Show Transcript for Episode 275: Online Dating—Finding Connection Beyond the Profile

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Announcer 00:00
The following content is not suitable for children.

Laurie Watson 00:02
George, people want us to help them with online dating. And how do you find a good partner?

George Faller 00:08
Great question.

Laurie Watson 00:13
Welcome to Foreplay radio, couples in sex therapy. I’m Laurie Watson, your sex therapist.

George Faller 00:18
And I’m George Faller, couples therapist,

Laurie Watson 00:21
and we are passionate about talking about sex and helping you develop a way to talk to each other.

George Faller 00:26
Our mission is to help our audience develop a healthier relationship to sex that integrates the mind, the heart and the body.

Laurie Watson 00:36
We got to say to about our sponsors, Uberlube, Manscaped. OMGyes. And Addyi, we’re recommending things that we have recommended to patients that we’ve seen as a good product, a healthy product, something that we think will help you. We have

George Faller 00:53
any answers, Laurie?

Laurie Watson 00:57
I’m not sure. But you know, during COVID, a lot of people out here dating and basically doing it online, right. That’s the only way they’re meeting people. And having people, your patients talk about it and stuff out there.

George Faller 01:13
It is tough out there. At this great opportunity to though, depends how you want to see it. It’s a big investment, to try to meet somebody at a bar and go on a few dates, and you’re talking weeks into months just to see if you might match with somebody. So I think online dating, if you can do it in a efficient way can really cut through a lot of these wasted moments in time. Yes, it’s, it can be overwhelming. I think for most people.

Laurie Watson 01:44
I think one of the questions people ask me is how do they evaluate a profile? Another person to kind of see right up front, what they’re looking at. And I think about it in terms of attachment styles, the pursuer, the withdraw, or and I certainly think there’s something to be said, you know, when a person is looking for a partner. Most people want a sexual match as well, you know, somebody who’s going to be sexual, who’s going to stay sexual. And there’s a lot of stuff out there that apparently is typical for a profile, and people are looking to avoid the drama queen or king and the person who’s the ghoster. What can we say? As they look at these profiles?

George Faller 02:33
I would backtrack a second, Laurie? Okay, I really encourage my, my clients to get clear on you first, like, what is it that you’re looking for? Like, what is it that you want before you start trying to find it in other people like, Yes, I think being able to talk openly about sex is really important, being able to be vulnerable to have conversations about, you know, your fears, your longings, like, is that important to somebody else? If it’s important to you, how do you, I think, too many people are trying to look for something like fun and somebody else and they don’t recognize, you know, all the things that they’re looking for, that’s important that they don’t put out there, they don’t put into a profile. And then they get surprised when they start investing time and it winds up not working out. So I rather than the front end saying, hey, if that’s really important to you, you want to have security, you want to have safety, you want somebody who’s committed, like these are qualities that are important for you, that’s got to all be put into your profile. Right. And then if you’re clear on what you want, when you’re looking for other people, it’s like wait a second, this person saying I just want to have a good time, not a lot of stress, like that’s probably not going to work too well, for you when you want commitment.

Laurie Watson 03:51
So the first thing you think people should do is really get clear themselves, like, Who am I? What do I need? What am I looking for? and make that clear on their profile?

George Faller 04:03
Absolutely. I think you’re clear on our profile, like your values, what you’re looking for, what turns you on, what makes you feel safe like that, that grounds somebody that then have that foundation to look out to see who can who can meet me there who could compliment those qualities. Right, instead of just jumping right out and looking at and then they wind up just looking at the pictures and we base, you know, we base it on what’s attractive and what kind of gets us excited. And that’s cool. That’s part of it. Right? But then these really important things as far as to shared values and meaning get get lost in translation.

Laurie Watson 04:40
I have people though, speaking of the profile pictures, you know, they basically some of the apps like Tinder and I don’t know, I’m not sure I’m as clear on which is which but Tinder particularly I know is you know, just like swipe right, swipe right, swipe left. And it’s basically Am I attracted to this person. And I think, I mean, I think there’s definitely important to be attracted to the person that you end up with. I mean, super important, you can’t bypass that. But on the other hand, I had a guy, a patient who I saw kind of when he was married through his divorce when he was reading through his remarriage. And that was, for me a really interesting experience. And he was about my age. And he said, when he was looking at profile pictures, and, and talking about that with his, I guess, new single friends, his observation was, you know, a woman who would be the belle of the ball at a cocktail party, you know, is completely bypassed, because they’re looking for somebody even potentially more attracted, like attraction becomes the very highest value, which which person is most attractive, that I can attract? And I certainly see that in my children’s generation, which, you know, they are young men, in terms of its the seeming value is the highest level on attraction.

George Faller 06:11
Yeah, you

Laurie Watson 06:12
know, I don’t, I don’t think all that many people in those kinds of apps are reading profiles. Right?

George Faller 06:19
Yeah. I mean, if you wonder why it doesn’t work, you’re basing your decisions based on a quick feeling. And I think both of us come from the spirit of not being judgmental, people can do whatever they want with their lives to try to, you know, find that happiness they can find, right, but we’re looking at more from an evidence base scientifically, it’s not high likely to succeed when you just are attracted to somebody, but you don’t really know who they are or what they want, or they don’t know what you want. And, like, I think that’s the opportunity on being online. Like, there are plenty of attractive people, why not find attractive people that share your values? Right, it’s a lot easier to kind of sift through all this kind of wasted opportunities, and, and misses.

Laurie Watson 07:10
Maybe it’s just my bias to but sometimes when I was dating, you know, super attractive men. You know, there was something to be said, for their narcissism. That was a turnoff. Like, if they’re just, you know, a god. It was, I don’t know, sometimes there were other parts that and maybe this is just prejudice, but it didn’t seem like they necessarily had other developments internally that made the mat attractive. I thought it was super attractive women sometimes who are totally shut down sexually. I mean, they look like Marianne right? ginger, Marianne, I’m old enough for Gilligan’s Island. And, you know, it, there was like comparison. For those of you who don’t know, the, the metaphor, you know, Ginger was the hot Hollywood type. And Marianne was also very hot. I think she just recently died. I don’t know if you saw that. But, you know, super hot girl from Kansas, but wasn’t as glamorous, you know. And the idea was really, that she was probably more innately sexual and real than the Hollywood girl who was so classically beautiful.

George Faller 08:25
Yeah, it seems. I mean, I work with a lot of women who are single and looking to find somebody in a more committed relationship and, and they’re struggling out there. Because a lot of the men that they’re looking to date aren’t so interested in getting committed, right, that they want to have a good time that a lot of them are getting out of long term marriages. And you know, they don’t want somebody who wants them just for their money or for the stability, they want somebody who wants them just for them, they want a good time, they just want to have fun, and they can get that without committing. Right, which really sets the stage for this this this really difficult process. I think for a lot of people

Laurie Watson 09:09
one of the things that shows up on the profiles a lot George for I think more man is no marriage, no commitment, no baggage. And I think what they’re saying is I don’t want kids no kids, right? Next my heart sort of drop in terms of having to do it all over again, you know, when necessarily want somebody to be father to my children, but kind of the view of family as baggage or it to me that just sounds like also no depth. You know, they want to have sex with no connection whatsoever. And

George Faller 09:50
well, this sounds like a perfect point to come back to

Laurie Watson 09:53
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George Faller 10:59
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George Faller 11:36
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Laurie Watson 11:42
Okay, so it feels so soulless to me. In terms of maybe just the the hookup culture, I don’t know, you know, maybe going out for a date. And these people having sex. And that being enough. I mean, I gotta say, I talked to 1000s of men. I have talked to 1000s of men, and very few of them understand a woman’s body. So I’m thinking who’s having a good time?

George Faller 12:13
That’s Yeah, I mean, sadly true. That’s why we’re trying to help get some sex education out there.

Laurie Watson 12:20
Right? I mean, if they’re just having sex after a dinner date, she is not having a good time. I mean, maybe it’s, I always question this or not, I usually think of the younger generation. But I think we’re talking about maybe people who are single again, and maybe exciting to be desired. And feel that energy. But if you’re just talking about a once and done deal, odds are, it’s really not going to be good for her.

George Faller 12:51
I think most of the men that I’m working with, it’s not just about one and done and have a fun time and sex. I mean, that’s certainly fun to do. But it’s more about the no pressure, no strings, they’re getting out of relationships where, you know, they will work and hot and providing and grinding and doing all the stuff that you have to do in a family and they lost the connection, right, it became a transaction instead of somebody wanting them and they crave, you know that no strings and somebody just wants me they want to go out to dinner with me, they want to have a good time with me. It’s not about just the sex, it’s about the levels of engagement. They’re afraid of going back to these committed relationships where they get taken for granted, and they fall back into the same pot. And that didn’t work. So I think that’s the fear driving the lack of commitment with a lot of these men. Okay,

Laurie Watson 13:41
I’m trying to feel my way through that.

George Faller 13:45
Well, I hear what you’re saying about

Laurie Watson 13:47
it is feel that like avoidance, like, I mean, what I’m hearing from my girlfriends who are single, again, are good, LAURIE, let

George Faller 13:57
me just jump in, you’re gonna speak for the girlfriends, I’m going to speak for the my guy clients, we’ll see if we can make a bridge here.

Laurie Watson 14:07
stuff. It’s a tough culture up there. I think that not that many men really are interested in even interested in connection. I mean, maybe interested in being in having somebody desire them and being interested in them. But they’re not that interested. I’ve said this before. And I really think as I read this novel, and basically that the thesis was, what’s sexy after 40 is interest. You know, somebody being interested in you is very sexy. And George, I’ll just tell you, this is not that I’m interested in somebody being interested in me, but you know, I’m a sex therapist. And I talked to men just like at church and wherever, just on a casual basis, people I’m meeting parties Like that. Do you know how many times I’ve dropped the line? I’m a sex therapist. My two men who have asked maybe three times in my life? I mean, men don’t ask me. So what do you do? I mean, I’ve had hundreds of conversations, except for patients who know what I do. But hundreds of conversations with men over the last two decades that I’ve been officially a sex therapist, and I have dropped the line maybe three times. I mean, that I’m not asked. It’s like that level of interest. It feels like just, I mean, my experience of men is just so much more avoidant, they, they’ll talk about what they do, what their business is, how much money they make, you know, yada, yada, but very seldom is does the conversation ever say so? You know, what do you do? What’s important to you? It’s like, wow, and I got the greatest line ever.

George Faller 15:59
What is it?

Laurie Watson 16:00
I’m a sex therapist. That’s what I do

George Faller 16:03
that if you can find something interesting about that. Yeah. But I mean, my packet in

Laurie Watson 16:09
what I’m saying is, okay, so if, if my girlfriends are going on dates, and they’re listening to the man talk about himself, I mean, and it’s not coming in another direction, it’s not coming in a mutual direction. I mean, yeah, you’re, the guys want somebody who my experience sometimes is they want somebody who will find over them.

George Faller 16:31
I listen, it’s a setup on both sides. And I love what you’re saying, because that’s a great example, if you’re trying to feed somebody, that you got to have an early conversation to be able to say that in a non critical way to say I, you know, I really, I love when people are interested in me and ask questions like, that should be part of your profile that you’re looking for, right? Because if you are, you’re with a guy who’s not asking any questions about you, and just telling stories about him, that’s not gonna work. And unfortunately, a lot of men are afraid to ask him questions saying the wrong thing. So it’s just easier to talk about themselves. And yeah, and and partner is, you know, the woman is listening, and sounds really interested in which sounds great to the guy, and this is working perfectly, then take it, this is a fantastic date, they’re being responded to the lady shown interest in that world and being able to talk about work. I mean, this is, this is exactly what they’re looking for. Because in their past relationships, that kind of went away to being able to talk about what they’re doing, and it starts to feel taken for granted. So what a setup here, I think you’re really interested in based on talking about it, you’re just kind of going along, but feeling bad that I’m not asking you any questions. And yet, this could have been avoided by both of us being clear in our profiles on actually what turns us on.

Laurie Watson 17:45
There is research, though, on gender conversation, that women more typically take the sort of submissive role in terms of in a conversation that men do dominate the conversation and talk more about themselves. And don’t ask as many questions this is what’s problematic in organizations, too, right? Women are not speaking up because they’re not asked. And I think it happens in dating, you know, maybe he goes on and on. And she’s not asked, so she doesn’t speak up.

George Faller 18:20
Yeah. No, I think that’s, you know, that’s a lot of the work that’s so a lot of us are trying to do around gender equality and just kind of as as men recognizing some that privilege that, you know, I don’t hesitate to jump in, it doesn’t occur to me not to like it’s, but then right? If I’m interrupting my wife all the time, and I can’t feel great, like how do I start accepting, you know, responsibility, or even awareness of that. So how many men are going on a date thinking about how important it is to make space to show that interest? Like, that’s key to a safe relationship? Right. But if that’s not talked about, I mean, how is it going to work? Well,

Laurie Watson 19:03
it’s not going to work very well. But I think you’re right, there is something about being nervous. I don’t know what to say. I think in my case, particularly my age and, you know, the the last 20 years that I’ve been a sex therapist, I think there is something dicey about a man saying to a woman, so what do you do? Because what if she says, I stayed home with the children or, you know, somehow another replies to him in a way that implies anxiety so he could, you know, he could get in trouble. And I think staying home with the children, by the way, is a great role. Right and a great job, but and a heart. But yeah, so I mean, maybe that’s unfair, but I, I do despair, a little bit about the lack of connection and that’s what I hear in that profile. It’s like I don’t I don’t really want to get connected and and i’m not Saying that people don’t want to just have sex sometimes and that women don’t just want to have sex and if that’s what they’re signing up for, you know, go for it. But what I hear from clients afterwards, particularly women, is we had this great time, we did have this great conversation. We had good sex, and that was it. That was that the end of the story. So you can come back on break and explain that to us, George? A male perspective.

George Faller 20:30
No pressure,

Laurie Watson 20:31
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George Faller 22:45
I love what you’re saying Laurie, highlighting the importance of depth. What we’re doing on this podcast is really trying to bring awareness to what works there’s so much research out there and science around what makes for good relationships. And it is about depth in communication and safety. So, you know, when you talk about these men that seem to lack it, like what’s getting it away, right, and it’s the same fears that we’ve talked about around avoidance, like their attempts to engage are often told it’s not enough or wrong. So they want to just avoid the rejection, the messages that are failing, it’s a lot easier to keep in light. If you look at men who interact with each other, they’re joking around, you know, it’s nice and light. And they’re looking for that in their relationships, and they don’t recognize that that lightness, you know, it’s not last day. And it’s not fair to them, that there’s there’s more that they can get out of relationships. As far as those failures, those triggers getting kind of those places seen and responded to. So, you know, a lot of men I work with, say, have gotten divorce and they the process breaks down. And they really have never needed to be vulnerable. But now they become vulnerable because of all the pain and the hurt of the separation. These men when they wind up going back into the dating world, they they can have as many dates as they want, because they have a depth to them that is so incredibly attractive, right? And when their profiles, all they got to do is put in their profile, like I really want to have a deep emotional relationship. I want to be able to talk about sex with somebody I want to show interest, which is what you’re talking about, like imagine a profile that goes off the charts, because that’s Yeah, how do we encourage more men to see the value in that instead of settling for this kind of simple, no stress kind of relationships that are fun for a while, but at the end of the day, we need more than that to sustain us.

Laurie Watson 24:49
Yeah. The guy was talking about in the previous segment. One of the things he found was he I mean the man This was pre AP two I think I don’t know, maybe it was included that as well. But he said, You know, he would go out with four different women during the week, easily and have sex with most of them. And for him, he was like, like his decision making was, first of all, if I have a good connection with her, I want to make sure that the sex is good. And if I have a bad connection with her, and she wants to have sex, why would I not do that? And one of the things that, you know, he found over time was, he said, you know, all these women that I’ve had sex with, that was consensual, it was absolutely consensual, are calling me up in a week, and they’re screaming at me. Like, why don’t you call me, you know, we have this great day, we have this great tax, you know, and they’re angry, you know, and eventually, over time, you know, I saw him date for, I don’t know, quite a while and he’s like, you know, I don’t, I don’t want to go through that conversation. Like, I have to decide I have to eliminate, you know, if, if she’s not somebody that I’m really interested in, he said, even though I would be passing up sucks. It’s like that angry side, the fact that she’s hurting, over it is probably not worth it to me. You know that. It’s consensual, it’s absolutely consensual, but what he hadn’t accounted for was the feelings of the other person later.

George Faller 26:26
Yeah, he’s focusing on the physical, for not recognizing that emotional and spiritual components, that, you know, you’re so intimate and vulnerable with somebody, how could you not elicit these feelings of wanting more, we just, we just had a bonding moment with each other. And that’s where these great nights and great sex are, then all of a sudden, just the person disappears? You’re never gonna call him again? I mean, how could that not be hurtful? Right? So that would be my, my curiosity with this man would be like, what allows him to have those bonding moments and just let them go? They don’t stick? What’s going on with him that and listen, we’re not trying to beat up men here. We’re just trying to encourage them to go deeper. We like to talk about

Laurie Watson 27:13
the, the drama queens, and maybe how you avoid that too. And, and there are certainly drama kings as well. And a lot of the profile, say no drama. And I’m like, what does that mean? A but I mean, certainly, maybe a profile on a, on a female? How could you How could you discern, this is really problematic? I don’t know. You have

Laurie Watson 27:40
This is not easy. It’s not easy. I think first people should get to the meeting, as we know, is COVID. So maybe it’s a social distance, date, you know, social distancing date, you know, coffee or a drink outside or something where they at least meet because I don’t know that you can. Now if you have chemistry with somebody, even talking on the phone or talking by zoom, it’s hard.

George Faller 28:09
Well, it does force both sides to show interest. So I do like that part about it that before you meet, how do you develop that dating mindset that gets clear on what you’re looking for? and be a little bit more selfish with that in the in the starting of this, right? in these conversations, you’re talking over the phone or via text, like get clear around? That interest is something I would not settle if the person’s doesn’t seem to be asking questions. Let’s let’s get rid of that person.

Laurie Watson 28:42
Right. And also, I think in terms of the drama issue, I think we’re talking about the extreme pursuer, right, who is maybe more chaotic, in either party, but I think chaos is fairly easily spotted, and maybe I’m wrong. But, you know, a great package, but then they talk about different things that are might alert you to problems that indicate instability. I mean, I now I think what? I think that’s a problem, you know, job losses, addictions. Those are problematic things. You know, at least if you’re at a bar having a drink with somebody you might notice that they had or you know, that you wouldn’t on zoom or something.

George Faller 29:32
Yeah. Well, how how do people just be more authentic with themselves? I think a lot of the women that you’re talking about, are putting out this energy that they’re carefree and they’re not looking for serious relationships either. And, you know, they’re And meanwhile, they get really upset the next day when they don’t get a phone call. Because they are looking for something more. And what’s wrong with that? How why not be like I’m a you tell me I think a lot of women I work where they’re afraid that if they actually are truthful about how they do want a committed relationship, they’re gonna wind up having nobody interested. Right? Right. But at the end of the day, why would you want people interested in you that are not set up to really meet your needs?

Laurie Watson 30:18
I think as a pursuer, you know, there is this sense of, Okay, I’m going to do it right. This time, I’m not going to pressure. I’m going to try not to pressure somebody with being too much. I mean, the fear of the pursuer is always on too much. So if you stayed up front, you know, hey, I want commitment. It’s like, rather, you look at the cards, you’ve laid your cards out on the table, and it’s a problem.

George Faller 30:49
But so then you pretend that you’re kind of laid back. And it sends the illusion to the guy that this is fun. We’re just kind of getting to know each other, which is what they’re looking for, because they don’t want pressure. And then they don’t follow through because they think it’s no big deal. And then here it goes, the woman getting hurt again, because, you know, for good reason. She wanted more, and she’s not getting it.

Laurie Watson 31:13
This is such an important conversation. George, I hate that we’re running out of time. We’ve got to talk some more about this, because we could probably talk about this for days and days to help people make better decisions. I I hear you. What I’m hearing you say is Yeah, she’s at least got to be authentic. And maybe there are good reasons that are fear based that men are anxious about commitment, you know, they’re hurt from being taken advantage of, or having somebody stopping appreciated them. I would say that’s ubiquitous, right? I mean, both parties in a divorce feel like the other one doesn’t appreciate them anymore. And has taken advantage of them over time or something. Both people can feel that but so what how are we helping people here we happen? Are we depressing?

George Faller 32:06
Listen, I am all for don’t settle, you know, be shoot for the stars. What your heart wants is somebody who wants you and is committed and you know, put that out there into the universe. I think what’s good about online dating, is you can reach 1000s of people, you know, maybe only 1% can meet that need, but at least you have a chance, you know, online of getting that 1% right, which is I think that Yeah, I think that’s better than just hoping you know, you’re going to change people and they’re going to turn into who you want and that just sets us up for more and more disappointed. So if I did, that would be my advice. Don’t settle. Be true to yourself. Get clear on your profile on what you want and put it out there and, you know, celebrate.

Laurie Watson 32:48
I love that. Thanks for listening.

George Faller 32:52
Keep it hot and good luck.

Announcer 32:55
Call in your questions to the foreplay question voicemail, dial 833. My 4play that’s 833-4-PLAY and we’ll use the questions for our mailbag episodes. All content is for entertainment purposes only and should not be considered as a substitute for therapy by a licensed clinician or as medical advice from a doctor. This podcast is copyrighted by Foreplay Media.