Thursday, July 17, 2014

digital dating & the BLOW OFF

Editor's note: This was a very exciting week for the BLOW OFF.  Not only did we receive an email from a sixteen year old girl in the UK asking us for love advice, but we also received an email from-- wait for it-- a DUDE!!!  It turns out, men get blown off too.  And it upsets them.  And they eat ice cream.  Who knew?  Anyway, I love this post from one of our new male readers out in Boston.  Enjoy! 

I'm a mid-30's dude, been on and off the online dating scene over the last few years, gotten a couple of relationships out of it, met mostly good people, given out my share of uncomfortable shoot-downs and received my share as well. So it goes with "the dating process."

But the blow off blows my mind.

If I meet you once or twice and I'm not feeling it, I will think through how to let you down gently without hurting your feelings. Not to presume that you've fallen head over heels for me or that getting let down will crush you and leave you sobbing on the couch with a pint of Ben & Jerry's and your cat. But maybe you DID really like me and maybe it would make you sad to hear I'm not interested in pursuing things. Even worse, maybe it will leave you confused and bitter if I do "the slow fade" or some other kind of disappearing act. I know this is a possibility because I've been on the other end of that dynamic. It feels crappy to be told by a crush, "I had fun meeting you, but I just don't think we're a match." But I'll eat some ice cream, talk to a friend, go for a jog, update my OkCupid profile, and get back in the game.

Sometimes you get shot down, it happens. It's like a stubbed toe. Hurts like hell for a few minutes, then it goes away and you get on with your day. The blow off is another story. If we have a nice drink together, hug goodnight, and you say "Give me a call if you'd like to hang out again," and then I send you a couple of texts (literally a couple, not a clingy text-storm) in which I clearly ask you out for another date, and the only response I get sidesteps the question, and then I call you (as you suggested) and you don't call back... I'm feeling WTFrustration.

This may or may not have happened to me over the last couple of days. We live in this wonderfully impersonal electronic age in which it is socially acceptable to shoot people down digitally and asynchronously so you don't have to hear the disappointment in their voices or see their faces fall. The bar for passably decent behavior is SO LOW.

Is it so hard to cowboy up and just let someone down gently instead of leaving them to wonder WTF? I totally get that for every dude who responds to the shoot-down with "Man, that's disappointing - I liked you. Whoever you end up with will be a lucky guy," there are others who respond like a wounded animal. But doesn't that kind of make it easier? Doesn't it vindicate your decision? Is it likely that the kind of people who will respond this way would also just not get the implicit hint of the blow-off/slow-fade/etc and would keep harassing you during the fade anyway?

Basically, with these losers, is it likely that you're screwed either way? So, some questions for everyone: Is the aggressive response REALLY so common that it deters you from sending the shoot-down text at all? Do you feel badly about potentially blowing off a kind, socially functional person who would have responded to the shoot-down with class? Do you think it's an acceptable ideal for dating behavior that we all just blow each other off carelessly, leaving the recipients to wonder "why" or, even worse, "why are [girls/guys/people] such shitbags?" Do you think perpetuating the crappy standard makes things better?

I'm going to wrap this novel up with a plea to everyone to hold ourselves to a higher standard of communication in the age of digital dating. Social weirdos are going to be social weirdos, and there's little to nothing we can do about their behavior. But I'd like to think that most of us are decent people who are strong enough to get through a shoot-down, will realize that it was delivered with the best of intentions, will respond gracefully, and will be able to soldier on. The sappy idealist in me hopes that if we're all a little kinder to each other, we'll make dating a better and happier experience all around. Karma, yo. Karma.


  1. Well-written post. I understand where he’s coming from. It’s as if she’s saying “You’re not worth making myself uncomfortable by telling you it’s over.” Trust me, I know the feeling. BUT, I just want to point out that an acknowledgement that she’s not feeling it on her end would indicate an assumption that she’s an important enough part of his life to warrant such a conversation. Maybe there is solace in knowing that she seemed to understand she wasn’t a priority in his life (and hopefully there is enough going on in his life that she wasn’t).

  2. I've totally pulled the disappearing act on a couple of guys in the past. It was usually the fact that it felt too early in the relationship to have a "I don't think we should see each other" conversation-- like it would almost seem presumptuous to assume that they wanted a relationship with me. And I also wanted to avoid the uncomfortable conversation. BUT, I met my husband in 2005 so a lot has changed since then as far as digital dating goes. Texting wasn't even that huge yet. I'd like to say now, that I would at least send a really nice text than go radio silent completely.

  3. I agree that we should hold ourselves to higher standards than the slow fade/blow off. Here's my question, though: are you advocating that the direct "shoot down" be down in person, on the phone, or what? It seems you are against text (I am too). I'd be interested to hear your response.

    Direct shoot downs would be SO MUCH easier for everyone, that's for sure! Directness helps all parties economizes time, energy, etc.

  4. One of the first things I say to a new guy is, "I will always be straight with you. If this lasts ten minutes or ten years, you'll get the truth and I'd like the same in return. Just please don't be a dick."
    That makes the Blow Off all the more intolerable. I had a guy tell me the next day, "Yeah, I know you said you work out and run, don't look like it, so..."
    And you know what? I was fine with that. Yes, I think he's a cruel shitbag, BUT I appreciated knowing that he had an actual reason. And I was able to wish him well. delete his number and move on.
    The cowardice being the blow off makes me reevaluate what I ever even saw in the person.
    Anyway...just my two cents. Some answer, reason or closure is better than nothing.