Yet for every glowing success story, there seem to be countless cringe-worthy anecdotes of women encountering the worst of male behavior, both online and off. It can be so bad that men posing as women online out of curiosity have run screaming in horror in the opposite direction.
As more than a few women can tell you, making an online dating profile makes you a target for harassment, fat-shaming and insults. The rate at which the word "cunt" is thrown around makes you wonder if someone's offered a prize to the man who can use it the most.
There are women admirably pushing back against the creeping and the judgment. But what really needs to change are the standards across the board, so that we don't need to publicly shame offenders. Certainly not all males are jerks who treat women poorly. But for those who are, here are seven of the worst sexist dating habits that just need to go.
1. Lashing out at a woman who says "no"
A 2013 Pew Research survey found that 42% of women who have signed up for online dating sites had received "uncomfortable or bothersome messages," whereas only 17% of men could say the same. Often, the online interactions don't start off inappropriate; it's after a woman refuses a man that he lashes out.
The prevalence of such behavior was the inspiration behind the Instagram account Bye Felipe, where women can share the hostile and even threatening interactions they've had with men after declining their advances.
2. Not taking "no" as a final answer
Women have even been threatened with physical violence by men who can't move on. Just as "no means no" needs to be heeded in the bedroom as a matter of consent, everyone needs to respect refusal in the context of dating, online and in the real world.
3. Shaming women for wanting to pay on a date
While the gender pay gap is still a very real problem, if a woman wants to pay on a date, she should be able to. A 2013 survey by LearnVest and TD Ameritrade found that 59% of men still feel that men should pay, because it makes them feel "fulfilled and accomplished." But this is 2015 — women should be able to also feel that fulfillment without being shamed because of their independent financial status.
4. Thinking that women "owe" men sex
A stunning study from 2013, reported on by Nerve, found that 21% of men ages 18 to 25 said they expected sex in return for paying on a date. That expectation doesn't only hinge on paying restaurant bills; simply making it to a certain number of dates can prompt certain ideas from some guys.
The worst case scenario? Men lashing out in anger, feeling as though they didn't get what they "deserved." But they shouldn't be so confused: There is never an instance in which a woman owes a man sex.
5. Judging women for their "number"
Even in 2015, women cannot escape judgment for what they do or don't do sexually. As previously reported by Mic, a 2014 U.K. survey of 12,700 college students found that women were lowering their "numbers" — aka the number of partners they'd slept with — for fear of judgment. The insecurity is real.
"I know my guy friends don't think a high number of sexual partner is a big deal, but when you first start dating someone you don't know how well that's going to sit with them," Emily, 29, told Mic. "Of course, if they judge me for it, I'm out of there."
6. Saying you'll ask a girl out again, when you know you won't
We all know dating involves a certain degree of fibbing, but we'd all be happier if we didn't straight-up lie to each other. According to a Time Out survey of international dating habits, "While respondents admitted that only 40% of first dates end in a second one, they also said 53% of their dates end in a kiss."
Ben, 28, told Mic that his end-of-date habits involve some intentional misleading. "If I'm pretty sure I don't want to see her again, I get nervous that she's going to go in for a kiss, in which case I may end up kissing her anyway," he said. "And same for if she says 'This was fun, let's go out again soon,' because now I'm going to have to end the date on a sour note by being honest, or weakly lie and say, 'Yeah that sounds great' when I don't actually want to go." Guys, do every woman a favor and stop protecting her "feelings" with a fib.
7. Making women feel like they're "crazy"
Casual dating can be a great thing, but anyone who's done it knows it lends itself to ambiguity. "I hate the term 'hanging out,'" Ashley 28, told Mic. "Either date me or don't. I don't like being somewhere in between."
But women who want to DTR can risk being deemed unchill or — that favorite female epithet — "crazy." As one twenty-something woman told Mic previously, "There is the omnipresent pressure to be the 'cool girl'— to not make a big deal out of things, to go with the flow and laugh everything off." But no one should have to worry about speaking up for fear of being clingy, uncool or "crazy."
This post has been updated.