Here’s a question I have for my fellow dating brethren: would you send a feedback form to someone who ghosted you? What if it was a person who you’d never even gone on a date with? Just a stranger you met in the back of an Uber Pool?

WHAT THEN, HUH?

So here’s the story: a dude I shared an Uber Pool with a few months back – let’s call him Ned – managed to get my phone number, despite my warnings that I was “seeing someone” and “not interested”. I was a bit tipsy, we’d been chatting, and honestly, nothing seemed SUPER off. I don’t like giving out my number to strangers in general, but there’s something about someone so blatantly asking you for something you don’t want to give, to your face, that’s a bit off-putting. Whatever, I thought. I gave him my number, waived goodbye, and hotfooted into the bar to find my friends.

Cut to the next day. Ned sent me a text asking if I was “always so friendly to strangers” or “if I make an exemption for tall, dark handsome men”. It raised my hackles a bit, so I didn’t reply. Two days later, he sent me another text (this time of his breakfast), but again – HACKLES RAISED, ALREADY DATING SOMEONE – I left it.

To be honest with you, I completely forgot about Ned until yesterday, when he sent me an honest-to-god feedback form.

Here’s his text – and yes, Ned referred to himself in the third person.

“Hey! If you’re receiving this message it’s because you either flaked or decided not to see Ned. I hope you enjoyed your time with Ned and of course he’s sad to see you go. Ned understands it’s tough finding a connection in this cruel cruel world so he wishes you all the very best in your future endeavours.

“If you have a spare few minutes, what would be ideal is for you to complete the below Date Satisfaction survey so that Ned can better seduce the next who comes his way.

“1. Do you have a valid reason to flake?

“2. Was there anything that Ned did or didn’t do that was a turn off?

“3. If you answered positive to the above 2 questions write below in 50 words or less how you think he could improve.”

My first reaction was fear, then shock, then revulsion, then I did what any normal person would do and blast it all over my socials (with his name and number blurred out, obviously). I can basically divide people’s reactions into two camps: disgust at the sheer entitlement of man (most people), or appreciative that he was trying to better himself (a few people who are now dead to me).

Where things became even WEIRDER was that I was not the only one Ned sent this to. I’ve spoken to two different women who received the exact same message from Ned, and I’ve heard from friends-of-friends about a few others. One of them, Kyla-Rose Booth, told me Ned approached her in a shopping centre; the other, Bec Jones, told me Ned spoke to her while she was grocery shopping.

“He asked if I spoke English and I was like ‘Uhhhh…. yes’ and then he said something along the lines of ‘Sorry I just saw you before with my friend and thought you were really cute, so I had to find you and say hey,” Bec told me.

“At first I thought it was funny, now I’m just like…. ew,” Kyla-Rose said.

As it turns out, the “feedback form” wasn’t the only thing we had in common; Ned had sent all three of us versions of his opening two texts. Having a standard “opener” is pretty standard pick-up artistry behaviour, a weird cult of slightly outcast men who try to game social connection in order to land a date. The PUA method really hit mainstream when Neil Strauss wrote his bestseller The Game in 2005, but to the best of my knowledge even Strauss never suggested a feedback form. Perhaps if he was writing it in the age of hyper-connectivity, he would.

So since Ned was interested in feedback, I thought I’d send him some.

“I didn’t feel comfortable giving my number out in the first place, and given I told you I was seeing someone when I did, I don’t think ‘seduce’ is the right word here,” I wrote.

“I can’t speak for all women, but many I’ve spoken to aren’t super comfortable giving their numbers out to strangers, but many do to keep the peace. My advice would be to not ask strangers for it in the future.

“I didn’t feel comfortable with your message the next day, it felt far too forward for a stranger I’d spoken to for five minutes the night before.

“My final piece of advice: asking if someone had a ‘valid’ reason already undermines their agency. They don’t owe you their time!”

I ended my message by asking him for comment on this piece, and wished him all the best for 2020. I’m sad to say Ned hasn’t replied – he hasn’t even seen my message.

Image: Alex Bruce-Smith