Are Online "Dates" Really Dating?

Dear Toni--

I am "seeing" a man I met online. We have actually met and been together only twice. However, things went well and I really like him.

After our second encounter, I approached him about our online profiles still being there and active. He made it clear that he did not like it that I continued to remain available online. So, I removed myself. But he is still there. When I brought this up, he told me that he has made friends with different individuals that he enjoys talking to, but never intends to meet. He asked me to trust him. He has also informed me since then that he does not like to be pressured. He now says he did not tell me to discontinue my profile, yet at the same time made it clear he was mad I was still there.

I feel I am not being respected. I also feel I am not getting what I am giving. I would really like to continue seeing him. Am I being stupid?
--Looking For Cyber Equality

Dear Looking For Cyber Equality--

Online dating has spawned a whole new generation of dating questions and confusion related to the proper do's and don'ts of virtual meeting and relating. Your situation is a good example of this.

Coupled with the usual concerns that come with the meeting, getting to know you, and the rightness (or wrongness) of moving forward with a relationship; we now have dating that occurs primarily through emailing and the occasional face-to-face encounters that were once the only way we dated and got to know each other.

Individuals can communicate with many prospective partners at the same time without the effort and expense of planning and actually going out and spending real time together. No one knows for sure that what they are being told is for real. Nor do they have the same opportunity to experience the person's personality, appearance and way of handling themselves and the world around them. In other words, they have a very limited experience that doesn't allow them to truly get a feel for (and picture of) the other person.

The positive side of meeting people online is that it offers singles a much greater pool of people to meet and choose from than the traditional way that has become more and more difficult as the world becomes larger and more transitory. Therefore, though online dating offers many advantages, it must be approached somewhat differently. This is where your question comes in.

You have met a guy you are interested in. You got together twice and it seemed to go well. Yet there appears to be some miscommunication or misunderstanding about what each of you wants and where you go from here. The answer will lie in how well you can move from cyber contact into more traditional dating. Have you discussed getting together again? Have you spent any face-to-face time talking about your interests, goals and plans for the future? Have your dates been a fun, active, sharing time that allowed you to experience each other in person as potential significant others?

If not, this is where you need to begin. If he is unwilling to offer you more than email contact and the occasional get- together, he is not ready to move forward with a real relationship. This could be due to lack of readiness or lack of interest in pursuing this kind of relationship with you.

Instead of discussing the status of your online profiles, talk about your feelings of interest and desire to know him better. Ask him if this is what he wants as well. If his answer is to avoid the issue or focus on his feelings about "not being pressured" by you, than he is telling you he is not ready to move the relationship along. Pay attention to what he DOES, not what he says. If he doesn't want what you do, this will be evident fairly soon. Then reactivate your profile and begin communicating with other single men who appear to possess the qualities you are seeking. For his behavior has made it clear that he has not earned the right to ask you to limit your interest to only him.

Like in traditional dating, when there is withdrawal and silence you need to listen carefully to his non-verbal language.

(from March 2004)

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"Online Dating"

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Toni Coleman, LCSW
Phone: 703-847-1768


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