Ummmm, what happened?
January 24, 2011 9:12 PM   Subscribe

Egad! Please give me your opinion - I don't know what to think or do... I've never handled rejection well, but I'm not sure it's rejection.

Met a guy online about 4 months ago. yeah, I know, online. Gay bodybuilding website. We hit it off. Thousands of texts, pics, emails, phone conversations, skype video sessions. Literally thousands. Everything right up to actually meeting in person.

Then, one night, he just 'disappeared' - right after I said I was gonna be in his town and would like to meet. Deleted his profile from the website, never returned my texts, silence on all fronts.

I know he's real. His skype conversations, phone calls, etc were him. I didn't think he was fake. I know people will say that it was just some dude playing with me, but we talked/texted/skyped so much that he was 'real'.

He always told me he had his 'fists up'.

But now I'm left out in the cold, confused, and have no idea what happened to him.

He hasn't returned my texts or voicemails for over a week.

I know this sounds pathetic, but can someone offer me some advice on what happened? Or more to the point, how do I move on? I just don't understand. My feelings are hurt and I'm confused.

I don't understand the silence.

How do I move on? And ummm... I know this is Metafilter - please, for once, be gentle.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (21 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Maybe 'his' pictures were fake and he didn't want to be found out?
posted by jangie at 9:19 PM on January 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

He always told me he had his 'fists up'.

Clueless - what does that mean?

(Sorry to hear you got burned. For what it's worth, it's happened to some straight friends of mine. Seems some people love the novelty / thrill of online relationships, but aren't the slightest bit interested in doing anything in real life, where they often have existing relationships.)
posted by obiwanwasabi at 9:23 PM on January 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

...meant to add '...that they're terrified would be in dire jeopardy if it was discovered they were having an affair, if only online." An existing BF would certainly explain the haste and totality with which he's dropped off the radar.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 9:25 PM on January 24, 2011

Could be he has a boyfriend/husband. And/or he likes to "play" or playact at intensity/intimacy/flirting but not in real life.

"Thousands" of texts, emails, pics = red flag.
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 9:25 PM on January 24, 2011

My bet is he's in a relationship.
posted by fingersandtoes at 9:30 PM on January 24, 2011 [2 favorites]

There was some lack of truth in the relationship...he was already in a relationship, he was married, he wasn't gay, there are a lot of reasons... And, when the rubber hit the road and you were going to be in town, he had to bolt.

I suspect you were the victim of someone being less than honest...

That said...this is NOT your fault, there's nothing wrong with you.. welcome to a world with a lot of fucked up people...

Take a deep breath, you'll be OK...
posted by HuronBob at 9:31 PM on January 24, 2011

Could be he has a boyfriend/husband.

Or a girlfriend or wife, possibly.

Bottom line, he liked talking online but didn't want to meet up. There are millions of possible reasons for this. Pretty much all of them are due to his issues and not yours.
posted by showbiz_liz at 9:41 PM on January 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

However hard it may be to accept, the reality is that the guy was putting up a front - a fake front. He felt completely fine interacting from a safe distance - classic case of play and fantasy building, and the thousands of hours, pics, and convos, only reinforce that... he was in love with the game. And then there was the first real chance he'd be exposed, by meeting - at which point, he disappeared completely. Of course. That's exactly what such a person would do. But... odds are, that right after he deleted his profile on that website, he erected a different profile on another website and is trolling for a fantasy partner there... or perhaps he's even been engaged in interacting JUST AS WITH YOU, with several other people simultaneously. The internet's anonymity brings out all sorts of things in most people, and the most extreme in some people. Live and learn.

And remember: nothing is real online. Only in real life are things real - meatspace, not cyberspace. Sometimes, the online and real life coincide. But that's just a happenstance. There are no rules. We are all avatars online. There are deceptions and crypto-identities even in the real world, people who are not who they purport to be, but the internet has given this phenomenon a rocket booster.
posted by VikingSword at 11:58 PM on January 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

Yep something was fake, something easily noticed if you met in person. Either his pix or his story, the truth would have come out. Maybe he was otherwise attached. I mean, we're only hearing your side of this, but that's what disappear means to me. You could post one of his pics on the site and see if anybody recognizes the picture (or if it's of any of them) and maybe find a fellow dupe.
posted by rhizome at 12:25 AM on January 25, 2011

something was fake


We can guess (as AskMetafilter loves to do) about what was fake. He clearly had a boyfriend! No, he clearly had a wife! No, it was this other thing! But it was something, some reason he wasn't able to present himself in person.

This is his issue, not yours.
posted by John Cohen at 1:33 AM on January 25, 2011 [5 favorites]

There was most likely something he didn't want you to find out about him. He might have been in another relationship, or not looked like his picture (for a bodybuilding website, that would be a lot of image pressure, I would think), or had some sort of living circumstance he thought you wouldn't approve of (Mom's basement?), or he could have been communicating with a bunch of other men and hit it off with one of them. You really can't know unless he picks up communication with you again.

The question to me is, are you anxious to start communicating again with someone who has clearly shown that he'll drop you without warning? That's pretty cruel, and I'd want to protect my feelings from having that done to me at a later time, when I'd be more emotionally involved.
posted by xingcat at 2:06 AM on January 25, 2011 [1 favorite]

It doesn't sound pathetic at all. Or rather, you don't. He does.

He is hiding something, even if it's just that he's too much of an invertebrate and a eunuch to say "no" directly. That would be the most innocent explanation. If he'd been run over by a bus, he wouldn't have been able to take down his profiles so we can rule that out.

Even if he comes back, I'd warn you against responding to him no matter how good an explanation he offers. This kind of secretive and probably dishonest behaviour - even setting aside the cruelty of it - should be pushing you away from him.

All I can suggest is that in future, you meet within a week rather than after four months.

Sorry, it sucks.
posted by tel3path at 3:17 AM on January 25, 2011 [1 favorite]

Sounds like the time to have a good rant among friends and then go out and have a good time with them. That's what friends are for!

And yeah, this does not reflect on you. There's no way you could have known. Every time you date there's a chance you'll get involved with some bastard who'll dump you without further notice. It's the price you pay. But there's also a chance that you'll meet awesome people you totally hit off with. I'm sorry you got burnt!

Don't give up on online dating, but maybe meet earlier in person, before you get too attached.
posted by Omnomnom at 3:21 AM on January 25, 2011

Also, you say you've never handled rejection well. Maybe this would be a good opportunity for you to practice this skill?
posted by Omnomnom at 3:25 AM on January 25, 2011

This sounds like he was likely dishonest about things he told you in your online communications and the prospect of meeting you in real life and being found out made him vanish. So definitely do not take it personally. It was not a rejection of you, but more likely a rejection of truth and honesty about his own life. Sorry you had to go through this.
posted by katyggls at 7:46 AM on January 25, 2011 [1 favorite]

There is no way to know what he was really up to.

The only thing you can do now is move on. It's not easy, it never is.

Cry, get drunk, do whatever you have to do.

You may think about him for the rest of your life, but as time passes it will get easier to deal with.
posted by freakazoid at 8:02 AM on January 25, 2011

I agree with what everyone else said here. This wasn't about you. It was about him. The way you move on is to realize that.

You were interacting with a fantasy, not a real person. He was a fantasy because you didn't actually meet him in person, and so your imagination had to supply what was missing. You will never really know what this guy was like. Ergo, he was a fantasy. It's ok, sometimes people get caught up in fantasies! Buy hey, you've learned something from this.

Remember that you can never really know someone until, at the very least, you've met them in person.

Be thankful that you've learned a great lesson at very little cost. That's another way to move on -- see it as a learning experience.
posted by Tin Man at 9:52 AM on January 25, 2011 [3 favorites]

I know this sounds pathetic, but can someone offer me some advice on what happened?

It doesn't sound pathetic at all, and I'm so sorry this happened to you.

Going out with people you've met online is perfectly normal. But developing a whole intense relationship conducted entirely online ("Thousands of texts, pics, emails, phone conversations, skype video sessions. Literally thousands") is something you should stay far far far away from.

If your relationship with someone conducted entirely online, you don't know them AT ALL. No matter how many thousands of emails you've exchanged, no matter how much love and care you feel. It's nothing more than fantasy, period. The only way to know people is by spending a lot of time observing them in person.

And there is usually a reason why people are engaging in this kind of intense online-only relationship. Sometimes it's a benign reason, like they are isolated and lonely, or don't have great social skills. But very often, it's just a game. Very often it's an opportunity to play at being a type of person they're not at all. (Better looking, or more functional, or more interesting, etc.) And very very very very often, it's a way to play at flirting or romance while they're in a real life relationship with someone else.

I'm not going to try to make any pronouncements as to which of these it was with your guy, but it seems obvious that it's one of the latter two. I think this guy just wanted to play online for whatever reason, that conducting this online was serving some kind of need or want of his, and the game would have been over had you actually met.

For the future: get to know people in person. Don't invest so much time in fantasies.
posted by Ashley801 at 11:35 AM on January 25, 2011 [1 favorite]

Some people just like talking online. It's weird, and I don't get it either, but it seems to be the truth. For whatever reason, this guy liked having an online relationship with you, but doesn't want that relationship to take place in the real world. You'll drive yourself crazy trying to figure out why - there is no why. This is just the way he is.

This is why it's generally best to try to meet in person as quickly as possible. Having this happen after a week or two won't sting nearly as much.
posted by Ragged Richard at 1:34 PM on January 25, 2011

Maybe he was hit by a bus. Maybe his mom was hit by a bus and he's busy dealing with that. Maybe he was in a relationship and got caught "cheating" online. Maybe he was a fake all along.

Unfortunately, unless he resumes contact, you'll never know. There are zillion plausible reasons for why he disappeared that have NOTHING to do with anything YOU did so stop driving yourself crazy over it.

If he does resume contact but has a sketchy explanation for his absence and/or is reluctant to finally meet in person, come back and post a new question with those new details and we'll go from there.
posted by Jacqueline at 11:36 PM on January 25, 2011

I had a similar experience with online dating, though I did spend one weekend with the guy. When I look back on it now, I realize that the whole time we were e-mailing back and forth (he never wanted to talk on the phone), the distance enabled him to keep control of the relationship. He never had to reveal too much about himself, never had to develop any intimacy with me, but he had this supportive, caring person that was always available to him via e-mail. I think he did it because he was lonely (and I was lonely, or I never would have settled for so little) and he needed that human contact, but he wanted to protect himself from being hurt. When I had (finally!) had enough and started to speak out about what I needed, he just disappeared. It was a particularly cruel way to break up with me, because I was frightened that something had happened to him. I discovered some time later that he was just fine.

I think online relationships can give you some of the thrill of "new love" without as much risk, so they attract people with intimacy issues and people who are hooked on that thrill and don't really want a real relationship. I'm sorry you're going through this; it really sucks. But don't give up; on my second try at online dating, I hit the jackpot. When you meet someone who's worth your time, he'll be eager to meet you in real life; if a guy doesn't want to meet you, forget about him.
posted by WorkingMyWayHome at 11:40 PM on January 29, 2011

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