html xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml" xml:lang="en" lang="en"> From the archives: Pop Quiz

Monday, July 17, 2006

Pop Quiz

I think of myself as socially mal-adept, not able to talk to a wide range of people, prone to say the wrong thing and only find that out when the table falls silent. The solution I've found is to stay very close to people like me. Ultimate players work well for that and if I find myself in an awkward silence, I can always recover by wondering aloud if there is a real difference between a lax four-person cup and a clam formation. That brings the conversation back every time. Talking to (and meeting) you guys has lulled me into thinking that I can just write what I want to strangers and trust them to figure out what I mean or ask me. So it is pretty much your fault that I chased off one of the bearded grad-student guys.

He sent an email saying he was was working on his dissertation or would have written me sooner. He included a picture of a regular looking man. I of course wrote to ask him what his dissertation was (so forward! so smooth!). He sent me:

My dear Megan,

A very good question. My research focuses on the link between economics, **** ******, and ******* ********. I have developed theories that address the ******** issue, and as a result have spent a lot of time in Sacramento recently. I have been using Sacramento as my "base" since last October.

I would prefer to explain my theories to you in person. You'll understand them better that way. Do you have a photo of yourself?

****
You can see how that would totally piss me off. I mean it. I really was angry. But, the new, openminded Megan doesn't rule people out - even for shit like that. I graciously gave him a chance to redeem himself.
Hey ****,

I would much rather hear your theories in person.

I'll send you a picture if it is important to you, but wonder a little at the implication that there is a threshold level of attractiveness for the people you are willing to meet and chat with about your research. I mean, even if I disappoint, how high can your opportunity costs be? If it is a great picture, does that make me more worth meeting than a cheerful personals ad does?

Coffee sometime? Or ice cream?
See? Nothing but sweetness. I didn't say "how high can your opportunity costs be, loser? When's the next time someone's going to want to talk to you about your research? Right, never. How bad can twenty minutes at a coffee shop, even with an ugly girl, be? Which I'm not, but you'll never know now." But for some unexplainable boy reason, he didn't write me back.

Alright, internets. You choose:
1. Megan, honey, you were:
A. Fucking ridiculous. Asking for a picture is a regular part of online dating. If you refused to send one, you must be hideously deformed (or a man!) and definitely not worth writing back.
B. Absurdly righteous. You know you have some nice pictures tucked away. Why not just send him the pretty one in the red sweater without the kid? What were you proving? What are the priorities here?
C. On the right track for the wrong reason. There's a condescending tone behind that email; he probably didn't write you back because 1) he isn't used to people fronting him and 2) you might be hideously deformed.
D. All of the above.
E. Other.

2. (True/False) He might still have potential, and we love us some economists. When you get back from the East Coast Tour and can meet for ice cream, you should send him a link to this post.

3. (True/False) Whatever. He's some sort of half-assed economist if he doesn't already know you from Marginal Revolution. We have standards around here. You can do better.

Bonus Extra Credit Question:
Why did his innocuous letter set me off as strongly as it did? (1 paragraph)

55 Comments:

Anonymous guy said...

1. C/E. Embarrassment? Personal experience is that I have to fight the urge to ask for a photo when emailing, since I know it reduces uncertainty (risk-aversion) and I am a visual creature, but I also know it is likely to cause (quite justifiable) ire. A lapse in such judgement might leave me unwilling to step up and take the punishment as dished. So the fronting explanation, but for a specific reason.

Bonus Q. Because it is indeed condescending? "A very good question" is possibly the most Prof/TA to undergrad thing I have read this month. Ditto "You'll understand them better that way".

But still:
2. True. If you can be generous and accept it as a lapse, then bear in mind that a lapse is an outlier in the distribution.

2:39 AM  
Blogger Femke B said...

How bad can twenty minutes at a coffee shop, even with a condescending guy, be?

3:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Meg, I can imagine how pissed off you would be: all those **** are infuriating ! But seriously, anyone who says he wants to discuss his dissertation with you *in person* is a bit odd, to say the least.

Why you're reacting in the way you are is a mystery. We imaginaries have little insight into real life.
But a bit surpising that a woman of your intelligence should really care about such a childish response.

Let it go girl and move on....

4:47 AM  
Blogger Bob V said...

Come on, are we really saying that being curious about what his date was going to look like makes him a superficial jerk? Keep in mind that he would be meeting you in the context of a *date* not someone that he could use to hear himself blab about his research to.

As a grad student myself with limited time on hand, I wouldn't want to chat with people I met on a dating site unless it was going to actually result in a relationship that might go somewhere. And yes, I'd want a picture to:
1. provide an image to go along with the person who I've been communicating with
2. see if the person lied in their profile
3. see if the person is someone I could see myself with.

I don't see the shame in any of that.

My vote:
1. B. You were a bit self-righteous. I wouldn't have written you back either. Too touchy--especially since we just met.
2. False. You can try it for grins though. You might get another post out of it!
3. False. An economist can be worthy of dating you without reading MR. That's just a bonus

Bonus question:
Damn. I don't know what goes on in Megan's head. To some degree it might be that your blog has taught you that it is ok to write with more intimacy and forcefulness than might be appropriate. You have an audience that knows you here and appreciates it. People you meet on the streets of the Interweb, however, should be treated politely.

4:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You just got a new piece of information about him: That at the moment he was probably interested in you only as a possible date (i.e. if you were ugly or otherwise romantically unsuitable, he probably wouldn't have made an effort to see if he wanted to get to know you as a friend).

Now the question becomes what you want to do with that information. My view is that while having a second way for things to work out is a positive, unless your opportunity cost is quite high, it's probably not worth excluding someone for not also looking for friends in a dating context.

Telnar

6:13 AM  
Blogger Bill said...

Everyone comes to potential relationships with certain criteria, you've chronicled a number of yours on this site. Just as you are not willing to meet every guy for coffee because they don't seem like a good fit for what you are looking for, this man is looking to get more information about whether or not you are a good fit for what he is looking for.

As such it seems to come down to the question, is one of your criteria a man who doesn't care about looks?

If so, then his innocous letter should have set you off some; if not then perhaps your last question is the key (although I doubt the efficacy of internet strangers trying to answer it:P)

6:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Another thought: One advantage of someone who cares less about looks (perhaps because he would also be happy to end up with a friend if he liked you but wasn't attracted to you) is that it greatly changes the likelihood of objectives that you may be trying to screen out (like those looking for a one night stand, some of whom are married). If you think that you might otherwise have trouble screening out those agendas, then reacting strongly to the request for a picture has advantages.

Telnar

6:25 AM  
Anonymous thelonious_nick said...

I've never used personals on the Internet, but I have bought comic books on Ebay. Stay with me here. I'm not a stickler for my comics being in mint condition. I buy beat up comics all the time. But even if there is an auction for an issue I'm looking for--even if it's that rare Spider-Man from 1963 that I've been wanting for years--I won't buy without a picture. How do I know the seller actually has it? How do I know the seller hasn't miswritten the title or issue number and I'm not bidding on what I think I'm bidding on? How do I know it's not missing its cover? Even a fuzzy, badly-lighted picture would be sufficient. I simply can't trust the other person if I don't have a picture of the goods.

Apply to Internet dating as appropriate.

7:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

theolonius: application: one should hope that one's date doesn't look like spiderman from 1963? Bidding, opprtunity cost? er..am I missing something here.Whatevere happened to that silly thing called romance?

7:36 AM  
Blogger Macneil said...

You have a unique wavelength and I'm sure it can be tough finding more people who match it. Somehow I can see you getting along really well with an East Coaster (say, New England or New York), though you have a West Coast vibe online they might not be used to.

1.E: The man had no tact. You're supposed to at least schmooze it up a little bit before asking for the picture. He could have also made it sound more natural "would you like to trade pictures?"

But asking for pictures is totally regular. The couple of times I met someone without trading pictures I got burned. The problem is that you form your own impression of what they look like before you meet, so even if the person is attractive, it won't match up the expectations and you might be disapointed until you realize "hey, wait, he/she is cute". And, in the mean time, they've already seen all the body language that tells otherwise, and they have already set up defenses. Or, obviously, you can be burned by not finding them attractive at all. My experience was one of each.

2. False. He's not the right guy at all. He seems like a bit of an ass.

3. False. While MR is a great blog (I even started the entry about it on the Wikipedia!) it's not on the radar of most economists or even economics grad students. It's more popular in nature and meant for a wider audience.

Bonus:
Because the guy's an ass. "A very good question" comes off as condescending, even; or at least dishonest, because, no, it's not a "very good question" it's a *natural* question. You don't see this exchange: "How are you?" "Good question! I'm great!"

Also, he says "you'll understand them better" when it seems he really should be saying "I can explain it better". Instead of putting the fault on his own lack of ability to explain his research (What? Without a good "elevator talk" how's he going to get a job?) he tries to put the fault on you.

His opening of "My dear" either makes him come off as a non-native speaker or again as a disingenuous ass.

But the worst? He doesn't talk about himself any more than two sentences worth; and he doesn't even ask a single question about you. It's worth putting in a couple questions just to get it rolling. You know, like "What are your view politically?" and "What do you think of Israel". (Just kidding, I mean more along the lines of biographical things, like what music are you recently into, have you traveled, et cetera...)

7:46 AM  
Blogger Continental Drifts said...

Megan

I thought your reply was very glib, sassy, and exhibited a lot of chutzpah.

His loss!

Some people find looks attractive and others find ideas attractive.

I suspect that you find ideas and thoughts attractive and so you were put-off when grad guy exhibited a preference toward looks (when you wanted him to exhibit a preference towards thoughts).

All the best!

8:29 AM  
Blogger Megan said...

Femke:

That was AWESOME!! Y'all come up with great stuff all the time, but that line was one of the very best. I'm still laughing.

Bill:

I think you've flushed out another criteria. We are supposed to be intellectuals here, more interested in a meeting of minds and humor. My looks should be bonus. (I KNOW that's not how it works. Y'all don't have to explain that men are visual.)

MacNeil:

(Upper case 'N' or not? I keep wondering.) Actually, I don't like guys to talk about themselves that much. I think my next entry will be on the types of responses I like.

8:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let's fill in the blanks here. I think he's researching the links between economics, ear nibbling, and sex on the first date. He's got some definite theories on the ear nibbling part and he'd like to "explain" them to you in person. Of course he's going to want to know what kind of ears he's getting into! Are you really that self conscious about your ears?

8:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

1. A
2. False
3. False
Bonus Question:
Because you like sabotaging yourself and were disillusioned when your fantasies re: grad students came into contact with the reality that the overwhelming majority are condescending self-centered assholes forcing you to reevaluate your criterion.

8:46 AM  
Blogger Macneil said...

Hi Megan: It's a lower case "n" but usually I'm just thankful enough that people realize it's my first name.

9:14 AM  
Blogger Ennis said...

I think you're being inconsistent here, Megan. You said in an earlier post that you didn't want to spend a lot of time emailing back and forth with somebody just to meet them and find out there is no chemistry, right? So why the pretense now that you want a meeting of the minds over coffee, especially when he responded to an explicit personals ad.

Turn it around. Let's say you were equally busy with your dissertation. You see an interesting prospect for a date. Instead of wasting time emailing back and forth, you skip straight to a meeting. Instead of wasting time on a meeting when you're so stressed out, you pre-screen.

Why isn't this eminently reasonable? It's not how I would do it, but honestly it sounds more consistent with the way you've described your MO.

Lastly, you asked how high his opportunity costs might be. I know a number of people who, when working on their dissertations, kept detailed time logs. A date involves getting prettied up, putting your work aside and out of your head, getting yourself into another headspace, going to the location, chatting for at least an hour, etc. It's not 20 minutes, it's a few hours of time, realistically. [Who would walk out of a date after 20 minutes?]

There actually is a non-trivial opportunity cost for such things when somebody is trying to dissertate.

Overly earnestly,

E

9:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

First of all, the guy was condescending and asking for the picture right after being condescending was enough to piss anyone off.

But I think he didn't respond, because your response seemed angry. That would worry me--that already in the first exchange I had with someone, there was an undercurrent of irration. I'm not saying that you shouldn't have angry, because that email would have irritated me no end. But if I was the dude in question, I would hesitate to take another step with someone who seemed already pissed.

Actually, if it were me, I would have responded again--it seems to me that your letter would have been a good jumping off point for some more emailing before meeting. And I am not-so-secretly jealous I am not in Sacramento to meet you...:)

Anyway, love you, love your blog.

9:52 AM  
Blogger capella said...

Because you are, by your own admission, very pretty, you have perhaps been sheltered from the shallow nature of many men. These people will not want to spend one unnecessary instant emailing you if they do not find you attractive, or for that matter compliant. You demonstrated to him that you were definitely not that latter and possibly not the former, so he fled.

As for the dissertation business, that is total garbage. If he is too busy to spend twenty minutes meeting a potential romantic partner, he is too busy to have a romantic partner.

Not all grad students are nice people, as I'm sure you know. Also, not all of them are thoughtful or interesting or intellectually-oriented. This guy is shallow, and he has no game. You have done well to rid yourself of him.

9:52 AM  
Anonymous thelonious_nick said...

Okay, my point about pictures and Ebay auctions is that this guy does not necessarily have to be shallow and solely interested in looks to want a picture. Pictures increase trust. Macneil was on the mark here--pictures are normal on the Internet. He might be into women with great minds and not care all that much about appearance, but he still wants a picture because he A) wants to make sure you look over 18, 2) wants to make sure you do/don't have piercings/facial tattoos, 3) wants to make sure you aren't a man, or 4) wants to make sure you don't closely resemble his sister.

Yes, we're all mature people who judge based on personality, but that doesn't change the fact that a person's physical appearance gives vital clues to that personality, especially when you meet that person for the first time.

9:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

theolnius...er..let's stay away from point 4) but on 3) I'm reminded of the last line from 'some like it hot' ; when the old guy finds out that his wife-to -be isn't a woman he says: "no-one's perfect!"

10:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

All the people sucking up to you on this seem ridiculous. Maybe this is an issue of the way men see things vs. the way women see things.

But, I think the guy was being very reasonable. I don't think he was being condescending saying you would understand his theories if he explained them in person. In general it is easier to get a point across in person.

It's completely ridiculous that you would be angry he asked for a picture. As far as I know, that's just part of meeting people online. And, let's say he doesn't find you attractive, wouldn't you rather not waste your time? Like others said, he was responding to a personals ad, so, he was looking for a potential date.

Maybe this is one of the reasons you've been single so long. If you're really so easily angered over something so trivial, well, you might be hard to get along with. No one wants to deal with someone that difficult. The request was normal, your reaction was wrong. If you were interested, even if you didn't like the request, you should have gotten over it, and just sent a picture.

Seriously, high maintenance == no fun.

10:15 AM  
Blogger Pandax said...

Perhaps I'm more socially in-ept than you because while it wasn't the most interesting e-mail, I thought it was okay.

1) People are people, so let's face it, visuals are 50% of the message. I don't believe in sending a blurry picture of an ethereal form, nor do I believe in sending a hottie picture of what I could look like after 3 hours at a salon. I choose a picture that I feel represents how I might look should you run into me on a weekend. I used to avoid pictures but now understand that it's a necessary part of Internet dating. If the guy doesn't write back, it's his loss. (Then again, I'm giving up on Internet dating.)

2) Forget it, move on... unless you're just fishing for the entertainment factor.

3) Perhaps he's been locked away for too long in the basement of some government building and has forgotten what real women are like and need.

10:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I had the same reaction to the e-mail as Megan. First, the whole "you'll understand them better" thing is a little arrogant (code for "don't you worry your pretty little head about that".) How the hell does he know what you'll understand? I suspect that this guy is actually full of shit -not working on a dissertation at all, or maybe ABD for about 5 years so he knows a little bit of the lingo and hopes you won't push him too far.

I don't object to people wanting to swap pictures, but since he asked about the picture before he asked about anything else (or, really, even told you anything about him) tells you something about this guy's priorities.

Trust your gut. You didn't miss anything here.

10:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I only understood 50% of your message pandax. "what real women need". PLEASE..no!!!! don't go there. even soil and equations is better than that :)

anonymous: "maybe this is one of the reasons...".
My , my...we're really turning on the charm here. Perhaps you should consider that the woman/man/thing with you would find you just a touch ridiculous given your histrionic response. three words which you can arrange to form a sentence: Pot . Kettle. Black.

10:34 AM  
Anonymous UnderwearNinja said...

I've never been good at quizzes based entirely on my opinion of a situation.

I find it interesting that you got angry over this, instead of just blowing him off.

As far as your response, I'm sure there is not a level of attractiveness for the people he's willing to talk about his research with, but he wasn't responding to an advertisement to share his research with a person.

I also won't say he's in the right, he did write a pretty shitty response. If I was his friend, I'd have helped him rewrite his letter.

"Megan,

My research focuses on the link between economics, .... blahblah.

I would love to sit down and talk about my work with you. I love what I do, and I hope my passion is infectious. I hope you're passionate about your field as well, as I'd love to know more about what you do.

If you're still interested for my mind and not my body, I'll be at the Naked Lounge from 7pm until close. I'll be the guy with the crap all over his table, and I'll look a lot like this (insert photograph here). Please, come by, find yourself a spot to sit among my mess, and we'll get our minds dirty with some economics."

or, alternate answer:

Megan.

I have got a crazy schedule this week, and I would love to spend a few hours talking about myself, but I'm not sure if I can find the time for an ugly girl. If you have a photo of yourself, and I think you're hot enough, maybe we can get together for something cheap, like coffee. Then, I'll talk about how good I am at **** and **** *****, then go back to your place, get naked and sweaty, I'll roll over and sleep, and in the morning you can make me some of that food you were talking about in your personal ad before I go back to becoming the best fucking economist linking ***** and **** ****** together.


Whatever, either way, I bet I could have won it for that guy.

10:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

with lines like: "and we'll get our minds dirty with some economics" i think not Ninja, I think not.

10:43 AM  
Blogger Dubin said...

I am not going to drop my wisdom right here on this comment page, because it will just get lost in the jumble of other comments. Suffice it to say that I don't agree with half of these opinions, but some of them are close to right-on... I will reserve the rest for in-person.

10:47 AM  
Blogger Megan said...

Ennis:
Good point about the demands on his time when he is dissertating. I was pretty casual about that.

Anonymouse after Ennis:
Thanks for saying you would still have replied. I tried to leave room in my email for that, despite the pissy tone.

Anonymouse two after T-N:
I actually was fine with the idea that it is easier to explain research in person. I've heard the WORST type of high maintenance is the kind who thinks s/he isn't. Could be me.

Anonymouse after PandaX:
I laughed at the implications about what I might understand. Had he started to explain his work, he might have been surprised at my questions.

Anonymouse before UnderwearNinja:
Thanks for supporting me, but I'm well comfortable with people critiquing me. I invited it. All y'all - make fun of me or point out my flaws all you want. Kindness only toward your fellow commenters, please.

UnderwearNinja:
Oh cruel world that you met your fiancee before me! Seriously, both letters were great, but the second one would probably have gotten him exactly that. Please, please, coach more men in their answers to me.

All anonymouses - want to give me initials or something to call you?

10:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't know, I think it's funnier with you trying to come up with a way to reference us individually.

10:59 AM  
Blogger Dave said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

11:14 AM  
Blogger Megan said...

But Dave, I liked your comment. I'm glad I got to see it before you pulled it.

11:17 AM  
Blogger Dave said...

Hey Megan,

While we haven't seen the first email, so I can't judge too well, I can't help but notice that this guy doesn't seem to be grooving to the playful vibe of your ad; rather, just the "smart grad student" stuff. I wonder if, if he'd been more playful, you might've forgone the comment about the picture. Maybe not, since you don't like to self-censor, but maybe you would've worded it differently, or regretted it more, or not felt as angry, or etc. My point is, maybe you don't really think you'll like this guy, and while your body and mind are saying, "Burn no bridges, I need a baby!", your gut is recognizing that that there IS a non-negligible cost to you going on a date that ends up nowhere.

Also, his language seems pretty formal - is he foreign? Or maybe he likes to sound smart. Or maybe he just doesn't notice or pay too much attention to social conventions (i.e. is less socially adept than you, but in a different way). If the latter, then I propose a variant on Guy's explanation, i.e. maybe he's self-conscious about his lack of social skills, and now his fears have been confirmed. Plus, from his perspective, odds are that you have a bias against him now, so his chances of being rejected are higher (as you're obviously aware, the pissed-off words vastly outnumbered the "Let's get together" words, so the overall weight of the message ends up on the pissed-off side). Plus, there's now an increased expectation of anxiety for him on the date, making the prospect of the date rather daunting, especially if he has some social anxiety to begin with. All of this adds up to an increase in the (perhaps already high because of scedule and/or anxiety) expected cost and a decrease in the expected benefit of a date with you.

Also, you interpeted his request as, "Before we can address the smarts, we must address the looks." Possibly accurate, but not necessarily. As you know, a reader can interpret written words much differently than the writer intended (i.e. the variety of comments here). For example, maybe he was thinking about intellectual stuff, then it occurred to him at the end, "Also, I wonder what she looks like." To me, that seems different in an important way from your interpretation. To be honest, your visceral reaction was a little surprising to me as I read it (though nowhere near ridiculous).

Even if there's no ambiguity in the writing itself, he was thinking of things a certain way and imagining you'd interpret them a certain way, not knowing the experiences you've had that would mold your brain's interpretation. Speaking of your experiences, maybe you've had some experience with guys being into you for your looks (which is nice), but not appreciating your intellihumotional parts (which would be nicer). Maybe it struck a painful nerve from some particular experience(s). But, even if not, your experiences up to now still frame his words differently than his experiences frame them. For example, maybe this is his first lesson that some people might feel this way about being asked for a picture (more likely if he's not very socially attentive). So, maybe what seems relatively ok to you seems shocking to him.

I'd say, if (and only if) you still feel pretty convinced that there's more than a miniscule chance you'll like this guy, send him the link. If he's not scared away by our psychoanalyses of him, that seems the best way to get the hook back in his face.

Best,
Dave

11:18 AM  
Blogger Dave said...

You're a faster reader than I'm an editor. Just needed a little copy editing.

11:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Trust your instincts - it is a pretty benign email, and it DID set you off - you sensed something very insincere.

Usually, the "type" you are looking for is all wrong anyway, and he fit it too closely - probably a liar. But try to be more open to photos as a part of online dating.

-Imaginary Anonymouse Dithers

12:57 PM  
Anonymous nuclearpoet said...

I looked at the emails in question, and it seems to me that the request for a photo did come rather abruptly. If I were that guy, personally, I would probably wait until after the details of a rendezvous were established prior to requesting a picture. At that point, it's simply a logical issue (how to know which femme fatale you are).

I honestly can't say that I can divine some specific intent from the email alone, since there is always a plethora of reasons for different people saying the things that they do. I think that what is probably more relevant is your own personal response to the email. For what it's worth, I doubt that you have reason to be concerned about scaring away one person, there are probably better options out there. Even if this particular person was a good prospect and simply did not have much time on his hands or a very quick weed-out process for possible mates, both suggested motives behind his actions may not say the most desirable things about his availability to have meaningful conversations with you or his potentially exhaustive list of criteria. Either way, you responded in the way you did, and if the dynamic isn't working between you and him. Given that, there's not much hope for anything significant.

In response to what Dave said about the possibility of him being a foreigner because his language usage seems somewhat formal, I'd like to mention that formal language usage does not necessarily connote non-native language usage. For example, most people have told me that I use English somewhat more formally than most people. One lady even asked me why I said she was "quite good-looking" rather than saying, "dang, girl, you're fine!"... the underlying reason is very simple-- I learned and practiced English mainly by reading books. That doesn't mean that I'm a foreigner, it just means that I wasn't the most social kid growing up, and that I'm deaf (hence I never had the opportunity to pick up lay usage by proxy). :-) Of course, I highly doubt that is the case here, but...

2:10 PM  
Blogger Dubin said...

Ok, fine. I'm back and I read them again, and I think I feel secure in allying myself with Macneil. I think he's got the gist. In a nutshell - the liklihood that this dude is Bearded Grad Student is pretty much nil. He's probably an ass, based on my ass-dar, and I'm not sucking up to you by saying so. It's ok to use ass-dar in the absence of other data!

But photos on the internet aren't a bad idea on both sides. Try this: take a benign photo of yourself that doesn't reveal too much, maybe sort of at a distance, so that people can see you don't have two heads. Photoshop out your nephew. Post this photo on some server and include a link to it in your craigslist ads. That way, you will just assume people looked at it already, and it will even put you MORE at ease because this whole stupid issue won't come up! If you are using a non-craigslist dating thing, I'm surprised people email you at all no matter how stellar your text is, given the common way of filtering ads (i.e. only show ads with a photo).

2:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You're all still being way too hard on this guy. Ok, we all read this blog, so you feel like you should be loyal to Megan, and she's angry at the guy. But, seriously, the conclusions you're drawing on this guy from a 7 sentence e-mail are a bit much.

The guy asked for a photo, big deal? Being totally pissed off is over reaction to the request.

And, while Megan's response doesn't really show the pissed off thing, it would still make one question, "what's wrong with her that she won't send a photo?"

Isn't it possible that the guy is nervous that maybe he's getting screwed with? How is he to know the whole thing isn't part of some Frat boy's practical joke?

It's hard to buy the, he's an ass thing, and his loss thing, when, for all we know, he was exactly what she's looking for.

I also notice, Megan, you don't say how long ago he wrote. Maybe he's just been busy.

The only thing I can actually see is, in my opinion anyway, Megan is over reacting to a very simple, normal request.

3:31 PM  
Blogger Zubon said...

Perhaps random:
Doesn't exchanging photos help you find one another in the coffee shop? Maybe people just use cell phones and landmarks.

4:02 PM  
Anonymous dan said...

I'm not sure I "get" this quiz.

It sounds like you are soliciting our approval or disapproval for your dating techniques.

A picture request wouldn't bother me, so I'd send it. This would lead to a date with someone whose request didn't bother me.

Your refusal to send a picture will prevent you from going on a date with someone who managed to turn you off in 100 words or less.

This "responding as yourself" system seems to work pretty well.

Are you asking us to approve of your personal turn-ons or turn-offs?

As in:

1 boyfriend point per inch vertical leap
ultimate player: +7 points
beard: +6 points
Knows what a Nash Equilibrium is: +3 points
has penis: +10 points
asks for pictures: -4 points
you can beat them up: +8

Date anyone who has more than 25 points total

There's just no accounting for tastes.

If his request was a turn off, there's not much more for us blog-readers to say.

4:33 PM  
Blogger Dubin said...

Ooh, snap!

Guy's still an ass, though. I can just tell by the way he smells.

4:49 PM  
Blogger capella said...

I think the problem with the email is not that it asked for a photo. For better or worse, it's normal to exchange photos, either before meeting so as to establish recognition, or as part of an extended getting-to-know-you email exchange. However, the tone of this email did not convey either of those motives; it seemed, for lack of a better term, slimy.

It is theoretically possible that this is a perfectly nice guy who is just very bad at not seeming slimy. But, drawing on my extensive experience in the online-dating arena, guys who seem slimy via email frequently seem slimy in person, and if they are in fact nice it is on a level not available to women they date.

4:53 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

OK. I was also surprised that his email made me mad. I think of myself as slow to anger. My real reactions (which I agree were an overreaction) probably were:

Mister, the point of this is to arrange a meeting soon. You can't wait a day or two to find out what I look like? Really, what do you have to lose, especially considering the ad was funny? Freakin' trust what little you know of me enough to meet for coffee.

His emphasis on looks made me mad. Not because I'm bitter from being only appreciated for being pretty, but because my assessment of my looks changes with my weight. (NO reassurance from y'all. I'm not fishing.) Since I know my looks will change, I value them as little when they're up as I do when they're down. Even if a good picture earns me a date, I hate that whole criteria.

********
I'm totally neutral about dating another Ultimate player and have no real preference about beards. It was just a descriptor for the type. And all of them would have +8 points. Might as well drop that metric.

5:03 PM  
Blogger Macneil said...

"I think I feel secure in allying myself with Macneil"

At last, the Dubin/Macneil Alliance! I will go to work immediately on Members Only jackets with our Alliance's logo.

I am also in the process of securing the rights to David Pomeranz's "Nothing's Gonna Stop Me Now" (the theme from "Perfect Stangers") to use as our battle cry... On the wings of my dream!

5:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your looks can't change that significantly over the course of a year on average.

I mean, unless you're gaining and losing 40 pounds on some kind of weird yearly schedule it's not going to matter that much.

Besides, the point might not be to eliminate everyone but the super models. It might just be to make sure you're not hideous, and look like a normal, real person.

Anyway, hate the criterion or not, it's likely there to stay. Even if he didn't ask for a photo up front, your looks would have been assessed eventually.

Justin

5:34 PM  
Anonymous dan said...

I'll let it go after this question, but what fraction of American males get the +8? Just intrigued.

The scale wasn't to suggest we know your tastes. It was to suggest we don't know your tastes. Next time I'll switch "bearded" to "beardy type +6."

But Jesus is going to pissed if he just lost 6 points, because I saw on a bumper sticker that he loves you.

Fidel Castro still makes the cut though, right?

8:50 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

I feel like it would be a fair fight against anyone shorter than 6'2" and lighter than 200lbs. Bigger than that and out of shape or clumsy means I don't worry about them. I don't worry about nice men. Things that could put someone back in the danger category are: bigger than me, unusually good shape and coordinated, long reach, crazy look in his or her eyes.

Also, I realized while talking to Sean about this that I absolutely never worry in the least about other martial artists. Anyone equally skilled could match or better me in a fight, but never ever would.

9:01 PM  
Blogger srchngformystry said...

it set you off because while you are pleasing to the eye, you are alos a refreshingly intelligent woman.

why would he need a damned picture? because men are visual. ive been told this many times when ive refused to send a photo of myself.

the funny thing is, though, that i dont have pictures of me because i am usually on the other side of the camera.

try him again, and this time, if you are so inclined, send a damned picture.

11:26 PM  
Anonymous Brian said...

If you're not average looking or better (by his standards) he doesn't want to look at you. If he's not engaged in work that demonstrates intelligence and energy you don't want to talk to him. You both have standards so in my opinion you over-reacted to his request for a picture.

6:35 AM  
Anonymous Martin said...

Megan,as a man,I readily admit that men are way too hung up on visuals.It is a sensible approach to remain open-minded however,since he may have many positives this negative.Indeed,i would argue that you should not give it too much weight.It is within the bounds of the "reasonable!"

10:27 PM  
Anonymous Martin said...

Megan,as a man,I readily admit that men are way too hung up on visuals.It is a sensible approach to remain open-minded however,since he may have many positives that outweigh this negative.Indeed,i would argue that you should not give it too much weight.It is within the bounds of the "reasonable!"

10:29 PM  
Blogger Dubin said...

"...while you are pleasing to the eye, you are also a refreshingly intelligent woman."

Just out of curiosity, why does no one ever describe men this way? No one would say, "Oh yes, he's good-looking, but the thing is he's also quite bright, it's refreshing!"

This is an observation I've made over time, and it irks me. I sort of hate the words "bright" or "refreshingly intelligent" or even "quite talented" when applied in certain ways to women, because of course the implication is that it's unusual.

Who gets my drift, here?

7:46 AM  
Blogger Macneil said...

Dubin said: "This is an observation I've made over time, and it irks me. I sort of hate the words "bright" or "refreshingly intelligent" or even "quite talented" when applied in certain ways to women, because of course the implication is that it's unusual."

I agree that that would be irksome. It's kind of like hearing "he's got soul, for a white boy."

In this case, I think it's more a statement about behavior than about brains. For example, many smart women find that it's easier socially to hide their intelligence. Thus, when a man might make the comment "refreshingly intelligent" he could just as well be really implying "I'm glad she's both smart and not caught up in that social expectations game."

3:30 PM  
Blogger Dubin said...

Verrrry interesting. That's food for thought.

7:02 PM  
Anonymous Erik said...

I agree with a few others that you guys are being too hard on he guy. It sounds to me like he's a little socially mal-adept as well (Common among the bearded grad student type I imagine). He's trying too hard to be charming, and most likely didn't realize that his email could be read in a condescending tone.

People have already said many good reasons for him to ask for a picture that don't make him an ass.

If I was somewhat lacking in social skills, and considered me email, and request to be reasonable, and got your reply, I would also not reply. Partially because in my experience women who are very unattractive and in denial of that fact often respond in exactly that way, and I want to avoid that type for many reasons.

Also, even if you are gorgeous, you seem to have a bit of an attitude, and that prospect is probably socially intimidating.

8:50 PM  
Anonymous ptm said...

"[Is there] a real difference between a lax four-person cup and a clam formation"?

Duh. Who you yell at if it gets busted.

With my small amount of first- and second-hand knowledge of internet dating, his behavior doesn't seem unusual. Whether it's appropriate isn't clear to me as a normative judgement would depend on stable social norms, and I don't know that those exist yet.

7:37 PM  

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