Insecurities are normal in the early stages of dating1. We worry about all kinds of things. Does he like me? Will he laugh at my taste in music? Is this outfit too clingy? Do I have spinach in my teeth? Mostly, these nerves are actually fun and exhilarating. Sometimes we run into one that’s less fun though.
Realizing that the guy you’re having so much fun dating is still online dating can be a nasty shock. After all, if he likes me, why is he still online dating?
Let’s look at why his online dating profile is still active even though he’s dating you and, more importantly, what you can do about it.
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Before we can decide what to do about his active online dating profile, we need to understand what’s going on and why he might still have his profile open.
Here are some of the most common reasons he’s still online dating.
Navigating the world of online dating can be tricky. Dating a guy in the homeroom at high school was easy. The whole class knew whether you were an item or not. With online dating, there are lots of opportunities for you to be on different pages when it comes to the status of your relationship.
Online dating sites make it easy to date lots of different people at the same time and there’s nothing wrong with that. The whole idea is to try out lots of different people until you find someone you really click with.
Unfortunately, this means that you can’t take the relationship status for granted. The “what is this” conversation can be super-uncomfortable, but it’s absolutely necessary.
To put it simply, if you haven’t talked about it, he probably doesn’t think you’re exclusive.
Him not thinking you’re exclusive isn’t a bad thing.
Having the guy you’re into not think you’re exclusive sounds bad. Remember that this doesn’t mean he doesn’t want to be exclusive. It just means he’s not assuming that you are. It’s entirely possible that he would love to be exclusive but isn’t sure whether you want the same thing.
Online dating can run the full spectrum of emotions. There are days when you want to throw in the towel and join a convent but there are other days when you feel like the most desirable woman on the planet2. Your guy might be keeping his online dating profile active for those ego-boosting moments.
When you think back to the good and bad days of online dating, you might see why keeping your profile active while you’re in a relationship is fun. The bad days are typically those where you worry that you’ll never find Mr Right. But he’s already found you. He gets to enjoy the flattery with none of the anxiety.
Online dating for an ego boost while he’s in a relationship doesn’t necessarily mean he’s cheating (we’ll talk more about what is and isn’t cheating in a bit) but it is ethically murky at best. He might be betraying your trust and he’s definitely giving other girls false hope.
Ok, this does sound like we’re making excuses for him here but bear with us. It’s possible that checking his online dating profile has become a habit and he doesn’t really think about it anymore.
Old habits are hard to break. We get used to doing the same thing, whether that’s checking Insta with our morning coffee or doomscrolling the news while making dinner.
Remember that, just like social media companies, these dating apps are run by companies who make money from how much time we spend on them, whether that’s through advertising or subscriptions3. They want to keep people coming back and they’re set up to make that happen.
If he receives a notification or message, he might not think twice about opening it. In this example, he isn’t looking to cheat. It’s just a habit.
Almost all of us waste time on our phones when we’re bored. We might fall down the Wiki rabbit hole and find ourselves reading a list of everyone who’s ever gone over Niagara Falls or we might play far too much Candy Crush.
Looking at his online dating account might fall into the same category for him. He isn’t thinking about dating. He’s just killing time.
Again, whether his online dating activity is a habit, boredom, or any other reason doesn’t mean you have to put up with it. We’re going to look at what you can do about it later. We’re just trying to understand why he might be doing it.
Deleting an online dating profile might seem like an obvious step to you when you form a committed relationship, but that doesn’t mean it’s top of his priority list. Now that he’s found you, he might just be ghosting the platform itself.
Most online dating platforms let you see whether someone has been active recently. If his profile is active but he hasn’t been online for ages, he’s probably forgotten that it even exists.
People really do forget about old accounts. It might sound crazy, but around 1 in 10 Americans have a bank account they’ve forgotten about. Compared to that, forgetting an online dating account doesn’t seem so bad.
It’s hard to imagine that the guy you’re head-over-heels for could be insecure about your feelings, but that doesn’t mean it’s not possible. Even the most amazing guy can struggle with their self-esteem or even have imposter syndrome4.
If David Bowie and Tom Hanks feel like imposters, your guy might not be immune.
If your boyfriend doesn’t feel secure in your relationship, he might keep his online dating profile active as a safety net. He worries you might dump him and he feels a little bit safer knowing that he can jump straight back into dating if you do.
He might not realize just how much you care about him or how invested you are in your relationship. Even if he does know those things intellectually, he might still struggle to overcome his insecurities.
He might be responding to previous bad experiences in online dating.
Bear in mind that men and women can have quite different experiences of online dating5. As a woman, you’re probably used to seeing online dating sites as somewhere you have to shift through far too many creeps to find a few decent guys.
For men, the situation can be different. They often feel as though they’re competing with hoards of other men for your attention. Their messages are regularly ignored or they’re ghosted after a conversation or a couple of dates (that happens to us too, but guys don’t always realize that).
Lots of guys will respond to this by hedging their bets. If he’s had a few experiences where a woman he was really into suddenly disappeared and he had to start again from scratch, he might decide to keep his profile active to help him avoid getting too attached.
Even if he likes you, he might be one of those guys who likes to keep their eyes open in case someone even better comes along. It’s not a nice or ethical approach to dating, but there are plenty of people (men and women) who act this way, whether they’ll admit it or not.
This is especially common among commitment-phobes. Keeping his options open numbs his fear of getting ‘tied down’ or trapped in a relationship.
Even if he really likes you and has a great time with you, he might keep online dating if he doesn’t see you as a potential long-term partner. He’s happy to keep having fun with you while he looks for a different type of relationship elsewhere.
There are loads of reasons he might not see you as a long-term prospect. It might be that you have great chemistry but you have vastly different life goals. Maybe you really don’t want kids and he’s keen to start a family or vice versa.
This isn’t necessarily unethical, as long as everyone knows and accepts the situation. If you’ve agreed to be exclusive or talked positively about the future of your relationship, however, it’s cruel.
Similarly, he might be one of a growing number of people who describe themselves as non-monogamous but this is absolutely something he should bring up and discuss with you to make sure you’re both on the same page.
Some guys really don’t think that things they say or do online count in the same way that offline interactions do. He might think that flirting or sexting don’t count as cheating because there’s no physical contact.
He might also genuinely be using his online dating profile for something other than looking for love. Some guys, especially those who are shy, nervous, or lack social skills, use online dating as a way to get out of their comfort zone and improve their people skills.
We do have to ask the obvious question. How do you know his online dating accounts are still active? Did you log on to check?
He might be keeping an eye on your dating profile in exactly the same way that you’re keeping an eye on his. He might think that deleting his profile could put pressure on you to do the same.
It’s all very well trying to understand why his online dating profiles are still active while he’s dating you but you still need to decide what to do about it. Let’s look at what you can do to resolve the situation.
The first step in dealing with finding your boyfriend's (active) online dating profile is to be really clear in your own mind about what your boundaries are.
It’s easy to assume that we all know what ‘cheating’ means, but there’s actually a surprising amount of disagreement6. Some people think that looking at porn counts as cheating, whilst others think that anything other than full sex is totally fine.
The important thing is that you need to decide what you are ok with and what you’re not. Here are some of the things you might want to think about.
You’ll probably have your own thoughts and ideas as well. For each of these things, ask yourself whether it’s totally fine, fine under some circumstances, something you don’t like but might compromise on, or completely not ok, ever.
Once you know what your starting position is, it’s time to talk to him about why he’s still on dating sites. Your aim here is to have an open and honest conversation. Either you’ll find a solution that works for both of you or you’ll realize that he’s not the right guy for you.
Here are some do’s and don'ts for this conversation.
Do pick your time carefully. It’s best not to bring this up during a conversation or as the first thing you say to him when he gets in from work. Make sure that you’re both feeling relatively relaxed and that there are no time constraints on your conversation.
Don’t approach this as a confrontation, especially if you haven’t already had a clear agreement to become exclusive. Viewing this conversation as a confrontation will put him on the defensive and make it harder for you to find a constructive way out of this.
Do use your I statements. This is a great way to avoid being confrontational or argumentative. Explaining your position with phrases like “I feel” or “what would really work for me is…” lets you get your point across without the other person feeling attacked or becoming defensive.
Do ask for what you need. This conversation is about the future of your relationship. Saying “I’m fine with whatever” isn’t actually helpful, especially if it’s not true. Remember, you’re only going to get what you want in your relationship if you’re honest about what that is.
Don’t be coy about how you know he’s still online dating. If you went online to see, be honest about that and admit that you were curious. Explain that you were hoping to see that he’d deleted his profile and explain how that would have reassured you.
Do be curious about his thoughts and feelings. We’ve already seen that there are loads of different reasons someone might still have an active online dating profile even though they’re dating you. Rather than making assumptions, ask him which reason applies to him. He might even have a different perspective entirely.
It’s important to remember that we can’t ever control someone else’s behavior. We can only choose how we react to it. You can’t force him to shut down his online dating profiles if he doesn’t want to.
Rather than worrying about the specific action (shutting down his online dating profile), try to focus on whether you’re ok with the underlying meaning and emotion behind the behavior. For example, you might be ok with him using his online dating profile to practice his social skills but keeping his options open might be a deal-breaker.
If he’s not willing to close down his online dating profiles, it’s going to be up to you to decide whether you want to continue a relationship with him under those conditions. Look back at the boundaries you established before the conversation to help you decide whether this is something you could be ok with longer-term or not.
If you see that your boyfriend still has an active online dating profile, it can be really tempting to create a false account to see exactly how he responds to other women when he thinks you won’t know. This will almost never leave you feeling better in the long run.
Trying to catch him out in this way might feel satisfying, but you already know deep down that it’s not a healthy way to resolve a problem in your relationship. It definitely doesn’t count as honest and open communication.
Finding his online dating profile raises questions of trust. If you trust him to talk to you honestly about what’s going on, having the conversation is an important sign that you’re committed to having a healthy relationship with plenty of trust.
If you don’t trust him to be honest about why his online dating profile is active or whether he’s dating other women, that’s a clear sign that you don’t trust him enough to be in a relationship.
You deserve a relationship where you know that the other person will be honest with you and is willing to talk through disagreements and differences in expectations.
If you’re willing to catfish him to test whether he’s cheating, the biggest problem in your relationship probably isn’t his online dating profile. It’s the lack of trust between you.
Relationships are tricky and it’s often helpful to get a second opinion. Talking to your friends about why he’s still online dating if he likes you might make you feel better, but they’re sometimes too involved to give objective advice.
Supportive, loving friends who become furious that a guy might be disrespecting you are fantastic, but an experienced relationship coach or therapist can help you understand what’s really going on in your relationship.
They can support you in setting healthy boundaries and clearly communicating your needs, so you won’t have to put up with his active online dating profile for much longer.
Men will sometimes go on dating sites even though they’re already in a relationship. Sometimes this is to boost his ego or deal with his insecurities but he might also be avoiding commitment or looking to cheat.
There’s no set time that we should take down our online dating profiles. Most people will want to when they agree that they’re in a committed, exclusive relationship, but not everyone will feel the same. This is something you need to agree on together.
If you’ve agreed with your boyfriend that your relationship is exclusive and find out that he’s still active online dating, it’s ok to confront him about it. If you haven’t talked about your relationship status, it’s probably better to approach it as a discussion, not a confrontation.
There are lots of reasons your boyfriend might still have an online dating profile even though you’re in an exclusive relationship. It doesn’t have to mean that he’s cheating on you, but that is one possibility. You’ll probably need to talk to him to decide what to do next.
What do you think? Why do guys sometimes keep their online dating profiles active, even when they’ve met Ms Right? Do you feel you understand why he’s still on the dating website?
Let us know in the comments. We love helping as many people as possible, so please share this article if you found it helpful.