LinkedIn is not a dating site

If you’re checking out profiles on LinkedIn looking for your next date, you have a pretty fundamental misunderstanding of what the site is for (and why the people you’re checking out have profiles there).

This might seem like something that should go without saying, but I recently did an interview with the New York Post about a new dating app that syncs to the user’s LinkedIn account. From there, you filter by gender, age, distance, industry, and school, and it’ll show you other LinkedIn users’ headshots, professions, hometowns, and alma maters so that you can decide who you want to hit up for a date.

This is a terrible and gross idea.

LinkedIn in a professional networking site; it’s not a social site. It’s to help you manage your professional contacts and your career.

And most people on LinkedIn — and at work — want to be judged first as professionals. People don’t generally want colleagues assessing their attractiveness or sizing them up as a potential date. Most people want colleagues to be thinking about their competence, not whether they might want to make out with you.

Plus, while it’s certainly true that many people find romance at work or among work contacts, that doesn’t mean that you should actively try to cultivate it there. It’s one thing if an attraction develops naturally with someone you know you in a professional context, but actively seeking out romance in your professional network — without even having anyone particular in mind — is courting problems. Dating within your professional circles can be messy. It can impact your work relationships, cause tensions when things don’t work out, and impact the way you’re perceived, fairly or unfairly.

Please keep your dating game, your flirtatious eye contact, and your Axe body spray off of LinkedIn.

{ 262 comments… read them below }

  1. KimmieSue*

    I’m so glad you brought this topic up! I’ve been noticing quite a few LinkedIn profile photos that in my opinion are very racy and suggestive. Being a recruiter, I’ve got a ton of LinkedIn contacts (many I do not know). When I see these, I often think “are they looking to network or find a date?”

    1. bob*

      I’m curious if those racy and suggestive profiles are women or men because there are definitely some shenanigans going on LI with “professional” women. I saw an article a while back about how LI was being used discretely for “escorts”. If I can find it again I’ll post a link.

      If you start looking at the suggested profiles for marketing, in particular, the profiles start sliding into very interesting.

      1. KimmieSue*

        Bob, the one’s that I happened to notice were female. Now you’ve got me interested. I am going to research it also.

      2. Laura*

        Well, sex work is still a profession so they’re not really misusing the service =D

        1. Aman*

          With all due respect to both of you females (and anyone else that may follow)…LI is clearly made for professionals and sex work (sadly for many) is not considered professional, at least not in this part of America. So no, their use of LI is absolutely not justified as ‘professional’ further using their account.

          Anyway, I personally don’t have LI account (glad?) and am now going to reconsider it going forward, awaiting a full-scale investigation with LI.

  2. Tom Collins*

    I disagree with AAM here. LinkedIn is a business-oriented social networking site.

    People don’t get to dictate to others how they’ll be judged- that’s up to everyone else. This is inherently unfair and crummy for some people, but it’s how the world is.

    Of course dating within your professional network can really screw things up. But if you’re smart about it it can also go fine. Many people have LinkedIn connections from a job that was years ago- are all of those people off limits? As long as you’re not overly persistent about it (i.e. can take no for an answer gracefully) then what’s the harm? The sort of people who can’t generally have poor reputations anyway.

    Of course, people don’t setup a LinkedIn account to find dates. They also don’t go to the grocery store, the DMV, or any other number of places where people happen to meet and hit it off despite the original intention of the activity.

    “Terrible and gross” is a wanton exaggeration.

    1. Katie the Fed*

      I think this might be an issue where one’s gender might factor into one’s views.

      As a woman who works in a very male field, I get very frustrated at people who think it’s appropriate to hit on me (and other women) in work-related settings. I want to be evaluated for my value to my employer, not my potential in bed or as a life mate.

      This isn’t to say men don’t experience this, but I wonder if you realize how often women can experience it, especially those working in a male-dominated field.

      So I have to agree – LinkedIn just isn’t the place for it. But then again, I don’t really care for LinkedIn that much in the first place.

      1. Katie the Fed*

        BTW, all of this is not to say that men are insensitive lunks. I definitely don’t think that. But I think our experiences might color our views on this just a little differently.

        1. Tom Collins*

          Men and women will ALWAYS evaluate each other based on attractiveness. Professional people will give that a backseat in the workplace, but to expect that men and women at work won’t do this is absurd. It’s going to happen. How folks handle it makes all the difference.

          1. Diet Coke Addict*

            The difference is between an organic meeting in the workplace (where indeed professional people do find one another attractive, date, and even marry) and deliberately seeking out professional avenues as a way to find dates.

              1. Zillah*

                But I think this is a real way in which men and women’s experiences often differ. Men frequently think that it’s as easy as “Don’t date him.” They don’t see the way that fielding something like this can make an environment feel uncomfortable, exhausting, and just plain undermine your status as a professional.

                Someone who decides they want to date me based on my LinkedIn profile doesn’t actually want to date me – they don’t know me. I don’t sign up for dating websites because I don’t like them. I don’t need LinkedIn to turn into one.

                1. Pennalynn Lott*

                  I haven’t read all the comments, but the thing is. . . you have to actually download and use the app for anyone to contact you based on your LinkedIn profile. So if you want to keep LI strictly professional, just don’t use the app. Other users of the app won’t be able see your profile (outside of normal uses of LI, of course).

              2. EngineerGirl*

                Maybe women don’t want to spend the energy to push off the advances. Maybe they want to focus on… work.

              3. K*

                You think this is a very simple thing, but if you lived a life where you’ve been sexually assaulted multiple times, were sexually harassed at work, multiple strangers have decided it was totally fine to just follow you around, AND many other people felt free to make all kinds of comments about your body, prowess in bed, etc, you would know why your question is the wrong response.

                Ask any woman what their life is like and you will hear very similar stories. The paragraph above is just my experience. If we’re at work we are there to work. We don’t want to deal with advances, period.

                1. Tom Collins*

                  It sounds like you’re bringing a bunch of baggage to the table. You make it sound like every woman has been sexually assaulted when that is simply not the case.

                  I’m sorry this happened to you but why do men collectively have to walk on eggshells because of it?

                2. Anonylicious*

                  I think more women than you know have been sexually assaulted, harassed, or been under the threat of it.

                  And I’m not sorry that I don’t care that its unfair to men that I view all of them as a potential threat. No, all men aren’t like that, but enough of them are that I don’t have the luxury of extending them the benefit of the doubt. Your feelings shouldn’t trump my right to a safe work environment, or a safe work environment, but they do. If I’m assaulted, the question will not be why he did it, but what I did to deserve it. So don’t talk to me about fairness.

                  Walk on eggshells, my ass.

                3. KellyK*

                  It’s not “walking on eggshells” to acknowledge that a lot of women don’t want to be approached for dates at work. And it’s not as if women who have been sexually assaulted are rare unicorns who you’re unlikely to encounter if you make a habit of asking your female coworkers out. If you work with more than 6 or 8 women, odds are one of them has been sexually assaulted.

                  My personal feeling is that it’s fine to ask ONCE, politely. (Unless you’re their supervisor or they’re yours, or your company forbids dating coworkers.) *IF* you’re willing to take no for an answer. This means no trying to argue her out of it, asking repeatedly, or acting unprofessionally at work because of it. It also means no uninvited touching or staring or invasion of personal space.

          2. Really Anon This Time*

            Even if it is handled “right” – by which I mean no inappropriate contact – I want my workplace free of such nonsense. I’m not there to be evaluated as a date, mate, or anything else. I’m there to do the job I’m paid to do. Like most women, I can tell when I’m being sized up, and I find it distasteful.

            1. Tom Collins*

              But you can’t control how other people feel about you, so why not just roll with it and brush off people who rub you the wrong way? I mean if it’s a constant flow of sexual harassment then yes, that’s actionable. A guy asks you out once and then backs off when you say no? How is that really a problem?

              1. Katie the Fed*

                Because it’s changed the dynamic. And if it’s happening multiple times with multiple guys, it’s a cultural problem. It’s work, not singles night at a bar.

              2. Really Anon This Time*

                It’s a problem because it has no place in a professional environment. I’d prefer my office to be a place where that kind of attitude is totally off limits. I shouldn’t have to brush anybody off – that’s not what I’m supposed to be doing with my time at work. It’s distracting, unpleasant, and unnecessary.

              3. Liz in a Library*

                Well, one of the problems is that it isn’t just once. Most women I know experience unwanted sizing up, flirting, and other unwanted attention nearly constantly in every avenue of their lives. So, it isn’t experienced as a one-time thing that the guy will let go if you show that you aren’t interested; it is seen as another event in the endless parade of actions that show that a woman’s primary role in the male gaze is as a potential mate or object, not as a professional existing in a solely professional environment.

              4. literateliz*

                The problem is that we don’t know that he’s going to back off when we say no. In my lifetime, the men who have responded to my “no” with wheedling, cajoling, pleading, negging, insults, or gaslighting far outnumber the ones who have accepted it gracefully and moved on. When I have to turn a guy down, I more or less expect some level of harassment, so being asked out at all is a somewhat stressful situation for me. (Thankfully, I haven’t had to deal with this in a work environment, but I can only imagine how belittled I would feel.) It’s also terrible for the poor guys who can actually take rejection gracefully, since they usually don’t understand how rare that is and have no idea why all these women hate being asked out so much.

                You keep saying “don’t date him” as though that solves the problem, but I never have and never would date a man who acted disrespectfully towards me, and yet this is still something I have to deal with when such men approach me. They keep making it my problem to deal with them. At the age of 27 I’ve accepted that, as you say, it’s going to happen. But I think that saying that this is something that I can’t change and will have to deal with gracefully is very different from actually defending the behavior and then throwing your hands in the air and saying “Oh well, nothing we can do about it!” We can stop pretending it’s acceptable, for one thing.

                1. Tom Collins*

                  I still don’t understand why being asked out at work somehow belittles your worth as a professional.

                  If the guy starts acting like a dick after you rebuke him it says a lot more about him than it does about you. Why dwell on it?

              5. Lizzy*

                Because not everyone backs off when they are rejected. Further, I have had coworkers I have turned down hold grudges against me, hence creating a hostile environment for me. This hostile environment affects other coworkers as well who wonder why there is tension amongst the team.

                It is not as simple as saying no.

              6. Traveler*

                This isn’t even a guy asking out thing – it goes both ways. It can be just as difficult for men. Once a person has pledged attraction to you in some way (asking out, etc.) it changes things. From then on, every action will be read under the “are they doing this because they are attracted to me”. Even if the person that asked backs off and creates no further problem, the person who was asked may want a great deal of space between them.

                1. cuppa*

                  Not to detract from the conversation at hand, but there’s a guy in my office who is endlessly pursued by a woman. He’s turned her down, but she won’t let it go. She even sent him flowers for Valentine’s Day. Awkward.

              7. L*

                “Men are afraid that women will laugh at them. Women are afraid that men will kill them.”

                ― Margaret Atwood

                1. Tom Collins*

                  This is an obtuse argument. Yes, a fair amount of men become petulant children when told no. Even when you focus solely on the subset who will do that, the percentage that will flip out and kill the woman is insanely small.

                  I really feel sorry for you if you think that every time you turn a guy down he’s going to knife you in your sleep.

                2. Zillah*

                  @ Tom –

                  Sure, that statistic is pretty small. However, when a dude is calling me a ******* ***** and acting increasingly erratic in an enclosed space, or when a guy in a car pulls up to me on a quiet street and starts talking about all the things he’d like to do to me, I am not going to think, “the chances of this guy attacking, raping, or killing me is low.” I think, “wow this is threatening, how do I get away?” The chances of a random dude doing that are low. A dude who’s proven himself to be disrespectful, intimidating, and creepy? Less low.

                3. Mike C.*

                  Tom, look at the simple statistics. The greatest thing a woman has to fear is a man.

                  It doesn’t matter if the percentage of men that are willing to kill you is small, it only takes one.

                4. Sigrid*

                  Tom, don’t think of it as “not all men are rapists”. Think of it as “all women have encountered men who are rapists”. That this experience colors every interaction women have is not “bringing baggage to the table”, it is the reality that we live with, every day.

              8. Isabelle*

                It’s not about a man asking a woman out once. It doesn’t matter if it’s just once, it’s better that it doesn’t happen at all. Let’s say Joe asks his colleague Jane out and she turns him down. All their future encounters at work are going to be tainted with that experience.

                Depending on their personalities, Jane might feel a little awkward whenever she has to deal with Joe. Maybe it will just blow over. Or maybe Jane will be so stressed out over this that she will avoid Joe like the plague. Extreme scenario: Jane feels so uncomfortable around Joe that she starts looking for another job.

                I have been at the receiving end of this several times in my career and it was NEVER welcome. It’s unprofessional, it makes people feel awkward, uncomfortable and embarrassed.

                Some companies would consider it a form of sexual harassment (yes, even if it happens once) with all the consequences that entail.

              9. April*

                Because he shouldn’t be asking in the first place. It shows his attention is on something besides what it should be – work.

                1. Tom Collins*

                  You mean to tell me that 100% of your attention is focused on work for the entire work day?

                2. Sawrs*

                  Tom Collins, women don’t owe anyone their time or interest. There’s no pie chart that says they have to allocate x amount of the working day to be pestered. This is Smile, Baby territory writ large. Please allow women to dictate how they want to spend their time and how much personal access they choose or don’t choose to give to any one person.

                3. Pennalynn Lott*

                  @Tom – How productive would you be if women in your office came by your desk once or twice a week (or even a month) and, say, farted or coughed long and loud without covering their mouths, but they weren’t doing the same things to the other women in the office? Hey, it’s just a little methane or only so much noise, right? Why not just ask them politely to do that somewhere else. So they do. . . they do it at the desks of the other men in the office. And what if that happened to you no matter where you worked, no matter what job you took? Wouldn’t that make you the slightest bit uncomfortable? Wouldn’t you begin to think that *maybe* the work environment would be better for all if such behavior just didn’t exist? Or would you smile and roll with the extra attention you were receiving from the opposite sex?

              10. Blue Anne*

                It’s a problem because it might be the only time that guy asks, but it’s not the only time we’re asked, often not even that day. Most women grow a thick skin about it – we have to if we want to get along in the world – but it’s still something that we’d like to change if possible.

                I mean, look. Here’s how my day went last Friday:

                -Went out for a run in the morning. Most people I passed did the classic polite “we are studiously pretending we are each alone”, but there were two separate guys who did not hide that they were watching me bounce. Okay, tiny thing.
                -Bus to work. Guy on the bus clearly had some kind of social issue, was loudly talking to people and getting up in their personal space, started doing it to two women at the front of the bus. Shouted SALAAM ALAIKAM! in the ear of a woman in a hijab, then started talking to her about how the professionally dressed woman next to her was clearly asking for something because of her clothes. Not directed at me, but very unsettling, and I was keeping an eye out to intervene if necessary.
                -Work. A client called me “my lovely” on the phone. That was VERY UNUSUAL, but pretty uncomfortable, I have to say. Because it’s a professional context. Even though I’m sure they didn’t mean anything by it at all.
                -Changed my Twitter avatar to reflect new hair color (pink). Male friend-of-a-friend follower noticed this and tweeted me twice saying I should post pics.
                -Walked home, did some shopping on the way, treated myself to a latte and a newspaper. By the time I left the cafe the Friday lads were starting to get out on the streets, which is always a bit intimidating. One of them shouted “Now THAT’S a hairdo! Hey, would you…” at me. I didn’t hear the rest because I sped up to get away from him.

                And you know what, I am not even that attractive. I am pretty average. Friday was a bad day for this crud, just low-level stuff that happened all day. I can’t imagine how it is for really pretty women, or even ones who don’t make themselves look like weirdos with pink hair.

                (I should say, I got just as much when my hair was natural-colored, but slightly different comments. Replace pointing and shouting about my hair with snatching at me and yelling “Fancy a gangbang sweetheart”. I prefer the reactions I get now.)

                So yes, against a backdrop like that, if I’d been asked out by a person who I had a professional connection with… I would not have been happy. It would have just been reinforcing that I’m a piece of meat. I would have started wondering whether they’d ever really be taking me seriously 100% in a professional context, or if a shag had always been at the back of their mind when I was sorting out their licensing for them.

                Why are we supposed to just roll with this crud, when you can modify your behaviour based on the preferences a lot of women are expressing to you? Is it so important to you that you can ask out a woman from a context she’s not comfortable with, even though tons of women here are telling you it’s not okay?

          3. rory*

            …I actually don’t evaluate people based on attractiveness, especially not people of a different gender than me.

          4. nep*

            ‘Men and women will ALWAYS evaluate each other based on attractiveness.’ Quite a sweeping generalisation there.

            1. Tom Collins*

              Yep. That’s exactly what it is. It certainly doesn’t apply to everyone but in the sense that it applies to the vast majority of people it’s generally the case.

              1. nep*

                Getting a bit off-topic here, but that seems a rather shallow way to go through life.

          1. Lora*

            Ahahahaha, thank you. I’m giggling and trying to do it quietly enough that I don’t have to explain the Not All Men thing to my cube-neighbors.

      2. Zillah*

        Agreed. I might feel a bit differently if this app only included other people who signed up for it – I still think it’s weird, but if they’ve all agreed to it, that’s their business – but from what I can tell it includes all LinkedIn users, and that makes it really creepy, IMO.

        I can say that propositions for dates on LinkedIn would make me feel really uncomfortable at best, and gross/unsafe at worst… and I think that’s directly tied to my being a woman. I’m not saying that all women feel this way – they obviously don’t – but my gender is definitely a big part of my reaction.

        It’s my experience that men can get nasty and/or vindictive (or maybe even violent) when you turn them down. I’m sure women can, too, but I think women experience it more from men than vice versa. I really don’t need that from professionals in my field. Just let me work/network/generally be a professional in peace.

      3. EngineerGirl*

        As a women in a very male dominated field, I’ll agree with Katie the Fed. The problem is that you get hit on all.the.time. Each guy thinks he’s the only one doing it. But it keeps happening and it has a cumulative effect. You have to spend energy saying no every time it happens. And there are a LOT of men that won’t take “no” for an answer. “Why not?”, “Is there anybody else?” “Just once, you’ll see!” More energy convincing the guy that no means no. I want to spend energy on my work, not saying no to someone.

        As stated, it really does lead to self questioning. Was that person interested in me because they thought I would be good for the job, or because they just want a date? How many men ask that question to themselves?

    2. Jamie*

      I think it’s terrible and gross the same way it would be terrible and gross to show up at a new job and evaluate your colleagues based on who you were attracted to.

      Developing an attraction at work or with work contacts is understandable, a lot of people fall in love at work.

      But if it’s your goal, if that’s what you’re judging them on when you meet them, or how you’re looking at candidates as a hiring manager, or reports as a manager….that has nothing to do with meeting someone at work organically. Doing any of that makes people you work with possible romantic partners first and co-workers second. That’s what’s gross.

    3. Clever Name*

      I get what you’re saying, but you may want to head over to Dr. NerdLove’s site and search for “male privilege”. Sometimes there is a disconnect between how a woman perceives a situation and how a man thinks a woman should perceive a situation, and quite often that disconnect is a result of male privilege.

      1. Tom Collins*

        “Male Privilege” has absolutely nothing to do with this. I’m not going to argue about the perception of a given situation because that’s up to the individual.

        Unless you find a way to turn off that part of our biology, this sort of stuff will happen. It’s how we choose to act that makes all the difference.

        1. Zahra*

          Look, Male Privilege means it doesn’t happen to you on a weekly basis (I have strangers from other countries, ostensibly from the same field, send me an invitation at least once a week). It means you don’t have to worry about having to filter connection requests each time you receive one to see if it’s legit or just someone looking to score a date and then be angry that people use a professional website to hookup. It’s not OKCupid, dammit. Using it that way, towards women, just gives the subliminal message that their worth is sexual, not professional, if you get my drift. If you can’t be treated professionally on a professional website when men are, how can you expect equal treatment?

          Yeah, people do make judgement based on appearance all the time. However, non creepy people don’t function on a sexual evaluation mode all the time.

          1. Tom Collins*

            So then don’t date people whose approach offends your sensibilities?

            And you should be filtering connection requests anyway. I get a fair amount of crap from recruiters and people trying to sell me things. It’s mildly annoying but it doesn’t piss me off.

            Let me ask you this. Suppose a former colleague you’d lost touched with reached out to you on LinkedIn to reconnect for coffee or whatever. Hell, don’t even make it a “date”. Make it another woman who wants to connect socially. Does this mean this person is attacking your professional worth by reaching out to you on a professional website for a social meeting?

            1. Zahra*

              First, I would assume the man’s intent is professional in the absence of other red flags.

              Second, coming from a woman, I’d take it as a mentorship-like request, since I work in a male-dominated field.

              If any of them wanted a date, yeah, I’d be annoyed, less so at the former coworker since it’s not a total stranger trying to get a date.

              1. Tom Collins*

                Well then now whose being sexist. A woman can ask you to coffee and you’d consider it a mentorship-like request. A man does it and it’s inappropriate and reeks of male priviledge?

                1. Zahra*

                  Yup, I would, because, the men contacting me have clearly no professional interest in me. Some men have contacted me on LinkedIn and offered to give me more information on my field (I’m still entre-level/junior). The ones we’re talking about here are not the ones contacting us for professional networking.

                  Also, statistically, a woman contacting me is hetero and thus has no interest in me sexually. Should that prove to be false, I’d be doubly pissed because I have taken time to meet her for professional reasons and then got hit on.

                2. Laura*

                  Tom, reread Zahra’s comment: “First, I would assume the man’s intent is professional in the absence of other red flags.”

                  LinkedIn EXISTS for professional networking, NOT date-hunting. You want to date-hunt, do it on a non-professional network – Facebook, Twitter, etc.

                  Which is not to say you can never be attracted to or even hit on someone you know professionally. It’s saying that using your professional networks as a date search tool, deliberately and consciously, is creepy and gross.

                3. Sean*

                  Did you miss the part where Zahra said, “I would assume the man’s intent is professional in the absence of other red flags”? She’s not being sexist at all.

            2. NotAnExpert*

              This feels a little derailed from the original premise of the post. If you want to connect with someone professionally via LinkedIn, especially someone you already knew, then presumably you find them because of a shared connection or some other professionally relevant purpose.

              Reaching out to people you don’t know to look for dates isn’t the purpose of LinkedIn. Reviving an old connection to get in touch has always seemed OK to me.

            3. Sean*

              The thing is… I don’t think women should have to field this kind of thing at work, or on LinkedIn, on a regular basis. There are many more appropriate places to look for a date. Women, like men, go to work to do a job. Women, like men, usually join sites like LinkedIn (as opposed to purely socially-oriented sites) for job or career related reasons.

              My biology in no way dictates that I ask women at work, or on LinkedIn – or anywhere – for dates. I work with a few women who are *extremely* attractive to me. My biology dictates that I notice that, and that I think something to the effect of, “Hey, she’s really attractive!” And that’s *all* it dictates. I don’t have to act any way in particular as a result… and at work or in any work- or professional-related venue, I keep my actions professional.

              1. Marcy*

                From someone who left a job after three months because I had to keep fielding this kind of stuff, thank you for getting it. I wish people could just go to work and not have to constantly be on guard.

              2. Heather*

                Working with people who don’t have the self-control and worldview of a 14-year-old is always pleasant :)

            4. Elizabeth*

              I’m married. Happily so. For 21 years.

              I am so far out of using LinkedIn for finding a date that that it isn’t even in the same solar system.

              I am on LinkedIn because I’m trying to make better use of my professional contact network.

              And yet. I get connection requests from creepy men who presume that having a picture of me (cropped from a professional photo taken with my husband) on LinkedIn means that I’m looking for a personal relationship.

              I’m glad for you that you’ve never had to experience this. It’s demeaning. My lived experience is that it is a misuse of what is supposed to be a professional social network.

            5. EngineerGirl*

              Male privilege absolutely has to do with it. Women don’t put their profiles on LinkedIn because they want dates. When you ask anyway you are basically overriding her desires for how the site is used. Hence a sense of privilege that you know best in spite of what the woman has posted.

        2. LizB*

          “It’s how we choose to act that makes all the difference.”

          Yes. And what I (and AAM, and most other commenters here) think is that people should choose not to use LinkedIn to find dates. If you know someone professionally and end up dating them, great! But asking someone out via LinkedIn, which people primarily join in order to network professionally and promote their career skills, is unprofessional and gross.

          1. LizB*

            Oh, and before you tell me to just not date someone who asked me out via LinkedIn: I definitely wouldn’t. But I still think it’s important to put out there WHY I wouldn’t (because it’s not an appropriate venue for dating, for reasons that do have to do with male privilege in a significant way, and because the action of asking me out on LinkedIn says to me that the asker doesn’t understand appropriate behavior or respect me as a professional) and discourage people from doing it at all.

        3. Zillah*

          Of course it does. “Male privilege” is why you think fielding come-ons in a professional environment is not a big deal, and why there are many women replying to you saying that no, it’s a very big deal.

          It’s is male privilege that you likely have to deal with come-ons much less often than women do.

          It is male privilege that you do not routinely have to worry about your worth as a professional being diminished because of your gender, particularly if you’re young and/or attractive.

          It is male privilege that you have likely never or only rarely had the experience of a stranger/acquaintance asking you out and then becoming nasty and vindictive when you said no. You have also likely never felt physically threatened when you turned down a date. I’m not sure I know any women that haven’t experienced this multiple times.

          It is male privilege that you can just say no and have that be that, rather than have to field “oh, why not? come on, just one date” or “stupid *****” or some other really uncomfortable behavior. I’ve experienced it enough that when a man I don’t know well asks me out, I steel myself to deal with it. It’s highly unpleasant.

          You have a different perspective because you don’t have to deal with the same nonsense that women do. That’s the definition of male privilege.

          1. Isabelle*

            “It is male privilege that you have likely never or only rarely had the experience of a stranger/acquaintance asking you out and then becoming nasty and vindictive when you said no. ”

            I’ve recently been followed twice, even after I made clear to the strangers I was not interested in their advances. A few years ago I was stalked over the course of several months and it was a very scary experience.

            Most men have no concept that these things happen to us on a regular basis. It’s bad enough having to deal with this crap in public places, we should not have to deal with it at work, ever.

          2. Yogi Josephina*


            (And male privilege is why you continue to argue your point and insist that your perception is the correct one despite the fact that multiple women who actually live this experience every day are telling you it’s not.)

          3. Sigrid*


            And echoing, again, that male privilege is insisting that your belief of women’s experiences (“oh, just tell him no. How hard is that?”) trumps the experiences of actual women.

          4. Ellie H.*

            For what it’s worth, I’m a woman who really hasn’t experienced any of these things and doesn’t really understand feeling this way (for example, I find being catcalled somewhat flattering and not unpleasant, or at worst, mildly annoying, and I view being asked out by someone you don’t want to go out with under the category of “sometimes you can’t perfectly engineer other people’s interactions with you”). However I accept that other women feel this way and have had these experiences because they say they do, and I don’t go out of my way to disbelieve people just because I don’t personally understand or haven’t experienced their perspective that is different from mine.

        4. CLM*

          Male privilege has *everything* to do with this, you’re just blinded to it. Which is the entire *point*.

        5. Lore*

          Yes. How we choose to act. As in, a man can note the attractiveness of a woman in the silent privacy of his own mind, and choose to act by *not* asking her on a date through LinkedIn or in the elevator.

    4. Mints*

      Yeah, like Jamie says, becoming real friends and romantic partners with someone you meet at work happens and is pretty much okay.
      But what’s described in the article: filter by gender, age, distance, industry, and school, and it’ll show you other LinkedIn users’ headshots, professions, hometowns, and alma maters so that you can decide who you want to hit up for a date. That’s absolutely gross. That’s not an organic blossoming in a business situation. That’s mining a website in a way that users don’t intend their information to be used

      1. Kerry (Like the County In Ireland)*

        Yeah, that just sounds like the Princeton Mom would be all over that.

    5. LBK*

      I don’t think it’s about dating within your work network or dating a former coworker or something like that, it’s going on LinkedIn and searching for random people you don’t know with the goal of dating them rather than hiring them (like you would on a dating site). That is totally gross.

    6. Snarkus Ariellius*

      There’s a huge difference between meeting a potential date at work by pure chance and deliberately using your professional network for romantic prospects.  The latter is pretty…stalkerish.

      Most people, especially women, want to be taken seriously in their jobs.  Being treated as a romantic prospect, instead of a well-respected colleague, is insulting.  And yes you’re not being respectful if you’re using work contacts to fill your romantic calendar.

      If you’re okay with this, you need to be prepared for the reputation you’re going to get from it.  If it backfires, you have no one but yourself to blame.

      For example, I had a vendor ask me out right in front of my boss.  It was so awkward and out of the blue.  (We were in an elevator, and I wasn’t even talking to this guy!)  You bet I told my coworkers about it.  I know my boss told people.  It got out.  Fast.  And not in a good way.

      1. Tom Collins*

        Thinking someone is a potential match is insulting? I can see it being inappropriate and perhaps obnoxious, but as long as they’re respectful in the delivery how is it insulting? Hell if they’re respectful how could it be anything other than a compliment?

        1. Shell*

          In a work-oriented, professional atmosphere, the work capabilities come first, attractiveness takes a backseat. In a work context, asking out someone you barely know gives the message that you’re valuing their looks and romantic prospect over their work, which is what they’re there for. That’s why it’s insulting.

          Now, if you work closely with this person and the relationship deepens from professional to professional and personal, great, go you. But the professional respect has to come first before trying for the personal. And frequently, it’s the other way around, and that’s a slam on women’s professional competence in the workplace.

          1. Tom Collins*

            Why is being attracted to someone because they look good to you a slam on their professional competence? Why can’t these two things be compartmentalized? I mean sure, if they start avoiding you in the office or play favorites with work then yes, that’s unacceptable. But if they can do that then why does it matter?

            1. Shell*

              It can be both, but the work has to come first. You said so yourself: in a professional context, the attraction part has to take a backseat.

              Now, if A and B are coworkers/peers/professionals that know each other and work well together and thoroughly respect each other as colleagues, and then the romantic overtures start, well, okay (with the caveat that the other can always freely turn it down). But if you jump to the attraction part before the rest it sends the message that that’s the part you find more important about them. In a professional context that’s quite inappropriate, for both men and women, because you’re at work to work, first and foremost.

              That said, because women has to fight against more historical stigma of being less competent than men, it’s generally more insulting to women.

            2. Marcy*

              Look, I don’t want my co-workers to find me attractive. I want them to see me as gender neutral. I am a professional and am there to do my job. It is not a compliment to have someone who should be seeing me as a professional telling me they think I am attractive. I had bosses, co-workers and even subordinates do that and it is scary and creepy. I am there to work and to be seen as a professional. I will never see that as a compliment at work. Telling someone they are attractive is something reserved for the appropriate venue and work ain’t it.

            3. Grace*

              There’s nothing wrong with finding someone attractive. That said there are plenty of reasons to not follow-through in the work place:
              1. If the feelings aren’t reciprocated it makes the asker look unprofessional and can also get in to the dicey area of sexual harassment charges (which can involve lots of people, manager, attorneys, and cost someone their job); and
              2. Most work place romances don’t work out. (“Don’t get your honey where you get your money.”)
              And things get dicey again when they don’t work out.

              There’s something to be said for asking friends, family, and neighbors for eligible prospects to date and not culling from the workplace.

        2. Snarkus Ariellius*

          Because it demonstrates to me that you dont value me as an equal. take my example. If I’ve been talking about Q3 figures and a man who doesn’t even know my name asks me out, then I know he doesn’t care about what I just said. He certainly doesn’t get context either.

          examine what you just said. If something is considered complimentary, I don’t have the right to be offended? I can’t decide for myself how I feel?

          You do realize that same rationale is used to justify sexual harassment?

          Work is work. Please treat it as such.

          1. Tom Collins*

            So then just shine those people on and move forward. I didn’t say you had to like it, I just said that it’s probably not something that’s going to change anytime soon. As long as it doesn’t actually rise to sexual harassment then is there really any harm even occuring?

            1. Zahra*

              The problem is that I have the impression that you’re considering all the occurrences individually. AAM has talked in the past about hostile workplace atmosphere with regards to sexual jokes and the like. This is not that bad, but it is the same attitude that leads to a hostile work environment. So there is harm in it occurring. If it happens often enough, in front of your colleagues and superiors, it undermines your professional reputation.

            2. Snarkus Ariellius*

              There is harm, which is why alison is posting this article. Look at all the responses. That alone should tell you about the harm in it, especially the potential for an unprofessional reputation.

              At least when I get spam, the sender knows I have abilities in the professional sphere.

            3. Katie the Fed*

              OK, let me give you an example.

              I was the senior expert on a team. Not a supervisor, but responsible for the substantive issues. One of the junior guys on the team I had worked with for a year one asked to talk to me for a minute, took me out in the hall, and proceeded to tell me he’d been harboring a crush on me for a year, really thought I was the woman for him, and he was just so crazy about me would I consider dating him.

              Here’s the impact it had:

              I never thought of him the same way. I had to re-evaluate every interaction I’d ever had with him and wonder if I’d sent signals that I was interested (I was not). I was on eggshells worried that I was sending the wrong messages at work. I was uncomfortable interacting with him. It absolutely affected our working relationship, but the real harm is in what it did to me and making me doubt myself and making me worry that I was coming across unprofessionally.

              No, it wasn’t harassment. But it certainly wasn’t welcome.

              1. Snarkus Ariellius*

                I felt awkward just reading this story.

                How did he take your response? How did he act after?

                1. Katie the Fed*

                  He took it really well. I also looped my own boss in because I was still new-ish and I didn’t know how to handle it. So my boss had a word with him as well, which I think probably increased the awkwardness a lot.

                  But things were always very formal and stilted after that.

            4. Ask a Manager* Post author

              You don’t seem to be acknowledging anyone else’s descriptions of why this is objectionable, so I don’t think you’re engaging in a good faith dialogue here. I’m going to ask you to listen to other people’s views before commenting further.

        3. Mike C.*

          Because no one wants to be treated like a piece of meat that exists only for the sexual gratification of a complete stranger when they didn’t consent to it. Why is this so hard for you to understand?

          No one is saying, “You’re not allowed to think so and so is attractive”, they’re saying, “Quit mistaking LinkedIn for the Casual Encounters section on CraigsList”. It’s not that complicated.

        4. Zillah*

          Hell if they’re respectful how could it be anything other than a compliment?

          1) Men often start respectful. When you say no, the situation can degrade in a hurry.

          2) It’s not a compliment because I don’t want to have to be gracious and deal with this nonsense from strangers. It’s bad enough I have to deal with it socially. I don’t need to put my energy into that in my professional world, too.

        5. Elizabeth West*

          I don’t think you’re getting it.

          LinkedIn is NOT for social connections; it’s for professional ones. Using it to troll for dates is creepy.

          Women have to deal with men looking at them as sex objects FIRST and people/professionals SECOND, ALL THE TIME. If you’re a man, how often does this happen to you?

          It’s not each person’s approach that is problematic; it’s the whole theme. It’s the all-the-time shit. It’s having to deal with that attitude every day. That is not the attitude women should have to deal with at work and on a work-related professional networking site.

          Same goes for men, if the situation were reversed.

        6. Sean*

          There is a time and a place. Thinking someone is a potential match is not insulting. Walking up to a woman you do not know, or barely know, at a professional occasion, ignoring her professional capacity, and asking her for a date, demonstrates a lack of social grace – at best. Doing that online, on LinkedIn, is the virtual equivalent, and it’s a pain in the ass to have to deal with that on anything more than an extremely infrequent basis.

        7. Annie Laurie*

          Yes, it is insulting, because it means that in the course of a professional interaction, the man has ignored professional boundaries and approached a woman on a non-professional level. All behavior at work needs to be kept at a professional level.

    7. A Bug!*

      Your analogy isn’t really apt. You note that people sometimes hit it off with folks at the grocery store even though people don’t go to the grocery store for the purpose of finding dates. That’s true, and fine!

      But that’s not what this app does. What this app does is the same as going to the grocery store for the sole purpose of assessing the other shoppers as romantic prospects.

      I don’t know about you, but if I met someone at the grocery store who was only there to troll for dates, I would find that unappealing, to say the least. The fact that maybe he also legitimately grocery shops there at other times wouldn’t make it any less unappealing, either.

        1. Tinker*

          Many men are perfectly capable of behaving appropriately in public and in professional contexts — this sort of sexist generalization about them is really not cool.

          1. Tom Collins*

            Many men, sure. But most men do many things with the hopes of meeting women. And one can speak to a woman that they see as a potential mate in public or professionally without being inappropriate.

            There will always be exceptions, but it’s an established societal troupe for a reason.

            1. Shell*

              Yes, some men do things like this. And women are allowed to judge them for it.

              Just because it’s common doesn’t mean it’s a great thing to do.

              1. Tom Collins*

                That’s definitely true. But my point is that trying to stop people (both men and women) from doing this all together is a futile effort. Judge them as scumbags if you want, but the idea of trying to enforce “no dating ever” on a website that lists people geographically and shows their picture is a futile, sisyphysian task.

                1. Zahra*

                  Trying to stop some people from being sexist or racist is just as futile, but we don’t shrug and let it go. They certainly can do it, but they deserve the judgement they get.

                  Also, if you’re the only one arguing for a side of case, and a man, and all the women are saying the opposite, you may want to check your privilege and consider that you’re missing some real life experience that relate to that scenario.

                2. Shell*

                  It might be futile, it might not. But we’re not actually petitioning LI to screen messages and automatically delete ones that have romantic overtures. What we are doing is voicing distaste over the practice on a public blog. The message may get out via word of mouth, the practice of soliciting dates on LI might diminish. Or it might not.

                  But either way, we’re not “enforcing” anything.

                3. Katie the Fed*

                  Nobody is trying to enforce it. But we can certainly call it out as inappropriate, or “terrible and gross.”

                4. Mike C.*

                  It’s not futile at all.

                  Speaking out is the only way things begin to change. Standing up and saying, “stop treating these women like a piece of meat” allows like minded individuals to join you, and forces those who don’t to be accountable for their actions.

        2. Mike C.*

          This isn’t a very good justification at all. Are you saying that because sexism is systematic, that it’s ok? Do you not see what sorts of roads that “it’s common, therefore it’s ok” lead down?

        3. Snarkus Ariellius*

          So if men do this, why is the onus on me to deal with it and/or ignore it? Why cant men just not use LinkedIn as a dating service to begin with? Don’t make your ignorance of professional boundaries my problem.

          Throwing up your hand and pleading a defeatist attitude does nothing.

          1. Apollo Warbucks*


            ignorance of professional boundaries is what it all comes down to, behaving in an appropriate mannor for the work place shouldn’t be so hard.

    8. Tina*

      I consider LI a professional networking site, not a “social” networking site in the way that term is most often bandied about.

    9. Kelly O*

      For me, it’s an issue of someone using a professional networking site for a purpose for which it was not intended.

      My information is not on dating websites. It skeeves me a bit to think that I might come up in someone’s dating results from LinkedIn – how would I determine that request to contact is legitimately based on a work connection, or someone who thinks based on my profile I might be a good date?

      I mean, I’ve had very clearly inappropriate contacts from LinkedIn, and to a point I expect a little of that (not because I am super smoking hot, but mainly because there are skeeves everywhere) but for someone to try to mine the site for that sole purpose? That’s where I lose my tolerance of it.

      It’s all about intent and purpose. Sure, I can say “married, not interested” or “no” – but why should I have to keep my guard up on a professional networking site? It just seems ridiculous to me.

      1. Callie*

        This is it, exactly! If I’m looking to find someone to date on the internet (I’m not), I’ll go to a dating website, because that’s what it’s for. Or MAYBE renew an old acquaintance through Facebook. but linkedin is for WORK, not for finding dates.

    10. Mena*

      Tom, remove ‘social’ from your definition of LI. It is a business-networking site.

    1. Us, Too*

      AAM is on a roll this week. “Weighing in” “courting problems” The puns continue!

  3. Adam*

    Definitely wrong and out of line, but I know why they’re doing it.

    They think they have a better chance of landing someone with a job.

    1. Jamie*

      They also have a better chance of annoying someone in the work world who is very not interested.

      How do you even determine someone’s marital/relationship status on linkedin? Talk about throwing darts in dark room full of dangerous critters.

      1. Kcliff*

        I assume though, that you have to opt in to the app and only then can you get messages. The app syncs up with your LinkedIn but doesn’t allow you to just troll LinkedIn and message people who have not signed up.

        1. Kcliff*

          Much like Tinder, an app for FB. The messages come through Tinder, not FB, but it syncs with FB in the same way.

    2. some1*

      Plenty of people lie & exaggerate on LinkedIn, though, including saying they are still employed somewhere that they aren’t.

      1. Audiophile*

        ^This. A lot of people claim to be still employed, especially when they were terminated or let go. I’m presuming this is because employers regularly check LinkedIn, so they want to give the impression that they’re still employed. But that just seems like a slippery slope.

      2. Kat A.*

        Several former employees of mine have lied on LI by claiming to have worked at places much longer than they have, by claiming to have held higher positions than they have, and by claiming to have accomplished goals that they never accomplished.

        Don’t believe everything you read.

      1. thenoiseinspace*

        True, but you get what you pay for, and in this case I’m betting you’ll get lots of people who will be royally pissed off that you contacted them for a date when they’re looking for professional connections.

        1. Tom Collins*

          People will get “royally pissed off” over a message that they can just delete and then block the person if they feel like it? We’re talking about an internet message here, not the end of the world.

          1. Tina*

            I did online dating (it’s how I met my husband) and once got contacted for job search advice in my field. Yes, I was pissed off. I ignored him and deleted it, but I was still annoyed. It’s not what I was there for and didn’t want people wasting my time.

            1. Tom Collins*

              Maybe this is my issue, but I don’t understand why this bothers people for more than the 5 seconds it takes to just delete it and move forward. It’s not like you were locked in a room and forced to listen to timeshare presentations against your will or something.

              1. Kay*

                Think about it the way Alison describes calling to find out who the hiring manager is for a position or to ask some questions about applying. One instance of this doesn’t take all that long for the receptionist or hiring manager to handle. But if you compound that by dozens of messages from many people in a space that you expect to be professional and not romantic, it’s frustrating and disrespectful.

                I’m going to assume based on your comments that you’re interested in women. If a bunch of gay guys started messaging you on linkedin for dates (when you don’t swing that way), would you appreciate it? Would you want it to continue?

                1. KellyK*

                  Exactly! One message takes 5 seconds to delete. But it’s not going to be just one message ever. It might be one, or ten, or a hundred. I can picture that being extremely frustrating for someone who’s using Linked In for their job search—who therefore needs to read every message from every potential contact, because it might be useful.

                  Dating sites exist. Bars exist. People are not so hard up for potential dating opportunities that they have to use LinkedIn like this.

              2. Tina*

                Well, it’s not like I dwelled on it all that long, though it did end up on a list that the roommates and I created with entertaining online dating stories :)

              3. Sarahnova*

                Perhaps you should consider that the many women who are telling you, from their own lived experience, that it is a problem might be right. Do you think they’re doing it just for fun, or to mess with you? Do you think it might just be possible that you might not know what it’s like to have to regularly deal with sexual advances in a context which should be professional?

                Or maybe you should just keep on ignoring them and confidently asserting that if they had their heads on straight and thought like YOU, they wouldn’t be bothered. Just wimminz, getting all emotional, as usual.

                1. Apollo Warbucks*

                  I followed @EverydaySexism on twitter for a few days and it depressed me so I had to stop, but it was a real eye opener.

              4. Mike C.*

                If you don’t understand why this is such an issue, why don’t you stop arguing with the people who think it is and listen to why it’s an issue?

                You keep going on and on and on about how all this is just no big deal, and that’s really easy for someone who isn’t constantly and unfairly held up to unreasonable body standards in nearly every aspect of their lives.

                1. K Too*

                  Tom Collins is pretty headstrong in his POV. I’m starting to think he’s involved with this app business or he’s the type to troll professional sites for dates. Either way, this app is a bad business model.

                2. Tinker*

                  Certain subjects have a way of attracting people who are very practiced in advancing a point of view, often in a way that is not entirely straightforward. This kind of looks like one of those cases to me.

                3. Yogi Josephina*

                  BINGO K Too. I’m actually starting to wonder if he’s done it himself and is feeling defensive, which would explain a lot of this.

                4. Tom Collins*

                  I’ve never hit on someone over LinkedIn and realistically I think it’s probably a pretty crap way of getting dates. My issue is that while probably a dumb idea, I don’t see how it rises to the level of the oppressive patriarchy keeping women down.

              5. Grace*

                If you were a Father and had a daughter, how would you want your daughter to be treated? Me thinks that your answers would change.

                1. Tom Collins*

                  I don’t think I have an opinion one way or another about my daughter being asked out over LinkedIn. If some guy was being an asshole to her I’d be upset but that applies no matter what the medium is.

              6. ITPuffNStuff*

                wait … we’re not supposed to lock women in rooms and force them to listen to timeshare presentations? no wonder i’m not attracting any dates. perhaps i need to adjust my approach…

              7. Jenna*

                It’s a boundary. Maybe it isn’t an explicitly stated boundary, but, it IS a boundary. And the person who messages you for something you are not there for is crossing that boundary. They are stepping over a line that exists.
                Women pay attention to people who cross boundaries. We pay attention to it like hikers pay attention to snakes on the path. Sure, it may not be poisonous…but, do I need to get close enough to make sure? Nope.
                For a hiker, dealing with things that are potentially dangerous, like snakes when they weren’t actually out looking for them, takes energy. Energy that they probably would have preferred to spend elsewhere.
                For women, dealing with boundary crossers takes energy, too. Most of us don’t really like being reminded of all the men who have crossed our boundaries in the past, whether they backed down gracefully when told, “No” or not. Many of us have dealt with men who have not listened to us when we said no. We have had to evade or fight back, and, though you may not be willing to listen to us say so, it takes ENERGY to deal with that.
                Why is it OUR job to spend that energy rather than the man’s to just respect that boundary?
                Linked in is for business contacts. OKCupid is for dating. They are both free.
                That is all.

          2. Colette*

            Let’s say you go to a job interview. You and your interviewer hit it off, and you’re thrilled at your chances for the job – and then your interviewer asks you out at the end of the interview. How would you feel?

            1. Tom Collins*

              That’s hardly the same thing. There’s no inherent power imbalance when someone asks you out over LinkedIn.

          3. Mike C.*

            Once again, why don’t you take a note and listen to people who have to deal with this crap way too often rather than just brushing it off as nothing simply because it’s nothing for you.

            1. Tom Collins*

              I am. I just happen to disagree with them. All of my replies have been thoughtful.

              1. Zillah*

                As a woman for whom this is not just theoretical, I disagree. You may think that you have been thoughtful; you have not. I think you’re probably just a troll, but on the off-chance that you’re not:

                You are not actually allowed to “disagree” with what women say are their experiences. When a woman says, “This was a big deal and really bothered me,” you have to acknowledge that it was a big deal and bothered her. You do not know what it’s like to be in her position. You don’t get to tell her that she’s wrong.

                There have been many, many women at this point (and some men) who have replied to you in this thread telling you why it’s a big deal. Your insistence on making us understand why it isn’t is not thoughtful. It’s patronizing, it’s rude, and it’s honestly a little sick.

                What we’re describing is a reality for many, many women that you do not experience. It is not just a few people with “baggage.” The experiences that we are describing are experienced by far more women than not, particularly young women. This is why many of us, here, are saying that we hate the idea of this app.

              2. Katie the Fed*

                You are clearly very committed to your argument, I’ll give you that. I really, really wish you could try to understand why women don’t find it flattering to be hit on in a professional setting, but I don’t find that likely.

              3. Mike C.*

                What makes you such an expert on women that you can go around and tell other women how they really feel about something they experienced?

              4. Ask a Manager* Post author

                Yeah, I’ve had enough of this telling women what they’ve experienced and how they should feel about it. You’ve made more than 20 comments here doing that. At this point I think it probably is trolling. If not, it’s something far more troubling. In any case, it ends here — this isn’t welcome, and I’m going to ask you to stop posting here.

          4. Leeloo*

            By no means is it the end of the world, I don’t see that anyone said it was. In fact, I’ve read through this thread and I don’t think anyone said they’d been contacted in a dating context over LI and been “royally pissed off”. But as thenoiseinspace very wisely points out, people might very well be.

            Think of it this way: people do go to professional conferences, meet people in a variety of capacities there, and sometimes some of those connections lead to dating, relationships, hookups, whatever- but far more often, to professional connections. People also get in touch over LI for professional reasons, and I have no doubt that at some point, some of those connections have developed into dating-related interactions.

            But if a person walks up to someone at a conference and asks them out, just like that, I say that’s disrespectful. It says “I think it is more important that I be able to treat you as a potential romantic/sexual partner than that you be respected as a professional in a professional setting.” A message like that being sent over LI, if anything, has less context and is an even more flat rejection of the addressee as a professional.

        2. A Bug!*

          I’d imagine it’s the same sort of reasoning that causes job applicants to engage in annoying behavior to stand out.

          That is to say, because LinkedIn isn’t a dating site, you can prowl for dates with little competition. If you ask 25 people out on dates and you’re the only one who’s soliciting them, then you’re guaranteed to be the one who benefits from the one person who shrugs their shoulders and says “Sure, why not?” If you’re on a dating site, then you’re just one of however many people who are soliciting them and then you have to actually impress them on your own merits.

        3. Kcliff*

          I’m fairly certain users can’t just contact any old person on LI, but only people who’ve signed up for the app. So if you signed up for the app, you’d be expecting the message.

  4. CanadianWriter*

    I’ve clearly selected a man repelling photo, because this doesn’t happen to me. Winning!

  5. louise*

    See, I agree entirely, but still wish that a particular relative of mine would factor in employment status when choosing a partner. Has 3 kids? Is a lovely human who makes you feel so cherished and special? Great. Doesn’t have a job that provides for those 3 kids and isn’t looking for one? Um, it’s okay to make that a dealbreaker. Love doesn’t put food on the table, people.

    /end rant. And I would never encourage her to look on LinkedIn anyway, I just think she should vet more carefully.

    1. Sunflower*

      Well I think actively looking for people on LinkedIn to date is strange. Looking up someone you’re dating on LinkedIn isn’t that weird. I use Tinder and I’ve talked to more than a few guys who clearly exaggerated or lied about their job. Tinder is a free for all but I think match and other sites you might need to put your occupation down.

      1. Felicia*

        Definitely. When I am about to meet someone from online dating, I google them, and LinkedIn is often one of the things that come up so I look. But actually trying to meet people to date through LinkedIn, and actively looking there, is weird. Looking people up on LinkedIn that you met in other contexts is often just part of googling them, which is not all that weird.

  6. Allison*

    I work in recruiting, so I have very few reservations about connecting with people I don’t know. But sometimes I disconnect from someone if they, for example, spam my feed. There was one notable user I disconnected from after he posted a status saying he was looking to marry an American woman so he could move to the US (and, I assume, get a green card). Not only did it seem like an incredibly unprofessional thing to say on LinkedIn, but I realized it was likely he’d connected with me for that reason.

    There are plenty of ways to find a date these days, there’s no reason to be using LinkedIn for that purpose.

  7. Clever Name*

    I would definitely be squicked out if a person contacted me on LinkedIn to try and date me. It would be like going to a networking event and then getting hit on like it were a speed dating event.

  8. Bend & Snap*

    I work for a big male-dominated company, and we have a creeper who scopes out female-heavy departments on LinkedIn, sends invitations and then begins a dialogue that ends in an unwanted invitation or comment.

    He’s actually been reported to HR for this, once a bunch of women put their heads together and figured out he was using the same tactics with all of them for the same end game.

  9. Former Development Researcher*

    Eh – I read the article, and to me, it seems less like “date your professional circle” as it is “confirm this person really is who she says she is.”

    To me, it’s no different than when I worked in Development for a University. We used LI to look for alumni so we can update our database with their employment history and decide which ones might be “high net worth.”

    We did that manually. Now there’s an app for it.

    1. Tinker*

      Er… that is maybe not the best comparison as far as convincing folks that this behavior is not obnoxious.

      1. Former Development Researcher*

        That was my point… (and why I’m a FORMER development researcher)

          1. Former Development Researcher*

            Oh no, my apologies. I was typing quickly and should have made sure that my tone came across better.

  10. Jubilance*

    I’ve heard a few stories about dating via LinkedIn; 2 from women who were annoyed when some guy asked them out via LinkedIn message, and 1 from a guy who mentioned how he met a woman out somewhere, Googled her, and found her LinkedIn page. Seriously folks, it’s not the place to ask a stranger for a date. I don’t understand these app designers – do people REALLY want to use their LinkedIn connections for dating purposes?

  11. The Real Ash*

    My friend was hit on via LinkedIn (Jezebel even wrote an article about it, which I will post as a reply so this comment doesn’t get lost in moderation). Guys really don’t understand how this kind of thing happens to women on a daily basis, and therefore don’t get why this subject makes us so mad. We want to be taken seriously for our knowledge and skills, and when we post on a website that’s solely for employment-related purposes, we really want to be taken seriously there and don’t want to be flirted with or hit on. That’s not the point of LinkedIn, sorry.

  12. Sunflower*

    This kind of happened to my roommate. I ran into this guy I knew from college one night when I was out with her. A couple days later, she gets a LinkedIn message from him and he was asking her out. He doesn’t have Facebook and he didn’t have my phone number so I guess he figured Linkedin was next best. The creepy thing is she barely uses Linkedin and her profile is clearly not complete(no picture, no descriptions of jobs). This guy was always a little off and this just solidified what I had already told her about him!

    1. Sharm*

      I totally get this, but was on the flip side, via a friend. To explain, a good guy friend of mine, who is about the sweetest guy in the world, met a woman when he was out and about, and they ended up hanging out for hours. He didn’t get her number then, and through a comedy of errors, they got split up and didn’t meet back up. He sent her a LinkedIn request after (because I guess she wasn’t on Facebook or anything else). He didn’t ask her out but he wanted to connect.

      Because he’s my friend, I knew he meant well. But I know as a woman, it comes off as frustrating. He wasn’t as aggressive as other dudes being described here, but I suppose it’s in the same vein. He’s my friend and I want to defend him, but… Yeah.

      1. some1*

        If I hung with a “sweet” guy for “hours” and want to see him again I’d ask for his # or email if he didn’t ask for mine first. It’s not just that your friend shouldn’t have sent her a LinkedIn request, he should have realized she probably just wasn’t that into him.

  13. some1*

    I only joined LinkedIn because I was unemployed and job searching. I would have been livid if some guy had used it to ask me out.

  14. Robin*

    It also seems really inefficient. How do you know that person is single, or attracted to people of your gender? None of that information is usually in a LinkedIn profile. I would say a good 70% of the people in my LinkedIn network are married.

  15. VictoriaHR*

    Nobody’s mentioned the safety issue either. You have to be super careful who you give your contact info to on the internet, especially if you’re dating. When I was doing online dating (also how I met my husband, FWIW), I wouldn’t even give out my email address until we’d chatted several times back and forth through the site. Then, after a period of emails, he could have my phone number, etc. There were just too many skeevy guys there.

    Knowing someone’s real name and where they work – yeah, not so much. No way, no how, am I letting prospective romantic partners know that info if I’ve never met them in person.

    1. KarenT*

      This is what I don’t like about it, either. My full name, current employer, city I live in, my alma matter are all displayed. I would never share that info with a dating site!

  16. Allison (not AAM!)*

    I totally agree with AAM. It makes me crazy how the lines separating social and professional have been blurred. I don’t expect to have to wear my hair in a bun with a shirt buttoned up to my chin and be called Ms. Soandso to see respect, but I do think that social media has really bred too much familiarity. We no longer live in the 1960s when the only reason women went to to work was to meet a man. We live in the land of abrv8d txts (grr!), a lot of entitlement, rudeness and a general disrespect for propriety. LinkedIn is a PROFESSIONAL site. Yes, I have friends outside of my industry as contacts, but if I want to talk to them socially, I’ll call them, or talk to them on FB or use a personal email. To date, every one of my contacts has followed the same unwritten guidelines.

    I know I sound like a grumpy old hag; in some ways, I probably am. I know that appearances make a difference in the way we are perceived in any situation; but it’s up to us, as adults to be respectful but warm, friendly, but not too friendly, professional but not too stiff, and to do the work that we are there to do. If you’re on LinkedIn, use it properly – to make professional connections. If you’re that desperate to get a hook-up, try a therapist…. :-Þ

  17. LizNYC*

    Maybe I’m not totally “getting” LinkedIn, but this is also why I don’t
    –solicit for charities I’m fundraising for on LinkedIn, since even though it’s the world’s break room, not everyone needs to know about every charity walk I’m doing
    –invite my LinkedIn contacts to casual functions. I once had a girl I was casually acquainted with from college (and also FB friends with) invite me to a Mary Kay party via LinkedIn. No thanks.
    –comment or act less than professionally than I would in an office setting, since I view LinkedIn as a virtual office break room of sorts.


    I think this is a bit of an overreaction. This app appears to work almost exactly the same way as Tinder: people opt-in to the app, it mines your Facebook (or LinkedIn) profile for information such as age and mutual friends. It doesn’t display any information on Facebook (or LinkedIn) itself and you will only ever see other people who have opted-in to the app. It’s just a more grown-up Tinder where people can see more relevant info than someone’s selfie taking skills.

    All of that said, I don’t see what the big deal is. My girlfriends and I often point out cute guys on LinkedIn while doing more ‘legitimate’ things, so if those guys are doing the same thing (which they 100% are), why not create an app to make what people are already doing go faster?

    1. The Real Ash*

      Because there are dating sites so that you don’t need to use a business site to pick up other people?

    2. Elizabeth*

      I’m not a subscriber to it. Everything I do on LinkedIn is related to my career, and since I’ve worked at basically one place in my adult life, there isn’t a lot out there about me.

      My understanding, from someone who did opt in to the app, is that my information appears when you do a search in the app for LinkedIn members in my community. Along with the happily-married guy I used to work with who now owns a local bar, and the divorced nurse who doesn’t work here anymore. I know that the bar owner doesn’t subscribe, and I’m reasonably sure that the single mother of 5 doesn’t either (her last marriage left her saying that she wasn’t going to raise anyone else’s adult son if they couldn’t be bothered).

  19. Freelancer*

    I’m a young woman starting out and a few months ago I worked in a young office. When my female coworkers would complain to me about the guys I felt uncomfortable. There was also a lot of jealousy directed at me because (as I found out later), half the men there were attracted to me. These new LinkedIn features are just going to everything more awkward.

  20. A Bug!*

    This has come up a couple times in comments and I wanted to put it in its own thread for emphasis.

    When I first read the article my impression was that the app – called LinkedUp – allowed users to browse for dating material from the entire pool of LinkedIn users. As noted in a couple of comments, I was mistaken, and possibly other commenters here have been, as well.

    LinkedUp appears to only allow users to browse from a pool of other LinkedUp users. You have to sign up to be included in the results and to receive messages. Unless the creators are lying, then nobody’s going to get hit on through LinkedUp unless they’ve signed up for it.

    So that resolves the issue of people getting hit on when they’re on LinkedIn for professional purposes only. I think the app is silly, but if it’s only facilitating connections between users of the app, then it’s really not my business if others want to date around their professional circles.

    1. James M*

      Exactly! The app is explicitly opt in. Users of the app won’t see your information if you don’t specifically authorize access to your profile (when you agree to the app’s TOS).

      1. Zahra*

        When I read the description on iTunes, it said it allowed you to mine your own network. Not all of whom have opted in. I may be mistaken, but that makes it particularly appalling.

        1. A Bug!*

          Not sure. I just looked at the iTunes listing and I didn’t see anything about being able to view profiles in your own network through LinkedUp even if they don’t also use the app. I do see a product review complaining of a low number of results, which tends to support the notion that it only shows users of the app to other users.

          This is a quote from the CEO: “What’s great about our application is and what helps keep LinkedIn professional is that you have to opt in to our platform to use it. So only people who want to be a part of our LinkedUp app are using it.”

    2. wanderlust*

      Yes, this. It’s opt-in, nobody is going to start trolling your LinkedIn for dates (unless they already are for some reason). Just like my facebook isn’t flooded with requests from strangers for a get-together, despite the existence of Tinder, so too will my LinkedIn inbox likely remain devoid of date requests. I seem to recall an unrelated article that mentioned LinkedUp isn’t even technically affiliated with LinkedIn, so it’s more or less a lawsuit waiting to happen anyway.

      1. Zillah*

        From what Elizabeth said above, it doesn’t seem to be exclusively opt-in, since both she and a couple people she doesn’t think have opted in show up on someone who has opted in’s search.

  21. K Too*

    There should still be concern for those that do opt into this app. If a user decides to LinkUp, hook up, and situations become awry, there’s no telling how “professional” users will be on either platform. What if the burned party decides to spam professional contacts about why they shouldn’t hire a person, etc?

    It will be interesting to see how many professionals will be keen on using this app for dating prospects.

  22. Lora*

    Call me cynical, but why do I feel like there will be an option for either 1) LU! users to upgrade and pay a fee to see people who are not signed up for the app or 2) LI users to navigate a horrible labyrinth of privacy settings and fine print in order to opt out of this app at some point in the not too distant future?

    Seriously, there are about eleventymillion (give or take) dating apps. People need this because they are more “vetted” and “authentic”? Hypothetically, as a not-straight woman, I can sympathize with this plight, as my two-week foray into online dating yielded many men who were…REALLY CONFUSED…about the “women looking for women” concept, but realistically, I suspect it is merely that guys outnumber women by a significant margin (I’ve heard anything from 2:1 to 4:1 depending on site) on internet dating, and this is viewed as a way to find fresh meat.

    In conclusion, ew, people are gross, the end.

  23. Joey*

    I don’t disagree that this is a bad idea, but if Linkedin came out with this “added feature” would that make it acceptable? Im just thinking of the social media sites that didn’t start out as a business tool, but capitalized on it after the fact. This doesn’t sound much different except for the fact that a third party is doing it.

    1. Lora*

      That would be even worse, considering that multiple social networking sites have had problematic spontaneous “use the fine print to opt out” settings changes. Including LinkedIn, who changed their default settings for users’ data to be mined by third parties for advertising purposes.

  24. Rat Racer*

    This a general question to go out to the ether: if you don’t have a professional headshot, is it considered in bad form to post a profile photo on LinkedIn? Personally, I don’t have a professional headshot; my LinkedIn profile pic is from my sister’s wedding because at least it was taken by a professional, I’m wearing makeup, and I’m NOT holding a baby. There aren’t many photographs of me that fit all 3 of those criteria.

    1. Sharm*

      This will probably be unpopular, but IMO, if you go with a headshot on LinkedIn, it should be as professional as you can possibly get, in professional work clothes. I mean, even if it’s just a shot from the shoulders up. This is totally my preference and bias, and I don’t mean to offend!

      But keeping in line with how I use the site, I expect professional headshots, and barring that, a picture that depicts you in your standard business attire. Now, the tech entrepreneurs I know are dressed differently than the bank VPs. I think that’s fine; but it should be the best photographic image of you.

      Just for the record, I think what you have is several steps up from the various partying, boozing, and grainy shots I see on LinkedIn. For those folks, I think it’d be better if they had nothing. But that’s just me!

      1. A Bug!*

        I feel like your LinkedIn picture should portray you as you might appear at an interview. Thoughtful cropping of a picture taken at a wedding might work, depending on the circumstances.

        I know for me, I have dresses that would work as well at a wedding as in an office, and since my go-to “special-event” hairstyle is to straight iron it, I could probably end up with something suitable for LinkedIn if the background were neutral.

      2. Rat Racer*

        Not offended, and actually agree – I had been thinking of hiring a photographer to take a professional head shot. Not for LinkedIn, but because I’ve been asked for a photograph for both my company’s intranet site, and a presentation to the Board, and it’s a little embarrassing to be the one person on the slide who is clearly not wearing a suit. (Not that I’m wearing spaghetti straps or anything, but it’s fairly obvious when someone is/isn’t wearing a collared shirt)

        1. Tina*

          If you’ve had so many work-specific requests, would it be possible for your company to hire someone to take the picture? Maybe even do it for all staff members they want visible on the website?

    2. Lora*

      I think it’s cool, because I am the least photogenic person on earth, so if one happens to turn out OK in which I do not have visible pimples, am not making a weird face somehow, and am wearing something other than pajamas, it’s like the stars have aligned and this photo is meant to be seen by other people.

      Although now I’m thinking of changing it to the one taken 2 hours before my friend’s wedding, in which my hair was in curlers, green mud mask on face, and I’m sticking my tongue out at the camera Calvin-n-Hobbes style.

        1. Suzy*

          Oh, yes! And the comments over there are hilarious!

          AAM has had some attention-getting posts, lately, including the Operation Smile one and now this! ;)

      1. amanda*

        I’m sure he’ll be back to explain to us that *he* is being harassed, and will absolutely accept our thoughtful disagreement.

  25. Anon5*

    “I’m sorry this happened to you but why do men collectively have to walk on eggshells because of it?”

    So it’s unfair for men to be made to feel uncomfortable by not being able to hit on coworkers but it’s OK for women to be made to feel uncomfortable by being hit on by coworkers? Why are the feelings of the men given priority in this situation?

    1. AnonEMoose*

      Because men, that’s why…I had to stop reading his comments because my eye muscles were getting sore from the constant rolling…

    2. K*

      Women are obviously only at work to be eye candy and get asked out on dates. What do you mean, they have their own thoughts and feelings??? /sarcasm

    3. Jenna*

      So, I keep running across guys saying, “but, not all men!”

      I finally came up with an explanation for the wariness that women feel when they meet a guy for the first time. You have read or at least heard of the Harry Potter books? Yay. Remember the Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans, that could be literally ANY flavour at all, pleasant or nasty? This is not a candy that you eat by the handful without looking! You examine each one and consider the color and any ANY clues you have before you eat it. Is it chocolate? It might be, or it could be something else that is brown of about the same hue and shade. This yellow one should be safe; probably it’s lemon …..oops.
      Men are individuals with widely varying EVERYTHING. Different personalities, expectations, capabilities, whatever. Most women have had experiences that make them wary at some point in their lives(it only takes one not-lemon bean to make you look very carefully at all the beans). Is it actually a problem for men that women evaluate each one based on ALL the clues available? ALL the clues includes behavior, boundary crossing(explicit or understood boundaries), clothes, scent, language, attitude, and anything else that can be noticed by the woman in the situation.
      Yeah, yeah, “not all men…”
      Go eat a handful of Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans and get back to me on that.

      (by the way, I wouldn’t touch Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans. I don’t like uncertainty in my candy. I’ll take nice predictable high quality chocolate every time. )

  26. NavyLT*

    I don’t know; I personally am so awesome that of course anyone I ask out on a date is going to be flattered.

    There’s a time and a place for asking people out on dates. Tuesday morning at the office isn’t really it.

  27. Jonathan K*

    I asked my girlfriend out for our first date via LinkedIn.

    Initially she thought I wanted a job (makes sense), but we’ve had a pretty amazing 6 months together.

  28. Vicki*

    I received a connection request a few months ago from someone I didn’t recognize. This happens a lot – they know me from a group or through a former co-worker, or through my work at previous companies, so I always ask “where do you know me from” before accepting (or rejecting) the request.

    He wrote back “…Not at all, do not really know you from any where. I came accross your profle picture while i was browsing through, i must confess that you are a very pretty lady. I could not take off my eyes on your picture when i came across it, so i decided to contact you. ”


    I reported him and LinkedIn was quick to respond, asking me for more information, then following up with this:

    “Thanks for bringing this to our attention. LinkedIn was never created to be used as a tool to send these types of messages. It’s both inappropriate and a violation of our User Agreement. Please know we will investigate and research your case and act upon our results.”

  29. Long time lurker!*

    Tom Collins, have you heard the term ‘mansplaining’? Because that’s what you’ve been doing this entire thread, and no one wants to hear it.

  30. ITPuffNStuff*

    … and while I realize this comment is 4 days late, if you can’t find a LinkedIn member’s profile on a site specifically for dating, there is probably a reason why. Contacting someone through LinkedIn about dating is unwelcome, to put it mildly.

  31. ITPuffNStuff*

    I have no idea if anyone is still interested in this thread 4 days later, but after having read it, I feel the need to point out that there’s a point when one must accept one is not going to change another person’s point of view. This seems to apply to both sides of the debate in this thread. There’s a point when, for practicality’s sake, one must agree to disagree and let others think what they will. One cannot bring *everyone* around to one’s own viewpoint. State your case, convince who you can, but accept who you can’t and move on.

  32. Lynn*

    Thank you so much for speaking out about this! Regardless of the range of opinions (which I’ve read in comments above) with regard to trying to establish norms for acceptable behavior on LinkedIn, I have to say that LinkedIn is losing a lot of credibility in my eyes. While I like the site’s original intent, lately it’s starting to seem like a place for older men to troll for younger women (have yet to come across complaints about the reverse scenario).

    If it weren’t for the possibility of photoshop abuse, I’d say this seems like a good idea.

Comments are closed.