Q. I met a guy on an online dating site and we dated for eight weeks. He took me out every weekend, texted me almost every day and, about a month ago, started calling me during the week. He was a gentleman who always opened the car door and helped me on with my coat. He surprised me with chocolates on the third date and took me out for a wonderful Valentine’s Day. On date four, I told him I wanted a long-term relationship and he said the same.
About six weeks in, we started to talk about our past relationships. Nothing spectacular, just the usual failed attempts. We were very comfortable with each other. He always told me how excited he was to see me and how he felt a connection between us. That night I asked him if he would consider me his girlfriend. The label didn’t matter, but I wanted to know where I stood because we were becoming more intimate and were both still on the online dating site. He said he wasn’t ready to be exclusive but that he was moving in that direction. I said I understood, didn’t push, and didn’t bring it up again.
On our last date, two days shy of eight weeks, he introduced me to his friends and we spent the evening out together. He asked me to stay at his place because it was late, but I said I’d be OK to drive home. That was Sunday morning. He texted on Monday, I thanked him for a wonderful eight weeks on Tuesday, and he called on Wednesday night. He assured me that he felt the connection, really liked me, and that there was no other girl. His profile was even hidden on the online site. He felt like he had to take a step forward or a step back and he chose the step back because he couldn’t be exclusive and didn’t know why.
Was eight weeks in too early to know if we were exclusive? Should I have not asked? Does anyone else feel like this is something you have to ask when online dating is involved because the status of the relationship is not as defined as if he was someone who I had met on the street and had treated me the same way?
I Also Thought Everything Was Going Smooth,North Dartmouth
A. Your question isn’t what killed the relationship. He just wasn’t feeling it. He probably doesn’t even know why. That’s dating. Please don’t blame yourself.
Also know that Internet-spawned relationships are no more confusing than the ones that start in a bar or at work. There’s always a weird “what are we” phase after a few weeks. Even if we can’t go online to see whether someone’s dating profile is hidden, we can confuse ourselves with their Facebook pages or read into text messages and body language.
My only advice is to try to enjoy the first few dates without thinking too much about what’s next. I know you want a serious commitment and it’s great that you’re clear about your intentions, but that’s a big topic for date four. Again, you didn’t do anything wrong, but I hope that during the first few weeks of any relationship, you’re allowing yourself to have fun, feel giddy, and ponder the next two weeks as opposed to the next two years.
I wish I could tell you why this guy flaked out, but whatever happened, it’s on him, not you. Take a few deep breaths, have a few dinners with friends, and go back online.
Readers? Is this her fault? Is online dating more confusing than meeting someone in real life? What happened here? Help.
At work, I’m surrounded by young women who overthink every relationship because they just can’t wait for the one that’s gonna be the one. If they would just stop playing the role of Date Woman playing The Dating Game and relaxed a bit, they’d be happier and their relationships would likely be more satisfying. Stop setting goals early on, have fun, be yourself, say what you want to say, stop thinking about dating being some power struggle, and live your life.
Stop putting everything on a timeline and just enjoy the dates with no expectations. Asking eight weeks in if you’re exclusive isn’t wrong, but it sounds like you came on a little too strong in the weeks leading up to that discussion and he cut ties. Also, I would stop overanalyzing body language and other actions. Just because he brought you out with his friends doesn’t mean he’s ready to be exclusive.
It’s hard to give advice on a letter when no one did anything wrong, per se, and there really isn’t that much to be learned from it. I don’t think you were wrong to ask, and he wasn’t wrong to tell you like a grown-up that you guys weren’t on the same page after all. It just happened. That’s all.
Meredith, for the record, he didn’t flake out. He moved forward until, like you said, he realized he wasn’t looking for long-term and exclusive. He was honest. Let him be.
The fact that he felt he had to take a step forward or back suggests he felt some pressure to make a decision of where your relationship was going. You can’t put a date or timeline on everything. Next guy you meet, let things evolve naturally and don’t question every little motive or action with a weekly play-by-play. Just live in the moment and see what happens. I think sometimes we miss the real good stuff when we’re focusing too much on the future.
It wasn’t the question, it was the sleepover that didn’t happen. He wanted you to stay because he wanted you to stay — not because it was late. That is just a polite excuse. Sounds like the two of you had different expectations for the relationship. He wanted it to move forward physically, without commitment. You wanted more of a commitment.
If you need to ask the question, you’re not going to get the answer you want.
There is no such thing as online dating. There is online meeting and it is not inherently better or worse than any other way of meeting.
“I thanked him for a wonderful eight weeks.” Yeah, that’s weird. I’d have hit the road at warp speed if anyone had done that with me in my day. You’re screaming anxious. You exude pressure. You scared him away. Chill, baby. Chill.
ANDIALWAYSDIDColumn and reader comments are edited and reprinted from www.boston.com/loveletters. Meredith Goldstein can be reached at mgoldstein@globe.
com. She chats online on Wednesdays at 1 p.m.