Online dating over 50 is a petri dish for weird behaviors, a lot of it kind of fascinating. But one of the weirdest behaviors is the phenomenon of people getting their feelings hurt by, and reacting angrily to, people they haven't even met.
Or perhaps we met once, didn't have a great date and thought it was OK to politely go our separate ways, only to find that the other person thought a trip to Paris and marriage was on tap for the next date.
(A brief aside: another weirdness of internet dating is how many convicted felons there are out there - male and female. I guess I would have thought once you hit 50, committing a felony wouldn't be on anyone's bucket list, but I've met several women who have dated recently-convicted felons, and I have dated two, one of whom was wearing her court-ordered ankle bracelet on our date.)
But back to the hurt feelings. A couple of years ago, when I was dealing with a fair amount of family "stuff," I had to postpone a scheduled first date sort of at the last minute. Not a wonderful thing to do, but not a crime either.
I apologetically texted the woman to explain. She wrote back, "How dare you cancel! Don't ever contact me again."
Well, thanks for the warning. I won't, especially now that I have an idea how she would react if I did something really wrong.
I hear about this all the time from women. They cordially correspond with a guy, maybe chat on the phone, and decide - as they have every right to - that they don't want to pursue things. Then they get one, two or more hostile, even hateful, emails from the guy, as though they had broken up after years together.
I've had several first dates where we enjoyed each other but things didn't heat up enough intellectually, spiritually and physically, to go to the next step only to get texts or emails along the lines of "Most men I meet can't WAIT to see me again!" (That is an exact quote.)
Another potential date (this one was three to four years ago, but the memory is clear) and I texted back and forth about when and where to meet. I said something like, instead of 4 p.m., can we meet at 6? (Not exaggerating - this was the trivial level of the conversation.) She angrily replied that she had never been treated so poorly by anyone.
I thought (hoped?) she was confusing me with her husband or boyfriend or at least someone she had actually met face to face, but alas, no.
I don't remember this particular form of insanity from my younger dating days. Don't get me wrong. I dated people of marginal stability and I certainly behaved crazily toward some. But this level of hurt feelings seems new.
I attribute it to one (or more) of five causes:
- Because online dating is so anonymous, at least at the beginning, people feel they can say anything to this avatar on the other side of the computer or smartphone
- Because there are so many people dating online, there's no risk associated with acting like a jackass if you don't like the way the email/text/phone call/date went.
- When you are over 50, rejection feels more personal
- When you are over 50, desperation creeps in where it hadn't been before
- There's just more emotionally "tender" people than there used to be
I'm a sensitive guy (no, really!) I cry at sitcoms, commercials, anything having to do with parents and kids/grandkids. And no one is better than I at being a basket-case after a long relationship ends.
But I don't get the "hurt-feelings-when-we-haven't-even-met" thing.
So when women tell about guys they emailed a few times who call them every foul name imaginable because they wouldn't go out with the guy, I get worried for these women.
When I didn't follow up with a woman I met once for what can only be called a bad date who then sent me a note telling me in some graphic detail how awful I was for not contacting her, I was confused. And worried.
If we applied for a job and didn't get an interview, or got an interview but didn't get the job, would we send a hostile note? I wouldn't, but maybe people do these days.
So this laboratory called online dating has some quirks. One of the downsides is dealing with hurt feelings that shouldn't be hurt. The upside is being able to escape before it really gets weird.