Online dating: Scoundrels, savages, stalkers, and soul mates
April 7, 2016
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“Looking for a sweet, funny, goal-oriented white girl, that doesn’t use tobacco or drugs, has a great sense of humor and quick wit, is receptive to my affection, loves to kiss, loves kids, is okay with me bringing home rescued animals, and can put up with me, as I am a huge dork and, sometimes, nerd.” Rod, 31, doesn’t volunteer at an animal shelter or even work at a veterinarian hospital. He may have brought home a baby squirrel in the past couple of months, but he is certainly not a modern day “Doctor Doolittle.”
It is actually quite appropriate that this is an excerpt from Rod’s inactive profile on the popular dating site, Plenty of Fish, because he is undoubtedly fishing with a lure. He brings the term “catfishing” to a whole new level. While he isn’t completely lying; he is most definitely manipulating.
It is far from a revelation that guys are misleading when trying to get a girl into the sack, but do dating sites make a game out of these predatory practices? There are 54 million single people in the U.S. and 49 million of them have tried online dating. According to statisticbrain.com, 10 percent of sex offenders are using online dating sites to meet people.
Rod (names have been changed at the request of the sources interviewed) is not a sex offender, but he is an online dating junkie. This is how almost all of Rod’s dating profiles begin, and there are several that he uses. He feels that Tinder is impersonal, but “OkCupid seems to be the zenith of dating apps.”
Rod wasn’t willing to share any of the contents of his personal conversations from any of these sites, but he has created a method that he uses on a weekly basis. He’ll start talking to five different girls and see how far he can go with them. Rod explains, “I can’t remember what I’ve told these girls. That’s why I keep it at five.” He knows that one of them he will end up sleeping with, two of them he will probably swap photos with, and he’ll designate one of them to talk to in an incredibly freakish and absurdly raunchy manner just so he can see how much she will endure before she finally stops talking to him. “I’m okay going to bed knowing that I destroyed someone’s feelings,” admits Rod.
Rod’s deceptive tactics border on psychological warfare. He showed me a site that he studied in order to spruce up his profile: “Top 5: Tinder Tips” on askmen.com. “I took that to a sociopathic level,” says Rod. He has meticulously calculated the design of every profile that he uses. This site showed him what kinds of pictures to display on his profile and which order to effectively use them “to showcase all of the best sides of you.”
Another approach Rod has discovered is that most sites sort profiles by keywords. If he sees a “super hot girl” that he is really attracted to, he will add a few keywords that she has used in her profile to increase the chances of a suggested match. “Five out of fifteen times the girl will message me,” he estimates.
While he has had incredible success with meeting females, approximately one a week, Rod has lowered his standards to achieve these numbers. “Getting an ugly girl still validates me,” Rod openly admits. He describes himself as a “self serving scoundrel” and a “sexual sadist,” but he justifies his actions saying, “I’m not physically hurting anybody.”
What exactly becomes “abnormal” behavior when we display our personal information on public profiles?
Anna, a 26 year-old graduate of Bucks, was very reluctant to be interviewed. She said she doesn’t have much experience with these sites, but she still occasionally talks to a guy who found her on a free dating app, Plenty of Fish. They began talking after, we’ll call him Jerry, came across her profile and recognized her from the bus they often rode together. Jerry then visited her Instagram profile which was listed in her POF (Plenty of Fish) profile information. From there, Jerry learned Anna’s last name and was able to send her a friend request on Facebook. If this isn’t creepy enough, Anna suspects that a few other random friend requests have come this way. “I am definitely cautious with it though,” assures Anna.
Anna has a couple of friends who have found love on dating sites and weren’t ashamed to admit that this is how they met. She believes that it is slowly becoming more of a norm in our society. “When they (dating apps) first started, everyone thought it was so dangerous and strange,” Anna adds, “Of course, it still can be.”
While Anna has personally only met a few guys via dating sites, her face-to-face experiences have been ordinary. “I’ve gotten some very strange messages, but for the most part, they are fairly normal conversations,” she says.
Julie, a 19 year-old communications major at Bucks, only has personal experience with Tinder and has been fortunate in only meeting typical people. Julie says, when it comes to messaging, “They mostly send you awful pick up lines.”
Julie has a 27-year-old brother who met his girlfriend of two years on Tinder and she expects they will get married. Although she has even met a few friends this way, she feels, “You have to be willing to lie about it if you want a relationship out of a Tinder match.” She estimates that there is a 50/50 chance of finding a decent person on Tinder. “There are genuine people on there, but there are also complete savages,” explains Julie.
Julie believes that Tinder’s hook ups are very common for “that one-night stand in college.” She says, “Other sites are more for finding relationships.” She realizes the dangers and down-sides to online dating; especially for girls. “Girls want a lovey-dovey relationship and guys just want to hook up. It’s our culture,” Julie says. “It’s this generation.”
Julie’s 50/50 estimate may be about right. Rod admits, “There are soul mates on these sites, but I’m not that person.” His extremely calculated trickeries most likely only make up a very small percentage of users. It appears that Anna’s stalkers may be a slightly more common and, of course, there are countless other men out there willing to mislead women for a one-night stand.
But Anna and Julie’s friends and family are evidence that not all internet meet ups are fly-by-night relationships. “Fly-by-night” is the perfect terminology to use in this situation, because these online interactions resemble business ventures in many ways. There is a potential for profit with these exchanges, but there are also many inherent risks for the people investing their time.