Dating App Convos to Ditch: Here’s How You Know

Jennie Young
4 min readMay 20

This article is not about the exchanges that are in-your-face hellish — the offensive, aggressive, hostile, downright-insane conversations; that decision is easy — block him. This story is about the *rest* of the dating app convos (the unfortunate *most* of them).

I work with women who are fed up with the current disaster of online dating, and, in addition to the typical complaints about fish pics and dreadful grammar, these are the typical complaints I hear:

  • “It’s like most men don’t even know how to have a simple conversation.”
  • “If I don’t keep asking them questions about themselves, the conversation just ends.”
  • “I get the feeling they might be copying and pasting messages from other conversations? Like, something feels ‘off’, but he didn’t really do anything WRONG, so maybe it’s me?”
  • “They start talking about sex immediately. Is that normal?”

No, it’s not normal, and no, it’s not you, but spend enough time on a dating app and you’ll find yourself second-guessing things you’ve understood all your life and that you never wrestle with in any interaction outside of a dating app. You’ll find yourself contorting into positions that range from boring to uncomfortable to terrifying. And you’ll do these things not because there’s anything wrong with you, but because you’ve been gaslighted into thinking that YOU are the problem, that YOU are the one who must no longer understand the most basic unwritten rules of human interaction.

YOU are not the problem. Here are some ways to help you frame these conversations and decide when to pull the plug on them:

Imagine this: You’re in the produce section of the grocery store picking out some vegetables when a man you don’t know approaches you and says “Hey” and then continues to just stand there staring at you. What would you do? What if he said, “You’re gorgeous” or “You have a great smile” and then just continued to stare at you? You’d probably simply get away from him. Maybe you’d call security.

Try this one: You go to a party and are introduced to a woman who’s a friend of the host’s. In order to make her feel more comfortable, you ask her some friendly questions — “Does she live in town or is she…

Jennie Young

Professor and humor writer in Green Bay. McSweeney’s, The Independent, HuffPost, Ms. Mag, Education Week, Inside Higher Ed, Slackjaw, Weekly Humorist, others.