Saturday, 31 December 2011

Courtship and Cowardice Online

It has come to my attention that there are Catholic men out there courting Catholic women very attentively by email and instant message and then suddenly disappearing into the ether when the going gets tough (e.g. plans to meet in person have fallen through). I do not know the scope of this problem, so I will set up a poll.

I cannot throw stones because when I was a young woman I used to talk about marriage with my poor downtrodden boyfriends, which led them to think I would marry them, and then I would break up with them because I was bored. This was terrible behaviour, for which I am now very sorry.

Meanwhile, I don't remember anyone telling me this was terrible behaviour--ooh, except one guy one frozen night one New Year's Eve, green eyes aflame with righteous indignation. I seem to remember we were inside the doors of a bank, by the cash machines, and he was actually yelling. Meanwhile, he had never even been my boyfriend, although he wanted to be. Oh dear, what drama.

Bad, bad Seraphic.

Anyway, enough about me. I am reading too many stories about this happening now, to girls, to very nice girls, to very nice Catholic girls, who are contacted by likely lads on Catholic dating sites and chat rooms. The boys write to the girls about their hopes and dreams, while thinking out loud that these might be the nice Catholic girls they'd like to share their lives with. But instead of ever meeting the nice Catholic girls, the Catholic boys eventually simply disappear without a trace, as if they had never said or thought any of this stuff.

First question: has this happened to you?

Second question: have you pulled a similar online disappearing act?

Please answer the poll and confess all below. For once I will allow Anonymous comments.


Anonymous said...

I wasn't sure whether to vote, as this did happen to me a few years ago, but he didn't break up with me until we had met up three different weekends. So at least he had the courage to ask if we could meet up in person and follow through. It really was a romance of emails though. He was a VERY good writer, and wrote very interesting things as well as very complimentary things about me. I was known to spend three hours responding to a single email (thank goodness it didn't last too long!). I tried to guard my heart and all that, but I had definitely started falling for him before we met up in person.

I'm sure there were a lot of factors entering into why he broke up with me, but I think part of it was the harsh reality of interacting in person. He was well-intentioned and wasn't doing this consciously, but I think when he began emailing me that he was trying to prove to himself that he was over his ex-girlfriend (he ended up telling me that he wasn't). It is easy when you're just writing to someone to pretend that they are everything you are looking for, but it is harder when interacting in person and over the phone every night not to feel that something is missing, if indeed it is.

Anonymous said...

Can I chime in with a non-web version of the same? The first guy I dated used to tell stories (both before and after we actually started dating) criticizing his male friends who were slow to get married--the end line was always something like "Can you believe that guy? He's been dating her for [# of months or years] and still hasn't asked her yet." Or, when vocations came up in our circle's discussion, he'd say things like "Well, I know what mine is" in decisive tones. And of course, we talked about what our families had been like growing up, and told each other our theories on children, etc. He broke up with me after we held hands for the first time (which was after a longish month) because "It didn't feel right." Grr!!

Anonymous said...

I've had an experience like that of the first Anon commenter. Loads of emails and im's and texts. A bit of in-person "hanging out" followed by total radio silence. So I guess it doesn't quite count, although I thought the "hanging out" went well. Worst part is that an extensive correspondence doesn't entitle you to an actual break-up ... so awkward and embarrassing not to know what's going on, I'd rather be told than have to guess.

Little Mary said...

Hmm... I did have one guy who came on fairly strong, then didn't write much, then he asked for my number, and never called; I had other prospects, so it was fine but strange ... I did have another guy who I wrote for awhile, and after the first call I ended it... I just couldn't believe he was straight from his voice, conversation, etc.

I'm not doing online dating right now, but when I was, I know it was hard to know as a girl how to express that I only wanted to do a few emails and then phone and meeting without "leading." I suppose just laying it out at the beginning or in a profile might be good...

There are great guys that are online, but there are a lot of guys that look okay by email but you really wouldn't want to date in real life... I have a feeling these are the disappearing men, because they know that if they met you, you'd probably end the romance.

AnotherAnonymous said...

I've had two fellows pursue me online - neither went as far as talking marriage or anything, but the first did vanish mysteriously. He initiated contact and suggested we meet. I must admit I wasn't super enthusiastic; maybe he picked up on that. But I was perfectly amenable to meeting him and giving him a chance, as we lived in the same town. On the appointed day, however, he was nowhere to be seen, and never contacted me again.

The second one I ended after three dates because I simply wasn't interested, which was a shame because he was really nice and we had a lot in common. Still, I could just tell that it was simply not going anywhere. I hope I didn't lead him on by corresponding and doing the three dates, but I wanted to give him a fair chance. Our correspondence was quite light, so I hope he didn't feel like I wasted his time... ought one to give just one date in such a case? I knew so little about him, it didn't seem possible to judge how much chemistry there might be without seeing him a few times.

Grad in a big city said...

My story is a bit backwards. Met nice guy in person, really hit it off, went on one date and then switched to emails / phone for reasons of (temporary) long-distance separation. Before that separation ended, he had become bored and went AWOL...though he was polite enough to admit that he was bored and bailing when I called him out by asking what was going on.

Anonymous said...

Okay, okay, so I had to ponder how answer the poll in an HONEST way...and my memories of on-line dating make me chuckle. So, a few years ago I signed up for catholic dating online. Now I am a loud, outspoken, obnoxious person about my anti-online dating position, but I was back then too. I allowed myself to be talked into signing up by friends who met online and are now happily married. "Ha!" I said to myself, "I won't expect ANYTHING out of this and I'll keep it a secret!" Well. Famous last words. I corresponded with very nice gentlemen, most of whom lived very far away and well over 40. All of them, without exception. It was all fun and games UNTIL I met a real man who asked me out to a the event of the social season -- a fancy dress ball. I really really liked this guy and figured he was THE ONE. Sort of, with an extra sprinkle of maybe. So right before, as in the day before, one of the fellows on-line asked me out to the VERY SAME BALL and further, asked his best friend about it. Yep. The friend was my date.
So I went with the first fellow, met the second, and immediately took myself off the website. And went home to cry into my pillow from sorrow and laughter. Sorrow to realize with every fiber of my being that neither man was the right one, and laughter at myself that I could be so silly in trying to control falling in love.
Mostly, it was the humiliating embarrasment of cowardice I think.
I still laugh about it, but as I look back, I do wish I had been clearer about the whole thing to both gentlemen and not dropped out of their world so unkindly (equal to extremely rude and thoughtless).

Andrea said...

It is my opinion that the online world mimicks the "we met in real life" dating world. As such, if men can be very interested in "real life" and then take off, they can also do so online. I haven't done much online dating, except to meet one fellow who I was very interested in and who was likewise very interested in me. We met, dated, he spoke of marriage... and then subsequently, after about four months of high interest on both sides, told me he was confused and unsure. He took some days to think/pray about it and we broke up after that.

This is not exactly what you are asking for, but it's an online dating story gone awry, of sorts. In any event, I think what happens in "real life" also happens online so it doesn't really surprise me that guys/girls would write a lot and then disappear.

Anonymous 4 said...

This happened to me. It was someone I knew, but in another town, one I was probably moving to for work. Over online chat, he revealed he was interested in me, and it was suggested that if I did end up moving there, maybe something would happen. We talked about hopes and dreams for the future, he even talked about how many kids he wanted (many). Correspondence continued, mostly over chat, sometimes email, on rare occaision, phone. At one point I straight up asked him if he was pursuing me, because I was confused. He said not now, but maybe when I was in his town.

Months later, I did move there for work, but I was careful to avoid the perception that I was moving for this guy (while I had plenty of reasons to trust his good character and strong faith, I did not know him well enough to justify such a move, and there was no real understanding between us aside from what I have already described). We spent considerable time together in the beginning, and he was a good friend and guide to my new surroundings...but he NEVER MENTIONED our online conversations. Not once. There was no asking for coffee, no defining of relationship conversations at all, nada. He acted as if he had never declared any interested at all. He did not pursue me in any strict sense of the word, and though there were plenty of occaisions which my hyperbolic brain could have labelled as "dates" or "interest", they were not really anything of the sort and nearly always involved other people.

In the end, it all hurt very much and it all could have been avoided if there was no such thing as online chat...or if I knew as I know now how to guard my heart.

Seraphic said...

Maybe a good way to protect oneself from fake emotional intimacy is to type "I would never discuss anything so personal as my hopes and dreams to a guy I had never even met in person!"

Internet relationships are semi-imaginary relationships. To really know a person, you need to meet them. You really do.

Seraphic said...

Oh and that reminds me. My dear old last ex-boyfriend Volker told me that he probably wouldn't have pursued a (ultimately short-term) romantic
relationship with me if I weren't such a good writer. Me as me--he just wasn't that into me. But me as producer of witty emails that made him laugh... Well. That was a different story.

What a nightmare if you're all choosing correspondents on the wittiness of their emails when the guys you'd really like can barely spell and so you reject them. Oooh la la. Ask me again how I feel about internet dating.

healthily sanguine said...

I can't vote in the poll. I don't believe there is such a thing as "online romance."

SAM said...

Coincidentally, Max Lindenman, who you have linked to before and of whom I am a big fan, wrote a piece on his blog about grieving an online relationship.

I thought it was very nice, and topical for this subject.

Naive said...

What about someone you know personally for years, who lives in the same town as you do, who sends you a ton a emails daily, but you meet him only 4-5 times a year? Isn't it awkward?
I'm seriously thinking to stop answering these emails. It draws me in some sick atmosphere of romantic expectation. Every other week I expect that God will enlighten him so he will realize I'm the right one for him. But nothing ever happens. For worse, I'm getting angry with him (because he's so blind and stupid) and with God (so unmerciful). Maybe it's time to get angry with myself, being so stupid and naively hopeful. And I'm completely aware I wouldn't think so much about it if anyone else were around. But noone. Zero. Total desert area.
Btw.both of us are singles, devout Catholics, extroverts, have the same worldview, similar professions, many common interests. And he doesn't communicate with tons of people in the same way, I'm sure.

Anonymous said...

More of an online flirtation. By the time he'd asked for my real email several times or if I really intended to visit, and I'd just ignored the request. He stopped writing and so did I. So I guess that would be a yes and a yes.

I still miss talking to him, but don't like to meet people I've flirted with on line unless we have at least one RL friend in common. So - I have way too many yahoo addresses, but . . .

Another Anonymous

Anonymous said...

I've had one guy pursue a correspondence and actually fly to meet me--and then I didn't like him, and felt terrible about it. I had been a bit hesitant about meeting so soon and told him so, but he was willing to take the risk, so I don't feel like either of us did anything wrong. We clicked over the phone completely but I didn't feel any chemistry in person, so this has made me incredibly wary of leading guys on in this way. I broke off a correspondence with another guy who said he would come meet me because I felt pretty certain it would go the same way, and he also was being a bit clingy.

Anyway, I have had plenty of other guys send measly messages and then stop through a certain dating website. I met one guy in person who basically dumped me after three dates and kept trying to string me along. And against my better judgement I got into another long correspondence with a guy who wanted to meet me and then couldn't because of work.

I also find myself writing to guys who never show romantic interest. I'm assuming they get the same thing out of it that I do, which is just to exchange ideas and keep in touch. Still, at the back of mind, I wonder what's stopping them from taking the next step?

My philosophy is that it's worse for the guy to "poof." He has the option of pursuing; the girl can give him a chance for a while and then say no. She hasn't done anything wrong. But if he pursues and pursues and then runs, he's abusing his privilege. Of course anyone can lose interest or find the other person incompatible, but in my experience long-distance guys are VERY reckless about this instead of being VERY cautious.

It's all pretty discouraging because I've met quite a few guys but nothing ever seems to work out.