I am a 34-year-old gay man who’s wrestling with a new kind of love issue. How do I handle my disappointment and jealousy when my date is obviously still in the online dating market? Maybe the world changed while I was in my last relationship for seven years, but I am having a very hard time seeing that my dates, many of whom I meet online, are dating others or, at minimum, updating their online dating profiles. My most recent date is a guy named Sam, whom I’ve been seeing for about three weeks. It’s been great, though I admit we haven’t spent that much time together. But after a few dates, it feels like we are just at the point where we need to make a decision about dating exclusively. I really like him and want to focus on him. But I checked the dating site where we exchanged emails and I see that he’s just updated his online profile. I guess I am not The One if he’d do something like that. What’s your take?
-Wanting Less Complication
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Yes, the dating world has changed, and it’s both easier in some ways and more complicated in others due to the technology of online dating. I can see why you might feel disappointed and/or jealous. How could Mr. Right keep updating his personal ad after spending an awesome three weeks with you? If what you thought was a true connection between the two of you was so true, what’s he doing checking out the dating scenery online? Even worse, how do you handle the newfound technology that makes it easy for you to see his updates or when he’s chatting online? Are you not supposed to notice when the truth is staring you in the face?
This is an example of how the Pandora’s Box of technology opened yet another door that many of us in the dating game weren’t ready to handle.
The good news is that you are not alone. Lots of us wonder what the netiquette is for updating online profiles. From my dating research with single gay men and lesbians, this is an extremely hot issue as more and more of us take to the Internet in search of love and romance.
Basically, your date is not doing anything wrong by updating his profile. He could turn the tables and ask you why you visited the online dating site if you feel so strongly about dating him exclusively? I am not saying that you are doing anything wrong, either. But you are back there looking for a reason, even if it’s boredom, curiosity, or some need to compare and feel better about your choice. In other words, it doesn’t absolutely, positively mean that he doesn’t like you or that he might not be The One.
It just means that you’re both playing the dating game. Only now, it’s a game played increasingly in the open. Yes, it’s awkward. When you noticed that he updated his profile, you probably felt much like you would if you saw him out on the town with another man, but because it’s happened online, you feel like a dating spy, with fast access to information about your date’s habits that you never would have had back when we were all in the era of low-tech romance.
Here’s something very important for you to consider, now that technology plays such a big role in dating. In the old days, you knew his dating options remained open by running into him alone at a bar or with a guy on the street. Chance encounters were rare. It was easy to live in fantasyland, pretending that your date wasn’t a romantic multitasker. But dating online brings “dating around” out into the open.
In my book, though it doesn’t feel good to know about it, your date wasn’t doing anything wrong by updating his profile. I hope you won’t hold it against him. I hope you will give this a little more time and space before you pull the plug due to disappointment.
You can’t change technology. But you can change your attitude about it and remember that dating rules aren’t static. They change in step with social timing, new trends, and technology enhancements. My guess is that, once we all catch up with technology, the “do we want to take down our online profiles?” and “how do we feel about chatting with other guys online” questions will eventually become just two more standard milestones of dating.
For now, I think the best advice is this: All in love is fair — until you’ve both agreed to date exclusively. Are you really ready to have such a serious talk after just three weeks? That sounds too rushed to me. Technology may have speeded up dating. But human emotions, like falling in love, still take time. If you continue to date and want to see him exclusively, then you’ll cross that bridge when you come to it. Right now, spend a little more time getting to know this person — and letting him get to know you.
Dave Singleton, an award-winning writer and columnist for Match.com since 2003, is the author of two books on dating and relationships. Send your dating questions and comments to him firstname.lastname@example.org.