dating

'The worst pick-up lines I've been sent on dating apps aren't funny. They're terrifying.'

It was a match.

The brown-haired, brown-eyed guy with a nice smile and a great job as a mental healthcare worker had 'liked' me on a dating app. On his profile, he had photos with his family dog, images of him on holiday with his loved ones and a bio that read: "looking for someone to get to know."

Based on the little information I had, I naively assumed that I knew what he was looking for and the type of person he was. I felt comfortable. In my mind, things were looking up.

*Phone vibrates*

A message already? Surely this is a good sign! I opened the notification and his first message proudly popped up on the screen. "Hey". 

Well, that's a good enough start, I figured. I began our chat with a pretty innocuous question, something like "how was your day?"

His immediate reply did not address my question. 

"Like being strapped to a bed? That's my profession," he said. Followed by: "Are your legs like an Oreo? Cus I wanna split them apart and eat the good stuff in the middle. Let's f*** hard."

When I replied saying I didn't think we were looking for similar things and "all the best", I was met with some good old fashioned rejection abuse. I had hurt his ego. 

Watch: Dating horoscopes. Post continues after audio.


Video via Mamamia.

For context, he was one of the first people I had matched with on a dating app. And to be bluntly honest, I felt scared and completely intimidated. Maybe it's because I was quite young and there was an age difference. Maybe it was down to my lack of experience, or my overall lack of trust in men. Or maybe it was that his unprompted pick-up line wasn't suggestive, but instead downright demanding. And aggressive. 

Years down the track, similar instances have occurred over a dozen times, getting more intense each time.

ADVERTISEMENT

And with every message, I've felt myself slipping further and further away from engaging with dating apps – because for me personally, it has painted an incredibly bleak picture of young men.

Of course, it's important to acknowledge that for some people, they're turned on by a conversation fueled by sexual intent – and that's okay, I don't want to sex shame anyone. It's also great for people to be upfront about what they are looking for on a dating app.

What isn't okay is the intimidating nature of some of the messages I have received. 

You can ask or suggest sex – but you should never feel entitled to it or another person's body. And telling someone straight off the bat that you think "they're a sl*t, want to choke them, push their head into a pillow and f**k them hard" ain't it. 

Recently, I received a 'like' from a 25-year-old along with this message: "Hey, do you live in [name of suburb] and/or do you drive a red Mazda two? I want to f**k you, I have a massive cock."

It made me cringe. And for the record, I don't drive a Mazda two but something very similar, and yes he did get the suburb right. This example isn't isolated.

"I'll hold your hand in public and ya throat in private."

"We've been talking for long enough, why won't you meet up with me? My balls are now blue."

"Looks like you need a hard f**king." (Left on read for 12 hours). "Screw you s*ut."

I'm not the only one to receive messages like these.

As my fellow Mamamia colleague Emily Vernem wrote: "The dark side of dating which no one talks about, are the constant little heartbreaks you go through."

Listen to The Undone speak about dating burnout. Post continues after audio.


And she's completely right. There's burnout and a feeling of defeat that comes with each and every one of these messages. Death by a thousand cuts, if you will.

According to Couples Therapist and Sexologist Isiah McKimmie, this sort of experience is quite common.

"My clients regularly share their experiences of this. The frequency can also depend on people's profiles and who they're matching with," Isiah said to Mamamia. "People who send these messages, they're hoping to engage in sexual behaviour, whether that be sexting, exchanging photos or getting up for sex as soon as possible. They hope that if they 'put it out there', someone will engage with them."

ADVERTISEMENT

Of course, a major part of getting to know someone on an intimate level is having conversations of a sexual nature. And it's completely okay to talk about sex and what you like when there's a shared mutual attraction – but there's a way to do it with consent.

"It really depends on how well you know them and what you're both expecting from the relationship. A good rule to keep in mind is don't say anything to someone online that you wouldn't say in person," Isiah says.

"A great place to start is by asking the person what they're looking for. If they tell you they're looking for a long-term relationship, chances are they're going to want to take their time getting to know you before becoming sexual. If they say they're open to hooks ups or just looking for fun, that changes things a lot and opens the door."

As Isiah said, it's about taking tentative steps forward, opening up the sexual conversation, noticing and acknowledging how the other person responds and checking in before sending a nude.

As to why some people send messages on dating apps that are aggressive to the max? I genuinely don't know.

ADVERTISEMENT

So, I decided to ask an expert. 

Professor of Social Psychology at Macquarie University, Julie Fitness, has conducted years of research into relationships and social psychology. And according to her, there are a few reasons at play. 

"There can be a loss of self-awareness and accountability that people may experience when they're interacting online. From the privacy of a bedroom, an individual can enter a fantasy world where other people don't exist in the same way they do when you meet them in person. You can lose yourself in the fantasy world and be as sexual as you like," she explained to Mamamia.  

There's also a level of dehumanisation too.

"Some can regard the people they speak to online as objects or commodities for their use and satisfaction. There are some personality factors that seem to predict the likelihood that a man will engage in dating app abuse – in particular, narcissism and a sense of entitlement," Professor Fitness said. "Men are more likely than women to objectify the person they are interested in as a body that should be available for their pleasure. It's often done without considering that these bodies are inhabited by real people who can feel hurt and afraid."

Of course, we have hardcore pornography – often created for the male gaze – to thank for this. Thank goodness the porn industry is changing, with many female porn producers paving the way. But at the crux of this problem is the concept of entitlement. And that's something that Prof Fitness says is the biggest concern.

"Women enjoy and desire sex. But they may be more likely than men to want some form of emotional connection first regardless of sexuality – not necessarily love, but to feel safe and respected by a partner. Trust is really important. Men who demand sex (online and in the 'real world') do not make for desirable partners!"

Trust is at the heart of this conversation. Because with each message that I've been sent – with the other person on the end essentially demanding sex – I've felt my trust in men being chipped away slowly. And I don't want that.

There's nothing wrong with asking for sex and embracing sexuality. 

But what messages like these have done, at least for me, is ignite a fear in the back of my mind that one day that sense of entitlement will make me feel unsafe. 

And that's not what dating – casually or seriously – is about.

Feature Image: Canva/Supplied.