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Don't be offended by online-dating rejection

Online dating is like a primitive savanna, so get ready for rejection, the silent treatment and ... hopefully, love.
Online dating is like a primitive savanna, so get ready for rejection, the silent treatment and ... hopefully, love.
  • Online dating can be brutal. Here are three scenarios to consider and learn from
  • Toughen up and don't take everything so personally when rejected
  • Don't keep messaging someone who's stopped responding to you

Editor's note: Brenna Ehrlich and Andrea Bartz are the sarcastic brains behind humor blog and book Stuff Hipsters Hate. When they're not trolling Brooklyn for new material, Ehrlich works as an associate editor at and Bartz is news editor at Psychology Today.

(CNN) -- Online dating seems like the pinnacle of modernity, an online meat market where glassy-eyed humans browse possible suitors, sorted for ease of shopping by size, shape and moral fabric.

So advanced does it appear, so streamlined and slick-interfaced and "Jetsons"-esque, that it's easy to overlook a very basic truth: Online dating is the freaking savanna. Circa 2 million years ago. As in, early humans tearing around the open grasslands without much regard for courtship courtesy.

When we type in our logins and go surfing for love, out come all our animalistic instincts: We refuse to give a second look to those who don't meet our physical requirements, rudely ignore those we don't find worthy and generally let our ids run wild.

"Lookit all these people I can date!" we think gleefully, our brains reverting to caveman-like activity. "Woman! Another woman! Me get!"

Along with this savanna comes permission to do stuff that'd get you a drink in the face I.R.L. We're not about to tell you not to do those things. Sure, online dating could benefit from a protocol overhaul in terms of courtesy, but begging everyone to change the rules this late in the game would be stupid.

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Instead, we'd like to tell you, starry-eyed romantics with big dreams of finding love: Toughen up. Don't take things so personally. Stop weeping onto your keyboard in the online quest for love.

In short: Online dating is not for the easily offended. So if you're offering your heart up to the WWW gods, don't be too put off by the following social un-graces. Save your sobbing for the disappointment of bad first dates, seemingly perfect mates who can't commit and the Ones Who Get Away. You know, the good stuff.

The Offense: After reading Suitor X's profile, you are convinced you two are going to fall in love and wander through tulip fields while Louis Armstrong songs waft from some invisible speaker.

You send off a digital epistle, a perfectly worded blend of snark and flirtatiousness ("Oh, my God, I like 'Witch House' too. We are totally meant to be.") Hours later, you log in again and notice that your Match has viewed your profile and chosen not to respond. Ever.

Rejection hurts; studies show it can actually stoke the pain nodes in your brain. It's one thing to be rejected in a bar, where you can just tell yourself homeboy must have a boring girlfriend waiting for him at home; it's quite another to reach out to a single-and-looking chap and let him witness your entire stash of documented wit and charm before deciding you're not worth responding to.

And since online dating is a bit of a numbers game, you'll experience this kind of silent-treatment snub -- a lot.

The thing to remember is that whoever just preemptively rejected you is someone you've never met. For all you know, he's a complete loser with a strange phobia of chillwave, and your mention of Neon Indian under "favorite music" is what turned him off. See, not responding is an acceptable move in online dating.

If it really kills you to see who's viewing your profile before hitting "Delete," most sites let you turn off the function that allows you to see who's peeping your profile. That way, you can pretend the moron never checked the message in the first place. His loss.

The Offense: You're in a splendid message volley with an angel, a gorgeous brunette with clever jokes and exceptionally good spelling and grammar skills. Then, quite suddenly, she goes mute.

She still has a profile on the site, and you can see that she still logs in regularly, but she's as unresponsive as a bleary-eyed Best Buy employee lollygagging amidst the Blu-Rays.

Step One is to check your last message or two: Were you getting pushy? Did your last joke border on creepy? Were you sounding a bit too eager? Did you go on a bit too long about your two cats, Cody and Pickle? If so, take the taciturnity as an indicator of what not to do with the next person.

If the sudden disappearance is truly bewildering, shrug your shoulders, tell yourself a story ("Maybe she met someone great! Good for her"), and move on. This person just did the online equivalent of smiling politely, excusing herself to go to the bathroom and leaving you alone at the bar.

Like it or not, ghosting on someone you're messaging with is completely acceptable in the digital realm. (And let's face it, an out-of-left-field "You're just not quite what I'm looking for" missive would be sorta weird.)

You should not, under any circumstances, continue to message someone who's stopped responding to you. Persistence doesn't pay off in the game of online shopping for strangers. It just makes you seem like a creeper, reinforcing said person's unexplained decision to cut you off.

Browse your way over to a new profile instead. You never know; the next person you contact might be totally into your Cody and Pickle dress-up photo shoots.

The Offense: You're smilingly reading your way through someone's profile and then get to the very end and realize that he's "Looking For: Casual Sex." Or "Play." Or whatever your online dating site of choice calls it. Or he makes frequent mention of his sex drive in his profile.

Or he messages you and explain that he and his long-term girlfriend are swingers, and they both turn to the Internet to find outside dalliances. Something like that.

Now, we're not saying you need to approve of such risqué behavior, but we repeat: Online dating is not for the faint of heart.

Indeed, we should all applaud online daters for being that honest in their profiles. It's better than wooing you out onto a date or two and then dropping the I'm-just-looking-for-some-action bomb, amirite? If you're prudish, cluck your tongue and surf on or ignore accordingly.

Or better yet, head over to a site like eHarmony or that does away with the casual sex checkbox altogether. They're sort of like the savanna, minus the rampant nakedness.


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