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Dating Advice #61 - Missing the 'Goodbye' Word

May 9, 2009 | by Rosie Einhorn, L.C.S.W. and Sherry Zimmerman, J.D., M.Sc.

She has two guys on her mind. One of them never calls. Should she take that as a hint?

Dear Rosie & Sherry,

I was wondering if you have any words of wisdom regarding on-line dating, and one situation in particular.

Several months ago, a guy contacted me through a Jewish online dating service. We exchanged a few e-mails and then phone numbers, and got to know each other a bit. I felt like we were both marriage-minded and on the same track, although I guess I did not find out enough specifics about his situation. A few weeks after the initial contact, he came to my city for a long weekend. We enjoyed some great dates and he seemed to be everything I have been looking for. He was charming, intelligent, attractive, ambitious -- and had a strong Jewish background. At the end of the weekend, he promised we would see each other again soon.

The visit was followed by phone calls, which became less and less frequent, and a few weekends during which he suggested visiting, but never did due to various "reasons" (illness, work problems). Strangely enough, at one point he even asked if I would consider marrying him. I said yes.

He phoned me just before he took an extended vacation last month, to let me know that he wouldn't be stopping in my city on the way back. I haven't heard from him since he returned.

In the meantime, I met a great guy in my city who I've gone on several dates with, and who I like more each time I see him.

Do you think I should just forget about the online guy and focus on the local, available, and interested man? Do you think I need to get some sense of closure with the online guy? Or, should I just presume that the message he left, letting me know that he wouldn't be stopping in my city, was his way of telling me that he is no longer interested and that we will not see each other again?

I really like the local guy, but my thoughts still occasionally drift to the online guy. I have not contacted him since he returned from his vacation, because I figure if he were still interested in pursuing a courtship, he would contact me and make an effort to get together again. I don't really understand why he would bring up marriage, though, and then disappear from my life.

Your advice would be appreciated.


Dear Anna,

Your instincts seem correct. The online guy doesn't appear to be interested in moving anything forward.

We think that you handled the online correspondence in a reasonable manner. It's always good to meet relatively soon after starting a correspondence. This way, the mental images you have of each other are quickly replaced by real-life observations. Also, some of us hit it off very well online, but something is lost in the transition to face-to-face contact. It's better to clarify early whether a face-to-face meeting is to be the first of many dates, or whether one of you feels the potential isn't as good in reality as it was virtually.

The online guy may have felt this way after your weekend of dating, or he may have decided not to continue for any of a dozen other reasons -- e.g. indecision, not ready to get married, or concern over the geographic distance between you. His last phone call seems to have been his subtle way of saying, "Goodbye."

You asked us why he brought up marriage but never followed through. This may have been something he said on impulse, or perhaps it was just an idea he was "exploring." Remember, he asked if you would "consider' marrying him, which is a gulf away from an actual proposition.

It seems that you have a good thing going with the man you are seeing now. You should continue to enjoy his company and see what develops.

In order to do that successfully, you need to close the prior chapter in your life. It would be easier for you to do this if the online guy would have actually said the word, "Goodbye." But since he didn't have the courage to do so, you'll just have to accept that's what he meant.

Don't look back. Instead, move forward, and count your blessings for having met a great local guy who you like more each time you are together. This may lead to a great marriage.

Rosie & Sherry

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