10 Tips for Using Online Dating Sites to Find Long-Term Love

A version of this post originally appeared on The Good Men Project as a part of the series on dating advice.

I was excited to see some great conversation happening on The Good Men Project in the comments of my piece “The Top Three Mistakes Men Make in Online Dating.” Both men and women shared their experiences with online dating and debated over the mistakes and fixes I offered in the piece. Throughout it all, what became most apparent during the discussion is that men didn’t want a “don’t” list. In fact, they’re sick of “don’t” lists. What they really want is some advice on what to do instead.

I hesitated to even write this piece because what people like is far more subjective than what people don’t like. To oversimplify what I mean, let’s take coffee for example. Most people can agree they don’t like scalding hot coffee, but it’s tough to get people to agree on how they do like their coffee. Black? Just cream? Just sugar? A combination of the two? How do you reconcile a trillion different preferences in order to offer men advice on what to do to be successful with online dating?

The reality is that I can’t. All I can do is set some parameters and offer my advice based on my own experiences and hope that it helps at least a few guys out there.

To that end, this is my list “to do’s” for people (yes, people, not just men) who are trying to find a long-term partner using an online dating site:

1. Only use current photos in your profile: One of the most common complaints I hear from men is that women frequently misrepresent themselves in their photos by using old photos (sometimes decades old) or by cropping them in too tightly so you don’t realize they are of a certain body type. Obviously men do this as well; I’ve just heard this complaint more frequently from men than from women.

I used to think this was shallow advice, but it all comes down to honesty. One of the men I met through an online dating site thanked me for looking exactly like my photos because one woman he went on a date with ended up gaining a significant amount of weight since the photos she posted were taken. He told me it wasn’t that he minded she was overweight; he was upset by the fact that she lied to him.

Some people feel posting inaccurate photos of themselves is the only way to get dates because people judge so heavily by appearance. Okay, sure you might get more dates. But are those dates resulting in the relationship you were looking for? If your date is feeling lied to, probably not.

2. Fill out your profile as completely as possible: I’m just going to say it — filling out your online dating profile is a pain in the ass, especially if you have to take a long quiz beforehand to determine your personality type. Despite this unfortunate reality, you really should set aside a good chunk of time to dedicate to filling out your online profile if you really want to find a compatible mate. Think of it this way: as you’re perusing profiles looking for someone who might make a good match, do you contact the people with hardly anything in their profiles?

3. Be yourself: Filling out those profiles is tough. How do you accurately describe yourself without coming off as arrogant or boring? There’s no formula for this; all I can say is do not try to be someone you think others want you to be. It’s just like posting an inaccurate photo of yourself; sooner or later people are going to realize that’s not the real you, throwing your chances of a long-term relationship out the window.

4. Make your profile complete but brief: Just as you don’t want to have too sparse of a profile, you also don’t want your profile to be a novel. Respect people’s time by not writing any more than you’d be willing to read yourself. Moderation is the key here; provide enough information to give people a clear snapshot of who you are, but don’t bore them to death War-and-Peace-style.

5. Place critical information at the top of your profile: If you’re looking for something very specific, such as deal-breakers you absolutely want people to know about, place that information at the very top of your profile. Even if they don’t read your whole profile, they’ll at least know you don’t want children or are allergic to cats (my boyfriend and I never would have dated if I’d owned a cat instead of a dog because he’s severely allergic to cats).

6. Read the profiles of your potential mates carefully: Just as you took a lot of time and energy to write a good profile for yourself, so did a lot of other people. And just like you, those people are trying to communicate to you and the rest of their potential mates what they bring to the relationship table. Don’t you both deserve to have your profiles read carefully and thoroughly? After all, if online dating profiles are a part of the whole online dating process, why skip that step? For those who put some real thought into their profiles, there’s some really valuable information there.

7. Make the first move: Do “traditional” dating rules apply in online dating (i.e. men make the first move)? Truthfully, I don’t think traditional dating rules should apply in offline dating. If you are interested in someone, make a move.

8. Write a quality first message: We all know competition is fierce in the online dating world, so why waste time writing non-memorable introductory messages? A commenter on my “Three Mistakes …” piece said someone kept messaging them the word “hi.” Just “hi.” I don’t think that really “wowed” them.

This is one of the most difficult areas on which to give advice because this is the “coffee” of the online dating world (if you skipped the intro to this piece and went straight to the tips, this reference probably made no sense). This was my introductory message strategy:

Hi, [insert name],

I read your profile and really like that [insert a hobby, activity, job – something you liked about that person that made you think they might make a good match for you]. I’d really like a chance to get to know you. If you get a chance, please take a minute to read my profile to see if you’d like to get to know me as well.

Hope to hear from you soon!

So what are the elements of this message that appealed to me? I liked messages that were personal but not creepy personal, like the messages in which men would describe in gross detail how we’d live our lives together based on what they read in my profile. There’s something to be said about keeping your introductory message brief and casual. The personal touch shows you’re genuinely interested, but the brevity and non-committal tone shows you know you’re special, too, so you’re willing to walk away. Personally, I didn’t like to feel pressured; I wanted the chance to really get to know people before deciding if I wanted to date them, so men who offered the same kind of casual confidence really got my attention.

9. Be patient: People have different commitments in their lives, and online dating isn’t always at the very top. Sometimes you’ll receive responses right away. Most of the time? Well, most of the time you probably won’t even get a response. Don’t let that faze you. That is not a personal reflection on you. Remember what you’re up against (now’s a good time to refer back to my “Three Mistakes …” piece to read about some of the behaviors that turn women off to online dating). Women frequently receive messages that are sexually crude or downright mean and nasty. Most of these women are seeking long-term relationships, so this type of behavior often causes them to isolate their interactions to only the men they are interested in. It’s not fair to you, but that’s the reality you’re facing.

Many people turn to online dating because they simply don’t have the time to date in the traditional sense (i.e. going on date after date after date to find “the one”). That means they also don’t have time to answer every single message they receive in their inbox. Other people like to use online dating as a buffer that allows them to pick and choose who they interact with, and that’s not always going to be you. But that’s okay.

Bottom line: It’s natural to become discouraged every once in awhile, but don’t let it get you down for too long. Offline or online, dating is flat out hard, but remember you’re still a worthy mate for someone out there. You just need to have the patience to find that person, wherever they are.

10. Be graceful with rejection: As I said in Tip #9, dating is discouraging. I hear men say all the time that online dating is not fair because the male/female ratio is so skewed. Men tell me all the time they hardly ever receive responses to their messages, while women’s inboxes are completely inundated with messages every day. I don’t have enough data to back that statement up, and, honestly, I don’t feel that I need any data to back that statement up. Obviously men’s experiences with online dating have made them feel this way, regardless of data. So how do you deal with this problem?

Accept the harsh reality of online dating and make it your mission to be graceful with rejection. You can’t change the landscape, so why let it drive you to bitterness? You’re better than that. As I said before, you’re going to get discouraged. That’s only natural. But don’t allow yourself to remain in that state, and don’t allow that discouragement to affect the way you interact with people on the site you’re using. We’re all guilty of it; I’m guilty of it. Let’s all vow to be better.

These 10 pieces of advice are just the tip of the iceberg. There’s so much more about online dating to discuss, such as the differences in the ways men and women experience online dating. You’ve heard from me; now it’s your turn. Let’s keep the conversation going.

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Top Three Mistakes Men Make in Online Dating

This post was originally published on The Good Men Project as a part of their series on dating advice.

I don’t put much stock in psychic readings, so when a palm reader told 17-year-old me that 1) I would be single for 5 years before I met Mr. Right and 2) I’d kiss a LOT of frogs along the way, I dismissed his reading as the blathering of an old man looking to make a few extra bucks.

Turns out he wasn’t too far off the mark.

When I was in my mid-twenties, I spent four years as a single gal. One year shy of his prediction, but I definitely met the plethora of frogs he told me I would. What he didn’t tell me is that I would meet a lot of those frogs on online dating sites. (Okay, online dating was a bit unheard of at the time, but that’s no excuse for a psychic, right?)

I have married, engaged, and/or otherwise spoken-for friends who swear by online dating. After all, they are in successful relationships because of online dating sites. My experience with online dating? Not so fairy tale-like.

After a couple of years on various free and paid online dating sites, I was beyond frustrated with the men I encountered there. It was like trying to push matching ends of a magnet together – the men I met shared my goal of finding some form of companionship, but all they ended up doing was repelling me by their less-than-flattering behavior.

I’ve had enough. Dating is already an exercise in frustration; why make it any harder? It’s time to evaluate our behavior as daters to determine if we’re causing our own dating failures. Now, I’m no dating expert, but I know what turned me off. I’d like to offer my perspective – a woman who has tried both free and paid online dating sites – in an effort to help men who are trying to find love through online dating. I’d be remiss to claim these mistakes are only made by men, but for simplicity’s sake I’m going to speak mainly to the male readers since my perspective is that of a heterosexual woman who was looking for a relationship with a heterosexual man.

These are the top three online dating mistakes I saw men making and my suggestions for how to stop making them:

Mistake #1: Being the creepy guy who seems to only want sex

Unless the person’s profile indicates sex is one of their top topics of interest, wait until you get to know each other before bringing sex into the conversation. I once received a message on OkCupid from a man more than 25 years my senior who told me he’d like to teach me a thing or two in the bedroom. He was responding to a quiz question I had answered that had to do with sex; there was no open invitation on my part for men to come teach me anything – in the bedroom or no.

A female friend of mine told me she received many messages from people wanting to have sex with her; people only interested in sexting; and people only interested in phone sex.

Another female friend received a message from a man who said, “I see you want someone who is sexually knowledgeable but not sexually obsessed. What type of kink does that mean you’re looking for?” My friend wasn’t looking for “kink,” at least not the kind this guy was selling. She was simply trying to express what she was looking for when it comes to sex with her partner

Yet another message received by a female friend: “I’m here to fuck. Wanna hook up?”

Obviously some of these guys weren’t interested in a long-term relationship, but if you’re looking for more than sex, this is not the route to take.

The Fix: Use a dating site designed specifically for people who are looking for the same type of relationship you are. There are lots out there – and not just sites for people looking for sex. There are sites for men looking for sugar babies; sites for people looking for someone to have an affair with; and even sites for people who are physically incapable of having sex. Pick the one that’s right for your situation and respect the parameters of that site.

If you’re looking for more than sex but your sexual preferences play a key role in your selection process, there are a couple things you can do. Firstly, scour the profiles of the women you’re interested in to look for clues that they might have similar sexual preferences as yours. If you don’t see anything that indicates a potential for strong sexual chemistry, don’t rush into the sex talk. You wouldn’t go up to a woman in a bar and ask how often she likes to have sex, right? At least, I hope you don’t. Chances are you ask her if you can buy her a drink first. Think about those initial conversations as that first drink – get to know each other a little before diving into more personal conversations. You might get a relationship – and the kind of sex you were looking for.

Mistake #2: Ignoring deal-breakers

The beauty about online dating is that you can find out if someone exhibits one of your deal-breakers just by reading their profiles. Some of mine include smoking, excessive drinking, and having kids. Those are pretty standard questions in an online dating profile, so the men who answered them saved both of us a lot of time. People with more experience with online dating sites will sometimes take this a step further by spelling out those deal-breakers right in their profiles. Where’s the mistake? Many men my female friends and I encountered ignored obvious deal-breakers we spelled out in our profiles because they liked what they saw in our pictures.

One female friend told me she disliked any message that comments only on physical appearance. She said, “I usually responded with a ‘thank you for the compliment, and I hope that you find what you are looking for on this site.’”

The Fix: First and foremost, a pretty face is not a guarantee that you’ll have a successful relationship with someone. Read their profile before messaging them. Carefully.

Not everyone spells out their deal-breakers right in their profiles, but some online dating sites include “dislikes” or “turn-offs” sections for people to fill out. Pay attention to those sorts of things. If some of their turn-offs characterize you, think about whether those are things a couple can work through (e.g. if you’re a smoker, you could quit smoking if you have your heart set on a woman who can’t stand smoking) or if they’re an absolute deal-breaker (e.g. you have a child but the woman doesn’t want kids or you’re Catholic but she’s Jewish and neither wants to convert). Deal-breakers need to be addressed before any relationship turns serious, and there’s never a better time than now to start identifying them.

Caveat: If deal-breakers are not immediately apparent from a person’s profile, don’t drill them to find out if any deal-breakers are present. They’ll start coming up naturally in conversation, and as the relationship progresses you can start talking more about these kinds of personal topics.

Mistake #3: Getting Pissed at Women for Rejecting You … Then Getting More Pissed When They Stop Responding Altogether

This became the most infuriating lose-lose situation for me. Whenever I initiated contact with someone, it was a big deal for me. It meant I had a serious interest in that person, and waiting for a response was torturous. What was worse? Not even getting a response. That led me to believe that the men who messaged me would appreciate a response from me, even if that response was a respectful decline. Boy, was I wrong. I received all kinds of nasty messages in return, most with a “fine, be that way!” kind of tone. After awhile I started to feel anxious every time I saw a reply to a recent “decline response” I’d sent, so I decided the best strategy was to stop replying if I wasn’t interested.

That’s when the name-calling started – and my complete exit from online dating.

When I didn’t respond to messages, I’d often receive follow-up messages that were tirades about what a bitch I was and how sorry I should be for missing out on what the guy had to offer. Many of my female friends experienced the same kind of treatment.

Here’s a message a female friend received from a man after not responding to three messages he sent her: “So you’re clearly one of those clueless cunts that gives women a bad name. Good luck – you’re gonna need it. Don’t bother responding NOW.”

What I learned is that if women respond to let men know they’re not interested, men get nasty. But if women don’t respond at all, men get even nastier. What are we supposed to do?

The Fix: Online or in real life, you’re going to experience rejection. You can’t control that. What you can control is how you react to it. Online dating can certainly take a toll on your self-esteem since you will probably experience more rejection there than in real life simply due to the sheer number of candidates you are able to contact. The important thing to remember is to not let the rejection get to you. And sometimes it’s not even truly rejection – some people use online dating sites because they are too busy to go out and date the old-fashioned way (i.e. going on date after date after date until they find the right person), so responding to all of the messages they receive just might not be possible.

We’ve all heard the saying about putting yourself in someone else’s shoes. Remember that saying as you navigate the online dating world. You have no idea what other people’s worlds are like, and you certainly don’t know precisely what they’re looking for, no matter how carefully crafted their profiles are. Give them the benefit of the doubt, and don’t take their rejection personally.

My top advice? I hate to minimize the words of Gandhi by applying them to a topic like online dating, but … I’m going to anyway. My top advice is to “be the change you want to see in the world.” Don’t be like the people I’ve described in this piece. You’re better than that.

Watch for my follow-up post “10 Tips for Using Online Dating Sites to Find Long-term Love,” which will go up Thursday, March 22.

Date Online – Without Ever Going Online

Personal Dating Agent ScreenshotThere was a time in the not-so-distant past when online dating was considered taboo. Dangerous, even. One of the most common reasons people warned against it was because you never knew who was actually on the other end of those private messages you were getting.

Nowadays that way of thinking seems antiquated; after all, we’ve all become web-savvy enough to navigate our way through what’s fake and what’s real when it comes to our online interactions, right?

Well, not if the creators of Personal Dating Agent do their job.

Personal Dating Agent is a new online dating service based in the UK that essentially does the online dating for you. Their dating agents get to know their clients, create online profiles for them, and pose as their clients on said online dating sites. All the client has to do is show up for the date.

According to co-founder Maxime Leufroy-Murat, the site “is targeted to both men and women who don’t have time to go online, scramble through thousands of profiles, send messages … with no guarantee of success. Or for people who just don’t know how [online dating] works.”

The site encourages people to use its services for three reasons: 1) To save time by letting someone else do the work for you; 2) To take advantage of their online dating expertise; and 3) To have a safer online dating experience. Clients can choose whether or not to disclose right up front that they are using a dating agent.

“Our concept is about doing it all for them, not with algorithms, but with people,” Leufroy-Murat said in an email interview. “We have a team of dating agents who will get to know the member, create their dating profile, sign them up to two sites, find their matches, message them, and organize a date. We become the client online, in other words. The big difference is that we guarantee dates to the member. If we don’t deliver, he gets his money back.”

According to Leufroy-Murat, the site is not a means of deception. The dating agents limit their online interactions with potential dates to 3-4 messages and focus on setting up real-life dates. “We avoid creating relationships online; we are here to facilitate a meeting,” he said.

The site launched in November of 2011. As of this month, they have had more than 80 clients and nine success stories (that they are aware of). The service is available worldwide.

Share Your Thoughts
How would you feel if you found out your date, who you thought you “met” online, was facilitated through a Personal Dating Agent?  Would it make a difference if everything worked out in the end, or would you feel deceived?  Do you think this is a good service for people who are too busy to use online dating sites, or do you think if they’re too busy to online date, they are too busy to date at all? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Can You Have an Affair Without Even Touching?

Emotional Affairs ImageCheating or having an affair — two terms that are typically pretty easy to define. You’re in a committed monogamous relationship with one person, then share physical intimacy with another– that’s cheating. End of story; case closed.

But what if physical intimacy isn’t involved? Can cheating happen?

Author, speaker, and gender studies professor Hugo Schwyzer defines an emotional affair as “a non-physically sexual relationship characterized by mutually intense psychological intimacy, accompanied by words or gestures that traditionally are reserved for one’s romantic partner.” In simpler terms, an emotional affair involves fostering a connection with another person that mimics that of a romantic relationship – without the sex.

Sound gray and confusing? Well, it is. Just as some people have varying definitions for what a physical affair is (e.g. some people don’t consider kissing cheating, while others do), we all have our own boundary lines when it comes to emotional intimacy.

If you haven’t experienced this or known someone who has been involved in anything like this, emotional affairs may seem like the jealous imaginings of those with low self-esteem. I can tell you from firsthand experience, however, that emotional affairs are a very real phenomenon.

I once found myself the “other woman” in what I considered to be an emotional affair. A couple years ago I met a man who got my heart racing at the very thought of him. He was everything I was looking for in a partner: emotionally perceptive, physically fit, artistic, the list went on. We could talk for hours, and he flirted endlessly with me. I was euphoric; I thought I’d finally found “the one.” Then I found out he was in a long-distance, long-term relationship.

The relationship wasn’t going very well. They didn’t see or talk to each other very often, and he couldn’t see a future for them. He told me he was unhappy and sexually frustrated, but he couldn’t bring himself to break her heart. He strung me along for awhile by telling me he was working his way up to breaking things off with her, and I kept telling him I didn’t want to be the “other woman.” We never did more than hug, and I held on to hope until he sent me a text message that snapped me out of my “love stupor” like a bucket of cold water over the head. It said, “Was thinking about you all day. How are you?”

Innocuous on the surface, but I realized quite quickly that I would never, ever tell any of my male friends that I had been thinking about them all day. It had too intimate of a quality to it, like a finger trailing over the wrist after a handshake. I felt dirty, and I immediately thought of his girlfriend and wondered what she would think and feel if she saw that message. After all, shouldn’t he be telling her he’d been thinking about her all day?

I broke things off with him that day, or broke off as much as I could of the non-relationship relationship we shared.

Intimacy can be a fragile little thing, but it’s worth nurturing in order to grow a deep bond with another human being. The key is to remember that intimacy is different for everyone and that love requires finding a way to reconcile our intimate differences. If you feel the urge to create romantic, intimate connections with other people outside of your relationship, maybe it’s time to reevaluate if your needs are being met. If they’re not, don’t take the easy way out by having affairs — emotional or physical. If your partner expects monogamy, respect those terms until you agree to new terms, which may even include parting ways. After all, the hurt of a break up is nothing compared to the hurt of being betrayed by someone you trusted enough to love.

A Place to Sell Your Heartbreak

NeverLikedItAnyway.com ImageAh, heartbreak. The inevitable emotional torture we all suffer as a result of opening up our hearts only to have them thrown on the ground Andy Samberg-style. We all deal with heartbreak differently — we cry or we withdraw or we get angry or we even get vengeful — but when the dust from our emotional debris finally settles, we still have to deal with one more thing: the items left over from our dead relationships.

I’m not talking about photos or letters, though those are certainly physical items with which we must deal at some point. No, I’m talking about the engagement ring you no longer need, the pots and pans you bought together, that sweater she bought you for Christmas. What the hell do you do with those day-to-day reminders except throw them away or donate them to Goodwill?

Well, you could make some money off of them and get a little therapy on the side.

Never Liked It Anyway is a new online marketplace catering specifically to people who have experienced a breakup and need a place to dump off their stuff — and their emotions. For a nominal fee ($2.50 for a basic listing or $7.50 for a featured item listing) you can post items from your past relationships that you’d like to sell. Sellers also must share their breakup story and choose what breakup phase they are in, such as “still a little fragile,” “on the floor,” etc. The idea is that sellers don’t just get rid of their stuff; they also start to get rid of the emotional baggage they’ve been carrying around by sharing their stories with others. The website also has a section dedicated to sharing breakup war stories and advice on how to move on.

Bella (also known as Miss B), the website’s creator, got the idea to create Never Liked It Anyway when she found herself with a plane ticket she no longer wanted after a breakup the week before Christmas. She wanted to create a place for people to “shed the stories and the stuff” to help them “bounce back quicker” than they thought they could.

Because the website is still fairly new, there isn’t a whole lot for sale in the marketplace just yet, but the site as a whole has the potential to grow into quite the online community. You might want to check it out if you have some baggage to dump off — emotional or otherwise.

Love and throwing hearts on the ground,

Mika

What Happened to The Slasher Chick?

The Slasher Chick imageIf you visited The Slasher Chick blog in the last day or so, you probably thought you typed in the wrong URL or clicked a bad link because you landed on a website for some person named Mika Doyle. Rest assured — you did arrive at your intended destination. For those of you who don’t know me, The Slasher Chick and Mika (pronounced Meeka) are one in the same.

I won’t bore you with the story behind the genesis of The Slasher Chick as I’m sure it’s really only interesting to those who lived it with me (and even that’s questionable). I think the only explanation you really need is that The Slasher Chick blog was my journey back to finding my writer-self, someone who had become lost in the tumult of entering the adult world. She was my shield as I fumbled through finding the real me through the fog of business suits and padfolio’s and networking events that made me lose sight of who I really was. I was very fearful of taking the steps back into a writing life for a variety of reasons, but I think Stephen King explains it best in his book “On Writing“:

“Your stuff starts out being just for you … but then it goes out. Once you know what the story is and get it right — as right as you can, anyway — it belongs to anyone who wants to read it. Or criticize it.”

Being a writer means you have to be willing to make yourself vulnerable to the outside world. I wasn’t ready for that, but a knife-wielding scream queen was. Writing as The Slasher Chick for the last year has been quite the journey, but it became clear to me over the last few weeks that it’s time for her to step aside to make room for me.

But more importantly, what do you need to know as a reader of The Slasher Chick blog? Firstly, none of the content you have come to expect is going away. I’m still going to write my quirky posts about dating/relationships (especially online dating), sex and sexuality, love and marriage, and, yes horror-related stuff. However, you’re going to see more from me as I grow as a writer, including more pieces on gender roles and issues. I also plan to rediscover my roots as a fiction writer and poet.

In other words, The Slasher Chick blog will now be my personal website, where I will showcase all of my writing and quirkiness.

For those of you who have stuck with me through it all, I want to thank you. I truly appreciate all of your support, and I hope you continue to stick with me through all of these growing pains.

Love, no weddings, but a possibly funeral,

Mika

P.S. I have created a small homage to The Slasher Chick somewhere on my site. It’s pretty easy to spot, and I think she’d really like it. I know I smile every time I look at it.

Can Men and Women Be “Just Friends”?

A couple of young filmmakers wanted to find out if men and women can be just friends, so they visited Utah State University and asked that very question of some of the students in the library. They posted their “results” on YouTube:

The students’ answers aren’t very surprising. All of the women said “yes” until prodded by the interviewer to admit they thought their male friends would “hook up” with them if given the chance. All of the men said “no,” essentially arguing that all men want all women at any given moment.

According to this video’s “When Harry Met Sally” logic, men and women cannot be friends because it’s in men’s nature to want women. The women in the video supported this logic by claiming the male friends they were referring to all had crushes on them.

I wonder how my male friends would feel if I accused them of secretly wanting me? Would they appreciate my arrogant assumption that they just want to have sex with me? Yes, it’s a fun little video put together by a couple of college kids, but all kidding aside, the video exacerbates the stereotype that all men are mindlessly lustful and have no other interest in women except sex.

Author and gender studies professor Hugo Schwyzer often speaks of what he calls the “myth of male weakness” in which we falsely believe that men are too weak to control their sexual impulses. Because of this myth, we excuse rape, cheating, and other sexual deviance and often put the blame on the victim by asking questions like “what was she wearing?” or “did she lead him on?” and so on, as if those factors excused the act.

While there’s no sexual deviance implied in the video, the male weakness myth is painfully obvious. According to the students who were interviewed, men are too weak to be friends with women. There was no question of whether or not the women secretly desired their male friends; the assumption was that men and women cannot be friends because of male desire, an unwanted impulse against which women must constantly defend themselves. It’s the same old song and dance: boy and girl meet; boy desires girl; girl stays pure by denying boy. When will we get past this ridiculous lustful male/pure female dichotomy?

Men want women, women want men, men want men, and women want women. Sometimes no one wants anyone. And sometimes people just want to be friends.

Love and a little help from my friends,

The Slasher Chick

Love Conquers All–Except, Maybe, the Bottle

Originally published on The Good Men Project.

It was when I was 22 years old that I realized love isn’t enough to sustain a relationship. It wasn’t that I stopped believing in love so early in life; I just realized there are things in life that overpower love, rendering what I thought to be an indestructible force completely impotent. Love doesn’t really conquer all, at least not in the real world.

I didn’t come to this conclusion by chance, however. Before I accepted such a fairy-tale shattering truth, I was a stereotypically naïve girl. I believed in soul mates and didn’t disbelieve in the concept of love at first sight. When people told me I would “just know” when I met “the one,” I accepted that. Anticipated it, even. To me, love was the binding force that maintained the balance between good and bad, dark and light.

With love, anything was possible.

Then I met Jay (not his real name).

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Everyone has their first love, the one all other loves are compared to, and mine was Jay. Jay was the first adult man I’d ever been with, and that alone thrilled me. He had the broad, sturdy build of a laborer and a crass sensibility that stirred the blue collar, Midwestern girl in me. More importantly, unlike any of the boys I’d dated in the past, he had the experience to see past the thinly veiled wall I attempted to put up between us. I was struggling with a deep-seated depression I had only begun to work through, and he was one of the only ones in my life brave enough to force me to show him a little of the darkness I spent all of my time trying to hide.

My memories of him are now fragmented, broken and diffused by time.

We’re sitting in his car. It’s late. Dark. Summer. He’s wearing dark blue. He frequently wears dark blue. I love the smell of his cologne. I’m telling him a story, some memory that pains me, fills my chest with emotions I don’t know what to do with. As the story (and the pain) crescendo, I stop talking. I blush. I feel shame. Weak. Female. 

“Enough about me. Let’s talk about you now.” 

“No,” he says. His hand finds mine in the darkness. “You’re not finished.”

He says he wants to know. I hear “I want to take this burden from you. Let me hold it for awhile.” I finish my story. Barely. Then I cry. I’ve held it all in for so long, I’m not sure I can hold the real force of it inside. He pulls me into his arms, cradles my head into his chest. I let it all go.

I can barely breathe, so he wipes my nose with his sleeve. It’s disgusting, and I’m ashamed. He acts like wiping the snot from a girl’s nose is nothing out of the ordinary.

I don’t have a chance.

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For the first time in what seemed like ages, I had someone who didn’t treat my illness as a burden. I wasn’t a smudge that marred his otherwise blemish-free life, but a little light in his own dark corner of the world.

And his world was dark; I was just too young to understand that kind of darkness. Looking back, there were red flags from the very beginning, starting with an angry, late night phone call.

My cell phone rings. I can’t tell what time it is, but I can tell I’ve been asleep for a few hours. It’s Jay. We’ve been dating maybe a month or two. I’m confused, disoriented, but I quickly realize he’s not calling to tell me someone’s hurt or in the hospital. He’s angry with me. He’s not making very much sense. I can’t believe he’s yelling at me. I don’t know whether to argue or apologize. I opt for the latter. It’s the safer route. He seems mildly appeased. We hang up. I look at the clock; it’s nearly 3 a.m. I’m not sure what I was apologizing for.

He brings me flowers the next day. I’m a little sad the first flowers he brings me are apology flowers.

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The late night (or early morning) phone calls happen more frequently. He’s always angry. Always yelling. Always barely comprehensible. Sometimes he calls me the next day asking why I’m angry with him. He doesn’t remember talking to me. He says he must’ve sleep-dialed me. I know he’s a heavy sleeper, so I believe him. What else could make him forget such awful, heated phone calls?

When this behavior manifests in face-to-face interactions, I’m even more bewildered.

We’re in a bar with his friends, something we do frequently even though I hate drinking and hate bars even more. His friend Matt is trying to make plans with him, but Jay and I already have plans that night.

Matt jokingly tells him, “Fuck Mika.”

Jay says, “That’s what I’ll be doing.”

I’m not sure I heard him correctly until he adds something about the lower half of my anatomy. I open my mouth, but nothing comes out. I didn’t know I could feel so humiliated. 

On the way out, I make a joke to one of his other friends about slapping Jay. Jay doesn’t hear this, but he sees the interaction. He doesn’t like it. He accuses me of sleeping with his friend. Then he accuses me of sleeping with Matt.

I’d never been called a whore in so many different ways. He doesn’t remember any of this the next day.

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I started to realize Jay had a drinking problem after he admitted to me he’d gotten a DUI when he was only 20 years old. His unintelligible phone calls, his lapses in memory, his Jekyll and Hyde personality changes—it all made sense.

By then we’d been dating for more than a year. I was going to graduate from college soon, and we were making plans. I expected a ring shortly after graduation, but I wanted to make sure everything was right before making that commitment. I asked him, pleaded with him to stop drinking. I told him I loved him. I wanted to be with him. I wanted to build a life with him. He agreed. He said loved me, too. Anything to make it work.

A month later, he got his second DUI.

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It all unraveled from there. It was ugly. I was ugly, a young girl changed by the constant verbal assaults of the alcoholic I was in love with. I did everything I could to help him—cooked him dinner, drove him wherever he needed to go, listened to him talk about what he learned in his court-ordered drug and alcohol classes. Most importantly, I believed in him. I loved him hard, as if my love were a force that could push the alcoholism from his body to make room for the love I knew he felt for me.

Then he crashed his car. In the middle of the night. The police came pounding on his door, but he was so passed out, he didn’t hear them. He claimed his car had been stolen, but his broken nose gave him away. He was later arrested.

I stayed a little while longer. A few weeks maybe. We tried to be friends for awhile, but any time he mentioned some small thing he did to try to better himself, I couldn’t control my rage at the fact that he couldn’t have done those things while we were together. Soon we couldn’t stand to even talk to each other.

We haven’t spoken since, but I think of him every time The Fray’s “How to Save a Life” comes on the radio ….

“Where did I go wrong? I lost a friend somewhere along in the bitterness. And I would have stayed up with you all night, had I known how to save a life …”

On Women Abusing Men — “He Had it Coming”

You’re taking a jog through the park when you spot a man and a woman at a bench up ahead. They’re not sitting calmly, though; they’re moving erratically. They’re yelling, and you can tell almost immediately that they’re fighting. Suddenly the man grabs the woman and shakes her violently. She tries to push him away, but before she can, he slaps her. Again. And again. What do you do? Do you come to her aid? Do you call the police? Or do you just keep jogging?

Now imagine the gender roles are reversed, and it’s the woman violently slapping the man. She’s screaming at him, pulling his hair, hitting him. How do you react now?

That’s the question ABC News asked during a hidden camera segment in which a female actress physically and verbally abused her male companion. Take a look:

As you can see in the video, most people, including an off-duty police officer, just kept walking. One woman even celebrated the other woman’s actions, stating that she was so nice all the time and thought she should start acting like the woman in the park.  Many other women asserted the man probably “had it coming,” assuming he’d cheated on her. ABC shows only two women who tried to stop the violence; they are the only ones in the segment who asserted abuse is wrong regardless of gender.

Clearly double standards are still alive and well today. Okay, so women typically cause less injury as abusers simply due to physiology (if we assume no weapons are involved), but does that mean it’s okay for them to be abusive? Moreover, where did we come up with the assumption that if a woman is hitting a man, he must’ve “had it coming”? Why don’t we see men as victims in this scenario? The woman in the video may not leave any physical evidence of her abuse, but in a real life situation, there certainly would be emotional scarring.

And, yes, men can be emotionally scarred. They can feel pain, physically and emotionally. They cry. They seek approval and validation. They are capable of being hurt.

They just can’t show it because our social mores tell us it’s just not acceptable “male” behavior.

What’s truly sad is that if the man in the video had retaliated in any way against his female aggressor, the public would probably have jumped to her aid immediately. After all, men have it coming; women are victims.

Love and “it was just a love tap,”

The Slasher Chick

Online Daters: Be a Part of a Slasher Chick Story

Have you ever used an online dating site? If so, I’d like to hear from you. Share your experiences with me by taking this survey. It should take you no longer than 5 minutes to complete, and your responses (which will be kept anonymous) might be used in an upcoming article on The Slasher Chick blog.

Love and a little help from your friends,

The Slasher Chick