Ask Ellie: Online dating based on photos invites rejection

Advice columnist EllieDear Ellie: My friend is a smart, attractive woman, early-40s, who’s adapted brilliantly to the pandemic by creating a whole new business for herself.

She divorced after an early marriage, no kids. She’s had a few serious relationships since. She learned early how to date effectively online. Also, until COVID-19 presented dangerous health risks, she could confidently decide whether she was interested in a guy, or just in sex. She purposefully hadn’t dated since last March. Then, she recently went online and “liked” a guy who liked her — i.e. he liked her alluring photos.

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She agreed to meet him a few days later. They sat socially distanced in a park and talked. She thought it went well, but after sending her one nice message, she hasn’t heard from him again.

Now, my friend’s feeling hurt and rejected. She thinks she was a disappointment to him because she looked “ordinary” that day, and not the embodiment of her sexy image in online photos.

I can’t understand why she’s taking this one rare disappointing response so hard.

I care a lot about her. How can I help her see all that she has to offer towards a relationship, beyond just her image?

Surprising Reaction

For all those people who’ve found online dating frustrating and disappointing, please note: The “success stories” you’ve heard/read of couples happily paired, even married, through dating sites, are a small percentage of those whose dating efforts went nowhere.

And left people feeling rejected instead of understanding that those were the odds.

Too many wannabe-daters, like your friend, are chatting to photos superficially (at best).

What’s needed is being yourself online, while talking/seeing other’s faces in real time. Not just a camera-shot of a sexy person, but someone smiling, asking questions, describing their interests. Real people, not just images of them trying to look hot, or appear vulnerable to a hookup.

Some dating apps are introducing ways people can learn more about each other before deciding whether to even meet virtually. But until date-seekers recognize that online dating should be redefined as “online meeting,” the hurtful shadow of rejection will hang around an imperfect mode of seeking wishful images, instead of real people.

Dear Ellie: I’m a single dad. My wife had mental health issues after our daughter was born.

Though we tried to get her help, she succumbed and died when our child was three.

Our community stayed close and we emerged okay.

Now my daughter’s eight, at school with her usual friends. But one classmate in her same cohort has stopped including her in any after-school playdates.

As soon as school’s over, she ignores my daughter. I’ve tried to discuss this with her parents, but they’ve also gone somewhat cold. I don’t know what’s changed since school started again for our children and I don’t know what to do.

Left-Out Daughter

Something’s given your child’s classmate the impression that your daughter’s now “different.”

Perhaps the other girl’s parents feared that a genetic factor was involved in your wife’s condition, or that their own child’s too young to handle knowing that a parent can die. Meantime, an innocent child is being excluded from the after-school camaraderie and self-confidence that personal friendships provide.

Speak directly to the girl’s parents and ask if they’re aware of a particular issue involved. Explain that, whatever it is, their input is important for all children, including theirs, to learn what community support means to someone so young who’s suffered a loss.

Reader’s commentary regarding a husband’s persistent erectile dysfunction:

As their plainest problem is lack of sexual stimulation for him, she might try giving him sexual caresses or whatever pleases them both. They may not have tried this very patiently.

Couples accept that a man should make every effort to arouse the woman he loves, with imagination and patience, providing deep pleasure for him and for her.

But this also makes sense with the sexes reversed, possibly a big enrichment to a couple plagued by ED, and to every loving couple.

Maybe the notion of the woman exciting the man is slighted due to an outdated attitude (woman as one-way supplier of sexual favours to the man). That attitude’s done with.

I’m talking about a loving couple who want their sexual impulses to draw them closer, each serving the other. No love flowing in one direction conflicts with any flowing the other way.

Ellie’s tip of the day

Online dating relying on photos invites rejection. Talk to people’s faces virtually before considering meeting in person.

Send relationship questions to Follow @ellieadvice.

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