Wednesday, August 4, 2010

A Grand Game.

[This was the "too grouchy" post. Since people are talking about it anyway, what the hell. Just let me note that I don't think all guys are like this and I don't play stupid games with all guys--this applies only to guys who answer "you're nice but you're not my type" with "no, no, you need to give me a chance."]



I invented a game to play on OkCupid! It's called the...

Get A Guy To Stop Talking To You Game!

Here's how you play:
-Have an OkCupid account with a reasonably appealing picture and profile, identifying yourself as a straight woman.

-Log on to the IM system, and wait for a guy to message you. Doesn't take long, generally.

-Talk to him in good faith long enough to determine what sort of guy he is. If he seems like a cool and attractive guy, ask him out or arrange to talk again. If he's not your type, let him down easy. If letting him down easy doesn't work, play the game.

-The game has only two rules:
1) Promptly reply to all of his IMs. Within a couple minutes at the most, preferably instantly, write something back to whatever he says.
2) Try, without hitting "ignore" or logging off or ceasing your responses, to get him to stop talking to you.

-Within the framework of "keep replying," you can say anything. You can make yourself sound bugfuck insane or hilariously bitchy--usually both! You can tell stories about being dangerously obsessed with all your previous partners or speculate how tiny the guy's penis is. You can whip out racist jokes, confessions that you never bathe, and direct insults against the guy and everything he cares about. You can even tell the guy that you're playing this game! And you can most certainly say every variation on "No, I'm not interested, please stop talking to me."

-The game can go on for hours, and I usually run out of time and have to hit "ignore" or shut down IM before I win. My win rate is definitely well under 50%.



I think this game teaches us two things: first, that sometimes I'm an asshole on the Internet; and secondly, that this is what they call "rape culture." The acting crazy/mean is just fucking around, but the shocking part is how my stated wishes don't count for shit. It's truly amazing how many times I can say, in so many words, "stop talking to me," and yet as long as I keep responding the guy will never do what I explicitly asked him to. (And if I merely act very uncomfortable and chilly and reluctant but don't actually say no... forget it, that never stops anyone.) As long as I stay "in the room" with him, it doesn't matter how many times I say in clear blunt words to leave me alone, he never will.

I think the reason this happens is because I don't open with "fuck off"; I do the initial feeling-out stage in genuine good faith. So they get this image of me as a relatively nice and open person before I turn into a person who's repeatedly telling them to fuck off, and somehow the mental transition never happens. I can't be nice and not want to talk to them! DISSONANCE! So they persist, literally forever, and disregard my stated wishes over and over in doing so.

There's probably also some sense that I'm "shit testing" them, that I'm making a game of pushing them away just so they can prove their ardor. I suppose I am, in that I keep talking to them at all, but still--why would a guy want to play this game with a woman? And isn't it a little scary that there's literally no way I can use words to tell him I'm not playing?

And this is why women don't smile at strangers.



After I lose the game and have to hit "ignore" or "log off", most of these guys send me followup emails, saying they'd really like to talk some more or clear up any misunderstandings.

32 comments:

  1. This was too grouchy? This is a statement of fact, albeit a sad one.

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  2. Well, this is an artifact of youth. You are sending a mixed message. By continuing to engage, your non-verbal message is "Continue." As to why (probably young, less experienced) men would continue to interact with women who continue to interact with them? Because negative reinforcement is better than no reinforcement at all. And sometimes, it works. Sometimes slot machines pay off. Intermittent reinforcement is powerful.

    Gavin De Becker, studying stalkers, found that each contact from the stalker with the stalkee led to approximately three more weeks of trying to contact them.

    And, yes, you are shit testing them. Your stated goal is to use your words to discourage them but make them disengage first. I've had many women shit test me. It was commoner in high school. It worked often enough for me. Until I got old enough to learn maturity and self-respect, and not to try to date spoilt children.

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  3. Williamthecoroner - I feel, probably unfairly, that when the overt content of a message is "no, I do not wish to talk to you, I do not like you, I am not someone you would like," the fact that it's "mixed" by me talking at all shouldn't negate everything I say.

    I think the comparable sexual analogy is that "no" may mean "no," but shouldn't "um I'm I'm not sure I wanna um can we please not um at least not right now" also mean "no"?

    As for "shit testing," I don't think so. Shit testing is when I say no but want them to override it--in this game, I say no and genuinely mean it, even within the "winning the game" framework.

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  4. Williamthecoroner -- one minor note: you're talking about positive reinforcement, not negative reinforcement. Negative reinforcement increases the behavior consequated by the removal of an aversive (do what I tell you to do and I'll stop cutting you). Positive reinforcement increases the behavior consequated by the addition of a positive stimulus (you like Holly to respond on OKCupid, so you keeping sending her messages because that seems to trigger her responding).

    Jack (who manipulates the developmentally disabled for a living)

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  5. Back in my OKC days, a dude sent me an IM once when I happened to be away from the computer. I found his message maybe seven minutes after he sent it - by which time he'd already sent a second message - this time to my mailbox - telling me what a bitch whore snob I was for ignoring him. And his profile didn't make him seem crazy or anything! Had I gotten his initial message, I would've talked to him in good faith. Stuff like that scares the crap out of me (although I'm sure I would've sensed The Crazy fairly quickly and signed off).

    Please oh please post some of these conversations! Especially ones where you're trying to come off like a terrifying stalker. Good times.

    -perversecowgirl

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  6. Thank you!

    The rest of your blog is proof of what a misandrist you're not.

    It's nice to see a kinky, totally one hundred percent sex-positive submissive woman talk about rape culture, and it's nice to see rape culture discussed by someone kink-positive.

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  7. WilliamtheCornoner -- it's interesting that you mentioned Gavin DeBecker, this post made me think if that, too. It's important to note that in that section of his book, he's talking about stalkers, people who literally are crazy & a danger to their victims. They take ANY response as positive reinforcement (including "don't ever contact me again or I'm getting a restraining order") because they will take any excuse not to just give up and move on. It's surprising, then, that it should be so easy to turn up this kind of "crazy stalker" response on an online dating site. One would think it would be imited to a small subset of weirdo losers.

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  8. Perversecowgirl - This isn't quite the same game, but it was an exchange I found particularly demoralizing (admittedly maybe he's just giving shit back for shit, but I don't think he was on that intellectual level):

    Dude: What's the kinkiest thing you've ever done?
    Me: There's no kinky hierarchy. I can't really say one thing is "kinkier" than another.
    Dude: Well, what's the most unusual thing you've ever done?
    Me: I graduated high school at 15. I lived for two years on a missile testing range in the Pacific. I've had FBI agents in the back of my ambulance.
    Me: ...and I've gotten peed on.
    Dude: Oh wow that's pretty kinky, did you like getting peed on?

    How can someone be dumb enough to not realize what a slap in the face it is to say "I don't want to know about your boring old humanity, vagina", and yet still be able to operate a computer? Did his helper monkey find the power switch for him?

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  9. perversecowgirl -- Oh man, that happened to me recently, only I had already talked to him and we seemed to be compatible. Then the next day I logged on to check my messages and then got distracted, leaving the tab open. He IMed me in that time and proceeded to wait *less than two minutes* to ask me why i wasn't talking to him, then send a message that basically said "Hey, you remember when I said I understood that you were tired and needed to go to bed because it was five AM? Yeah, I lied. You must be angry with me about X, and here is why you shouldn't be angry with me about X. And now I'm going to tell you a pitiful story. Doesn't it make you want to talk to me?

    It was great. When I replied (I have a really bad habit of feeding the trolls) he told me he had no idea why I was actually angry, but said "I'm wise enough to say that just because 'I don't get it', doesn't make it any less 'real' for you." Quotation marks and everything.

    Is it more infuriating to have someone be upfront about being a total jackass to you, or have someone who thinks he's being understanding be a total jackass to you?

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  10. Dunno if anyone pointed this out to you, but as soon as you publish a post, it gets pushed out on your RSS feed and downloaded by many feedreaders. And even if you later delete the post, it is still saved and readable in all those feedreaders. I read this post shortly after you posted the original version yesterday.

    (Not telling you this for any reason other than to help give you the information you need to control your disclosures on the internet. And if you already know this, then never mind.)

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  11. Comrade PhysioProf - That's good to be reminded of--I technically know, but tend to think of pervocracy.blogspot.com as "the blog" rather than the feed it spawns.

    (I also worry sometimes if edits I make to individual posts are reflected in the feed--I suspect they're not, which kinda sucks. I need to do it all right the first time, oh God the pressure.)

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  12. Re: Eurosabra in the other thread:
    I don't get why you felt you had to get some kind of compliance from them rather than just hit "Close Window" then "Ignore/Block."

    Call it an interesting experiment. Real life doesn't offer a one-click solution to Ignore/Block. Especially in a physical situation, completely ignoring a person would require leaving the party or otherwise changing circumstances.

    That's not always possible (workplace, school, or other power differential), fun (leaving a social activity or otherwise comfortable surrounding), or even psychologically consistent (confidence issues). Bluntly saying "go away now" is a much easier step to take, and it's troubling that the majority of guys in Holly's experience don't get the message.

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  13. Out of curiosity, does a one shot "Oh, ok, sorry. Bye." message count as "going away" or "still talking to you"?

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  14. Nom de Plumage - Not the majority of all guys. But the majority of guys who don't take the first "sorry, I'm not feeling it" turn out to not take the millionth either.

    Perlhaqr - That counts as "going away," unless it's followed up by "just one more thing!" or whatever. I'm not unreasonable here.

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  15. I don't find this game grumpy at all. I think it's awesome and I'd totally play it if I had tits.

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  16. EmilyH

    The behaviour of stalkers is immature, taken to extremes. There are commonalities with the PUA crowd, the very young, and I see a lot of similar behaviours from folks with major axis I disorders, particularly the schizophrenics that got the disease early. All of these folks are, mentally, young. Teenage/early twenties.

    When I worked with the psychotics--the patients instead of my colleagues, which is a whole different bag of snakes, we all had to be very, very clear on boundaries. On keeping our words, hehaviours, facial expressions congruent and keep a very professional demeanor.

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  17. Holly said, I graduated high school at 15. I lived for two years on a missile testing range in the Pacific. I've had FBI agents in the back of my ambulance.

    So, you mentioned the early graduation here, which I thought was one of your most fascinating posts. I guess you refer to but don't explain the FBI thing here but maybe you can't talk about that. I can't find that you've told about living on the missile range, though.

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  18. Mousie00 - I'm slightly disturbed that you can cross-reference my own blog better than I can. Brrr.

    I'm not sure if it would be smart to talk about the FBI thing.

    As for the missile range, yeah, when I was ages 7 through 9 or so, I lived on a tiny isolated island where they tested gigantic missiles. It was quite a thing.

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  19. Holly, here's my secret: Google
    "graduated site:pervocracy.blogspot.com"
    or
    "FBI site:pervocracy.blogspot.com" etc. Google just searches the specified site. Great tool.

    As for the missile range, yeah, when I was ages 7 through 9 or so, I lived on a tiny isolated island where they tested gigantic missiles. It was quite a thing.
    Maybe you could make a short post about that experience sometime, it sounds like quite a thing. Of course you may not remember much about it from when you were 8. But I've never lived on a tiny isolated island even WITHOUT missiles, so it sounds really interesting.

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  20. Actually, I'd really enjoy it if you posted about your experience with creepy/clingy guys. Not just on OKC, though OKC tends to attract more of them. Why do they do it? How does one handle it? How does the woman not end up feeling like a bitch for having to spell it out for him? But mostly, why do they do it.....

    Because I'm mystified and would really appreciate some advice.

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  21. I second Mousie00. I spent the first 10 years of my life on an island (Oahu) but it wasn't really that isolated and I don't remember any missiles.

    Not that your sex life isn't really fun to read about, but I'm getting the sense that your 'mundane' life would make one hell of an interesting biography.

    @ Ariadne: your questions answered from the perspective of a guy who knows whereof he speaks:

    a) Because they have no self-confidence, but are deluding themselves(as a defense mechanism)into thinking they're All That.

    b) Absolute, unequivocal commands on the level of, "Get lost, pickledick." Accompanied by restraining orders and firearms as necessary. Most of these guys are pathetic and harmless, but a handful are bad news on burnt toast. Err on the side of caution.

    c) Ask yourself why you feel like a bitch, because you're getting the whole thing backwards. Saying the truth point blank is the act of an honest person. Purposely leading a dude on in order to get something from him--that's being a bitch. If you've made your feelings crystal clear and he still persist in being creepy, that's on HIM, not you. Do not hold yourself accountable for other peoples' issues.

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  22. I'd really enjoy it if you posted about your experience with creepy/clingy guys... Why do they do it? How does one handle it?

    I can answer the last one: break it off with the guy citing something about you. If you say "I don't like it when you do ___," he'll argue that you misconstrued him and/or promise not to do the thing anymore. If you say "I've realized I'm just not ready for a relationship," he'll hopefully realize that arguing is pointless and will make him look like an insensitive dick.

    If he persists, then it's time to pull out "get lost, pickledick".

    At least that's how I do it; I don't like confrontation. And actually even my final command (the odd time when I needed one) is fairly polite: "I am no longer interested in seeing you. I will be blocking you on OKC/my email client. Please do not try to contact me again. Thank you." I think getting angry just amuses these guys (or could they be deluding themselves into thinking "Oooh, I'm making her all passionate!"?) It's the same principle with those guys who won't stop IMing Holly as long as she keeps answering them, even if her answers are mean.

    So, yeah...a breakup in which you entirely blame your own tragic character flaws, followed (but only if necessary) by a firm but totally dispassionate "we're done here. Goodbye." I've done it many times (occasionally with guys who were creepy and probably mentally unbalanced) and it's never failed.

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  23. I don't understand that approach. I know I'm an outlier in that I can get seriously panicked in situations where I think I might not be welcome, but what is that sort of persistence supposed to achieve?

    I suppose the mindset is along the lines of "it can't achieve less than not being persistent" or "if she really wasn't interested she'd just block me." But this sort of thing really makes OKCupid an unfriendly place.

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  24. @bookworm: We're together in "out-lier-hood" on that dude. I know exactly how you feel about the feeling "possibly not welcome".

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  25. jfpbookworm, I get the impression that a lot of the commenters here, and Holly herself, are like that. I was just incredibly nervous about sending another sexblogger a link to an erotic story I wrote that I thought would be in her style, terrified that doing so would be threatening or disturbing in some way I didn't understand. You read about people ignoring "go away" in so many words, and it's hard to comprehend.

    (Formerly Mousie00, but that was taken.)

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  26. Now I'm wondering.. I'd have thought that "I lied in my profile, in reality I'm 55 and have seven cats" would do the job. Have you tried? Is there any strategy that is likely to "win"?

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  27. Have you tried "I lied in my profile, I'm really a guy?"

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  28. MaryKaye said, Have you tried "I lied in my profile, I'm really a guy?"

    I was wondering that too, especially "I'm really a guy and I'm playing this game". 'Cause if it wasn't for the fact that the taking the first steps (for me) would involve lying to what conceivably might be some perfectly decent guys, possibly shy ones who screwed up their courage to make a contact at all and were hanging on the response, I'd think it might be educational and fun to play this. Or maybe more educational and depressing.

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  29. @Jo: Regarding the guy being a total jackass- if he thinks he's being understanding, hopefully that means he's trying to be understanding, and just doesn't realize he's doing it wrong. I would prefer that to someone being a jackass openly; at least the guy who doesn't get it has the possibility of saying "Oh, shit, I see your point, I sound like an asshole. My bad." when confronted with the extent of his jackassery.

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  30. A bit late to this, but an interesting read. I've been on OKC for a year or two now, and as a relatively normal, well-adjusted (I hope) guy, I've never started IMing a girl out of the blue, who I hadn't even exchanged a message with first. I think it's weird, unless you actually have something you want to say, something to converse about (if you both went to the same high school for instance), that isn't dependent on them being a person you find attractive.

    The thing is, you're gathering a majority of hyper-proactive, desperate, or "game" possessing guys if you just wait for someone to IM you first. An interesting variation of this would be to IM guys first, and see how true this is, maybe according to friend or match percentage, or just randomly. I think your 'win' percentage would be much higher.

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  31. I was looking through this old comment section by chance, but really? Look at this exchange:

    Dude: What's the kinkiest thing you've ever done?
    Me: There's no kinky hierarchy. I can't really say one thing is "kinkier" than another.
    Dude: Well, what's the most unusual thing you've ever done?
    Me: I graduated high school at 15. I lived for two years on a missile testing range in the Pacific. I've had FBI agents in the back of my ambulance.
    Me: ...and I've gotten peed on.
    Dude: Oh wow that's pretty kinky, did you like getting peed on?

    How can someone be dumb enough to not realize what a slap in the face it is to say "I don't want to know about your boring old humanity, vagina", and yet still be able to operate a computer? Did his helper monkey find the power switch for him?


    Let's sum it up: he asks you about sex topic/kinks. You side-step his question and make him rephrase it. He asks what you've done that's unusual, probably still on the topic of kinks. You rattle off a bunch of personal accomplishments and one unusual kink. He comments on the kink... how dare he? Clearly he is objectifying you in the worst possible way. How about you were talking about kinks, of course he was interested in which unusual kinks you had participated in, and you went off on a completely different topic.

    It's like asking what the craziest thing you've done in bed was and getting an answer about how you play Regina in an adaption about the Exorcist and had a pea-soup vomit tube and being mad that he doesn't want to discuss your acting career. Yes, clearly he wronged you, it's not like you just went off on a tangent and were annoyed that he tried to stay on topic.

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    Replies
    1. Well, remember all this is after I'd told him to stop talking to me. So there's that.

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