So you create a profile, fill out some information, post a few pictures, and begin receiving messages from strangers, 95% of which are poorly punctuated, riddled with misspellings, or just plain bland. (Seriously, folks, how much interest do you hope to spark by “Hey”ing someone? Keep in mind that written text cannot convey the nuanced intonational differences between “hey” and “Heeeeeeeyyyyyy”.)
Everyone has their own methodology for their online dating experience and with that methodology comes a few personal quirks. I am no exception. Despite my admonition to keep expectations low, I have discovered that I have ridiculously high expectations for my online interactions and some severely quirky methodologies to which I tend to adhere (which probably limits me in the grand scheme of things, but since they are part of what makes me me, I might as well accept them, right? If I can’t accept my own randomnosity, how can I hope that someone else will?)
So here are a few of my online communicative quirks:
First, I expect to be messaged first by a guy.
PoF has a dating “health-o-meter” in the upper right hand corner of the screen. In the past few days, mine has been incessantly reminding me that my dating experience would probably be enhanced if I messaged guys first (According to PoF, most women my age send more messages to guys than I do. Their solution was to immediately send a message to five of my PoF selected matches. I clicked the link to check my “matches,” but after five minutes of futile scrolling, gave up in despair.)
I expect to be pursued. I do not initiate contact with guys. I might visit a profile. Multiple times (^_-), but if he isn’t contacting me, nothing is going to happen.
End of story. That’s not a policy that everyone needs to follow. It’s just a policy that I follow. Because I want to know that I am wanted.
Second, when communication is established, I reply in kind.
This, I think, frustrates many people. I do not push a conversation forward. I see where the guy wants to take it, or even if he wants to take it anywhere at all. (I am speaking in terms of initially establishing communication. Once I feel a rapport has been established, I do not stick to this; but definitely until a second date, I prefer for the guy to take a lead in choosing to pruposefully get to know me.) Every once in while, I will reply to a “Hey” message. Or a “How are you?” message. But when I do, I don’t elaborate. I simply say “hey” in return. (Or “Salutations” if I’m feeling pretentious.) Someone asks how I am? “I’m well” or “I’m fantastic” suffices. Ask a short, generic question, and you will receive a short, generic response (if I choose to respond at all, which I judge by how interesting I deem your profile to be. Deficits in the message may occasionally be compensated for with an awesome profile).
I will reply to questions that are asked. I may even ask a few of my own. But for the most part, I allow the person who initiated the conversation to deepen it or allow it to fizzle.
This results in two things:
- A whole lot of conversational threads that go nowhere (I consider this to be a weeding out of those who aren’t invested in communicating–let’s face it: I NEED someone who can communicate with me. Do they have to love English as much as I do? No. But they must know how to use words and how to converse.)
A few conversations that have been intriguing, fun, or revealing enough of an individual that I know I don’t want to meet them even though they may be articulate.
Third, I try not to be excessive in my messages.
I consider five-six paragraphs a good maximum. Most messages are much much shorter, but I occasionally receive messages from people who are excellent communicators and as loquacious as I am. There is absolutely NOTHING wrong with being loquacious, but I try to keep a principle of moderation in mind. I don’t know about anyone else, but I feel overwhelmed when I receive a message that would fill two pages of a Word document. What makes it worse is that the person who wrote it is going to expect an equivalent response. That’s an awful lot of writing. Which is flattering. But it’s also an awful lot of pressure. Which makes it much less enjoyable as a whole. I don’t like feeling pressured, and I don’t want people I’m writing to to feel pressured, either.
Fourth, I do not Flirt.
Occasionally, I try, but historical evidence suggests that the nuances necessary to accomplish the social rites and rituals of flirtation are completely lost upon me. As a person who seeks depth, the shallow, meaningless (though fun) fluff of flirtation is hard for me to comprehend, much less successfully engage in. If I think a guy is gorgeous, I’m far more likely to avoid eye contact and stammer at my feet than confidently shimmy up to him and purr, “Hey, Tiger, how’s it going?”
–Okay, I doubt ANY girl would purr “Hey, Tiger, how’s it going?” unless she’s in a B-rated movie. But the exact verbiage isn’t the point. The point is that my verbal wit covers semantic manipulation and the occasional sarcastic retort. But flirting, whether on or off-line, is not part of my social skills set.
What happens when my quirks meet the quirks of other people? It makes for some interesting communication. Stay tuned for examples.