Being a woman in my thirties, during several periods of being single, I have done my fair share of online dating. There are primarily two reasons I use dating apps: 1. To test the waters, enjoy feeling attraction to someone other than my ex, and to have a little fun, and 2) To actively search for a person to enter a long-term relationship with. Primarily, though, I have been on these apps in search of a long-term relationship. I am usually very clear with others about what I want, and for the times I have been confused and mistaken about what I wanted, and possibly caused harm, I apologized, and did what I needed to do to make it right.
What are the types of daters, on dating apps?
I learned pretty quickly that there were those that could be considered exploring. These were the people who wanted to literally discover who they were with multiple other people, and what they liked, and desired to have many types of experiences and encounters. These people often had exited a very long, serious relationship at some point within the past year, and they needed to explore what it is to be single and dating, as well as if they could eventually choose to be with partners who differed greatly from their ex. They also were potentially exploring being in alternative types of relationships, and different types of sexual experiences. These people were pretty open about this exploration.
Then there were those who could be considered confused, but honest. These were the people who were conflicted, and having a challenging emotional process in regard to what they wanted, and the dating process, but at some point in their encounters, were honest about it. These people would apologize for harm done due to their own confusion and fear, and would show genuine remorse if they led someone on or reacted poorly to a dating circumstance.
There were also the decisive and honest people, who seemed to know exactly what they wanted, and were straight forward about it. These people were big on communication, and seemed to understand boundaries and needs. They were almost business-like about the process. If they didn’t see potential for the dating encounter to go exactly where they desired it to go, they were quick to start a conversation about it, and then if needed, end the encounter.
Then finally, there were the people who were exploitative and dishonest. These people seemed to enjoy perpetually dating. Dating seemed to be a platform for them to play mind-games. The game of dating for them, was about attaining some level of power and control over those they dated, as well as seeing, at any given time, how much attention, energy and resources they could get, from several people at once. These exploitative and dishonest people would make it seem like they were in search of a partner, currently or eventually. But, I found they had an impossible standard for any potential partner to meet. They would say they are looking for compatibility, but the subtext of this compatibility, is that they needed to meet a person who would never hold them accountable for their behavior, and would have no needs, boundaries, expectations, or negative feelings.
These exploitative and dishonest people are the ones who I refer to here, as “chronic daters”.
What is chronically dating?
Chronically dating is when someone has the conscious or unconscious intention to remain single and available to new (sexual) partners, while also engaging with other people, simultaneously, through “dating”, in ways that fulfill emotional, serious relationship needs. Chronic daters often seek everything that a long-term relationship provides, but while expecting the other person does not demand commitment or accountability in return, from them. They have realized that by simply labeling what they might be doing on these apps, and with all the people they date, as just dating, they can never move past the dating stage in their life, and thus avoid missing out on something better, or another opportunity, around the next bend.
These individuals are experts at manipulation. They make it seem as if they want more than sex and lite-dating, and make it instead seem as though the reason they cannot commit, or stop dating other people, is because you (or their life circumstances) aren’t good enough, yet. These people engage in activities and methods of bonding that most people would associate with being in a committed, serious relationship, and often hold the person they date to a standard that is characteristic of committed partner expectations. However, they do not hold themselves to any such standards, and rely on the technicality that this is nothing serious, or that they are not ready for a relationship, once the other person expresses even the most basic needs or expectations of them.
In some communities, chronic daters are referred to as “Fuckboys” or “Players”. There are many books, artworks, websites, blogs, social media groups, pages, and accounts dedicated to survivors of these people, building community, while getting some form of healing and justice.
The fact that there are names for these types of people, and communities, forums, literature and art, organized around reaction to their behaviors, implicates that they are a rather common demographic.
These people need to be regulated.
In my community, many people are swearing off dating apps altogether, because of painful experiences they have had, encountering chronic daters. These chronic daters drew them in, with promise of a possible relationship, only to end up led on, gaslit, sorely disappointed, gaslit some more, and then likely ghosted. Then maybe a few weeks or several months later, these chronic daters return, make it appear they are ready for a relationship, and then repeat the whole cycle, once again.
Overall, I have observed that these chronic daters are actually pretty common on dating apps, especially in dating populations over the age of thirty. I find that those under the age of 25 who are searching to date lightly and basically just hook up, are often more honest about it, and will just say so. Whereas, it is the ones over 30 that seem to conceal their true intention. Or, perhaps it is that they are deluded enough to believe they just haven’t found the “right one” yet, and what they are doing is just their strenuous search for that perfect potential partner. Never mind the trail of bodies, they are leaving behind them in the process.
And, for everyone else who joins dating apps in their thirties, who is attempting to begin to settle down, these chronic daters make the process of finding that partner, that much more fraught with challenges. These chronic daters are distractions from a goal, and they waste the time of the people that get caught in their web. They potentially prolong the search on dating apps, for someone who is looking for an actual, serious relationship.
For this reason, these people need to be regulated within these dating apps, so there is some way to hold them accountable for their behavior, and to help others who want a serious relationship, avoid entering into relationship with them.
What am I suggesting should be done to regulate the presence of chronic daters on dating apps?
I am advocating here for a function on dating apps, where people who have dated each other, are able to publicly rate whether the person they have dated, is the same person online as they are in person, and thus actually wants what they report they want on their profile.
Additionally, I am suggesting a special, one-time clickable button be made that rates whether a person is a chronic dater, and has displayed chronic dater behaviors. This “chronic dater” label will be publicly displayed like a badge, on a person’s profile, for all new potential matches to see.
In special instances where someone is not a chronic dater, yet is being reported as such through retaliation, they have the ability to appeal to the app moderators, make their case as to how these are false claims, and have their badge removed. However, if a moderator receives more than five appeals, from the same profile, claiming retaliation from five separate people, the moderator will no longer remove this chronic dater rating.
Over time, this rating system, as public information, will allow the chronic daters to:
1.) become more honest about what they are actually looking for.
2.) Begin to change their orientation in regard to what they want and how they behave.
3.) Realize they can no longer exploit others through this app, and decide to leave and go elsewhere.
This process of regulation will also reinstate trust in the process of dating apps working properly. It is likely many more people will sign up (again), thus increasing the online dating pool, with higher integrity people. This increase in people as well as integrity, improves the odds that people will find the matches they are looking for. Whether one is looking to hook up or for a serious relationship, with honesty and integrity, as well as more options, everyone wins.
In the meantime, when dealing with the current dating app situation…
I highly recommend, if you are a person using dating apps for finding a life partner, or your next serious relationship, use these four questions to weed out chronic daters:
- When was your last serious relationship? (Probably will be over a year ago.)
- What are your relationships like with your exes? (They will likely make their ex out to be dramatic and crazy.)
- How do you imagine your next relationship will be like, and how will that person be? (If they mention, “laid-back”, “drama-free”, or with a “perfectly compatible partner”, this may be an indication they are a chronic dater.)
- How many dates before you decide if you want to be committed to a person? (If they say they don’t have a time limit, this is a sign they may be a chronic dater.)
Happy dating to you all!