After I got this exciting request for advice about five or so months ago, I must admit I was overtaken by fantasies of becoming the next Dear Abby. However, I received no further requests for advice and felt my fantasy wither away when it had barely just begun... until now, that is. Dun dun duuuuuuuuuuuuun.
I'm a reader of your blog and am hoping you have some words of encouragement for me. I'm a single twentysomething guy, and I've been part of the online dating scene for a while now, but never had much attention from potential dates. The last time I had a chance with a girl online, I somehow got too close and drove her away. I currently have the attention of someone else, but I'm worried that I'll make the same mistake again. How can I maintain interest in her without getting overly close?
-The Canadian Loner (hey, if you ask me something I'll let you pick your pseudonym too! Dear Abby doesn't even let you do that. At least I don't think so.)
So here is what I have to say to Mr. Canadian Loner.
When you say you have the attention of someone else, do you mean someone else whom you have never met? Look, I know it feels like you've met, but have you in fact met? And even if you've met, have you met more than once? More than twice? What I am asking, in short, is this: do you know this girl?
I have said before (here and here) that I am not the biggest fan of online dating, and one of the reasons is that talking to people online can easily breed a premature and ultimately false sense of intimacy. It is easy to tell someone a lot about yourself, and to hear a lot about her in return, and to think this means you must know each other, when in fact you don't because if you have not gotten to know each other in person, you don't know each other. This means that when (if) you finally do get to know each other, the connection that appeared to be there online may not be there in real life. This doesn't mean you did something to scare the other person away, but just that you pinned your hopes on something that never existed because it was only ever in cyberspace (i.e. your imagination).
That aside, I must say I am saddened and concerned about the sort of language you are using to describe your experiences: "the last time I had a chance," "I somehow got too close and drove her away," "I currently have the attention of someone else." Why CL, do you by any chance think you're not good enough for love? Have you fallen into the sordidly popular trap of thinking that if you could only behave in just the precisely right way, you could make anyone want you? This is not true, you know. Some people are simply not for you. Trust me, you would see it eventually. These people do you a favour when they don't waste too much of your time.
So by all means, meet this girl before you spend a lot more time talking to her online, and try to get to know her in person. But if she is resistant, just let it go without looking to pin it on something you did. She's not the last woman on earth, you know, and she is not for you if she doesn't make you feel genuinely comfortable.
(By the way, you should only be pursuing relationships with people who make you feel genuinely comfortable. And for goodness sakes, please make an effort to differentiate between feeling comfortable and having a case of the hot sweats.)
Best wishes and much xox,