For this article I used the descriptions of women who have shared their online dating experiences with me to describe 11 types of (heterosexual) men who are drawn to Internet dating. I realize, as do you, that there are infinite varieties of men who engage in online dating for infinite reasons. No many more types could be included on this list, and some men may fit into many categories. Still, in the world of online dating, some types seem more prevalent than others. Here is the collected consensus of 11 categories of men you might encounter when dating online:
1. Just Looking
He fantasizes about a beautiful love life or sex life but has too much anxiety to actually let any potential connection leave his protective computer screen. He’s just not ready to involve himself in real-time dating with people he may connect with online. There are a multitude of reasons why this happens, but at the core, he is not ready or able to embark in a substantive relationship, regardless of what his profile says. Rather, he moves from one online-created connection to the next, or back and forth between many, and barely if ever have to leave the house. Internet dating enables him not to engage in a meaningful way. When he needs connection or the fantasy of a relationship, he can effectively “order out” for a date. By avoiding actual human contact he isn’t forced to push his boundaries or risk challenging the perfection of his fantasy women with the experience of a real life woman. For many reasons, it is difficult for him to make room for something real.
2. Wide-Eyed but Distractable
This primarily 20 to mid 30's guy is excited about the possibility of expanding his horizons and meeting new people. He is bold, tolerant, open, and ready to explore what online dating has to offer. Because Internet dating has been a part of his generational experience, he is more comfortable with it as a normal mode of communication and meeting people, and is generally more open to the process and experience. Therefore, when he connects and makes plans online, he likely follows through, sometimes sooner, sometimes later. Either way, unlike the first type listed, he has probably had more positive than negative dating experiences overall, so he may be open right away or over time to a committed, authentic relationship. However, given his age and other potential factors such as how easily distracted he is, once he discovers just how many choices he has online, he may become less interested in committing and more interested in continuing to look around. Nonetheless, if you’re looking for a fun couple of months, look no further. And, it is possible it could expand even further.
He believes that older women “know what they want.” He is typically 20 to mid 30's and he wants them, often because he believes that an older woman has much to teach him sexually, and this prospect excites him. He realizes that the easiest way to access older women is online. He is typically at the age of sexual discovery and imagines that older women are not only more experienced and enticing, but more available as well. This can be a difficult and provocative situation for all parties involved, so proceed with caution. Most assumptions about how you and he will conduct your relationship are not as straight-forward and as they may initially seem.
4. Trying to Get Over The Ex
He is looking to avoid being alone after a heart-wrenching breakup. Sometimes he will admit to the women he finds online that he is using Internet dating as a diversion, and sometimes he won’t. However, with patience and fortitude there may be the possibility that a substantive relationship can develop. After all, he has experienced love before, which is why he’s so heartbroken now, and why you encountered him online. However, it is equally possible for him to remain non-committal when he is still hung up on someone else, so proceed with caution. Either way, these scenarios may take a long time to play out.
5. Already Taken
He wants to know what else is out there, but won’t necessarily act on it. Or maybe he will. Either way, he is not planning to leave his current relationship, but feels like he is missing out on something. Or perhaps something pivotal is missing in his relationship, and he wants to be reminded or reassured there is life beyond his current confines. Regardless, this is not a category of men that can offer another woman a serious, consistent relationship. Internet dating is an outlet for him and he is not planning to leave his partner anytime soon, if ever.
6. Lost in Fantasy
How many profiles do you see that list things like amazing communication, amazing sex, must be in perfect shape as relationship must-haves? And how many of these criteria do you think are the direct result of the relationship he just came from? More than finding a partner who will meet all his hopes and dreams, he wants everything he has longed for but couldn’t have in previous relationships. (This category may also include the desire to act out sexual fantasies and fetishes that couldn’t previously be realized). Interestingly, fantasy can be so powerful for him that when reality fails to compete, he finds ways to fade away. However, it may be possible for him to shift from fantasy to reality now or over time as he realizes he has to make some concessions if he wants to have a real partner.
7. Lies About Age
He is typically older, in his 50s, 60s, or even 70s, and is set on meeting and dating women significantly younger than he is, so he shaves years off his life in his profile, even in his "current" online pictures. He may be very well meaning, and may truly believe that once he meets these young women they will be so drawn to him that the deception won’t matter, and the age difference will be rendered irrelevant. However, starting a relationship with a lie—now matter how “harmless” it may seem to him—takes away from the woman’s ability to use her own discretion and decision-making power and therefore erodes trust. When she inevitably finds out, she typically finds the age difference and the lie far more jarring than he had anticipated. The longer he continues the lie, the worse the discovery is. Relationships that start by duping a partner don't end well.
8. Sooo Busy
This is the former Ivy League rower, now a neurosurgeon who has chosen the Internet to meet women who are likely on their own tight timelines. He expects to meet other busy people and have a romance that is incredibly hot and connected...for the 30 minutes every week that work for him. While he may be quite enticing because of how active and on top of his career he is, he has difficulty converting online dating into a substantive experience. Often, his routines are crucial to him so he may fight with himself to make room in his life for a partner. If his tight schedule fits your own timeline or you’re okay squeezing the relationship into small chunks, that’s great (and it does have the possibility to evolve). But be aware of how often he uses being too busy to avoid real-world connections, because it can be easy to get caught up and strung along in this situation. For many of these men, work, routines or even children may offset any sense of urgency or commitment to engage in the messy process of real life dating.
9. Finally Successful With the Girls
Earlier in life he may have been intimidated by girls, but he has always had a big brain and lots of ambition. Despite his interest in girls when he was younger, it rarely if ever worked out. Sure enough later in life, his ambition came to fruition—he became successful and got used to getting what he wants. He is typically in his late 30s through early 50s and may be divorced or single. Either way, he has come to realize that—to his surprise—he can now have most women he sets his sites on, and he hasn’t gotten over his good luck. Now he feels like a kid in a candy store. This may be the man that, just as online communication begins, asks if you’re naked. Since he is used to getting things done quickly and directly in his professional life now, and getting the girl now comes much more easily to him, he may not understand why he should have to jump through the hoops of flirtation, courtship, and romance to achieve what he might view as a mutually agreed upon conquest situation. Make sure for yourself, to the best of your ability, that you know what you want moving forward, as he may not be ready to commit any time soon, if ever.
He dislikes women and looks for opportunities to shame or control them, typically as a response to painful previous experiences in his own life, or because his wiring is totally awry. Beware: he is not easily detectable at times. He is not in control of himself and therefore looks to control others through any method he can. If you come across him, do your best to get him banned, so you and other women don't have to continue being bothered by him.
11. Authentic Loving Partner
He is looking for his partner in love and in life. Maybe sincerity comes with a little baggage but so what? He is realistic in his expectations and is serious about being in a relationship. He is genuine and is not typically sidetracked by the number of choices available to him, once he has found you. The question now is are you ready? Before starting a relationship with him, please consider your own motivations for online dating.
It can be a frustrating, even painful process to encounter many of these types of online daters. But keep in mind these men may have become jaded and wary, too, due to their own challenging online dating experiences. It’s much easier to be flaky and noncommittal online—for both you and for your dates—and that is in part why these categories exist in the first place. Without an in-person connection, the person on the other screen doesn’t seem “real” and that can enable both men and women to use online dating to gratify their own needs without regard for the person they have attracted. However, despite these categories and the challenges of online dating, if you continue to act with authentic reciprocity it’s more likely you’ll find the same in return.