Saturday 20 January 2018

Orla Barry: How long should I wait to meet my internet love in the flesh?

Library Image. Photo: Getty Images
Library Image. Photo: Getty Images

I started on online dating sites a few months ago after a friend of mine met a really nice guy that way. I met three people from one site but they didn't do their pictures justice. There was one guy though who contacted me and seems really interesting.

We have been emailing and texting each other for over eight weeks now and we seem to have an awful lot in common. I told him I'm new to this and he said he is too. He is much more fun than any of the other guys online and much more responsive.

I started on the site because I'm just out of a six-year relationship after which I was left broken-hearted. My ex is seeing another girl already and I'm desperate to move on and meet someone else. The chats with this guy are the first really great conversations I have had and it has cheered me up to hear from him.

I have been honest with him about my situation and he has been great at giving advice. He said he is also recently out of a relationship and is just getting over that too. I know this sounds ridiculous but I feel really close to him, almost as if I am falling in love with him. I can't wait to log on every day.

A couple of things are bugging me though. A few times I logged on late at night and he responded really quickly but after a while started suggesting stuff that I had no interest in pursuing. It only happened twice and I'm not overly bothered but I don't want to end up with a sex maniac.

The other thing is that I suggested about two weeks ago that maybe we should meet up and then I didn't hear back for a few days. I thought I had frightened him off and he subsequently contacted me again saying he was away with work. However, he never mentioned meeting up again.

Usually I'm not the person who has to suggest meeting up. I know I am attractive without being big-headed and the photo of me on the site is really good. I don't want to push things in case I frighten him off. Then again -- how much longer should I wait?

Orla replies:

I can't help hearing alarm bells go off no matter how important this person has become to you. The reality with many internet-dating sites is that we have no idea of who we are dealing with. The internet has become an integral part of the dating scene and yet the reservations we all had initially are still valid.

Waiting around much longer is going to make little difference. You need to either meet up or move on.

Well done on taking a pro-active approach to dating. Being out of a six-year relationship is hard, particularly now that your ex is with someone else. True, many say the best way of overcoming a break-up is to get back out there again. However, don't forget that you are a little vulnerable right now.

I imagine when you met those three men you found yourself comparing them to your ex. In the early days after a break-up, we tend to compare everyone to our former partner, and few match up. It takes time to meet someone and accept them just as they are.

You say you are desperate to meet someone else but this desperation may also hold you back. Other people sense we become needy or too eager for a relationship and it can frighten them off. You should learn to start appreciating your single life and enjoy this dating experience.

Six years with one person means it's been some time since you have been on your own. It's important to learn to be at ease with who you are and your own single status. I suggest you treat this internet dating scene as a bit of fun and if you do meet someone special then that's a bonus.

There is plenty of advice on just how much time you should allow go by before meeting up with someone you've connected with online. People do move at a different pace. Some want to take their time and prefer to learn a little more via email first. The only way you can really make a judgment about anyone though is when you meet face to face.

Two months is a long time to email anyone without an indication of when you are going to meet. If he is resistant for much longer, I would guess he has no interest in meeting up.

There are many people on dating websites who are there simply for the sexual exchange. It may only have happened twice but I would worry that this may be the real reason he is online.

That said, I don't know what he said to you and perhaps if it was late at night, he felt he could push the boundaries a little more. It is clear what you want from this but he has not been clear. You need to find out, and soon.

You say you feel almost as if you are falling in love with him which does sound ridiculous, yet also plausible. Online we can make ourselves whoever we want to be. He knows you are broken-hearted and he has already become the funny guy who cheers you up.

He claims he is also out of a relationship which means he can empathise with you even more. The fact is you have no clue whether any of this is true. What you do know is that it has made you feel better. Don't undermine the effect of that but do see it for what it is -- a distraction.

You are receiving attention from a considerate stranger but that's all he is right now. Asking someone to meet up after a couple of months of emailing is hardly rushing things. If, once again, he doesn't respond, you will know that this is simply not on his agenda.

Then you can decide whether to continue the correspondence or not. If he makes up another excuse, don't buy it. He is not interested in meeting or in a relationship. Move on.

In the meantime, give yourself time to get over the last relationship. No one magically forgets about a former love and falls immediately for someone else. The things we learn about ourselves during the hard times are usually far more significant than when things are going well.

Enjoy your new single life, try other dating sites or methods and, most importantly, have fun meeting new people and creating new friendships.

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