moving e-romance from IM to phone(or skype)?
October 4, 2010 6:35 PM   Subscribe

crush on internet guy-he hardly ever wants to voicechat. what should i do?

i've been talking to a guy online for ~6 months. he's really funny, intelligent, cute, and i like him a lot. but i'd like to take it up a notch by moving to voicechat more regularly rather than IM. he IMs me all the time and makes it obvious he likes me, but he seems really hesitant with voicechatting and told me he's too tired the last time i asked and he asked if we could do it another day. whenever we talk about it he acts like he's nervous and when we're about to Skype he will talk about how nervous he is, like he's about to get on some scary rollercoaster and wants to bail while waiting in line. he also never is the one who asks to Skype, it's always me (i've only asked about 5 times in 6 months)...

he does seem shy in voice. but i am very shy, too, and i'm willing to push past that comfort zone to talk to him. english isn't his first language and he seems like he's pretty introverted. he's also very inexperienced with girls (he's a virgin in his mid 20s and has only kissed once). so i'm trying not to take it personally and i really don't want to be pushy or annoying.

sometimes i have taken it personally, and have brought up talking less on IM/cutting back our chats. but then he plainly states that's not what he wants and that he enjoys talking to me and cares about me (god i feel like such a nag). so...i don't know. maybe i'm overanalyzing this entire thing too much. i really don't want a pseudo relationship on the internet and i'd love to meet him in person as soon as possible, but he's told me how he's worried i wouldn't like him if we met in person and nothing has been set in stone. there has been a tentative plan of him coming to America (but in like a year...), and he has told me i'm welcome to visit him in Europe but i just don't have the confidence or motivation to visit a guy in another country who can't even talk to me on the phone regularly first.

how should i go about this? should i try to take our chats less seriously, consider him just an e-friend, and focus my attention on more fulfilling pursuits(easier said than done)…? i feel like i'm wasting my time with this sometimes. but it's hard to move on when i like him so much and i look forward to talking to him each day.
posted by achtland to Human Relations (26 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
should i try to take our chats less seriously, consider him just an e-friend, and focus my attention on more fulfilling pursuits(easier said than done)…? i feel like i'm wasting my time with this sometimes.


You don't know someone you haven't met in person. Period. So, a statement like "he's really funny, intelligent, cute, and i like him a lot" has an air of unreality to it.

You might have strong evidence that these things will turn out to be true, but you don't know yet. It'll be nice if you can find out eventually, but if there's just an optimistic chance of this happening a year from now, and he lacks the confidence to, essentially, talk on the phone after 6 whole months? I would not get very invested in him at all.
posted by John Cohen at 6:42 PM on October 4, 2010 [2 favorites]

You didn't really make it clear, but does he know you feel this way about him? Does he know how important voice-chat is to you? Does he know that it is this very one specific thing that is making doubt things?

I'm asking because, well, a dude does not get to be a mid-20s virgin without being at least really oblivious to this sort of stuff. That's anecdata, of course, but it sounds like you haven't made yourself clear to him in the smack-upside-the-head sort of manner that he may require.

Make sure he knows that you want to do this regardless of how he'll sound and that no matter what happens you won't feel differently (that is: negatively) about him. When you actually get him on the line, encourage him while simultaneously taking the spotlight off him. Tell him that you're having so much fun can't wait to do this in person. Make him feel really good about this thing that he is doing without making him feel self-conscious about his perceived deficiency (i.e. I'd avoid "your accent is so sexy.")
posted by griphus at 6:50 PM on October 4, 2010

should i try to take our chats less seriously, consider him just an e-friend, and focus my attention on more fulfilling pursuits

yes. voice chatting ("talking") with someone you don't actually know in person can be very trying for a lot of people.. hell, talking with someone you DO know on the phone can sometimes be agonizing... and you want him to do it in his second or third language?

Given that you're on different continents, this is UNQUESTIONABLY something you should not be investing a whole lot of energy into romance-wise.. he's a friend you like to chat with on IM and nothing more -- there's a whole world of guys out there in your town to actually date.
posted by modernnomad at 6:50 PM on October 4, 2010 [3 favorites]

posted by Ironmouth at 6:53 PM on October 4, 2010 [9 favorites]

Just as a data-point, I HATE phone calls/voice chats, find them hugely stressful, especially with people I am only just getting to know, even more so if I care about how they perceive me. And when I have to make a phone call in my second language, I get even more worked up.

It could be something similar with him, especially if he is really into IMing. My advice would be not to push with the voice chats until you have met in person. Then he might be more comfortable with it.

There's no real reason IMing should feel less intimate than talking.
posted by lollusc at 6:53 PM on October 4, 2010 [4 favorites]

I feel like i'm wasting my time with this sometimes. but it's hard to move on when i like him so much and i look forward to talking to him each day.

If it's not fun anymore, you are wasting your time. You two have no plans in the near future to meet up. An online-only relationship should be all fun, and once it isn't, you should ditch it immediately. I think (reviewing this and your past question) that you should start focusing on meeting guys in your area. Online dating might work well for you, particularly if you're willing to meet up with people after an initial screening. The guys you meet probably won't measure up to this guy, though, because they are real and he is a fantasy. Try to work past that.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 6:54 PM on October 4, 2010 [1 favorite]

Reading this and your previous question, I really think you should spend less time (and no more emotional energy) talking to this guy online and focus on getting out and meeting people in the real world, in low-pressure situations where you can date casually before getting to emotionally or physically serious. Finding local dates through online dating may also be a good option for you, if you have trouble meeting people at social events.
posted by Dasein at 7:02 PM on October 4, 2010 [1 favorite]

English is my first language, and I am not a shy person nor an inexperienced nervous dude, but if I'm going to have a lengthy conversation, given the choice, I greatly prefer to do it either in person or in writing. This is true even when I've talked to the person many times before, but especially true when I haven't. It seems to me like a lot of people are this way, but that could be my confirmation bias.

If it is extremely important to you to have phone/voice chats, this guy may never be the right guy for you. Or, he might become more comfortable of his own accord once he is less nervous around you in general. But I wouldn't bank on it if I were you.

This: i really don't want a pseudo relationship on the internet
seems to be your problem, not the voice chat thing per se (correct me if I'm wrong.) The thing is ... if you guys were to meet ... then what? Can you move anytime soon? Can he? Would it be a good idea for either of you to do that given you don't really know each other? (And I am not trying to be harsh, but trust me, no matter how much time you spend talking to someone online, you do not know them AT ALL until you've spent significant amounts of time with them in person.)

If you don't think it would really realistic to move to be together anytime reasonably soon ... I understand it would be hard for you to give up this thing that makes you so happy, to the degree that it does. My suggestion would be not to just drop it all cold turkey, but gradually start finding real life relationships that can replace what you're getting out of this.
posted by Ashley801 at 7:03 PM on October 4, 2010

I hate talking on the phone more than pretty much anything, even with friends. I'd rather meet in person every time than talk on the phone. The fact that he's in Europe and you won't be able to see him in person at any point in the near future kind of makes the relationship difficult to take to another level, even if you can talk on the phone.
posted by elpea at 7:04 PM on October 4, 2010 [1 favorite]

You know, I've seen a few of these questions (about dating and clashes about what mode of communication to use), and the answers always seem to break down along a sharp divide, which we're already seeing here.

Some people will definitively assert that he is married, and this all has to do with him keeping this a secret from his spouse.

Other people explain that he has completely reasonable concerns.

Why do we always see that divide? Because we really have no idea. So we might as well guess.

Here's the thing: it's not very important for us to try to guess what's really going on. Because the issue of IM vs. phone (or "voicechat") is not the main issue here.

The issue is: are you going to get invested in a guy who's this blocked off from you in so many ways? If he does agree to talk more, that would remove one of the things blocking you off from him. But there would still be the larger issue: why are you choosing to spend so much time on a guy who's so, so far from being available? Why don't you choose to date some guys who live close enough to your home that you'll be able to see each other at least once in a while?
posted by John Cohen at 7:06 PM on October 4, 2010 [7 favorites]

Why do you see talking on the phone as somehow a 'next step' in your relationship? I find telephone conversations to be much less intimate than text ones (with face to face being the most intimate, obviously). Sure, you hear the person's voice, but other than that it is for a lot of people way more awkward and stilted than writing is.

As for what you should do, if you are planning on investing time and emotion in this relationship, you should meet him, like, immediately. But you don't sound like you even have a chance of meeting him for at least a year. You say you both really like each other. I'm not sure how much online dating you've done, but the truth is, you really don't know each other. I've done quite a bit of both chatting and talking to internet guys that I've later met, and they are never, ever like I imagine them in person. Sometimes they are as good in a different way, but until you meet in person, you do not know them. You both like a fantasy of the other that you've created in your heads. Expending a huge amount of time and hope on him without the chance of seeing him soon is a bad idea, regardless of what a nice guy he is. Go out and meet people who live near you.
posted by frobozz at 7:14 PM on October 4, 2010 [1 favorite]

I know you're shy, and the internet is great, but you need to focus your attention on real people (or at least, people whom you *can* easily meet, when the time for that next step comes) rather than a self-admitted shut-in in Europe who doesn't even have the stones to talk to you on the phone when he already knows you like him.

If you keep this wan flame alight, it will prevent you from making a real connection with someone without the kind of hang-ups that prevent phone calls when you've been talking for months, and may very well live a lot closer to you, as well.

Failing that, you need to make some requests. Relationships are two way streets, if he can't compromise on this, I wouldn't be holding out a lot of hope for other compromises down the road.
posted by smoke at 7:23 PM on October 4, 2010 [1 favorite]

Do you both have webcams? Maybe he'd be more comfortable with a video chat setup, where he wouldn't feel like he had to fill "dead air", and could see your reactions.
posted by serathen at 8:05 PM on October 4, 2010

i really don't want a pseudo relationship on the internet

You have a pseudo relationship on the internet.

This man is digging in his heels to keep it that way. He's given you a little bit, enough that you look forward to talking to him every day, but he won't let the relationship progress, for whatever reason. It may be he's severely shy, or he's married, or any number of reasons, but it doesn't really matter: he's not willing to be a part of the relationship you want. He's willing to be part of a pseudo relationship on the internet.

It's not pushy to ask for what you need in a relationship, but it's also not a great idea to try to make a relationship with a reluctant partner an ocean away.
posted by Meg_Murry at 8:16 PM on October 4, 2010

Response by poster: he knows i was bothered about not talking last time and kind of blowing me off at the last minute because of his sleepiness - the only time i've shown being bothered by it. i try to be honest about my feelings but i am fearful of looking like a clingy, overemotional person.

i just see occasional phone conversations as a norm when you're getting to know someone. like, i would be fine with once a week or once every couple of weeks. i mean, we talk everyday on IM and it'd be nice to hear his voice sometimes. i see his hesitance about it all as some kind of sign he's not as infatuated with me as i am him, but maybe i'm reading into it too much. when i told him he didn't seem to care as much, he said that wasn't true. who knows.

logically, i know i should focus on meeting people irl, but i never seem to meet anyone i have a passionate feeling toward irl lately (well, for the past 2 years i haven't)... i should probably join some clubs or something... i go to class and talk to people occasionally but no friendships or relationships ever comes of that.
posted by achtland at 8:28 PM on October 4, 2010

Response by poster: also, i'm interested in the idea of moving to europe someday and i want to go backpacking around there when i graduate next year. so moving is possible and meeting sooner is, too. i'm just thinking this entire idea is so much of a fanciful dream since he seems...not committed, really. i guess i should just stop dreaming about having him as a boyfriend and just appreciate him as a faraway internet friend, and focus on doing well in school and earning money now. :|

i feel like a loser to get caught up in something like this.
posted by achtland at 8:37 PM on October 4, 2010

Agree with previous posters that you may feel better if you can find a romantic interest who lives closer to home, and that you can't really get a read on this guy because he is so far away. But I'll add my two cents and say that some people just don't like talking on the phone or on skype. My boyfriend of six months is one of the former; we really only talked on the phone to coordinate logistics, and our relationship is still great with im, email, and in-person communication. And I do personally like talking on the phone but there is something that weirds me out about skype or googlechat—I've maybe managed to do it a couple of times, and that was only at the request of my best friend of many years.
posted by mlle valentine at 8:40 PM on October 4, 2010

Aaand, by googlechat, I mean google voice or whatever it is that actually speaks. And by "talked on the phone" I mean "talk on the phone." Oops.
posted by mlle valentine at 8:44 PM on October 4, 2010

i don't think that his not wanting to voice chat has very much to do with whether or not he is infatuated, i think it speaks to the general unreality of this particular relationship...or, that the reality of it lives solely on IM. on IM, or email, or anything where you are not seeing the person's face and expressions, etc, you really can never be sure of their truth or of the IRL truth of your relationship. i know it's hard, but maybe you can ask him one more time, let him dodge you, and then you can try to go out to some event and chat up a real dude. or anyone who is willing to talk. get it out of your system.

i'm in a small town and the whole idea of joining clubs or volunteering to meet boyfriends always seem dumb at first. the one guy i really liked is dating someone. but people know other people. the old guys at the chess club may not, as i have discovered, but the weekly meditation class i've been taking has some prospects, as well as the local "chapter" of non-violent communication.....whatever. i don't have much advice for you on how to meet real life boyfriends, it's such a crapshoot, but i do get a whole lot of red flags when you speak of how invested you are in this guy who will just not take it to another level. you need that, admit it to yourself. 6 months on IM is a really long time. not that it's not somehow fulfilling, but it is not progressing and you're getting antsy and offended.
posted by lakersfan1222 at 8:46 PM on October 4, 2010 [1 favorite]

my two cents: i personally hate talking on the phone or on skype. i like email and IM. so, okay, maybe that's your guy's deal. but consider how great it is going to feel when you meet someone IRL and it turns out to be just as interesting, engaging, and infatuting, BUT you get to hang out for reals. nice!
posted by lakersfan1222 at 8:48 PM on October 4, 2010

i'm just thinking this entire idea is so much of a fanciful dream since he seems...not committed, really.

I think that's the key point here. The couples I've known that have made this sort of thing work spent a lot of effort moving things forward. Flirting online, then talking on the phone, on video-chat, meeting, finding ways to spend extended time together, and eventually making plans for a permanent move. It just doesn't sound like you two have the necessary momentum.
posted by serathen at 9:26 PM on October 4, 2010 [1 favorite]

i feel like a loser to get caught up in something like this.

I don't think you're a loser, but I think this situation doesn't come up just by accident. There's some reason it appeals to you to pursue a guy who's inaccessible, unavailable, inexperienced, lacking basic confidence. (I don't know what the reason is, since I don't know anyone involved.) You make a choice about what kinds of people to pursue and what kinds of situations to be in. Make the right choice.
posted by John Cohen at 10:02 PM on October 4, 2010 [1 favorite]

Me and a lot of guys I know hate being on the phone for random chat. Seriously, have you ever seen a movie where a guy lays on the bed with the phone and talks talks talks ?
posted by madeinitaly at 11:20 PM on October 4, 2010 [1 favorite]

Consider compromising. He doesn't like voice chat, you do. Tell him, "Hey, I've only got five minutes before I've got to go, why don't we talk for just that?" I think giving him a set, short time period might alleviate some of his anxiety. So would having ideas of what to talk about (on your part) so that you can keep the conversation going. Jot them down if you have to, and be willing to do most of the work in keeping the dialogue moving. It might help him grow more used to it and more comfortable doing it.
posted by lemniskate at 4:16 AM on October 5, 2010

i should probably join some clubs or something

Every moment you spend talking to this guy is time you could be spending meeting people IRL. You're probably talking to him in his evening hours, right? Which are most likely your early- to mid- afternoon hours. Which is a perfect time to grab coffee with people between classes.

Been there, done this, it was a huge waste of time and I'm left with very few college friends because of it. Don't invest in someone you can't see.
posted by desjardins at 1:23 PM on October 5, 2010

Best answer: i just see occasional phone conversations as a norm when you're getting to know someone.

Just because it feels like a norm to you doesn't mean it is to everyone. I don't know that there's anything so logical about hearing a person's voice being an obvious norm, that you should therefore be worried that him not wanting to do it means he's not ready to "take the next step" in the relationship. A lot of people (me included) really don't like phone calls. (I can't tell if you're talking about videochatting. If not, have you discussed that? I prefer video-chatting to just phonecalls/voice-chat because being able to see facial expressions really helps, plus video-chatting helps avoid and minimize the impact of the dreaded awkward silences that I hatehatehate. Video-chatting has the payoff of feeling like a more intimate and close connection; phonecalls feel to me like they have the downside of being awkward and scary, without much upside over what you get out of a from a perfectly good text chat or e-mail.)

i see his hesitance about it all as some kind of sign he's not as infatuated with me as i am him, but maybe i'm reading into it too much. when i told him he didn't seem to care as much, he said that wasn't true. who knows.

The guy is so nervous about talking with you on the phone that it's hard for him to bear it, and you read that as disinterest? Seems like it's just as reasonable to think that he's really really into you, doesn't like talking on the phone, and is insecure that he's going to screw it up. (Especially since English isn't his first language!)

That being said... if he's not only too insecure to talk with you on the phone, but also showing signs that he'll be too insecure to be willing to meet in person in the future, that's not a good sign either. It's probably a good idea for you guys to have a more honest conversation about your feelings, your fears, and where you want the relationship to go. At some point (which might be now, depending on how you're feeling) he needs to decide and you need to know whether he's willing to face his fears in order to embrace the possibility of a real relationship with you.

In other words, if it's just about the phone calls, I wouldn't worry about it too much if I were you. But if it's a sign of a bigger pattern of his fears/insecurities getting in the way of your relationship progressing, then yeah, that's a problem. The only way you're going to figure that out is by talking with him about it.
posted by EmilyClimbs at 3:36 PM on October 5, 2010

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