Don't Fall Down The "What Are You Looking For?" Rabbit Hole



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After watching your video about expectation violations, I realized I feel that way about having to choose what I am looking for on dating apps and especially shutdown and cringe when a new match asks what I’m looking for and they typically do within a few minutes.


I know the app portion is because the options are usually “something casual”, which concerns me that potential matches will consider me immediately dtf, and “a relationship”, which concerns me that the status will intimidate potential partners because it makes me come across as immediately expecting commitment. Is this status and question an expectation violation?


As a woman, is my reaction to it typical? What can I say in response to someone asking so quickly? Thank you for your time and help. I have ADHD and am in the autistic spectrum so I struggle when the apps don’t allow for more specific or less restricting statuses in this area.


Your reaction is totally normal.


Is this status and question an expectation violation?


A reliable way to determine if a question could be considered an expectancy violation is to identify just how expected/socially appropriate that question might be to most people. If you did a random survey of a sample of 1000 dating app users, I suspect most would say that “What are you looking for?” is an expected question. Therefore, being asked “What are you looking for?” by someone you matched with on a dating app probably isn’t an expectancy violation.


All that said, when a straight man asks a woman who dates men what she’s looking for on the app, rarely is it ever an indication he’s looking for something substantive or beyond casual.


The question is being asked to open the door to the conversation. The man asks the question so that the woman will ask him in return. That way, he doesn’t have to lead with his intentions, thereby risking he’ll be perceived as boorish or crass.


At this point, “something casual” is widely interpreted as “looking for no-strings sex.” Maybe they want that sex consistently with one person. Maybe they don’t. Either way, “something casual” is for people who either just want sex or don’t know what they want. Both are acceptable and valid as long as they don’t mislead someone or waste their time.

If someone interprets “looking for a relationship” as you being in a rush to lock it down, that’s about their issues with intimacy and commitment. Not yours. In fact, it’s a good thing if they get scared off because fuck ‘em, who wants to deal with someone constantly projecting their issues onto them?


The word “relationship” can be interpreted in a myriad of ways. What most of those interpretations have in common is that they mean “not casual.” Selecting “relationship” implies you’re seeking an emotional connection.


I would advise against checking off “something casual” as it will attract the creeps and filter you out of searches done by men looking for more than a hook-up.

Going forward, don’t fall into the “What Are You Looking For?” trap. Cut them off at the pass by telling them what your intentions are. Exchange a couple of pleasant messages then put it out there.


“Just want to make sure we’re on the same page. I’m dating to eventually find a long-term relationship.”


Then wait. If they respond with something vague or brief like “Same” or “Me too” or something schmaltzy like “I’m looking for my forever girl” lower your expectations. You want a response that requires further clarification.


Remember - Statements Only.

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