In the last two weeks, we’ve learned entirely too much about divorced dad Ben Affleck’s love life.
First, there were hints and whispers that he was getting back to with ex-fiancé Jennifer Lopez, after the actor was seen being picked up and dropped off at the singer’s Los Angeles mansion multiple times. (In a white Escalade SUV that allegedly belongs to the “Dear Ben” songstress, no less!)
A juicier story came along this week, when a woman named Nivine Jay posted a video saying Affleck allegedly DM’ed her on Instagram after Jay had unmatched with him on Raya.
“Nivine,” the “Batman” actor somberly intones. “Why did you unmatch me? It’s me.”
To the surprise of no one, the TikTok video quickly went viral. After all, how often do we get to see a celebrity shoot their shot? (Plus, has anyone ever had stronger Divorced Dad energy than Ben Affleck?)
It also spurred on an interesting debate: Some found the message funny and innocent enough ― Ben was just confirming it was him, she probably thought it was a fake account! (Though with that argument, it’s worth noting Raya is a relatively exclusive app used by plenty of other famous people).
Others found the clip a little creepy.
“I don’t know who needs to hear this ― but sending someone a message on a different app after they’ve UNMATCHED you on a dating app is creepy and stalkerish. Even if you’re Ben Affleck,” tweeted Chris Evans. (Not that Chris Evans, unfortunately.)
Some thought the move was a little entitled: “He had no idea why she unmatched him,” one woman tweeted. “It’s the assumption that’s so crude.”
Of course, Affleck is far from the first dude to consider sliding into the DMs a viable dating strategy after getting denied on a dating app: Ask any single woman ― it’s unfortunately kind of a thing.
“As long as I have been on dating apps I’ve had this problem, even with men I don’t even match with,” said Samantha Taylor, a 21-year-old from California.
“On Instagram it’s mostly, ‘Hey I saw you on Tinder,’ followed with replies to every single story I post and occasionally a few creepy messages that they think are charming,” Taylor told HuffPost, before noting that the experience is better than what she’s seen on Snapchat; there, she’s even gotten dick pics from Tinder rejects.
Some guys will try to pass these unsolicited interactions off as a meet-cute moment, Aoife, a 21-year-old from Ireland, told us.
“I’ve had guys stalk and DM me on all my socials, both before we match and after we ummatch. It’s gross,” said Aoife, who like others in this story asked to use her first name only for privacy.
“Some address the creepiness of approaching me on a second site before I’ve even had the chance to block them on the first one,” she said. “Others act as if we’re having a meet-cute, like, ‘Oh, fancy meeting you here.’ Yeah, what are the chances of you stalking my online presence, Greg? Talk about kismet!”
Of course, apps like Tinder do allow users to connect Instagram accounts to their profiles ― it’s a running joke that people do it to pick up more followers ― but even if you don’t connect the two accounts, there are often enough details in a profile for an interested party to search you out: Maybe you have the same profile pic on Instagram or maybe you have a unique name.
That’s how Tinder guys tend to find Umi Terukina, a 20-year-old single woman who shared one of the many DMs she’s received with HuffPost.
“I know we live in an age where a lot of our information is out there for anyone to find, so it’s kind of inevitable, but this is sort of an unwanted interaction,” she said.
Claire, a 29-year-old in Melbourne, Australia, leaves the messages unread, like most women do. The few times she has responded to let the guys know she wished they hadn’t sought her out, she was met with a surprising amount of vitriol.
“The times I’ve done that, I’ve been told, ‘You’re fat and ugly anyway.’ It’s fragile masculinity,” she said. “If you haven’t matched with someone it’s for a reason, why are you forcing yourself on someone digitally? Take a hint, mate.”
Lest you think we’re strictly calling out straight men, we aren’t; gay guys do it, too. Adrián, a 22-year-old living in Los Angeles, gets the “saw you from Tinder, thought I’d say hey” DM treatment fairly often.
“I wouldn’t describe it as creepy but to me, it just seems unrealistic and naive,” he told HuffPost. “These guys aren’t getting the hint that no further pursuit is desired after not matching or we matched but I unmatched you after some meaningless babble on Tinder? Where are the social cues!”
Let’s use Ben’s video as a teachable moment.
“Celebrities can get unmatched more frequently since there are a lot of fake profiles posing as them, so it’s not totally ridiculous ― though his delivery, approach and tone in that clip was definitely surprising and there were other ways he could have communicated with her,” she said.
As for the non-famous among us, Seltzer said singles should think through why they’re reaching out in the first place. Usually it’s inappropriate, but there may be a few scenarios where a follow-up is a reasonable move.
“If someone intentionally unmatches you, the real question becomes, what are the reasons behind why you’re trying to reach them somewhere else?” she said. “Is it for your ego? Is it that you felt rejected? Or was there a misunderstanding in a good conversation that went south and they want to be able to follow up?”
“If someone is interested, it’s best to believe they would have connected with you on the app that’s intended for romantic connection,” she said.
As for Ben, Burns understands it’s hard out there for a celeb trying to date via app, but he probably shouldn’t have pressed “send” on that video.
“If she really wanted proof that it was, indeed, Ben Affleck, she could have requested him to send her a photo or video on Raya,” she said. “As it is, it appears he reached out to her on his own volition on IG after she unmatched, which is a no-no.”