Ask Philip: Trying to be Miss Right, not Miss Right Now

Dear Philip:

I am a single woman in my 40’s. I haven’t lived in the area long and don’t know many people, so I have been using What I have found is that most of the men who respond to my profile on this site and sites like it are only looking for hook-ups. It is really depressing how many times I have corresponded with someone who seemed very nice, but within a few messages started to get very sexual. Even when I try to ignore the comments and steer the conversation back to an appropriate place, they don’t get the hint.

How do I let someone I’m interested in know that I find that kind of communication inappropriate?

Tired of the Game


Dear Tired,

Here’s the short version: you don’t bother letting them know, because you immediately stop being interested in them, and you move on.

Here’s the long version: oh, Tired, I feel for you. You believe — because you’re an optimist — that if you just use a little reason, you can curb the piggishness of the men you’ve been finding through online dating and show them that you’re a real person, worthy of an adult relationship. That you’re Miss Right. The reality, though, is that the majority of men on — and eHarmony, and other similar sites — are looking for Miss Right Now. Anecdotal evidence suggests that they have plenty of success.

If anyone wants confirmation of the old axiom that women use sex to get love and men use love to get sex, then about 20 minutes on an internet-based dating service should do the trick. The web has taken dating from something that’s traditionally social – that is, our friends fix us up, and we conduct ourselves with the understanding that our friends are paying attention — to something that’s “social” only in the smugly-modern sense of the word: we look for mates in a virtual room full of strangers, who often use the cloak of anonymity to satisfy their basest impulses.

Your problem is that you’re refusing to see honesty: people will often tell you exactly who they are, if you’ll let them. The guys that get sexual in their communication with women they’ve never met? They’re not looking for relationships. They’re telling you as much. So listen. Stop trying to give random strangers the benefit of the doubt, and instead, be grateful that they’ve accurately communicated their personalities to you before you’ve gone to the trouble of meeting them for a drink.

In fact, Tired, I’ve got a homework assignment for you. For at least the next month, practice zero tolerance when you use an internet dating site. The moment someone you haven’t met goes past mildly flirtatious and becomes openly sexual, tell ‘em, “Thanks, anyway,” and move on. If you’re truly tired of the game, then change the rules to your advantage. Online dating, after all, is a numbers game — and by refusing to waste time in the vain attempt to get piggish men to behave, you’ll have more time to sift through and find the guys — and they’re out there — who know how to talk to a lady.

Platonically yours,


Dear Philip:

Our daughter’s friend is a classmate whose parents are known for their nasty, often litigious fights with neighbors. We don’t want to have anything to do with that family, but our daughter thinks we’re being unfair to a child who hasn’t done anything wrong. Who’s right?


 Dear Nervous:

With apologies to Renée Zellweger, you had me at “litigious.” You’re both right: you should probably stay away from that family, and that’s unfair to your daughter’s friend. The unfairness, however, isn’t of your making. Explain to your daughter that some people involve the courts in every dispute, which can be agonizing and expensive. Tell her that you simply can’t afford the risk of having anything happen to her friend in your house, or of something happening to her at her friend’s house. Then tell her how sad the situation makes you feel.

Hoping that’s settled.
(out of court),


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