Monday, October 24, 2011

Thanks, But No Thanks

Recently I read a letter in the advice column "Dear Amy"; the letter was written by a man who had lost more than 100 pounds and had joined an online dating site. He said that he'd gotten several messages from ladies who were overweight. He wrote, "My profile is very specific about my eating and exercise habits. I always answer any response I get, and I am always polite and try and let these women know that I am not interested in dating a large woman. I have lived that lifestyle and do not want to go back to it."

The guy was apparently surprised that he received "a lot of hateful and abusive responses". It made me wonder what was in his profile. Did he write something like, "Unless you go jogging every day and think celery sticks are fattening, don't write to me"? Or maybe he wrote, "I spend a lot of time lifting weights and admiring my muscular physique in the mirror." His letter made me think of one of the reasons that turned me off. Several of the guys on that site actually specified in their profile that they didn't want to date anyone who was fat. One guy wrote, "I hope you're not the type of girl who wheezes when she climbs the stairs." I mean, really?

The guy who wrote that letter says that he doesn't want to date "a large woman" because he doesn't want to go back to "that lifestyle", which made me wonder if he was afraid that the woman would say something like, "If you don't eat that pizza, you can forget about getting a kiss good night!"

I think it was less about a fear of "that lifestyle" and more about his belief that his new figure and his winning personality would win over supermodels.

He thought he was being polite by writing rejection letters, but "Dear Amy" set him straight. She quoted Bela Gandhi, a dating coach, who said, "'No response' is the right thing to do when you're not interested — it's the polite way of saying, 'No thanks!'"

I have to agree with her, especially because I just got a similar message from some guy on okcupid. I'd sent him an e-mail yesterday, and he wrote back to say, "I don't think we're a match." He didn't say why, though he did answer the questions I'd asked in my message to him. (Whenever I e-mail a guy for the first time, I say a little bit about myself and I ask a couple of questions, so that he'll have something to respond to.) I don't see why he bothered to answer the questions. It wouldn't matter if he had said that he was president of the M&M corporation; the point was that he wasn't interested.

I've never gotten a "rejection e-mail" from a guy before. If a guy doesn't answer my message, I just assume that he's not interested. If a guy e-mails me and I'm not interested in writing back, I don't respond either. I also block him from e-mailing again, because some guys repeatedly message me; apparently they think that acting like stalkers is attractive.

On the other hand, there have been a few times when I've been tempted to write my own rejection e-mails. Here are some examples:

Thanks for writing! I have to say, though, that I don't think we're compatible. I'm really not interested in being a "female playmate" for you and your wife.

I just got your message. I couldn't help noticing that you wrote that you said you only liked "most" of my profile, which made me wonder about the parts that you didn't like. Was it because I wrote that I like to read in my spare time, and you wrote that you'd rather just see the film versions of books?

I totally understand that your children, your ex-wife, and your friends are very important to you. However, you really didn't need to include a list of all of these people in your profile with the note that "they will always be more important to me than you." I just kind of assumed that they would be.

I was just wondering if you had any pictures of your face that you could send me. In your profile, the only pictures of you featured nothing but your bare chest.

I noticed that you didn't write anything in your profile. You did post several pictures of yourself with various women sitting on your lap, though.

You seem like a really nice guy, and I'd be interested in meeting you. As soon as you get a job and move out of your parents' basement, give me a call.

Of course, I don't actually write any messages like this. Nobody likes to get rejected, and I think that sending a "rejection e-mail" is just pouring salt on the wound. When I first saw the message from that guy in my inbox, I thought, "Yay! He wrote back! Maybe this could lead to something good." And then when I read the rejection I thought, "Oh. He doesn't want to meet me. Must go inhale some ice cream now."

I did, however, write one rejection e-mail. I got a message from some guy, and we started IMing each other. The conversation quickly got creepy, however. He asked me if I'd ever be willing to hook up with him and another guy, but he said that "it would be all about you." I said NO. He wrote back, "Just admit you're boring. It'll save you time and not waste others."

I probably shouldn't have responded, but I did. I wrote him an e-mail that said, "I'm not boring. I just don't sleep with losers." And then I blocked that jerk from messaging me.

It's incidents like these that have made me think it's time to take another break from online dating, at least for a while.

What do you think? Do you think that people on online dating sites should write back to say that they're not interested, or should they not write back at all?


  1. I occasionally write "Thanks, but..." messages back. Mostly because I hate not hearing anything back. I've actually gotten some responses to these, typically they are things like "Thanks for letting me know, I wont bother you again." etc.

    I've only done this once, but I did see a profile and after reading it I knew I was completely un-compatable with the guy, but we had one thing in common, music. I had just been, the night before, to a really awesome small club that specialized in that kind of music. It was a local owned buisness that promoted local dj's so I felt compelled to send him a message asking if he had heard of it and recommending it to him.

    The message went "Hey, I am positive we are not a good match, and you are not at all my type, but I saw your taste in music and wanted to let you know about the U Street Music Hall. If you've never been you should check it out, they have a great sound system."

    I didn't hear back for about two weeks, but I just got a message last night saying "Hey, thanks for letting me know about that spot. I went last night it was great. I 100% agree with you about not being a good match."

    So I dont know...I feel like sending someone an email saying I'm not interested is rude and taboo, but the entire online dating thing is very different.

    However, I think getting a message that said "Im not interested because your fat" is very different than getting a message that says "Thanks, but your not my type." After all, who wants to date someone who isn't interested?

  2. Hi Sara,
    When I was on, there were actually rejection messages that members could send to people they weren't interested in. The messages had been written by and said stuff like, "I have met someone and would like to see where it goes." I usually just choose not to answer, because I figure it's easier that way and the person will get the hint. But at least the person you sent that message to was good-natured about it.

  3. Oh snap! I think your response to the loser was spot-on and pitch perfect.

    I'm kind of a wimp and not very assertive, so I would probably just avoid answering the emails of the people I didn't like, or block them so that I couldn't see them anymore. But for completely inappropriate behavior, a quick rejection is totally permissible.

    It's amazing that anyone finds a relationship through dating sites. It seems like there's a lot of bad juju to sort through to find the decent profiles.

  4. Hi Anna,
    I think it isn't too difficult to find a date through dating sites, but it is hard to find a relationship. When I first joined, I just wanted to meet new people and go on dates. But now I'm tired of dating. It can get old after a while.

  5. Ha! I love your response! :)

    Well, I'm sure it's nicer to say nothing. Personally, though, I need a definitive answer so I can just move on. I don't like to be left hanging. It's kind of like those queries you send out to agents and you never hear back... you can hang onto hope forever! Just reject me. The quicker the better.

  6. Hi Talli,
    Sometimes it is necessary to write back, because there were some guys who e-mailed me more than once. They were either following up or they mistakenly thought that persistence would work for them.
    If I wrote to an agent, I'd definitely want to get a reply, even if it was a rejection. Like you said, in that case it's better to know, either way.

  7. I'd rather receive no response. I don't need reasons. :) I hate dating, I think I've told you that before. Here's to hoping for fun dates!

  8. Hi Libby,
    Unfortunately, most of my dates haven't been much fun, which helps me figure out what I want and what I don't want. I think it's partly because first dates are typically so awkward and nerve-wracking.

  9. I agree that the formerly fat man was being rude to reject interested women that way. And what the heck? He was fat once he surely knows how it feels to be shunned for your size! I love your response to the creepy guy!

  10. Hi Karen,
    I think that if I had gotten a response like the one that guy was sending to all those women, I'd probably be tempted to write him an angry note too. You're right in that a lot of people feel sensitive about their size, so they don't need to be reminded of it.

  11. I like hearing from agents if they're not interested, but I'm sure you assume a person isn't interested after a day or two.

    I think it's okay for a guy to put that in his profile. No, someone isn't going to put a gun to his head. But I do know of a relationship that died, partly because the guy was pretty thin until he married the heavy woman and then he got heavier and heavier. She cooked rich. He ate her food. When he didn't feel good, he went on a diet and exercise routine. He got fit. She continued on to obesity.

  12. Hi Theresa,
    A lot of guys will write in their profiles that they're looking for someone "fit" or "athletic". I think it's okay to say that, because that's what they're attracted to. But I didn't like the guys who would put mean stuff about overweight people in their profiles, especially because all they had to do was look at the women's pictures to figure out if the women were in shape or not.

  13. I can't believe that someone would be brazen over IM! I guess there is a whole world of online dating I have yet to explore. I am still dealing with the insanities of the normal world of dating. Good luck, and I personally think your response was justified!

  14. Hi Teddi,
    I usually don't chat with guys online; I prefer sending e-mails instead because then I can figure out what to say beforehand. But this guy wanted to start chatting right away, and now I know why. I'm willing to bet that he's behaved like that with every other girl he's met online, so I have to wonder if he's actually gone out with any of them.

  15. I'm definitely a fan of not responding. I think its the most polite way to go about online dating. Obviously in real life it would possibly be a slight bit awkward to not respond to someone trying to talk to you in a social setting, but the rules of e-dating are different. I don't think people really expect an answer back from everyone they message, or that most would rather get a rejection than nothing at all. It's an e-jungle out there on its own - no need to waste time making people feel worse (though I'm all for "back off" messages or blocking persistent people)

  16. Hi Gia,
    I like how you said that "it's an e-jungle out there"; you're definitely right! I just wish I could figure out how I should navigate "the e-jungle". I'm glad that most guys don't write rejection e-mails, because that might make me give up online dating altogether. It's hard enough being rejected once or twice; it'd be even more difficult to get rejected again and again and have the guys tell me why.