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Love Letters

They never met

Q. I started e-mailing this guy I met online for a few weeks, and it eventually led to us exchanging numbers. We mostly texted (we talked a total of three times) during the course of a month. During the time that we were texting, I asked if we could meet. He has a young child that he is the primary caregiver of, so that was his excuse for not being able to get together (or even talk on the phone).

I really felt like we “clicked,” and he would always say that he thought I was pretty and wanted to meet me and get to know me better, but I decided to end it because I was tired of waiting. He explained to me that his child and some of his other activities took up his time, but I shot back and asked him why was he on a dating website to begin with. After that conversation ended, I wondered if I should have given it more time.

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Things are different from when I was younger. People talked on the phone and went out. This is not my first experience with guys not really making an effort to meet, but they want to continue with texting. How long are you supposed to wait before you know the guy is just leading you on? Please help me so that I can go into the next “online date” with more understanding.

When is it time to meet?, Mass.

A. Your instincts are right. If a guy hasn’t made plans to meet after a few rounds of messages, you have to move on. The point of online dating is to date in person. You’re not doing this to find a pen pal.

As for the phone, well, that has changed a bit. People certainly talk on the phone, but they also e-mail and text. Phone calls are important, but I wouldn’t worry about them until you’re in a relationship. Really, you probably shouldn’t have more than one phone conversation with someone before you’ve actually met them. Some people just aren’t very good on the phone, and you need the in-person meeting for context.

This particular guy wasn’t right for you. He didn’t have time to date, and he’s all talk. And by that I mean all text, which is a common problem these days. There are many people who prefer texts to real interaction because it’s stress-free, low effort, and a quick fix for pseudo-intimacy. Texts should be the icing on the cake of a relationship. You need to find the cake.

Even with crazy schedules, a date should happen within three weeks. Go find someone who wants to see you in the real world.

READERS RESPOND:

He didn’t want to meet you. Who cares why? If you want to meet someone right away and the other person doesn’t want to meet, then move on to the next person.

You did the right thing. You have standards and when this guy failed to live up to them, you ended it. Setting and maintaining boundaries are a good thing.

He’s married. End of story.

Column and comments are edited and reprinted from boston.com/loveletters. Meredith Goldstein can be reached at mgoldstein@globe.com.
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