True Story: My Tweet About An OKCupid Creep Went Viral (And The Internet Thinks I Should Date Him)

On and off throughout my 30s, I’ve used the online dating site OKCupid to meet guys outside of my social circles. Well, I should say that I’ve used it to TRY to meet guys outside my social circles because every time I logged in to check messages, my inbox essentially resembled the email equivalent of a human dumpster fire.

The fact that I received gross, inappropriate, or overly familiar, boundary-crossing messages isn’t a unique experience in and of itself. Any woman who has been online can testify to the same experience. However, if a message was especially egregious, I would typically crop out the user name and share it on my Facebook or Twitter. I mean, if I can’t laugh with my friends on some of the insanity that finds its way into my inbox, then what is the damn point of enduring it in the first place?

What kind of over the top messages would men send me? I’m so glad you asked. There’s this introductory message from the guy who wanted to worship my feet. Although, the fact that he ended with “lol” might be the most unsettling aspect of all.

Then there was this bold opening move. Mind you, I don’t mention any kind of preferences regarding bedroom activities in my profile.

This gem came from an ambitious 22-year-old.

This message came from a young cat lover with a convoluted understanding of how human anatomy works.

Then there’s this one, in response to a joke I made in my profile about Columbo. Remember the fact that I mentioned “Columbo” in my profile. That will become important later.

Also among the inbox detritus were messages from twentysomethings who explicitly detailed their preference for older women, or as one hopeful bachelor put it, “a mature white lady.” Listen, I’m not above exploiting a younger guy’s sexual curiosity about women in their 30s and 40s, but maybe they shouldn’t lead with that. Maybe they just write me a message as a potential date and avoid using the descriptor “OLDER” multiple times when outlining their mature pussy fetish. That being said, it’s not like the older guys were doing much better, as evidenced by the guy in his late-40s who described himself as “a badass who just got out of a sexless marriage.” Cool story or coolest story?

Then there were the older men who criticized me for not sufficiently smiling in my pictures, or worse, overly fixated on my lips, thus delivering the world’s least subtle subtext that they were imagining me giving a blowjob. I knew it was getting to the end of my OKCupid tenure when the best I could hope for when receiving a notification for a new message is that the suitor didn’t ask me for anything too weird. It’s like I had abandoned hope of getting asked out on an actual date by a charming and attractive guy and just hoped for the mildest form of sexual harassment possible. Like, hey, this stranger only told me he’d love to see me wear a ballgag, he didn’t actually provide an illustration of what he imagined I’d look like in it. Silver linings, y’all! If I was already teetering on the edge of deleting my account, then this was the message that put me over.

This message comes from a single dad in his mid-40s. Thankfully, he lives in Sweden, so I’m probably not in any danger of just bumping into him on the street. Still, there’s so much to hate about this message, like, the overly familiar tone, referencing my actual name and my cat. The backhanded remarks about my “attempts” at humor and taste in music. The weird downgrading of my age, making me sound like a college freshman rather than a grown woman in my mid-30s. The procedural play-by-play of the discovery process via extensive Google research and deep OKCupid searching. At this point, I should mention that despite the fact that I shared my inbox’s greatest hits on social media, I never shared my own user name. So, all anyone knew was that I had used the site, not how to specifically look me up. This guy summised that “Columbo” was an interest based on the one creep message I received and searched for me on the site using that.

Listen, do I Google people I’m curious about? All the time. Everyone does. Do I then barf my weird feelings about what I discovered into a weird 500-word missive to said person, explicitly delineating what I had learned about him during each phase of the creepy journey? Do I lay this out thinking that the person will be impressed with my keen internet sleuthing skills, complete with bloodcurdling boasting like “Googling was necessary, and so easy?” Like, most people with social skills, no, I don’t. Do I then address the person like I actually know them based on what I learned in my research? Fuck no, mainly because I try not to give most potential dates the impression that I want to wear their face as a mask. I’d like to believe that most people feel this way.

Is it fine that this guy doesn’t think my jokes land? Sure. Is it okay that he thinks my taste in music is “unevolved?” Of course. Did I need to ever know any of this? Especially in a feeble and passive aggressive attempt to woo me? Probably not. Or at least he could have done what every other pedantic dick on Twitter does and @ reply me, thus limiting his futile flirting to 140 characters.

When I post upsetting or inept messages on OKCupid, I get a lot of responses from women who have received similar messages. To that end, there’s a case to be made that messages that lack regard for women’s comfort and boundaries aren’t outliers, but a gross status quo where men feel entitled to say whatever they feel like to women they don’t know.

Usually, the messages don’t travel beyond my immediate social network, but this one was getting more traction than is typical. EJ Dickson at Mic reached out to me to ask a few questions about the message, which resulted in this article.

At that point, I had responded back to the failed suitor, to essentially tell him to fuck off. Well, not essentially, I actually just called him a creep and told him to fuck off. In the meantime, a friend who works at OKCupid saw the message and asked me for his user name and banned him. Apparently, they have a zero tolerance policy for creeps, which I respect. At that point, I assumed that sending someone a message that said “You are a creep, fuck off” would end our correspondence. It did not. I received this non-apology in my work email, which was even more verbose than the original message.

He is right in the sense that it’s not for him to decide if he’s a creep. It’s for me to decide. I think he’s a creep and as the recipient of his letters, my opinion is the only one that matters. Plus, it doesn’t help that his message is less of an apology and more of an explanation of all the jokes I supposedly didn’t get plus a scolding for talking about using a dating site online. Mind you, I never provided the specific profile handle, but just admitting to using them is enough for this guy to blame me for his creepy e-surveillance.

By this point, the fact that I was failing spectacularly at internet dating was picked up here, here, here, and then, later, here. A German journalist published an essay arguing that I basically asked for this kind of attention because I, like most people who write for a living or work in media, have an internet presence. Hell, almost everyone who doesn’t work in media has an Instagram account or a Twitter account or something that constitutes a public online presence where they share controlled aspects of their lives. Still, she posted pictures of me lounging around with my cat and at a karaoke bar to argue that because some information about me is publicly accessible, that I should embrace a involved letter from a guy who he slams my “attempts” at humor as feeble and admits to essentially assembling a dossier on me.

“That guy did nothing wrong, “ wrote Isabell Prophet, in a portion of her post written in English and addressed directly to me. She continued:

He just readsome personal facts – and He Likes You. That’s not stalking, that’s research.And yes: He sucks at writing love-letters.

You Should probably date him.

(Just make sure it’s a public space and you can Easily escape.)

A lot of internet comments took a similar line of thinking. The worst were the ones who said that I should have been grateful to receive an “intelligent, thoughtful letter” from a guy in an era where most dudes just send dick pics. On that end, I’m sure Ted Bundy sent some well-written letters out to his groupies from death row, it doesn’t mean he was boyfriend material. According the commenters in the British press, I’m the creep, not this guy. He’s perfectly lovely. A psychiatrist who popped into the Cosmo comments explained that I shouldn’t be alarmed because, in his professional opinion, the guy was “harmless” who probably had a mild case of Asperger’s. Yeah, a guy stepping in and explaining to a woman when she should and shouldn’t be uncomfortable is always a good look.

There was also a bizarre consensus that if I in any way publicly mention that I use a dating platform, then I have to be okay with someone seeking me out, letting me know exactly how they sought me out and be chill about whatever passive aggressive, self-loathing diatribe they want to vomit into my inbox. I have to be okay with being given an unsolicited road map through a guy’s internet obsession.

Or I can just shut the whole goddamn profile down, which is what I ended up doing. It’s not like it was working out so well before that last message.