Even when you're looking for love in all the right places, it's the approach that can make or break your search: According to a 2014 study, first impressions often hold, and they're often negative when formed on the internet. Given this particular conjunction of circumstances, you'd think that the web's would-be suitors would give their all to crafting a tactful introduction. Not so, as many straight women will attest.
Getting up the courage to approach someone you find attractive is tough for everyone. And yet, when it comes to gross Tinder advances, straight men seem to have taken the cake. The same seems to be true in real life too. So, men: We get it, it's hard to find the right words. There's no secret recipe for successful flirting, but we've complied a few dating tips for men who are looking for love on the internet and through social media.
Below, we've cataloged a few of the commonplace interactions that leave men looking deeply creepy and women feeling deeply uncomfortable. Attention, men interested in women: This is a crash course in what not to do.
Don't open with an invitation for cunnilingus.
When internet dating, it may be tempting to give voice to your more salacious thoughts under the guise of online anonymity. You never really know who anyone is, right? But whether on the web or IRL, cutting straight to the sex chase in your introductory remarks is usually a turn-off, not least because it tells the object of your affections that you're only in it to get physical.
Unfortunately, comments like those above are far from uncommon: Another woman told Mic she once received a message that read, "If you come and sit on my face I bet I can eat my way to your heart." That's both uncomfortably forward and, it seems, a pre-packaged line — it's not likely to make anyone on whom it's used feel special or like they maybe want to meet you, much less get naked with you.
In short: Be respectful.
Don't catcall her.
Catcalling is a problem for numerous reasons, including the simple fact that it's alarming to have someone shout at you while you're just going about your business, out there in the world. It becomes more problematic when the catcalling becomes a tactile experience, per the above anecdote submitted by one Mic reader.
Women don't tend to enjoy it when stranger men, however old, follow them down the street, nor are they likely to acquiesce to random caresses from their fellow pedestrians. Moral of the story, men: a friendly response is not an invitation to butt-touching, nor is it an implicit request for your company.
Definitely don't stare pointedly at her breasts.
Another woman told Mic a story most breast-having humans have lived a thousand times: She spends not insubstantial time talking to a man about not inconsequential things, when he throws a non-sequitur of an anatomy comment into the conversation, derailing the entire thing.
Women, like all people, appreciate being listened to when they speak. Nothing says "I wasn't paying attention" like blurting out a non-sequitur in the middle of someone else's thoughts; when you interrupt with a body-focused comment, even an attempted compliment, it reinforces the women-as-sex-objects stereotype that's the opposite of endearing. Even (or especially) when couched in baby talk.
Don't make her feel like an afterthought/halfway house.
Note the white space between the above blue messages; note how it makes a flimsy compliment read even more as an afterthought. Text No. 1 sounds like a friendly favor albeit one asked by a stranger, of a stranger) — the compliment tacked onto its tail makes the sender sound as if he's buttering up this woman so that he can crash on her floor.
According to AskMen.com, the above exchange was a "Tinder conversation starter" — it's also a big request to make of someone you don't know, which won't be mitigated by complimenting that person's appearance. "What the fuck" is the only type of response that icebreaker is likely to get.