Dear Em & Lo: My Boyfriend Uses Dating Sites for “Conversation”

photo via flickr

Dear Em & Lo

I’m in a different city from my boyfriend of 3+ years, studying for a degree. On my last visit home I discovered he has profiles on several dating websites, and his inbox is full of messages with attractive strangers. I confronted him about it twice, and both times he assured me he’s never met any of these women and he’s just in it to meet people and start conversations. He also promised to delete his accounts, but he hasn’t.

I’m very conflicted about what to do. My head tells me his actions are an obvious sign he’s not that into me and our not-so-long-distance relationship isn’t working out. But my heart still believes him when he swears I’m the only one he wants to be with. He’s a smart, sweet, sensitive and caring guy, but he does have some growing up to do.

Am I blowing this out of proportion? What can I say to him that will convince him this behavior hurts me? Or is it time for me to say goodbye?

— Sucker (Punched)

Dear Sucker (Punched),

We guess we’ll have to take you at your word that this dude is a “smart, sweet, sensitive and caring guy,” because we fail to see any evidence of this in your letter. You’ve told him this upsets you, he’s promised to stop, and yet he continues to do it, thereby doubling the wrong — using dating sites behind your back and lying about it. (Not to mention the fact that we really find it hard to believe anyone joins an online dating site for the “conversation.” That’s like reading Penthouse for the articles.)

How about we give you a list, to pass onto your boyfriend, of ten appropriate ways for someone in a serious relationship to “meet people and start conversations”:

1. Attending Happy Hour drinks with co-workers.

2. Facebooking with old classmates, second cousins, etc.

3. Getting involved in Twitter (we’re pretty sure there’s a hashtag for whatever he’s going through).

4. Joining a gym.

5. Volunteering at the local soup kitchen or old people’s home.

6. Taking a cooking/tennis/juggling (etc.) class.

7. Becoming a regular commenter on a website that interests him.

8. Hosting a potluck dinner party and/or kegger.

9. Starting a regular poker night.

10. Visiting you and meeting all of your fascinating friends.

Perhaps he didn’t understand quite how upset you were the first time. We suggest you try one more time to make your thoughts crystal clear (feel free to print out the above list for him), and if he still doesn’t stop it, then tell him to go find a new girlfriend on one of those dating sites he’s so attached to.

— Em & Lo




  1. Oh come on, ladies. These guys of yours are either cheating or trying to cheat.

    Guys who “just want conversation” do any of the things Em & Lo suggested.

    “Starting conversations” is one of the lamer excuses I’ve ever heard when confronted with this, too. I might – MIGHT – give him the benefit of the doubt if he copped to cybering, like, “baby, I never meet these women! It just excites me to chat with them! It’s like watching porn for me – pure whack-off material.”

    But “conversation?” Seriously, of all the places to go for a “conversation.” That’s like saying, “I went to a speed dating event because I just wanted to have a drink!”

    Your BF is “gas lighting” you, which means he’s trying to persuade you that you’re just over-reacting/nuts/imagining things. Trying to make you doubt your own perception and instincts. It’s the shit-head’s version of the Jedi mind trick. And it’s working on you because you want it to. He’s exploiting the fact that a big part of you wants to believe in him.

    I suggest you dump him and start, you know, having “conversations” of your own.

  2. Oh my God. I have been going through the exact same thing. I don’t have any advice for you because I’m stuck too. I don’t really thinking he’s cheating in real life but the online thing is so not acceptable. Such a mess.

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