Proposed a long-distance "meeting" trip with someone I've been interested in dating for several months. I agreed to pay for everything but now I'm feeling awkward about the entire thing. Details inside.
September 5, 2012 12:35 PM   Subscribe

Proposed a long-distance "meeting" trip with someone I've been interested in dating for several months. I agreed to pay for everything but now I'm feeling awkward about the entire thing. Details inside.

Metafilter,

I'm at a impasse yet again in my dating life and would appreciate your opinion on the situation.

(TD;LR my "dating help history" on Metafilter - It seems that I tend to prefer boys that live long-distances from me. I've dated locally and have really "put myself out there" but never experienced any positive result from that ever.)

I met someone from New York. We've been getting to know each other for several months and things have been progressing from friends to maybe something more. A month ago I purposed the idea of meeting and I would pay for the trip - because of his current financial situation. At the time this seemed like a good idea.

Flash forward to the present day - I constantly feel overwhelmed and stressed about this and here is why.

- 20 days ago I purchased a large house. I'm renting out part of it but till I get tenants I'm paying all the bills and its cutting into a significant source of my income. So money is more tight now. I anticipated the costs associated with all this however, cheques I was expecting to come in are taking longer then normal.

- A little about his situation: he recently moved from another state for school - he found out when he got to New York that his school applications where denied (applied too late). Hes optimistic he will be accepted towards December but between that time he doesn't want to get a job as he thinks it would be pointless with this "two week trip to Canada" and his struggles with a social anxiety disorder.

- His personality has kind of gone downhill. Since he moved he's sunken into a depression state. He's only ever seems to stepped outside his house a handful of times in the past month and never has anything interesting to talk about. In addition to this hes currently living off his mom. She isn't working so they are collecting money from the state and don't really ever have anything left over financially speaking. Hes also had to stop taking his regular dose of medication (for social anxiety) for a smaller dose because of financial reasons. This has made him even more lazy and depressed.

- I have had two long distance relationships and one local one. In all of them I put forth a majority of the money in the relationship because I was always the "responsible one" that had my shit together. No one in my age bracket that I'm interested in ever seems to be at the same stage as me - or have the same drive and ambition. I always ended up feeling stress because I was always expected to "take care of things" and well - its not always easy and it kind of made me feel not valued and crummy. So I fear that's going to happen again in this situation -- although he has explicitly said if we where to "get together" he would want to contribute somehow. I still wish there was a way he could pay half.

- I saved for 4 years for a downpayment so I could buy a house I liked. Lived at my parents during that time. I find now, living by myself - incredibly lonely. It really sucks and I do think it would help me feel better if he where here. In addition to that I have been kind of depressed myself because I've been reflecting on my past relationship with my ex from the UK and how much I miss him and can't ever get "in touch" again.

Anyway, I like him. We get along well as friends and have decent sexual chemistry and similar values - I don't know if I should change my mind now about the financial part of our plan. It's all hes had to look forward to for the past month - so it will crush him to find out my hypothetical change to this plan and put him into a position that he can't manage.

TD;LR - Long distance hypothetical meet, noticed personality changes, conflictions with money. Should I still offer to pay for the trip although it will add more stress on my end and potentially start things off on the wrong foot.

(PSPS: I'm 24, he's 20. We're gay. I live in Canada. I'm posting here because I seemed to get gay bashed over on Reddit :/ and my friends / family are way too biased).
posted by audio to Human Relations (31 answers total)
 
This is going to be a disaster. If you cancel, this will be a disaster for him but perhaps not for you. If you don't cancel, this will be a disaster for both of you.

In future, don't buy people you've never met trips to come see you. That is always a completely horrendous idea.
posted by Sidhedevil at 12:41 PM on September 5, 2012 [43 favorites]


I think that based on what you've written this is not a good fit anymore and you should back out and suggest you meet sometime when both of you can afford it. One of my gay friends from college likewise paid for someone to visit him from across the country and it was a really bad idea; the guy thought this meant that my friend would pay for everything in the relationship and took major advantage of him and it ended very badly. In general, I find that paying somebody else's way in a romantic relationship is a dicey thing to do if you are not in a committed agreement with that individual, so listen to your gut and wait.

Also, re: the fact that this is something your guy has been looking forward to for forever... Don't let him guilt you into going forward with it; that's bad on his end and means he doesn't respect you. He can deal with it. If he can't, sucks for him. Seriously. You can do better if he bails on you by sticking up for what's right for you and your finances. And him being depressed is neither your responsibility nor something you are obligated to ameliorate just because you are romantically involved. Do what's right for you, and if he's a good guy, he'll respect that and meet you halfway when the timing is right.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 12:41 PM on September 5, 2012 [4 favorites]


You've never actually met in person, right? Maybe I'm misreading this. But seriously, if you haven't met in person you don't know if you would get along as friends or as sex partners in person. Virtual relationships and in-person relationships are different.
posted by Sidhedevil at 12:42 PM on September 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


This is a bad plan. This is a terrible plan. No one's life has ever been improved by letting a depressed, anxious, unemployed stranger move in and become financially dependent on them. Seriously, if you do this, I have pretty much just described the AskMe question you will be posting in a few months. Hopefully you'll listen to us this time, because you certainly did not heed the chorus of voices saying that dating a stranger from hella far away only to become acquainted later is a bad idea.

Rent out your house (the whole thing!), get the hell out of Calgary, and move to somewhere you can have fun. You're young and you've got money; the world is your oyster!
posted by griphus at 12:43 PM on September 5, 2012 [35 favorites]


In addition to this hes currently living off his mom. She isn't working so they are collecting money from the state and don't really ever have anything left over financially speaking.

This is a big red flag for me--you're obviously disciplined with money and I think that his inability to pay for anything is going to be a deal-breaker for you. Better you should go to NY to see him than for you to fly him to you.
posted by Ideefixe at 12:44 PM on September 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


He's someone you've had fun with long-distance, but he's got a lot of issues. You haven't even started dating yet, but you see red flags and are concerned.

You say you think it will help you feel better if he were there. You seriously think that a depressed person will be undepressed just because the location changes? Maybe in the short term, but the guy's got social anxiety and depression and no real skills.

It's easy to fantasize about the ideal of someone if you've never been in the same room.

I say go with your gut and call off the expensive trip. He's got his own problems he needs to prioritize and you don't wanna be Sugar Daddy or someone's sole raison d'etre.

Yeah, it'll suck when you tell him, but you won't be the reason his life sucks. In the grand scheme of things, you'll have saved both of you a ton of heartache.
posted by inturnaround at 12:44 PM on September 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


I've dated locally and have really "put myself out there" but never experienced any positive result from that ever.

If you put a six-month moratorium on having long-distance virtual relationships, my guess is that during that six months you will see a real difference in how your local dating feels and how well it works.

You're very stuck in an idea of gay life as being somewhere else, probably New York. While you're in that fantasy, you're not going to be getting what you want from local dating.
posted by Sidhedevil at 12:45 PM on September 5, 2012 [7 favorites]


If you haven't spent much time physically in the same place, then a two week trip away somewhere might be a lot--it's a long time to spend 24/7 with someone you're still just getting to know. It's like jumping into living together (albeit temporarily) without ever dating.

Maybe it would be easier to start with going to visit him. Plan a long weekend in New York. Arrange your own place to stay (i.e. not at his apartment--get a hotel room, book a place through airbnb, etc.). If you have any other friends in New York, plan a short get-together with them for drinks, coffee, or dinner. Make the visit more low-key, but allow yourselves to spend time together in a dating-like way.

Finally, I agree with others that it's alarming that he says this is the only thing he has to look forward to. This doesn't sound like a person who has an interesting and vibrant life. This should not be a reason for you to go through with the trip if you're having second thoughts. It might be worth reflecting on whether this is a quality you seem to seek out in your relationships with others.
posted by pompelmo at 12:46 PM on September 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


Dear 24 year old little has his shit together house owning youngster:

I promise that there are boys who want to date the package you have to offer that are not this complicated, and they will be more fun. Do not pay to not have fun with this person.
posted by skrozidile at 12:50 PM on September 5, 2012 [24 favorites]


I'm the first one to endorse a LDR, Husbunny and I did this for 8 months before we became engaged and he moved to Florida to be with me full time.

This is madness. It sounds to me like this guy wants to visit and perhaps mooch until he can start school in December.

Who thinks they're starting school, moves to the location and only THEN finds out that they're not accepted to the school? That's just slackjaw territory.

You're not responsible for his depression, his expectations or his disappointment.

"I'm sorry, but we're going to have to put your trip up here on hold. I'm really financially strapped and a bunch of expected checks just aren't coming in. :-(

NEVER pay someone else's way in a relationship. Sure dinner here, a movie there, but if you set up a financial arrangement with someone where you're always paying, that ain't good.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 12:51 PM on September 5, 2012 [10 favorites]


...he recently moved from another state for school - he found out when he got to New York that his school applications where denied (applied too late)

Wait, what? He moved to a new STATE without knowing he wasn't fully accepted for school? I'm not completely familiar with the American university/college system, but, really? Especially with his apparent financial issues, this does not compute. [On preview, what Ruthless Bunny said]

Hes also had to stop taking his regular dose of medication (for social anxiety) for a smaller dose because of financial reasons

It's pretty clear that this guy isn't taking care of his mental illness, which, while very sad, is not your problem, and indicates that he is not in a good place for a romantic relationship. You can't save him from his depression by paying for this trip, and you're not causing his depression by (very reasonably) changing the financial terms of this visit.

I find now, living by myself - incredibly lonely. It really sucks and I do think it would help me feel better if he where here. In addition to that I have been kind of depressed myself because I've been reflecting on my past relationship with my ex from the UK and how much I miss him and can't ever get "in touch" again.

Actually... you don't sound ready for a romantic relationship right now either. It might be wise for you to take a break from dating and invest in yourself, your interests, your friends, your career. Grieve for your last relationship, and move on. Don't invest in a relationship with someone merely because you're lonely.
posted by Paper rabies at 1:03 PM on September 5, 2012


That feeling of doubt you're having? Listen to it. There are lots of red flags popping up here. His own situation is far from ideal. A long-distance relationship is not fulfilling your daily social contact needs.

You're dating and one of the points of dating is that you can end the relationship when it's not working. This would be very different if you were all like "weeeeeee, is it a bad decision if money's tight but I fancy paying for my ultra-lover to come play with me?"

Because right now you're like, "I'm having doubts, he's depressed, rationally I can make a case for it, but emotionally I have this big knot in my stomach".

You're young. Lots of road ahead. As many or as few lovers as you want to have. Listen to your instincts on this one.
posted by nickrussell at 1:07 PM on September 5, 2012


You have metafilter's permission to tell this guy "I'm sorry, but I have to cancel our plans, my life is way to financially stressful and complicated right now."

Quit dating for a while and quit long-distancing for longer than that. If you're really having so much trouble meeting the right guy anywhere closer to you than New York, then you should seriously consider moving.
posted by rtha at 1:11 PM on September 5, 2012


If you weren't half my age, I'd consider being your long-distance boyfriend, you financially responsible thing, you!

But I agree with everyone else. Gay men, in their quest for acceptance and companionship, seem to put themselves into financially intertwined relationships way too early. And that's what you're doing, and at a particularly tenuous time in your financial (and emotional) life.

You're young. You're doing well for yourself. You're having a rough time getting used to the new-found responsibility of a home, but having someone sponge off of you won't help with that, and once you start paying for someone's life, it's really, really hard to stop it cold turkey.

Change these plans. Let your friend stand on his own two feet for awhile before visiting you. He needs to pay his own way in life, honestly. It's as good for him as it will be for you.
posted by xingcat at 1:15 PM on September 5, 2012 [5 favorites]


As griphus pointed out in your previous question, stable people in New York don't need to date someone in western Canada. Please listen to the advice in that thread.
posted by Melismata at 1:17 PM on September 5, 2012 [5 favorites]


Boy this is a nightmare. I knew who wrote the question before the fold! Dude just listen to the comments you're getting in your ask questions, and play the field safe
posted by MangyCarface at 1:20 PM on September 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


He's living off of his disabled mother? No no no. This is a mess. He might be a nice person but right now he is a mess.

This trip is keeping him from getting a job, you're nervous about it financially, cancel the trip.
posted by the young rope-rider at 1:21 PM on September 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


This guy isn't ready for a relationship. These Birds of a Feather had the best recommendation - just back out and say "the timing isn't working. I can't afford it, neither can you. Let's talk in a few months and see how things are."

Be careful going out on a limb with people like this. You're already enmeshed in all his troubles, and you haven't even met. You don't need to have such low standards. Maybe in the future try to only date people who are in a stable financial position themselves. You can make that a rule.
posted by Miko at 1:26 PM on September 5, 2012 [5 favorites]


I find now, living by myself - incredibly lonely. It really sucks and I do think it would help me feel better if he where here.

This isn't a good reason to start a potential relationship off on a bad foot. Get out more, get involved in hobbies or your community, make more friends. Even if you don't manage to find someone to date, having friends and feeling less lonely will put you in a better space to manage your dating career.

Also: if you're that set on dating people from New York, and you have the financial discipline to save up and get a house, just save up enough to cover a year's worth of living expenses, a year's worth of frequent vacations back to Canada to check in on things, and if need be a year of nice perks for a responsible house-sitter, and try living in New York for a year. You're young. Now is the time to be open-minded and test the boundaries of your comfort zone. At least try actually living there until you rule it out permanently.
posted by The Master and Margarita Mix at 1:27 PM on September 5, 2012 [4 favorites]


The (seemingly) best part of long distance relationships with folks you've never met (and even those you have) is that you get to idealize them and put them on a pedestal and never get an idea of what day to day life with this person is like.

If you don't even have that from a distance, it's not going to get any better in person. Harsh economic reality: If somebody is paying for you to come visit them and you can't manage to not have a downward personality shift in the meantime, you aren't going to much better in person.

This guy could be a great guy in some way, probably is if he's trapped your attention, even from a distance. But that doesn't mean he's the right guy. And in fact, you're doing him a disservice by not cancelling the trip if he's using it as an excuse not to get a job.

And I've say this as someone who came out when he lived in a town of 30,000 people going to college with about 3 other out gay men. What I'm saying is that I know a little bit about meeting folks long distance for trips like you suggest. And they CAN work and be, if not a great relationship, tons of fun and a way to make great friends. But, because they require investment (and not just financial but time and a commitment to get past the 'weirdness' of 'holy fuck, this person is in my dorm/apartment/house and I've just really met them'), the planets have to align and you have to have NO flags if you're going to go through with them. You've got plenty of flags so do you both a favor and call the trip off.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 1:29 PM on September 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


Should I still offer to pay for the trip although it will add more stress on my end and potentially start things off on the wrong foot.

No. This dude is a bunch of red flags. Not only should you not pay for the trip, if I were in your shoes I wouldn't even be interested in meeting him. Dude sounds like trouble, and not the kind of trouble that's worth it, this early in the game.

It jumped out at me that you said you have decent sexual chemistry with him - this is someone you've never met. You have no idea what your sexual chemistry is like. I'm getting the sense that you put a lot of investment into long-distance, online-only interactions. Yeah, there are a lot of success stories for those but it sounds like the problem is that you have a hard time making the transition from long-distance interest to local relationships. But here's the thing.

It seems that I tend to prefer boys that live long-distances from me


There's more to it than that. You not only prefer boys that live long distances, you prefer boys you've never met and have only ever talked to online. It might be a good idea to invest some energy into considering the space between your online and in-person interactions and why you've had so little luck dating local. You know?
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 2:06 PM on September 5, 2012 [7 favorites]


I find now, living by myself - incredibly lonely. It really sucks and I do think it would help me feel better if he where here.

OK well here's an alternative POV. You can fly him over as friends; basically, offer him a vacation to keep you company. I agree this dude sounds like a disaster and would encourage you not to form a relationship with him.

In future, I don't care if you want to long-distance date, but for the love of your own sanity, date people in Canada. Dating people in the US is a disaster of heartbreak waiting to happen because of immigration issues. If you want a long term relationship, date people with long term potential.

Also, stop rescuing people. Find an equal partner. Dig up.
posted by DarlingBri at 2:11 PM on September 5, 2012 [5 favorites]


Cancel the trip. If he's avoiding looking for a job because of this trip, this trip isn't doing him any good either. It is preventing him from stepping forward. There are lots of good reasons for you to cancel this trip, from finances to a possible change in feelings, but cancel this for his sake.
posted by maryr at 3:44 PM on September 5, 2012


"I do, however, have a finely-tuned defense mechanism: whenever something trips my circuit breaker, causing me to cringe away from the page, I utter aloud a cry that resets my noggin. You will probably need it yourself, so I provide it here, as a public service: "OH JOHN RINGO NO."
Cancel the trip. Cancel the trip. A thousand times, cancel the trip. And run, do not walk, away from this guy.
posted by corb at 4:30 PM on September 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Hey, fellow romantically-notioned homo. I made this mistake when I was almost your age exactly. Only my depressed, anxious cybersuitor was in Canada and I was in NYC. She "ran out of money" and stuck around longer than planned, draining my bank account and will to live for the next five years. This smells like trouble. Please pass on this one.
posted by Lieber Frau at 4:52 PM on September 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


It's clear from your question that the idea of paying for this trip is causing you a lot of stress. It's possible that your doubts about this guy are also part of your stress - that's not entirely clear.

No potential relationship should require you to sacrifice your financial security and sense of well-being. Nor should it require you to put another's needs before your own.

RuthlessBunny has a great script. His response will give you some clue as to his character and where he is in life. If he has a bad response, you'll know you definitely dodged a bullet and a very uncomfortable 2 weeks. Either way, you're going to feel a lot better after you back out.

Honestly, I think that you're not entirely comfortable with where this guy is in his life and the planned trip is starting to seem like something that ties you together - just when you are starting you realize you don't want that. I hope you'll give him some distance and try meeting some friends - not dates, just friends, gay or straight - in your area who are on your level in terms of responsibility and general having-shit-together. It sounds like you might not have a tribe. Having a tribe is good.
posted by bunderful at 5:48 PM on September 5, 2012


Cancel the trip. There are SO MANY REASONS why and you could pick any number of the ones above, but if you like, you can just go with "financially stretched right now."
posted by sm1tten at 6:03 PM on September 5, 2012


you don't say to what extent you've committed to him coming. did you already buy a plane ticket and it's non-refundable/you'd take a huge hit? how likely do you think it'd be that he'd refuse to leave? and in that case, how hard would it be to kick him out? (presumably, the Canadian police would not take kindly to a trespassing alien.) will it be financially difficult for you to spend time with him? eg, walking around in a park half the day, fucking, ordering pizza, watching a movie, fucking .... is that the deal? or is it going to fancy restaurants, golfing, ...???

i agree with other advice that this is bad in the long term, i cringed at:

he recently moved from another state for school - he found out when he got to New York that his school applications where denied (applied too late).

applied too late?!?! i could sympathize with "overly optimistic, applied to a lot of schools in the area and wanted to live there anyway", but not with "[i don't live in a world where deadlines for a big decision in my life don't matter]".

however, if you feel stuck in a rut, given all those qualifiers, i say enjoy yourself, but be skeptical. keep in mind that he may be consciously or subconsciously trying to manipulate you. this might be the kind of thing that gives you a reward that makes you realize what you've been looking for, and re-energize your search. you can remember what you've been fighting for.
posted by cupcake1337 at 9:26 PM on September 5, 2012


No one in my age bracket that I'm interested in ever seems to be at the same stage as me...

What is this age bracket exactly? As a 24 year old with your shit together who owns a house (!!) you might want to consider dating older rather than younger, at least for now. 20 year olds do not have their shit together. But 25 year olds? 26? 28? Or even 24 or 23? The having of shit that is together is much more likely at these ages.

Also, and I say this as a gay Canadian with an American partner: for your own sanity, please PLEASE do not wish the immigration nightmare upon yourself. Rule out Americans on the internet. Period. If you happen to meet an American in person and get into a relationship, THEN you can deal with that shit. Don't go out looking for it!
posted by snorkmaiden at 11:06 PM on September 5, 2012 [4 favorites]


This guy, of all people, should be able to understand "I can't afford this right now."
posted by Houstonian at 4:13 AM on September 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


I saved for 4 years for a downpayment so I could buy a house I liked. Lived at my parents during that time. I find now, living by myself - incredibly lonely.

I've always found transitioning from living with someone to living alone to be really tough. You get used to always having company and it's very, very difficult to suddenly deal with all these extra hours by yourself. I always found Friday nights to be the hardest; if I didn't have plans on a Friday night, I dreaded going home from work to be by myself.

The good news is that that period of loneliness is temporary. Living alone is an adjustment, but if you give it a couple of months, the feeling of loneliness will go away. Jumping into a relationship isn't the right answer. Wait it out, adjust to living by yourself, and then date someone later on for the right reasons.
posted by whitelily at 9:36 PM on September 7, 2012


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