and go reply to all the emails that ask you a question. Say:
“Thank you for your kind offer of Viagra, but I’m good for that right now.”
“I’d love to apply for this fantastic job, but I have a feeling I might be drastically overqualified.”
“I’ve always hated money, so I’m afraid I can’t join you on your business venture, kind diplomat.”
What’s more, go and do that to four emails every day for a week. Consider what either of you have gained from this exchange. Which brings me neatly onto my next point.
You become a ‘mark’
If we’re talking about politeness, then we need to acknowledge that a polite ‘no’ is not always taken for an answer. Just as our elusive email scammer won’t take your name off the list if you ask them to, so not all dudes on dating sites will stop messaging because you’ve said you’re not interested. Far from being – as it should be – the end of a particular conversation, often a ‘no thanks I’m not interested’ is seen as the opposite – an opening. A counter-offer, to be haggled into an ‘alright then’ via persuasion, nagging, and occasional threats.
Don’t believe me? Check out the site ‘bye, Felipe‘, in which women say ‘no’ to guys on dating sites and are subsequently called a whole bunch of appalling shit because they’ve dared to send that polite response in the first place.
I know, I know, not ALL men are cast-iron dickstrings, but nevertheless one ‘no I’m not interested’ is rarely enough. I’ve had guys before who have said ‘not interested? At least come on a date with me before you say that, you owe me that at least!’ Which, when you think about it, is like an email scammer doubling down on my ‘no thank you I would not like to discuss your business opportunity’ by asking me to just transfer $100.
Replying to a dating site message proves that you exist, and it also proves that you feel the need to be polite. And once that’s established, there’s surely ‘no harm’ in our persistent suitor seeing if that politeness can be used to press you that one step closer.
You validate lazy and shit behaviour
Like spammers, many people on dating sites have a ‘throw enough shit’ policy. Instead of reading people’s profiles, looking at their pictures, and considering who might be the best person for them to go on a date with, they simply message everyone and then see who takes the bait.
I feel like a grumpy old person complaining that the kids these days don’t do things well enough, but they don’t. Back in the Olden Days (about four years ago) when I was doing a lot of OKCupid dating, only about 20% of the messages I received fell into the ‘dating spam’ category. I replied to almost everyone who sent a nice message – and I had a really low baseline for ‘nice.’ By ‘nice message’ what I actually meant was dudes who’d demonstrated that they’d read even half of my profile. The spammers – the ones I didn’t reply to – were usually guys saying ‘hi lol’ or ‘u r fit’ or ‘can you send me a pic of your whole body’ or ‘Why, madam, I find your profile eminently intriguing – please do me the courtesy of telling me more.’
Let’s go back to our spam example. As a sex blogger, I get shitloads of email spam from PR companies, marketing companies and – my personal favourite – SEO ‘experts.’ The SEO experts usually want me to publish an article about herbal remedies, gambling, or some other bullshit. While I’m always tempted to find out how much dirty cash they’d fork out if I actually posted their shitwaffle, I always hit ‘delete’. It’s something I’m blatantly not going to do.
When I started blogging, I replied. I sent ‘no thanks’ to a hell of a lot of SEO people. And then more came, and more, and eventually I got to the point where I could guarantee at least a couple of SEO experts a day, plus the other stuff that comes (PR things, marketing stuff, requests that I ‘try out’ someone’s new sex website and then give them free consultancy on how they could improve it, etc). Do I reply to them all now? Fuck no. Because if you reply they know that you’re the sort of person who’ll reply. If your reply is a no, you’ll get ‘I understand your reluctance but let me reassure you…’ or ‘how about we test it this one time and if it doesn’t work for you then no problem.’ I have never once replied to an SEO or marketing email with a ‘no sorry that’s not for me’ and had them say ‘OK.’
Even if you think it’s polite to say’no’, I don’t think you owe it to people who are determined to take your ‘no’ and farm it into a ‘yes.’ I’ve wasted their time and mine by getting them to kick in with a conversation, and I’ve validated the laziness that comes from them not bothering to read my contact page to find out that I don’t do that kind of paid-scammy-SEO-bullshit anyway.
NOT ALL MEN
There’ll be a bunch of people reading this and thinking it’s unfair to compare men to spambots. Let me make it crystal clear: not ALL men are spambots. Some of the guys who send you a ‘hi’ message then get hurt when you don’t respond may well be genuinely lovely – they might have taken the time to read your profile, and struggled before getting up the courage to type that message then hit send. But similarly, there may well be genuine foreign diplomats offering you millions of dollars.
When it comes to dating sites, as with emails, there are a whole bunch of rules that dictate whether it’s worth replying to someone or not. I don’t think ‘writing a message that proves he’s read my profile’ is a particularly tricky hurdle to jump over, to be honest.
Most importantly, when you ask someone to say no out of politeness, consider why you actually need it: why is it polite? Is it because you’re sitting at your computer desperate to know? Is your life on hold until they reply? If the answer to either of these is ‘yes’ then I’d suggest you need a rule or two of your own, for your own peace of mind: if someone hasn’t responded within a day/a few days/a week (depending on how patient you are) then you can let it go. If, as is more than possible, the reason you want them to reply is that you think you’re owed something – a moment of their time, the opening of a conversation in which you can nag them to change their mind – then no matter how polite they are I don’t think they owe you anything.
As I say, check out your inbox and see how many messages you reply to just to turn them down. Then keep that in mind next time you send off a first-touch message, before you get angry with women who don’t respond. Don’t say ‘you should at least reply to say no’ – instead consider: do you?
I bet you don’t.