So I’m still waiting for Melissa to tell me if I gave her good or bad advice, but in the meantime, here’s a letter from Cynthia:
I haven’t read any of your books (sorry) but I follow your blog for the writing prompts and I read your exchange with your reader, Melissa, about online dating. I’m 35, divorced and starting to wade into online dating for the first time. I’ve had Melisa’s negative experiences already—I mean, the texting going nowhere and all of that. No dick pics yet though. Is that really a thing? (And is it stupid that I feel left out? Why am I not getting dick pics? I want to be outraged too!)
My question to you is—if I’m approaching online dating the way you suggest, just to get to the in-person meet as quickly as possible—how do I screen for creeps?
You can publish this. But proof for grammar and typos. (But keep the part about how I haven’t read any of your books.)
First, you’re my dream target audience, and you should totally read my books. If you’re recently divorced and still hate your ex, and want to feed that hatred, read Consequences. If you need a break from the anger and just want to laugh, read Cherry Pie Cure. If you’ve moved on “We just weren’t right for each other” stage, go to Text Me, Cupid. And regardless of which stage you’re at, Tell Me is a fantastic masturbatory aid; I have reviews to that effect.
Second, how do you screen for creeps… The most wonderful thing about creeps is that they just can’t keep that creepiness under wraps for very long. It starts with the photos. Really. Even on an app like Tinder, where people mostly present themselves with pictures—pictures tell a story! He’s holding a drink in every picture? Party animal or alcoholic—you decide, and I advise you move on (unless, of course, you’re looking for a party animal—no judgement, just be clear with yourself what you want and what you’re, er, shopping for). He’s adorable and cooking and smiling in most of this pics, and then flipping the bird at the camera in pic five? That’s a clue. He didn’t have to share that picture. He did. Why? All her pictures are duck-face selfies or dirty bathroom mirror shots—does she have no friends, no one to take a proper picture of her? No face? Cheater. Photograph looks like it was taken from a Walmart picture frame or a at a professional fashion photo shoot? Fake account. Nothing but gym photos? Small dick, and probably crappier cardio than you think.
I’m joking, maybe, about the small dick. And you were asking about screening for creeps and not small penises. My point is: photos tell a lot. Pay attention to their not-so-subtle messages.
When you start to message—again, I find the creeps generally manage to keep their creepiness under-wraps for the duration of “Hi, what are you doing this weekend?” and it’s out in full force by the fourth text. The texting/talking IS THE SCREENING.
YOU CAN’T SCREEN WITHOUT ENGAGING. Right? If they pass the “don’t look creepy in photos” test, you gotta talk to gather data.
The key skill you need to learn here though is not how to screen–you’re smart (even though you haven’t read my books). Your creep sense will start to tingle. What you really need to learn is how to terminate.
I used to educate the socially awkward. “Dude, when you lead with your dick, that tells me all I need to know about how little you know about foreplay and how bad the sex is going to be. That’s why I’m terminating this exchange.”
Now, when the offence is egregious, I just exit. No apologies, no explanation. I encourage you to do the same. If you feel uncomfortable—don’t stay in the conversation. You owe the Internet stranger nothing. (Sorry, gentlemen. If so many of you weren’t dicks online, women could be polite. As it is, they need to be hard-ass.)
I’m not sure if I was that helpful, because you asked “HOW” and I think I’m telling you WHAT to do. Which is—terminate exchanges that feel creepy. And don’t feel bad about it.
Jane, the hard-ass
PS Dick pics really are a thing. I know. But here, Elizabeth’s lover in Consequences explains what that’s all about:
…and don’t worry. You’ll have your own collection soon.
So there’s this great meme that crossed my Facebook aeons ago that’s a form letter response to unwanted dick pics, and it starts with, “Your dick pic has been received, examined, and found wanting,” and just gets better, but I can’t find it.
mjanecolette // TellMe@mjanecolette.com