“I’m dating Mark and can’t understand why he still has an OKCupid profile.” Words from a client (Emily) I had three days ago though certainly not the first time I’ve heard them. The trials and tribulations of dating have only increased with online dating and knowing where the relationship stands is just the start. And by the way, someone’s profile status is in direct correlation with where they think the relationship stands.
Emily believed that she and Mark were fully committed to each other and why not. They had a frequent and consistent communication pattern. They were with each other all the time. They seemed happy when they were together. So why, in dog’s name, was his profile still up? I asked Emily this exact question and got the following responses.
1. “We’re together all the time so I don’t understand how he even has time.” This did not answer the question but was, instead, a comment in frustration.
2. “I took my profile down.” This did not answer the question but was, instead, a comment in frustration.
3. “I don’t know, maybe we just never had the talk.” This was an answer to the question.
With all due respect to Emily, or anyone else in her boat, Mark keeping his profile up has nothing to do with whether she took her’s down or whether they spend a lot of time together even if it should. The fact is, people see relationship statuses differently and, if not discussed, this differentiation of status (boyfriend, dating, seeing each other, etc.) between two people will continue.
Notice the title of the article: Why Do Boyfriends Maintain Online Profiles? Right off the bat there’s a presumption of status. She calls him her boyfriend but did they have that talk? Does he see it the same way? Is she implying that status because they’ve checked off certain boxes in their ‘relationship’? Bottom line here? One can’t assume a status. He or she must have that open discussion with the other person.
Even in cases where two people have mutually confirmed the ‘boyfriend’ or ‘exclusive’ status, there will be times where men keep their profile up.
- Options. One of the biggest issues with online dating is the reality that no matter how good a date or ‘relationship’ with someone is, there will always be 132 more emails. And with emails comes options. Mark may like Emily and there may be some things about her that annoys him. Hmmm, if I just keep the profile up, maybe there’ll be other women that don’t do X, thinks Mark.
- Insecurity/Fear of Being Alone. I like her. I think she likes me. But man, she’s hot and this could end any day, thinks Mark. Bottom line is, while men can be or appear very confident, they don’t like rejection and they don’t like being alone. This is especially true the older they get. So yes, there will be cases where men maintain an online profile just in case.
- Fear of the Forever Lover. Bottom line here is, men do have a harder time being in a fully monogamous relationship for the rest of their lives. Simply put, If I maintain an online profile, I don’t feel ‘tied down,’ says Mark.
All of this may be very interesting and, from my experience in the field, represent true reasons for men maintaining an online profile. But true reasons and good reasons are two different things. And, from a ‘teach people how to treat you’ perspective, a woman’s response to this is key. If you (woman) are in a relationship and you consider yourself committed but he (man) is maintaining an online profile, there are two sequential things for you to do:
- Have a single conversation with them where you express your desire to have an exclusive relationship and what that comes with (taking down profiles, not having sex with other people, etc.)
- Move forward if he acknowledges and agrees. End it immediately if he does not. This should not require a lot of thought. If he doesn’t know, than no.
This isn’t the time for staying with someone who has a different definition of commitment than you do. And this certainly isn’t the time to have multiple conversations with someone. You ought not chase and you’re too good to be with someone that isn’t respecting your needs. Lastly, there isn’t an ultimatum here. “If you don’t take your profile down, we’re done,” or any like phrase should not come out of your mouth. Either they’re committed to you two as a couple or they’re not. Ultimatum’s, even when ‘honored’ don’t honor the true intent of a meaningful relationship which is to have two people selflessly and willfully committed to one another.
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Erica Quantum says
Good read and very straightforward advice but does it apply the other way around too? He’s telling his mother about me but I don’t have any clue what I want. We haven’t had any specific conversation on the topic but it’s not really a cultural norm with the French. There is no such thing as THE TALK and I’m definitely not going to bring it up. Does it make a difference when I (woman) and he (man) have reversed roles?
Chris Armstrong says
I’ve actually had a couple dozen French clients (mostly female) and they shared with me that which you said about there not being a formal discussion or TALK. To them, nothing (like a relationship status) is implied and things that may be foundations for relationships for Americans do not apply to the French. This is an important realization/distinction in that when I write the article above, it’s because there are implied things that come from dating in America and when those implications don’t come to fruition, people will wonder. And worry. And get confused.
To answer your direct question: does it make a difference with reversed roles? I’d say no. The question or topic only comes up when one person (regardless of gender) has a perception about where things are or should be based on things that have happened (sex, constant communication, being together more often than not) and the other person isn’t on the same page.
No one, regardless of gender, wants to be ‘in’ while the other person is ‘less in’ or ‘on the fence’. In this, communication is of the utmost importance even if that communication occurs without ‘the talk’ but instead by actions one takes or doesn’t take. If he, for instance, it telling his mom about you and thinks you’re at the next level but you’re not, he needs to take it down a notch. If you see that he’s already at the next level and you’re still wondering about what you want, perhaps you need to take a step back. I’m generalizing of course but in the ‘teach people how to treat you’ mode, they who are ‘in’ more than the other need to make sure they’re not at level 10 while the other person is still hovering around 6.