Semantics

Awhile back I received the below online dating message from a guy. You can see my rather snarky reply back to him as well.

I posted this on my Facebook friends. Instead of getting the empathy I expected, a few of my male and female friends said they didn’t see what the big deal was. They thought this was a perfectly fine introduction in the online dating world.

While certainly not the worst introduction I ever received (there have been some doozies), I found this message to be condescending and partially dehumanizing. When do you ever go up to someone you don’t know and call them adorable? Too, starting off with that shows that he most likely didn’t take any time to read anything in my dating profile, which means he likely only cares about looks. Forget my likes, dislikes, passions. I’m adorable and gorgeous in his eyes.¬†

Gag…

So how should online dating introductions be made? How do you cut the ice? Perhaps I’m old fashioned, but I think doing it similarly to how you would in real life is the best way. Say hello and tell the person why you are messaging them. What about their profile made you want to write?

I think compliments can be fine, but we should be careful not to use broad adjectives that encompass an entire person. As I was walking to the grocery, a homeless man said hello and he told me he really liked my new haircut. He said it was really flattering. I thanked him, and I told him I appreciated the compliment because it was nerve-wracking going so short. He told me that I picked the right cut.

As I was walking to the grocery, a homeless man said hello. He told me he’d seen me pass through the park a lot, and that he really liked my new haircut. He said it was really flattering. I thanked him, and I told him I appreciated the compliment because it was nerve-wracking going so short. He told me that I picked the right cut. I thanked him again, and we parted ways.

Perhaps he was hitting on me, though I didn’t get that impression. He seemed to be generally being nice. He could have said something similar about an article of clothing or accessories and had the same effect. Because he’s not¬†distilling me down to one thing. And under different circumstances, he could have been someone who would have gotten my number just by being nice.

“You are adorable.” “Your hair looks nice.” One is me distilled down to one word. One is a portion of me that doesn’t negate that there are other pieces as well.

Sometimes semantics aren’t so important, but sometimes they are. In this case, I think the distinction between “You are…” and a more specific compliment is important. Society deems his introduction to be innocuous (as judged by some of my friends), but it’s a microaggression that this woman has often faced and from conversations with friends and articles I read online I know I’m not alone.

Words matter. First impressions matter. It’s not Ok to distill me down to your 1-10 rating on your adorable or gorgeous scale. I don’t give a fuck if you think I’m hot. If you’re messaging me, I’m assuming you find me to be attractive enough for your tastes. Now let’s get real and determine if we might have something in common.

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