When to deactivate your online dating profile: The ultimate game of chicken


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I wasn’t interested in seeing anyone else. But I still logged on every day. OK, being totally honest here: A few times a day, usually. Always good for the ego to see who is checking out my online dating profile, scope which hotties (and grodies) gave me five stars.

Also: I wanted to see if he was online. Stalk him, if you must.

He told me straight out that he wasn’t seeing anyone else. In fact, he was brand-new to online dating. He confessed he’d held at bay a few other online prospectives for weeks until I returned from vacation for our first date (“I had a good feeling,” he said.)

When making dates, he would go to lengths to explain why a suggested time wouldn’t work: “I get out of work late then I need to take care of some business with my dad and then head to a friend’s birthday party. How about Saturday instead?”

Me? I was vague. “I have plans that night.”

Does that make me a bitch? A savvy dater? A vulnerable lover terrified of intimacy?

And so it went for a few weeks. Seeing a lot of each other. Texting most days. Learning each other’s rhythms and desires and childhood stories. He made me a playlist on Spotify. I cooked him dinner. He invited me to spend the weekend at the beach with his friends (“Yes, they invited both of us. I told everyone I know about you.”) Uncharacteristically, I dozed off in his arms.

Eventually, I felt cruel. “I’m not seeing anyone else, either,” I said, lounging one sunny Sunday morning.

But still, I logged on.

So did he.

I wanted him to get off first. Or to bring it up. I wanted to be the girl. I wanted him to pursue me. Like me more. Take the lead.

So I logged on.

So did he.

Oldest story in online dating: When to deactivate your account is the contemporary equivalent of exchanging class rings or changing your Facebook relationship status: It’s a big deal. Except it is a private declaration that can be done without any explicit agreement between the involved parties. I didn’t want to be like the stories I heard of people who disabled their accounts after a single date — the other party left confused and overwhelmed by the other’s instantaneous devotion. I also didn’t want to be my own self a few years ago when, after explicitly agreeing with a boyfriend to deactivate our accounts, to find him lurking online — and again, months later.

Now, in this digital standoff with someone I liked so much, I felt so silly. Petty and ridiculous. It was also torturous. Something had to give.

Ego in hand, I IM’d him one evening:

Me: I’ve been thinking about writing a blog post: “When to deactivate your online dating profile: The ultimate game of chicken”

Him: I’ve been thinking about that a lot, too. I’m interested in reading it.

Me: So?

Him: Well, I don’t know online dating decorum and when to get off. It seems like an emotional decision.

Me: Also, a practical one.

Him: I didn’t think about it like that.

Me: I think we’re playing chicken right now!

Him:  deactivate dating account

Me:  deactivate match profile


Emma Johnson

Emma Johnson is a veteran money journalist, noted blogger, bestselling author and an host of the award-winning podcast, Like a Mother with Emma Johnson. A former Associated Press Financial Wire reporter and MSN Money columnist, Emma has written for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Glamour, Oprah.com, U.S. News, Parenting, USA Today and others. Her #1 bestseller, The Kickass Single Mom (Penguin), was named to the New York Post’s ‘Must Read” list.

Emma regularly comments on issues of modern families, gender equality, divorce, sex and motherhood for outlets like CNN, Headline News, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Fox & Friends, CNBC, NPR, TIME, MONEY, O, The Oprah Magazine and The Doctors. She was named Parents magazine’s “Best of the Web,” “Top 15 Personal Finance Podcasts” by U.S. News, and a “Most Eligible New Yorker” by New York Observer.

A popular speaker, Emma presented at the United Nations Summit for Gender Equality. Read more about Emma here.

15 thoughts on “When to deactivate your online dating profile: The ultimate game of chicken

      1. Yay!!! My boyfriend and I did the EXACT SAME THING! Well, except he goes “I deactivated my match.com…and I”m still getting emails. :silence: Me: Huh, I haven’t noticed…I’ll check. And yes, I deativated mine too.


        And Darth…seriously. Ugh.

        1. I’m just a realist Marissa. So many women create all these broken marriages, but choose to live in a fantasy world where true love, long-term commitment, honesty, and trust exist. I blinked into the real reality long ago.

          When your man comes to you for sex the first time, and you tell him “I’m so tired from the kids (from another man)” He may say “I understand.”, but what he’s really thinking is “What the hell?” I”m providing you with truth, and the real deal. It’s a public service.

            1. I didn’t say “all”. You did. Most, however, are. Hopefully, many followers of this blog are exceptions, or learning to be.

            2. If you read everything you write, you leave about .5% of woman not being awful, terrible human beings. Its beyond ridiculous and insulting.

            3. LOL. I think most of the time I’ve mentioned up to 20%, but that’s only when I’m being optimistic. Then, when I’m optimistic some single mom screwing over one of my friends reminds me that there is truth in pessimism.

              Don’t mix up two different issues here: marriage and women.

              Even with a woman who is trustworthy and kind, I would never recommend marriage for either the man or the woman. If marriage is supposed to be about “love”, then living together suffices, then when they reach an impasse that even “love” can’t conquer, they can go their separate ways without the government and lawyers taking their money (usually the man’s, but sometimes the woman’s – which will grow as women have more earning potential.) If women were truly all about the “love” with which they claim to have cornered the market, women would have compassion and understanding about why men don’t want to get married. Women don’t because not having that marital contract doesn’t give her any claws into his money when she initiates the divorce up to 90% of the time. Without exception, every single mom I’d ever been in a committed relationship with would have been well off both marrying me and divorcing me, so it was win-win for them to get that contract signed. Really if a woman is out-earning a man, and he brings a couple kiddos into the relationship – all fantasy of lasting “love” aside – what practical reason does that woman have to enter into a marital contract with the guy? Let me spell it out for you: N-O-N-E. Marriage, regardless of gender, is a mutual screwing potentially for whichever party brings more money to the table. Marriage today is never OK. (Kinda a poem!)

              And that leads me to women. I have some great female friends who are a lot of fun, and a couple I trust like sisters. Many of them are that “20%” (or less). I work with some great professional women as well, that make the workplace successful and cool. Still, most women think they understand relationships better than men, and, even worse, these women think they understand who a man is better than the man himself does. In my experience women smugly maintain that women are the “glue” that keeps relationships together, and in the meantime they are the ones running to divorce court most of the time. Further, they enter into relationships time and again thinking they will change the man, and what they want to change him into is another woman. MEN are not women, period. And finally, most women want a man to pay their bills. That is without a doubt the biggest lesson I’ve learned from dating. Women don’t want to acknowledge this is the truth for 80% (or more) of their sisterhood.

            4. I guess my main question is this. Why are you a follower of a blog for single moms when you clearly have such distain for them? WHY?!? Is it just to come here, throw out some BS about how terrible they are, so you can rile us all up and sling mud?

            5. I don’t have disdain for single moms. I work with them. I have a couple relatives who were single moms. I have a couple good friends who are single moms. I still date them, just not seriously…but I wouldn’t recommend anyone date ANYONE seriously either for any reason in the new millenium.

              One thinks from my opinion that I’m against marriage. Not so. 30 to 40 years ago many people who married seemed to marry with the ideal that it had value and worth. I do think it does…Well, it did. This isn’t to say it didn’t need some tweaks in the past: like women having more opportunities in the career world and men helping around the family more so than in the traditional sense. However, marriage has become an even bigger quagmire (watch the documentary “DivorceCorp”), especially for men. One buddy, who I think is OK with being married, told me “I do live in fear that all it takes is for her to walk out, and then I’m ruined.” Statistically, there is a high level of chance that my buddy will realize his fear in his lifetime, so this is very real, daily concern….so much for happiness and contentment. Men are often “held hostage” upon getting married; they lose time, money, their space, and they lose even more when she leaves (read the book “Men on Strike”). Of course, most women view marriage as a complete fantasy of roses on white lace, fairytales, and unicorns, (and diamonds and the man’s money) until they get in the middle of the reality of marriage, which is why most wives initiate divorces. Think what a quagmire it gets to be for a guy who marries a woman who comes with all the extra kiddos, exes, etc. I don’t even dislike kids, but one can’t dismiss the very harsh realities that single parents bring to a marriage – even if single mommy is the greatest person on Earth.

              Mostly, I’m here – and on other sites – because I know men troll this site quite a bit, and for those who are nice guy Poindexters – specifically the younger guys – I want them to understand how things go wrong in relationships with single moms before they waste the years I did thinking a serious relationship will actually work out. I have years of experience myself, and almost daily I talk to male friends and co-workers who have had the same experiences caring about a single mom only to be taken advantage….some of them are still trapped in the marriage with she and her kids.

  1. I didn’t say a Poindexter was a “loser” in the sense Poindexter isn’t a decent guy. If anything, a Poindexter is often a “loser” because a woman will take advantage of his kindness and desire to please her. He’ll lose his money, dignity, time, while trying to please someone less than deserving of his effort. This is not always the case, and I hope it isn’t in your case. However, more often than not Poindexter is a big “loser” in that he loses everything while he is aiming to be great.

  2. I’ve dated two fellas (separately) that had on-line accounts and both held onto them, even when their relation with me got pretty serious. I felt like I had emotional issues because it really started to bother me. But with some time and perspective, it seems pretty logical to make an issue of it, because it was the equivalent of the guy thinking he was ‘still available.’ When clearly he was not. It even lead to the end of one relationship, when the fella wouldn’t take down his on-line profile. And I haven’t been back to on-line dating since. Too much you in your head wondering what something means. And I just don’t need that.

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