For many singles, hiding a dating profile after meeting The One (or any
one) can be just as fraught with emotion as blurting out that first “I love you.”
Unplug too soon, and you could end up feeling like a fool when the gesture’s not reciprocated. Unplug too late, though, and you might just end up being kicked to the curb for playing games.
So when’s the best time to disengage from the land of online love? Should you do it together — it’s a profile-pulling party! — or surreptitiously pull the plug when each of you feels that the timing feels right? And what happens when you decide to take your profile down… and your new sweetheart doesn’t?
When it comes to pulling down profiles, timing is everything
According to Julie Spira, author of The Perils of Cyber-Dating
, unless you’ve had The Talk (you know, the one about how you want to date each other exclusively), you’re not ready to pull the online dating plug just yet. “One might be playing the field and dating several people at the same time, while the other believes [he or she is] in an exclusive relationship,” says Spira. “In this scenario, both profiles should remain active and your Facebook status should be listed as ‘single.’”
If you’ve already had the exclusivity talk, though, Spira advises men to bring up the subject first — and admits she’s taking an old-fashioned stance on this issue. “Men are typically the pursuers, and more often than not, a woman shouldn’t assume a man’s ready [to pull down his profile],” she explains. “Chances are good that if she feels the same way, she’ll be delighted. I say, go ahead and do it together! Have an ‘unplugging party’ and toast your new relationship status,” Spira urges. “You can change your Facebook status to ‘In a relationship’ at the same time.”
Spira says that most online daters truly do want to meet someone and retire their dating profiles at some point. Unfortunately, though, couples are seldom on the same page about doing so at the exact same time. “In the case of one couple I was coaching, the gentleman took down his profile after the third date without discussing it with the woman,” Spira recalls. “She noticed, of course, as she was still logging on daily and couldn’t resist taking a digital peek.” On their fourth date together, Spira adds, the guy finally told his new flame that he’d dismantled his profile, but didn’t ask her to do the same. Instead of immediately agreeing to take hers down as well, the woman told him that she was flattered and was “heading in that direction,” but she wasn’t quite there yet. “Two weeks later, she decided to unplug and let the guy know,” says Spira. “They were engaged a few weeks later.”
Beware of assuming too much, too soon
Beth H., a 49-year-old author and pie baker, recalls when one man told her that he was pulling down his profile after they’d enjoyed just one date together. Of course, he could
have made that decision because their first date lasted for five days (since Beth lives in rural Iowa) and “H,” her 50-year-old beau, lived in Florida. Still, she was surprised when “H” told her he was taking himself off the site because of her.
“He sent me an email telling me he’d alerted Match.com that he was canceling his subscription,” Beth says. “He even sent me the email exchange in which they’d asked why he was resigning, and he said it was because he’d met someone — me
. I thought this was a little premature on his part.” Despite her misgivings, Beth welcomed “H” back for another visit to Iowa. Shortly after that, she decided it was time to take down her profile, too. “I’d already hidden it,” she recalls, “but now, I’d decided to cancel the whole thing. If a seemingly perpetual bachelor could do it, then so would I!”
The pair spent the next three months together, but then — much like Beth’s famous pie crust — the relationship began to crumble. That’s when she discovered that her new beau was texting (and flirting) with other women… and he also didn’t want their relationship status to be public knowledge. “When he finally let me be his Facebook friend, I regretted it,” says Beth. “His friends all looked like pole dancers. I finally gave him the boot.” In retrospect, she says that she thinks things just moved too quickly between the two of them — starting with his decision to immediately unplug his dating profile. “I wouldn’t call it pressure,” says Beth. “But I did think it was odd that he made his decision to quit so quickly.”
Be warned: pretending to resign can backfire on you
Lorne C., a 47-year-old fragrance company marketing executive from Westchester, NY, says that after his divorce was finalized in 2002, he became an Internet dating addict, subscribing to several online dating sites at once and keeping a schedule that sometimes included three dates per day. Once he met a woman named Hayley, though, Lorne began to question his penchant for profile-surfing. “She was rational, stable and intelligent,” he says. “I loved her, but she also scared me.”
As a result, Lorne cut back on his frenzied dating routine — although he still saw other women and kept his profile active on a couple of dating sites. “Hayley was only on one site, and would look at my profile to see if it was up… and it was,” he recalls. “After a number of months, she asked why. I lied.”
Lorne kept seeing Hayley, but eventually, she pulled the plug on their relationship. Several months later, though, the couple sat down for a heart-to-heart talk and managed to reconcile. However, things nearly went south again thanks to Lorne’s pesky profile addiction. “She saw an email from an online site, even though I wasn’t really looking or participating anymore,” Lorne says. “So we sat down together in front of the computer and finally shut it down. I was like, ‘I’m doing this because I love you and am committed to you.’ We had a couple of drinks to celebrate, and it was the last time I was involved in any of that online stuff.”
Spira says that lying about being unplugged from your profile when you’re really not is foolish, especially in a day and age when so many people use online dating sites. “If for some reason you’re lying about still being online, the girlfriend (or guy friend) network is going to notice, and you’re going to get busted,” she warns. “Everybody is digital friends these days, and everybody is looking out for each other.”
Sometimes, snafus do happen
Of course, even the best intentions can go awry occasionally. Austin C., a 62-year-old retired RN from Pueblo Wes, CO, says that it only took him a month or two to realize that Jill, a 45-year-old editor from Denver, was The One. The two decided to become exclusive and mutually agreed to take down their online dating profiles.
Unfortunately, Austin’s computer skills weren’t quite as adept as Jill’s, it seems. “I thought I’d taken the profile down, but then Jill found it and asked why I was still online,” he says. “I told her, ‘Hey, I’m not a liar. I’m just really bad with computers!’” Once the confusion was finally cleared up, Austin asked Jill if she would help him dismantle his online dating profile for good.
The recently engaged couple now laughs about their big misunderstanding. “I can see how it might look from her side,” says Austin. “It would create these questions, like ‘Is he serious? He’s still on here!’ Luckily, I had an email from the site that I showed to her. I thought I’d taken the profile down, but it turns out that I was paid up for another couple of months, so they kept it active,” Austin recalls, adding: “Having that confirmation email from the online dating site saved my butt!”
Diane Mapes is a freelance writer based in Seattle and the author of How to Date in a Post-Dating World. She can be reached via her Web site, dianemapes.net.