Friday, February 24, 2017
This week, I’ve been texting a guy who reached out to me online. We had all sorts of fun, teasing texts earlier in the week, with mentions of possibly getting together for a quick drink and Hello on Thursday. Well, time passes with no word from him after Tuesday. Finally, at 5:00 PM Thursday, he texts me like no time has passed. I’m cranky.
Question: I really hate feeling ignored, and yet I know I’ve never met him, and he’s not in love with me, and, aside from all that, he’s leading a busy life. What’s reasonable to expect in the texting phase?
Online Dating Lesson #1: In order to stay happy and sane as an online dater, hold zero expectations until you’ve met your connection face to face. It’s kind of a good rule for life in general, too—if you haven’t met someone, you can’t trust them for anything.
Train a little part of your brain to say to you, “this could be a twelve-year-old girl I’m texting,” because hey, that’s actually plausible. Or you might be sending sexy texts to a guy twice your age who has no intention of ever meeting you but is lonely and bored in his marriage. It could be someone who’s housebound who flirts via text to pass the time. These scenarios are all as plausible as him being the awesome, busy guy that he bills himself to be.
I vote we change the term “internet dating” to “internet connecting”because you’re not really “dating” online; you’re just gaining access to people you wouldn’t normally run into in your real world. The actual dating happens out in the cafes, the restaurants, the parks, the bowling alleys—not online. It’s why I stress taking your online connection offline and into the real world right away. I know you were already trying to do this; I’m just throwing a reminder out there for the readers.
You have every right to be irked; I know I would be if someone said, “Let’s meet Thursday” and then didn’t make a plan to follow through. My suggestion for next time is to text Wednesday night and say, “Hey, what’s the plan for tomorrow?” This is what we do when we make plans with friends.
And for this one? Even if he is exactly as he appears on his profile, you’ve now gained new information about him in the data collection process. What did you learn? He’s flaky. He’s not count-on-able to keep his plans with you. He’s already shown you disrespect and bad judgment. I’d throw this one back into the sea, and know this: It ain’t you, it’s him.
I’ve been dating my boyfriend for a little over a year. He’s thoughtful, has a great sense of humor and is overall really good to me. But having been in a few long-term relationships, there’s not the fireworks I’m used to with this guy. I really care about him, but deep down I’m just not sure. I don’t want to hurt him.
My other relationships have been intense. I was deeply in love with equally painful break ups. That deep “I would move mountains for this person” feeling is the emotion I’m fixating on here. I just don’t have that for my current boyfriend. I’m not sure what to do.
Have you ever been to a Fourth of July fireworks show that never ends? Yeah, me neither. Fireworks in any relationship fade over time. However, that dimming of the flash and bang is replaced with a delicious sense of belonging and knowing when you’ve hit upon a keeper, so it’s kind of a trade. You can always reignite the fire and crank up the heat again when you’re intentional and creative about it. But that magic spark doesn’t just happen all on its own—there comes a time in every relationship where it stops being totally easy and instinctual and starts taking some work.
I hear you when you say you’re fixated on that “I’d move mountains for them!” feeling, but I’d ask you to ask yourself a different set of questions about the relationship you’re in now:
- Would you follow him anywhere?
- If you had children, would you want them to be like him?
- Do you have deep respect for who he is as a person?
- Do you really like him, and does he make you feel good about yourself?
- Are you physically and emotionally compatible?
These questions, while not a guarantee for relationship longevity and happiness, will get to the heart of how you feel and if you have a shot at harnessing staying power. If the answer is “no” to any of these questions, you’ll hurt him if you stay or if you go—so you can’t wiggle out of that one. Hurting people, while we try not to do it as much as possible, is a part of the human experience, and at the end of the day, it’s always better to be honest—both with yourself and with your partner.
I wish you the best of luck contemplating you next steps!