I’m a huge fan of online dating. I met my partner online, and I enthusiastically recommend online dating to friends and clients. But while it offers an inordinately large selection of potential dates, it does have some inherent problems. I’ve heard a myriad of grizzly online dating stories and most point to a common culprit, anonymity. It’s irrelevant whether or not the man or woman you met online is a viable life partner candidate in terms of how they deserve to be treated.
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Anonymity contributes disproportionately to boomer dating dissatisfaction. While integrity may top most boomers’ lists of desirable qualities, it’s at odds with some boomers’ online dating behaviour. “If I don’t really know this man or woman I’m contacting, why should I be on my best behaviour? If I meet a person who’s a stranger and I’m disappointed, why should I care about how I treat that person? I’ll never see this person again, so what difference does it make if I’m rude?” This myopic behaviour is reminiscent of Internet tough guys who hide behind anonymity while spewing trash they don’t have the courage to utter in person.
Some Internet daters apparently feel that the absence of personal accountability means that anything goes. While most boomers date with integrity, the artless minority creates unwelcome and unnecessary anxiety for the majority. How much damage do they inflict? While small in number, the effects of their rude behaviour linger long after they touch someone’s life. I know a few thin-skinny singles that discontinue dating online after being treat rudely on more than one occasion.
A Kinder Time
Impoliteness is not an acceptable substitute for pre-Internet dating behaviour, which was far more personal and far less offensive. Sure, boomers have to be willing to assume some amount of risk dating online, but a date should resemble their photo, their profile should depict them accurately, and they should be polite. Consider that men and women dating online have families, friends, children, careers, and hopes and dreams, all of which make them unique individuals deserving respect. The online dating process may also seem impersonal because only a fraction of first dates become relationships, but it’s personal nonetheless. You may be unsure about the viability of a second date, but treating the person you met for coffee respectfully counts, no matter your decision.
Where the Rubber Meets the Road
Who will know if you’ve been rude besides the person whose feelings got trampled? No one. And this is where the anonymous, online dating rubber meets the boomer, dating road. Online dating is a double-edged sword. The bigger the community, the larger the dating pool, but the less likely some daters may feel personally accountable. Is it acceptable to treat a date disrespectfully simply because they’re a stranger? Of course it isn’t.
So what’s it going to take for boomers to treat each other with minimal respect since there aren’t any enforceable online dating rules? Thirty million single boomers might consider treating each other as potential friends rather than disposable strangers when they date online.
It’s About Character
Hiding behind anonymity arrived with the Internet. But consider that someone who’s rude on, or even before a first date, won’t likely treat a partner in a relationship very well either. Rudeness is a character flaw.
Sexual Emails? Really?
A few women friends have mentioned meeting men online whose initial emails were replete with sexual fantasies these men proposed engaging in with them. What would possess any man to feel this is even remotely appropriate? Anonymity and the realisation he’ll never have to face the women he insults because few if any will agree to meet him. And if he thinks he got lucky if a boomer woman accepts his sexual invitation, he should think again, because a total stranger who’s eager to have sex with him is a scenario likely to end badly. A small number of men would feel brave enough to launch into sexual fantasies on a first date with a woman sitting across from them in a cafe. Anonymity provides safe haven for the clueless.
Boomers lacking dating manners need to hit the refresh button on their dating behaviour menus. We’re boomers, and we changed the social, moral, and political landscape of a nation, so how difficult should it be to date each other respectfully? Anonymity is never an excuse for behaving disrespectfully in any situation, including dating. Treating each other with the same respect we give friends would make boomer dating a safer, more enjoyable activity for everyone.