The older I get, the better I become at listening to what my intuition is telling me. I haven’t always been able to read when something is “off” with a guy, but I’m figuring it out. And thank God.
Take this weekend. I’d been messaging for a couple days with a guy from an online dating website. Let’s call him Empty Profile. We’re calling him that because he had a mostly empty profile. He wrote a few brief lines about himself, which didn’t reveal much, but he did post several pictures of himself. We flirted back and forth and Empty Profile eventually asked me if I wanted to get drinks on Saturday night.
I said yes. But as it got closer to Saturday night, I felt uncomfortable that I didn’t know anything about Empty Profile. I’m not suggesting he’s the Cannibal Cop, but I only knew his name and what he looked like, and had just a vague idea about the industry he worked in. It also occurred to me that I didn’t know why he wanted to meet up with me. Did we have anything in common? Obviously he must have thought I was attractive in some way to ask me out, but most men from online dating usually give an explanation of why they want to meet, like, “I want to get your thoughts on that documentary!” or “There’s a pulled pork sandwich you have to try!” Online dating is not just about randomly meeting up with strangers without any context.
So I asked him, point blank, what he liked about my profile. Easy enough question, right? But Empty Profile’s response to that question, honestly, made me feel even weirder. He told me he “didn’t pay attention” to my profile. He said that he wanted to meet up in person to see if we had chemistry.
Okay, I get it, chemistry is important. But it seemed like he was suggesting he either didn’t read my profile or didn’t care what was in it, which, again, made it seem even more like we may not have anything in common. Empty Profile really was a mystery to me. And I was feeling increasingly uncomfortable about it; I was bad nervous, not good nervous..
Saturday afternoon, I had plans to meet a bunch of girl friends at the pool. But worrying about the date with Empty Profile was lodged in my brain. I know myself and I know I would spend all afternoon fretting over the date, thus not having fun with my friends (or making sure they all had good time, since I was the one who invited everyone). This is stupid, I told myself. You don’t even know this guy. Just cancel.
So I texted Empty Profile and messaged him on the online dating site to make sure he got the message somehow. “I’m sorry, but I’m having cold feet about tonight. I apologize for canceling,” I wrote. I figured it was short and sweet and polite. I didn’t get into any complicated, tangible reason why I didn’t want to go on a first date because I didn’t have one.
I assumed he would respond the same way that I have responded when a dude has canceled or rescheduled a date or other dudes have responded to me when I’ve canceled or rescheduled a date: politely, respectfully, calmly. What happened next genuinely surprised me.
“Grow up,” Empty Profile wrote back on the online dating site. That’s it. Grow up.
It’s an interesting thing, the phrase “grow up.” It’s a phrase that comes from a place of feeling powerless that is said to imply the person with more power is being immature for exercising it. It implies that saying no, saying “this is not okay with me,” or setting up a boundary is childish. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Actually, asserting what you want or what you are comfortable with is actually very mature.
But that’s not all. Empty Profile then sent me a barrage of text messages. And I mean a barrage.
You strung me along?
Now you glibly cite cold feet?
Well I’m glad I kept my schedule open for you. You certainly deserve someone chivalrous since you clearly represent the other side of that equation.
Good thing you put some thought into your carefully worded profile!
I didn’t text back to any of his texts; clearly, Empty Profile was spoiling for a fight. Instead, I just felt enormously relieved. Really, really relieved. If this was how a man I had never met reacted to my canceling a first date — which, for all he knew, could have been because there was a death in the family or something — how would he have reacted if I said “no” to something else?
Look, I understand it hurts to be rejected or to feel like you are being rejected (even though you don’t know what’s going on behind the scenes). I’ve been rejected before, too, and it does make me feel temporarily angry or annoyed at the person. It’s always a blow to my ego, as well. But ultimately, I’m grateful the person was honest with me.I Lashing out at someone who rejects you says a lot more about you than it does about it the other person. Everything about Empty Profile’s personal attack-ish response made me feel relieved that I wasn’t going to spend my evening with this guy.
I truly do believe that relief is a telling emotion. I now know I’d been right to listen to my instincts. My intuition was telling me there was something weird about this guy: his empty profile, his weird response to my question about mine. Now I know that when he feels hurt, he lashes out at people personally (including, apparently, implying that some women “deserve” chivalry while others don’t). Men like Empty Profile make women like me bitter about online dating. And I’m sure women like me — you know, ones who assert themselves — make men like Empty Profile more crazy.
It’s a jungle out there, folks.
[Photoof a crying man via Shutterstock]