The Power of Goodbye: You've Been Blocked
By: The Ethical Slut
Sometimes even the best of us get the boot.
It's another Monday morning and you're waking up to the buzz of your alarm and the barrage of notifications on your phone. You start thinking about the sweet person you chatted with over the weekend and how maybe, today, you'll actually meet up. Thinking back to the rather arousing album of photos they sent you the prior evening, you open up one of the "dating" apps you have and head to your messages. You start to scroll. Your conversation is gone. Their profile, missing.
It was then that you realized...
I just got blocked.
How does it feel to be on the receiving end of being blocked? You thought you were a top but this has you feeling like a bottom. What happened in less than 24 hours (hell, 12 hours) that made this person cut you off?
This is a story about navigating the rough waters of dating apps, specifically the "gay" app, Grindr. I use the term gay loosely as Grindr has opened it's options to be more queer expansive, though the majority of users are still men who are actively seeking other men. Grindr has been around since 2009 and is the largest and most popular "gay" dating app. I surveyed a few users, and included my own input in this piece, as I have actively been using the app since its debut. While our experiences are based off this app, many of these still apply to other demographics and dating apps.
In reality, there are only a few options why someone might get blocked after having a decent connection and conversation – but it's best not to get too caught up in any of them considering that unless you were to confront the person in real life, you'll never really know.
Except you do. They got nervous. At least to some degree. It's a pretty quintessential reason to block another person when chatting. The person you're speaking to is only giving you the version of themselves they want to show you, so it's possible (and highly likely) that they have a world of other things happening in their lives. There's a lot of scenarios, but here are a few that might make sense:
The commitment to meet felt too fast. It's one thing to talk about it, but to do it is a whole other game. Sometimes it's easier talking online. You have time to think about what you're going to say, and erase some things you don't.
Maybe they're not out. Being DL (down-low) or "in the closet" is still a chosen profession when it comes to queer dating apps. The amount of men on Grindr who are in monogamous heterosexual relationships are not few and far between. They're there, and usually they're pretty up front about it. But even then, one could lie and say they're not. You never really know.
It's also quite possible you two know each other. In a small town of 200K, it's possible. Highly possible. And probably only three degrees of separation between you two, if not less. If you've been chatting with someone who's not into showing face, it could be because they're embarrassed and know you.
Maybe they're just not that into you anymore. And don't take it personally, by any means. If the conversation felt like it was led with private parts, maybe the steamy slut talk was just in the moment. For some people, they only want something right then and there.
One Grindr user, a 22-year-old Black gay man, said he's been on the app since March 2021. He said he's been blocked a lot, and usually will receive an initial message before it happens (a hi, or hello). But then poof, they're gone. This is a confusing feeling at times because it can feel genuine, especially if you've noticed someone "looking" at your profile a few times.
When it comes to Black men on dating apps (and other races outside of white), there's quite a few stereotypes and misrepresentations that walk a line of fetishization (please read this important piece from a Black Grindr user). In this case, the person I spoke with said that while he hasn't outwardly been fetishized or stereotyped, he has been asked about the size of his penis point blank. He said after revealing that he wasn't "well endowed," he was blocked.
Trans and gender non-conforming people also see the brunt of this online, as some users I spoke to found it intimidating to speak to others when they're unsure how they feel about trans folks. Sometimes it's easy to see someone for who they are on their profile information, but it's not always explicit. And yes, people will straight up ask "What's between your legs?" If you want to see how people speak to trans users online, this is an interesting blog (though a bit triggering).
I, too, have been blocked quite a few times in my life. Usually it's after saying "hello" to someone, which indicates to me that they're just not interested. I've also doled it out, too. Many times. But it's when I've had a decent conversation with someone that really just irks me.
Here are my top three reasons why I might block someone after chatting:
A conversation has derailed. Things are going fine but the person on the other end feels too aggressive. Or they're saying things that you don't like. If you feel uncomfortable, end the conversation. If they don't get the hint you aren't interested in communicating, blocking someone is setting a boundary.
No longer attracted to them. Your interests can change. While most might prefer you say "not interested," sometimes people don't always take no for an answer. See my first point.
You think they're a catfish. If a profile seems too good to be true, it probably is. Daddy looking to pay his sugar baby's credit card? Nope. Perhaps the person you're speaking to has no profile photo and no intention to share. Even if the conversation is good, it's 2022, baby. I need to see your face.
Now let's examine a few scenarios when it comes to the act of blocking someone:
Right out the gate. You send a message to someone (A/S/L?) and before they can even respond, you're blocked. Clearly they're not into you. That's OK. You aren't meant for everyone.
After they've messaged you. This one can be confusing because it's like "you came to me," but I've seen it time and time again. Is it nervousness? Maybe they didn't mean to message you and got embarrassed.
Once you've sent a few nudes. There's no way I could get through this story without a hardcore mention of nudes. They're the currency of online hookups, and sometimes people don't like what they see. It can almost be an immediate reaction, because for some (at least from my own experiences), you automatically know what you want (or don't want). If that's not it, N-E-X-T.
After they haven't responded for a while. Maybe it was repeat messaging that prompted this. If you've been partying it's easy to text while under the influence, and regret it later. Perhaps that was a turn off, and yes, could warrant a block.
No messages exchanged at all. This one could have a multitude of reasons including no profile photo listed, no information on their profile, not sexually compatible, you two know each other IRL, etc. It could also be a combination of the prior and wanting to free up space on the grid. Most "dating" apps only allow you to see so many profiles, so this can help weed through some that a user may not be interested in seeing.
And of course, any and all of these points made can in fact (and usually do) have to do with the intersectionality of sexuality, race, religion, politics, gender, position, HIV status, or body type.
Another user, a 23-year old white gay man, said that what typically leads him to blocking someone is the initial approach.
"I have profile pics with no nudity or any sexual innuendos, so when people message me their private parts without saying anything, that's annoying," he said. "While that doesn't lead to immediate blocking, them sending more after I obviously ignored them will."
Another person surveyed, a 45-year-old white gay man, said that blocking someone depends on his mood or if he's busy with work at the time.
"Typically I'll block if a blank profile messages me asking for more pics when I have a bunch posted and they have none. I'll also block someone if they sent a bunch of nudes unsolicited," he said. "And of course, I block the fakes ones or the ones asking for money. I've also blocked a few that asked if I had meth."
Safety is big factor when it comes to chatting online, with multiple users citing various conversations that had "odd" or "uncomfortable" feelings surrounding them. At least when it comes to the unknown. On the other hand, when having a good chat with someone and receiving a block, it's a little bit different.
"I always got the impression they were on the down-low and when they realized I wasn't going to meet up with them, they would block me."
This seems to be an overall response from Grindr users, which goes back to my initial point – people get nervous. And that's their prerogative.
I am no therapist, and have never claimed to be one. I am but one user trying to navigate the interwebs of nudes and nasties. No matter how you get there, if you've been blocked, it can sting. It's usually fleeting, sure, but for a moment you might question yourself. DON'T. Being BLOCKED by someone SHOULD NOT, I repeat, SHOULD NOT be taken personally. Unless it really FEELS personal, there's no reason to think further than the next message that's already sliding into your DMs.
Trust me, someone thinks you're cute. And someone wants to talk to you. They might block you two days later, but there will be someone else. It's the circle of gay life. You can consider it a time saver – one less person you have to worry about on your playground. Because fuck 'em.
The Ethical Slut is a new column where we explore relationships, dating, sex and more. If you'd like to submit a topic, please send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.