Online dating... we've moved to phone, what now?
March 24, 2013 6:59 PM   Subscribe

So I met this guy online, we recently spoke over the phone for the first time and have spoken one other time after that. First conversation was about 20 minutes and the next was maybe 10 and took place this morning. We met on the type of dating site where people are matched for long-term relationships - what I'm trying to say here is we know we're not trying to just find friends. I am trying not to waste my time here and want to get to know what he is thinking so that if we're not on the same page I can move on, preferably before my membership online ends.

Now. It's been a day of silence, which, in his defense, really is a short time. Just wondering, how long is too long to wait for him to initiate communication, and when "too long" gets here, should I text him first? I grew up in a culture where a woman initiating was a no-no (so did he, actually). But then, I've heard many guys say that this mentality is a game and we need to quit the games. If it's okay for me to initiate a conversation, what, in your view, is generally a good time to text and what's a good way to start a text conversation?

How do I bring up the first date discussion? How can I figure out if he's serious or just looking to be friends or keep me on a Rolodex of potential relationships until further notice or whatever?

Sorta random: What are some guaranteed ways to ruin this?

If it's okay with you, could you please indicate your gender in your answer? Thanks for your time :)
posted by lilacp to Human Relations (24 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
If it's okay for me to initiate a conversation, what, in your view, is generally a good time to text and what's a good way to start a text conversation?

A good time to start a conversation with someone you are interested in dating is whenever you want to, and a good way to start the conversation is "hello!" Seriously, you don't need a reason to try to contact someone besides the fact that you want to!
posted by SkylitDrawl at 7:04 PM on March 24, 2013 [11 favorites]

Female, late twenties, also trying this online dating thing.

The day of silence is today after the ten-minute phone call? Text hi! People can be busy! See where the conversation goes from there, and if you have a specific event in mind-- a concert, an art exhibit, you could raise that subject?

You find out if he's serious by dating, by having these conversations.

There are a lot of ways to ruin a budding relationship. Just be your best self.
posted by RainyJay at 7:07 PM on March 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

If you want to know what he's thinking then text is not a great idea. You've already talked several times on the phone. Call him and ask if he wants to meet in person.
posted by headnsouth at 7:08 PM on March 24, 2013 [5 favorites]

One guaranteed way of ruining just about anything is to over-think it.

So, you know, take a breath and don't over-think. It's cliche, but true: Be Yourself. If you want to ask him something, you're both adults, and you should be able to speak up, and he should be able to handle that without having his brain explode. Even with various cultural backgrounds, if you two like each other, a little faux pas shouldn't break everything. (And, if it does, it isn't a relationship worth having.) Screw all the internet memes and senseless "rules" people come up with about contacting others. There's no rule. Some people want to be contacted a lot, others don't; it's not gendered, either.

If you don't want to directly ask him out on a date (i.e., you don't want to call it that yet), but want to meet up, invite him to a gathering with friends or some public meetup/event. That way you guys can meet safely, see if you like each other in person, and then move forward (or not) from there.

I'm a woman, in my mid-twenties, and happily hitched. My conversation about dating, with the man who is now my husband, went like this:

Me: So, are we exclusive?

Him: I think so.

Me: Cool.
posted by iamfantastikate at 7:13 PM on March 24, 2013 [2 favorites]

It's been a day of silence, which, in his defense, really is a short time.

Focus on what you can control--the use of the dating site and coping effectively with the tough emotions of romantic interest, anxiety and anticipation.

Assume you'll have to reup to the dating site and this process will take from 6-18 months.
posted by Ironmouth at 7:17 PM on March 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

My biggest piece of advice re online dating-out yourself out there, and meet in person ASAP. Don't take too long building a "relationship" online-meet and see if any of the virtual chemistry translates to real life.

And remember, numbers game here. Don't pin all your hopes on this one guy-sounds a bit like you're doing that-this is just one guy, and if it doesn't go forward, that means absolutely nothing about you and your prospects for future dating.

I'm early 40s, female, married to the guy I met on 10 years ago.
posted by purenitrous at 7:20 PM on March 24, 2013 [25 favorites]

Online dating can fall deeply into a trap of emailing, texting and IMing and people analyzing what somebody they've never actually met means by whether they do or don't do those things on a specific schedule. So can real life dating but with a lot of added information about how that person acts around you and how they treat you.

On thing that gets in a lot of people's way is that the etiquette of internet dating is still being felt out by people, and while there are a significant group of people still in the traditional, real world 'women shouldn't make the first move' camp, there are also a significant group of people in the Internet is scary 'men should let the women decide when they're comfortable meeting someone in the real world' camp. You can see how a woman who worries about the former talking to a man who worries about the latter could go in circles forever.

Text him whenever you want and say you feel like you're ready to meet up in person. If he's still interested, he will reply saying so and you two can make plans to actually meet.

Then you can move onto driving yourself crazy with how long it takes him to text you after a date instead of before.
posted by jacquilynne at 7:20 PM on March 24, 2013 [3 favorites]

Two phone calls is probably enough. It's time to meet up in person, so that you're not wasting time on someone with whom you have no chemistry.

It doesn't really matter who suggests it, or how, in my opinion. (And him just keeping a 'database' of future potentials he's chatted to, without wanting to meet yet, would be...weird.) I'd just text him and say 'Hey, want to grab a coffee/drink at blah blah time/place?'
posted by Salamander at 7:25 PM on March 24, 2013 [9 favorites]

There's also no reason to not keep using the dating site. Don't wait for the membership to run out. If it works out with this guy, great. If not there's no harm in keeping up the quest while you decide. It's not like you guys exchanged rings and decided to be exclusive. You've barely even started with this guy. I wouldn't even say you are dating, so there's no harm in continuing to look. He probably is.
posted by cjorgensen at 7:34 PM on March 24, 2013 [2 favorites]

"hey, it was nice chatting with you yesterday. Do you have any time this week to grab dinner, or a happy-hour drink?" via text. Bam. Done, ball is definitely in his court.

(female, 30, met husband on OkCupid, albeit years ago)
posted by Fig at 7:38 PM on March 24, 2013 [4 favorites]

Too long is maybe a couple days. If he's silent for a couple days then he's maybe into you but not excited about you, and you should find someone who's excited about you. Just message him and ask him to meet up. If he demurs but doesn't propose an alternate time, move on.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 7:45 PM on March 24, 2013

(P.s. Oh, sorry: I'm female, currently doing online dating, just met a guy last Sat night with whom I previously had 2 phone conversations. Nice dude, zero chemistry, moving on.)
posted by Salamander at 7:46 PM on March 24, 2013 [5 favorites]

Salamander's postscript brings up a fantastic point: you can click with someone in email/text but just not feel that certain chemistry in person. That's why it's far better to get the meeting out of the way-- coffee or something-- so you can learn these additional little things about someone. For example, if they can't work out where the coffeeshop is even with explicit directions.

I'm amending my original suggestion. Ask him for coffee sometime. The first time you meet shouldn't be a full-on date, but a prelude to one.
posted by RainyJay at 7:50 PM on March 24, 2013 [2 favorites]

Female, early thirties, half a dozen (plus) years into a LTR that started on an online dating site -

Don't spend too much time doing the chatty thing on the phone. I talked to guys on the phone long enough to discuss details for our in person coffee/lunch date, that was it. I exchanged chatty emails with guys, but no more than 1-3 before we made a date.

People seem to spend all this time in on-line dating purgatory exchanging emails - I didn't see too much point to that, to me, the website and the messaging was just a vehicle to meeting people in person.

And how not to screw it up: don't try to figure out if he is The One or if this will be a long-term relationship immediately. Don't have too much patience for screwing around with texting and short phone calls etc., just cut to the chase. I'd suggest something like "Hey X, great to talk to you Saturday. I'd like to get together with you for coffee or drinks. How's Tuesday afternoon?" You can send that via email or text.
posted by arnicae at 8:06 PM on March 24, 2013 [3 favorites]

"One guaranteed way of ruining just about anything is to over-think it."
Yup. And listen to purenitrous too.

Just suggest coffee already. Always always meet for coffee as soon as you think the person seems great enough to merit 30 minutes of your time. Don't drag it out. Just find out. No date, no meal, a brief in-person meet in public. If, after that, you both want it to go longer, it will. If you both want it to merge in to lunch or dinner, or a walk with the dog, it will.

One time, I met a guy for coffee and immediately thought he was gay (even if he wasn't, he was way too effeminate for my taste). We shared a polite 20 minutes of coffee and wished each other well. No harm done, little time wasted, next steps clear.

Another time, another guy, it turned in to breakfast, then yes a hike with the dog, then he cooked me dinner and we talked for hours. That was 10 years ago. I married him.

Keep it simple. Just ask him. Meet for coffee!
posted by AnOrigamiLife at 8:09 PM on March 24, 2013 [10 favorites]

Meet him! How did you leave the last conversation? In most of my online-dating experience, most people kind of hate the phone part (my god, I would happily go from email to in person and not do the phone AT ALL) and use it only as polite "next step" before the In Person meeting. Why aren't you guys moving toward meeting?

FWIW, I spent a lot of time thinking the whole, Is It Okay For Me to Contact Him?? thing and then I finally realized that I don't want to date someone who would decide he didn't like me just because I texted him. That would be insane. Text him when you would text a new friend. Try to remind yourself that this is not that big a deal. You might not even like him when you meet him.

I agree that you should cut to the chase, though. And be aware that there WILL be guys who want to yada yada yada endlessly without asking you out -- I once exchanged emails with a guy in my city who emailed me like ten times and then announced he wanted to SKYPE before we met. That's a waste of everyone's time, in my opinion. So get the show on the road! (Personally, I always suggest a cocktail, but that's because I like a little liquid courage and the lighting in Starbucks is terrible.)
posted by Countess Sandwich at 8:12 PM on March 24, 2013

Just freakin' call him. Maybe he's trying not to sound desperate, and so is waiting for your call. Maybe he really just happens to be busy the rest of today. The only way to find out is to call him.

Do not overthink this.
posted by notsnot at 8:13 PM on March 24, 2013

Agreeing with those above who say to arrange a meeting ASAP. This will resolve the vast majority of your concerns, one way or another.
posted by SMPA at 8:53 PM on March 24, 2013

I'll go away after this, but since it's clearly a topic that's close to my heart ;), I just popped back in to address these other questions:

If it's okay for me to initiate a conversation, what, in your view, is generally a good time to text and what's a good way to start a text conversation?

This being 21013 and not 1950, yes, it's okay (nay, desirable, especially if he's done all the initiating so far) for you to initiate a conversation. :)

A good time, in my experience, is about 8-9 pm on a weeknight. People have had time to get home from work, started to relax, etc. To make it even lower pressure, I might text rather than call. Weekdays during work hours are not as good (because, well, work: people are busy & distracted).

How can I figure out if he's serious or just looking to be friends or keep me on a Rolodex of potential relationships until further notice or whatever?

You can't at this stage, but I think it's highly unlikely that he's doing either of the latter two things if he's on a 'serious' dating site. But if he doesn't want to make a firm time to meet for a coffee within the next week or so, and there are no mitigating circumstances (e.g. out of town), I'd stop actively pursuing this to focus on other people. You don't have to refues to take his calls ever again or something, but don't drag out the chatting and emailing until you are emotionally invested in someone you've never met.

Sorta random: What are some guaranteed ways to ruin this?

Guaranteed ways to ruin this? Lots. Guaranteed ways to ruin this, if it's 'meant to be', that a normal, sane person might accidentally do? Very, very few. Honestly, I used to think that if I just handled everything perfectly 'right', it would make a huge difference to the outcome. Not so. 'Be yourself' is a cliche for a reason.

(That said, one thing NOT to do is be someone who is not yourself. See my latest Ask for details. ::cringe:: ;))
posted by Salamander at 9:33 PM on March 24, 2013

Just two phone conversations with no concrete plans to meet? There is no reason why you shouldn't be on that dating site right now talking to other potentials. You and this guy are not exclusive yet. Maybe after a few dates you'll have the conversation about taking down your dating profiles, but you're not at that stage at this point.
posted by hazyjane at 11:28 PM on March 24, 2013 [2 favorites]

You text, "It was great talking [just now/Sunday/yesterday as applicable]. Want to meet for coffee this week? [Date] at [time] near [location] is good for me." If he's interested, he'll find a way to make himself available within a reasonable timeframe.

In the meantime, there's nothing wrong with continuing the online process with, as hazyjane says, other potentials.
posted by La Cieca at 11:52 PM on March 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

There are so many askme relationship questions that can be resolved just by asking the person in question instead of asking us. Just tell him you want to go out.
posted by empath at 6:09 AM on March 25, 2013 [1 favorite]

Thank you all so much for the wonderful responses. You guys are the bomb. So! I texted! \o/ Yay me.

He didn't respond.

I gave it a reasonable amount of time (okay, maybe an hour), made excuses for him ("well, he's probably at work.."), then finally decided maybe this is nowhere close to "it".
To answer a few questions/concerns:

> As much as the online conversations were back-and-forth, I felt like my responses were more spirited than his. And that kinda sucked. But then again, like I said, he doesn't talk much.

> He lives 500 miles away. Which might kinda make meeting immediately a little tricky. I'm not afraid of LDRs - been there, done that - but I need to not be frustrated by lack of communication. I'm already frustrated by his lack of enthusiasm and it's only been a week. I don't want to be tolerated.

> When I sent him more photos of me, he did not respond. The next day he said "Oh, yeah. I got them but I got distracted by something. They were... cute." LOL! Really?

> Oh, wait. After our first conversation, I got a phone call from an unknown number. It was an angry-sounding woman who wanted to know who I was. I had no idea who it might be, but asked him if there was anyone who might have a problem with us talking. He said his ex might have called me. With 500 miles between us, I have no idea if he lives with someone, etc, and I don't really think I want to risk having that kind of drama. He said something about a phone plan he got her that she refused to get out of, etc etc, I am going to take his word for it, but still...

So! I decided to say a cheery bye bye! Explained my stand to him, and told him that while he seems pretty cool and we have a lot in common, maybe this is not such a great idea, but if he's interested in keeping in touch, he knows where to find me. I said it nicely. The end! Or maybe the beginning. We'll see. Now, the ball is officially in his court. In the meantime, I'll make the most of that membership!
posted by lilacp at 3:51 PM on March 25, 2013 [1 favorite]

You've made the right choice!

For the future, an hour isn't a reasonable amount of time-- he might not be able to text at work at all. Think days, not hours. And no, 500 miles is not reasonable, unless one of you lives somewhere the other was planning on moving anyway. And no, a lack of response to photos except dot dot dot cute is not acceptable. And the woman calling is a giant red flag to add to this pretty bouquet of red flags.
posted by RainyJay at 6:31 PM on March 25, 2013 [6 favorites]

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