shit or get off the pot.
July 11, 2007 9:29 PM   Subscribe

OnlineDatingFilter: what's up with the non-meet-up?

yes, yet another chronicle in the life of the single girl…yea!

so a couple of weeks ago i was contacted by a guy much younger than i from a dating site. i was wary at first as i didn't think i'd have much in common with him but we get to chatting on IM and we've actually seemed to have really hit it off. the exchanges vary between being extremely flirtatious to just normal but very interesting and fun conversation to almost mundane work jabber. i'm pleasantly surprised because he seems quite mature and together for someone in his early 20s. he loves the looks of me, and—tho not my usual physical type, i have to admit i like the looks of him (or maybe i am more intriqued by the fact that he is extremely attractive and he works in a completely computer-geeky field because…i like the cute dorks.).

so after a week of chatting nearly every day, we talk about meeting up but when i'd ask if he wanted to call me (because i am not a huge fan of becoming overly familiar with someone over the internets when…you live in the same town and could just meet in person because…you need to figure out if things translate in the real world) or when we were going out, he would deflect the question or give a vague answer. and then i didn't hear from him for almost a week even though he was clearly logged on at times. which started to raise some flags with me…so i emailed him about it; it's clearly stated but not rudely put which—as he had always insisted that he loved the fact that i was not afraid to say what was on my mind, i figured that would be an opportunity to get things off my chest about guys online who say they want to meet up and then disappear. normally i would let it drop because i think the usual reaction from guys should they be called out would be, "whoa, she's crazy!" so i fully expect never to hear from him again.

but after returning from being out, i see that he has sent me some IMs explaining how busy he'd been at work lately (in fact, he was there that weekend doing whatever computer-geeky thing he had to do) and he wasn't ignoring me and he'll talk to me soon. so i email again reiterating my position and again don't expect to hear from him. but then the other night he gets on IM and we end up having the usual fun conversation and before he goes to bed, he again explains he's been busy with work and with summer, trying to do things out and about and with friends and we'll talk for sure about meeting up the next time. which, okay, i totally understand. everyone's busy, you know? that's what it is to have a life. but too busy to meet up? especially with someone to whom you have already professed a great interest? he hasn't even asked for my number. i'm not sure i buy it. does anyone here buy it? am i right to assume that ppl who seem only to want to talk online are either a) in some sort of relationship so they really can't meet up or b) just like fucking around online with no intention of ever meeting? (i mean, whatever, ppl are entitled, it's just not my thing; i prefer real world interaction over virtual whenever possible.)

(and yes, i fully intend to give him an ultimatum about meeting up but just wanted to know what is the hive opinion and/or ppl's similar experiences with the non-meetups…because if you can't already tell by my previous questions, interpersonal interactions really fascinate me.)
posted by violetk to Human Relations (42 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Don't bother with an ultimatum. Tell him he sounds too busy to get together and to let you know down the road when he is free to meet in person, and let it go. It sounds to me like he's just stringing you along for whatever reason - he's in a relationship, he's bored, he's a creep, etc. Not worth wasting your time on.
posted by Nathanial Hörnblowér at 9:39 PM on July 11, 2007

does anyone here buy it?

Buy what? He doesn't seem to want to meet up with you, for whatever reason. If you're looking for a real-life boyfriend, don't put those eggs in that basket. It's up to you whether you want to keep chatting with him or not. I personally would block him and move on (because that shit is ultra lame).
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 9:41 PM on July 11, 2007 [3 favorites]

In internet dating - or any kind of dating - it's really not a good idea to waste time on people who flake out when you want to meet them, violetk. Honestly, I wouldn't even bother with the ultimatum. You want someone who is sincerely interested and ready to pursue things with you. If they don't meet you halfway, don't bother. And their reasons for acting in the ways that they do can be a mixed bag, but it doesn't matter. It all boils down to "they aren't really interested", and your time is better spent on practically anything else.
posted by orange swan at 9:42 PM on July 11, 2007 [3 favorites]

That exact scenario happened to a friend of mine recently. Turned out that the guy was definitely interested, but it'd been 5 years since his last relationship and he was skittish about moving forward in a concrete way. My friend was firm with him about just meeting already (or else drop it!). He was brave enough to do it, and now they've been dating (and it's going well) for 4 months.

On the other hand, a female friend of mine does the email/IM thing with no intention of ever meeting up or calling... she just wants flirtatious conversation with other single people when she feels like entertaining herself. (She's 30 and never had a relationship, so fear is obviously at play there too.)
posted by xo at 9:46 PM on July 11, 2007 [1 favorite]

This is pretty typical for online dating. Some people just chicken out/get too busy with other things to meet up. Write it off and if he tries to contact you then tell him that you're not looking for a random chat buddy, but you want to go out with him. If he can't or won't, then there you go. I had this happen to me and its not worth the aggravation to invest too much into someone if they're being dodgy like that.
posted by SassHat at 9:46 PM on July 11, 2007

As the old saying goes, on the Internet nobody can tell if you're a dog.

It's entirely possible that the history you've been given for this person is entirely fictitious, and you've been dealing with a 14 year old. Or a woman. Or a very old man. Or pretty much someone who isn't remotely like the person you've thought you were talking to. Needless to say, the online picture you saw doesn't prove anything.

Ever hear of Kaycee Nicole? A lot of people treat internet social networking as a form of roleplaying game, for any of a variety of reasons (not all of which are malicious).
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 10:14 PM on July 11, 2007

...oh, and it's also possible that he is about what he's described himself as being, but he's married.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 10:15 PM on July 11, 2007

Awkward. The sinister / weird explanations are not crazy, but don't rule out pure awk (you did say he was a geek).
posted by grobstein at 10:28 PM on July 11, 2007 [1 favorite]

This is extremely common in the Internet dating world. I suppose there are a variety of reasons, but it doesn't really matter why the other person is being a big fat flake.

What matters is what you do, and in this case, it's move on.
posted by desjardins at 10:33 PM on July 11, 2007

Response by poster: ha, yeah…i've made him send enough pictures that i do believe he's who the pictures are (unless he has some weirdly obsessive collection of pictures of someone else)…and he doesn't seem socially awkward and claims not to be at all (and also, not the typical geek–he's objectively very attractive)–and i have actually straight up asked him if that was why.
posted by violetk at 10:35 PM on July 11, 2007

What good would an ultimatum do? If you give one after all this and then he commits would you still have the same level of interest? Go ahead and give the ultimatum if you would, but I suspect that most would already be looking with a bit harsher eyes at that stage.

Being plain spoken is great, but there is little reason to say anything if it can't further develop the relationship or the conversation.
posted by BigSky at 10:45 PM on July 11, 2007

Response by poster: but who knows.
posted by violetk at 10:45 PM on July 11, 2007


I'm a geek, I married a geek, and I hang around geeks.

I also work in the computer industry; yes, there are times when I will spend every waking moment on a project for a couple of weeks. And no, I won't respond to IM or similar, except if it's an emergency. If it was a proto-friend, then well, you'd be largely ignored, not because I didn't value your possible friendship: but unless you are really *that* interested in the particular area I'm working on, you'd be a) bored stiff, or b) confused, or c) totally turned off, or d) all of the above.

To me, all it sounds like is a deadline. With maybe some actual personal stuff thrown in.

Also, personally? I hatehatehate phones. They suck. I'd rather IM than talk on a phone, because it's more expressive, I have a backspace key, and I can talk almost as fast as I can think. I think it was about 3 weeks after I started dating the guy I'm now married to before we actually exchanged a phone call. So, IME, no phonecall (or a reluctance to call) means ... nothing.

IMO, YMMV, etc.
posted by ysabet at 11:01 PM on July 11, 2007 [3 favorites]

He is hiding something from you. He is either in a relationship.. still lives at home.. not who he says he is in the photos.. or weirded out by being with an older woman.

It isn't fun to hear.. but I wouldn't waste too much time on him if he is stuffing you around.
posted by TheOtherGuy at 11:38 PM on July 11, 2007

Sounds like he's not interested, but he's trying to be nice about it.
posted by bingo at 12:10 AM on July 12, 2007

i thought you were happy being single? online dating is pretty much the antithesis of that stated position.

anyway, to answer the question: i have no idea, and nor would anybody else here. he could be a she, the photo could be false, he might be committed, he might be missing a limb, he might just like fucking around online, he might be wasting time at work, he might be researching something, he might be impotent, he might be writing a novel, he might have a deep-seated resentment towards the female species, he might know you personally & be taking revenge for something or other...

most likely, though, is that it's a combination of general busyness & fishing. i have only a tiny bit of anecdotal evidence to back this up, plus a perception of the male mentality, but i wouldn't be surprised if he doesn't have a thousand irons in the fire where this online stuff is concerned.

you know those annoying guys trying to solicit you for casual sex online? do you think they singled you out specifically, or are they spamming everybody even one-quarter attractive?
posted by UbuRoivas at 12:24 AM on July 12, 2007

Response by poster: i thought you were happy being single? online dating is pretty much the antithesis of that stated position.

i don't think that just because i enjoy being single (for the most part) means that i can't also date. or want to spend time with and/or get to know someone fun and interesting. how is that an either/or situation?
posted by violetk at 1:24 AM on July 12, 2007

I did the online dating thing about four years ago. (And, yes, it will possibly work out. That's how I met my fiancee!)

In my experience, "I've been busy with work," translated to "I'm seeing someone else but keeping my options open with you." If he really wanted to date you, he'd want to meet you, and more over, if he really wanted to date you, he'd make time regardless of being busy. A first date is as easy as coffee on a Tuesday from 7-8pm at Borders.
posted by santojulieta at 3:23 AM on July 12, 2007 [1 favorite]

Also, there's absolutely no shame in having multiple irons in the fire yourself. Chat up a few boys and see what you get. Be up front about dating around until you meet someone and don't want to date around again. :)
posted by santojulieta at 3:23 AM on July 12, 2007 [1 favorite]

I did the online dating thing and I met someone great and we dated for a while, but boy did I have to wade through a lot of dross in the process. I felt that there was an unwillingness to let relationships develop organically or commit to getting to know someone in real time - just this constant 'plate spinning' of contacts. I'm not sure where I'm going with this (other than venting) suffice to say it's all in the title of your question - 'shit or get off the pot'. For whatever reason, the truth is he's stalling and I think you should move on to someone who's worthy of your time and effort.
posted by poissonrouge at 3:52 AM on July 12, 2007 [1 favorite]

Wow. Metafilter is full of cynics today. Or perhaps I woke up with a positive attitute.

First, he may be a great guy, or a lousy guy. Doesn't matter. You're putting too much pressure on just 'meeting' him. It's not a date. It's two people who have exchanged a couple of emails and might have stuff in common. You (or he) might get there and you both just 'smell funny' to each other.

Don't obsess about it too much. I know, there's this great/cool/fun attachment at the beginning of things. But don't confuse all the 'text' communications with it.

It's silly to talk about Ultimatums. You don't (and nobody here) knows the guy. Maybe his dad is sick. Maybe he is seeing someone and it's casual; and he's waiting to meet you before he doesn't see that person again. Maybe he works a job, is taking care of his little brother, and only wants to take a chance with you when he's sure he has free time.

I'd just chalk it up to he's busy and not willing to rearrange everything in his life for a stranger. Give him your number, and say "Ok, I'd like to talk on the phone." And then quit emailing/checking in on him, etc. After a week, send an email saying "Wow, you must be busy, hope everything is okay." And that's it.
posted by filmgeek at 5:06 AM on July 12, 2007

i don't think that just because i enjoy being single (for the most part) means that i can't also date. or want to spend time with and/or get to know someone fun and interesting. how is that an either/or situation?

oh, it's not. i just think that *online* dating, in particular, is a kinda desperate thing to do. i've always been willing to be convinced otherwise, and in theory you stand a better chance of narrowing down the field to ppl sharing your interests / lifestyle etc than approaching random strangers at school, in bars, at the supermarket, in toilet cubicles & so on, but on the very rare occasions i've browsed such sites...ick! the horror! the HORROR!!!

unless, of course, you happen to be into candlelit dinners, sunset walks along the beach, weekends away, and so forth, and you have a rather old photo of somebody else that you can post. if that's your thing, then online dating is definitely the thing for you. as redfish put it, "boy did I have to wade through a lot of dross in the process" - and for me, just the dross of reading banal profile after banal profile is more than enough.

posted by UbuRoivas at 5:25 AM on July 12, 2007

Get his phone number and try to have an offline conversation with him. It will be easier to gauge him and to pin him down. It sounds funny that he is interested in you but not interested enough to meet you instead of hanging with his friends. I am guessing he is much, much younger. Maybe even a pre-teen?
posted by JJ86 at 5:56 AM on July 12, 2007

Your personal opinion aside, plenty of quirky fun people who just happen to be interested in meeting someone do online dating.

Judging from friends doing it these days, sure there's a lot of dross --- but there are plenty of good ones too.

That broad brush of yours is so ten years ago.
posted by canine epigram at 5:59 AM on July 12, 2007

His behavior seems odd to me, and I would recommend moving your focus to someone else. Don't give an ultimatum (that's just counterproductive), simply reduce the level of communication.

...I am an extremely busy person at the moment, and if a woman I was even vaguely interested in asked me to get together, I'd damn well find a way.

Even if I was so busy I hadn't intended to arrange a get-together yet. Even if I hadn't intended to ever arrange a get-together. If she asks, I'm there.
posted by aramaic at 6:01 AM on July 12, 2007 [1 favorite]

I wouldn't take this so seriously. I used to do online dating - I even met my husband that way - and I know how you can get emotionally invested in these budding relationships. But really, all you have between the two of you are good times and some emails. If I were you, I'd just quietly step away. If he wants to IM you and set a meet-up date, then fine, go ahead. In the meantime, go out and find other guys and forget about him.
posted by christinetheslp at 6:21 AM on July 12, 2007

...for me, just the dross of reading banal profile after banal profile is more than enough.

For me, the dross of meeting boring, irrelevant person after boring, irrelevant person in real life is pretty unpleasant too. Fortunately, with online profiles, you can find out how vapid and annoying people are a lot more efficiently.
posted by bingo at 6:21 AM on July 12, 2007 [2 favorites]

good point.

* browses dating sites; vows to lead misanthropic hermit lifestyle.
posted by UbuRoivas at 6:27 AM on July 12, 2007

I did the online dating thing for a while. I had a few experiences like this. I concluded the other party was more interested in having a pen-pal than actually dating. Which is fine if that's what both parties want.

But I came to the conclusion that an extended online correspondence before actually meeting was counterproductive, since one's online persona can be so different from the person in person.

While "ultimatum" is a big scary word, violetk's general point is sound. Tell the guy "I'm looking for dates, not pen-pals. Let me know when you want to meet" and move on (that's another conclusion I came to: don't get too emotionally invested too quickly in people you encounter through online dating, especially if you haven't met in person. My unasked-for tip is that using up your AskMe quota on some guy you met through online dating but haven't met in person yet is a sign of being more emotionally involved than it's worth). If he ever does get back to you, bonus. Let's remember that this guy initiated contact with violetk, btw.

I met my wife through an online-dating site. We met in person a few hours after we met online. Coincidence?
posted by adamrice at 7:04 AM on July 12, 2007 [1 favorite]

On postview, what christinetheslp said.
posted by adamrice at 7:04 AM on July 12, 2007

+1 to he's got a girl (or a boy) already. Your online interaction is his way of "testing the waters" and "experimenting" w/o physically cheating on her.
posted by TomMelee at 7:37 AM on July 12, 2007

He's got a girlfriend.
posted by Kwine at 7:54 AM on July 12, 2007

My most recent ex was an online-friend-turned-romance and I'll have to admit there were a few flags in the beginning that I overlooked because of whatever reason. In hindsight, I should have went with my very, very first instinct, which could be summed up as "not good bf material". If this guy has given you any thing to flag then I would simply walk away. IMO his actions are saying he's not interested so I think you should just move on. This is my two cents and YMMV.
posted by LunaticFringe at 8:54 AM on July 12, 2007

Guys are fishers with many fishing poles. We dangle our bait off several sides of the boat and the first fish that bites we reel in. Many of the girls I've dated in the past were just the ones that responded first and I left the other poles out there for nibbling for a while before reeling them in when I knew my catch was a keeper.

So one explanation is that he didn't have a girl when you first started talking, but that might have changed. He doesn't know how the relationship will pan out (since most dissolve after a few dates for various reasons) and wants to keep in contact with you.
posted by yeti at 9:19 AM on July 12, 2007


Or, just send a quick, "Let me know when you have time to get together" and drop it. Who knows what his issues are? And as fun as it can be to analyze people's actions, even when you hardly know them, it doesn't get you very far.

Find some other cute and geeky guys and ask them out. Now! Today!! Go!
posted by jetskiaccidents at 9:26 AM on July 12, 2007

Some people have jobs that eat up a crapload of time for weeks at a time. Regardless of the number of people who *don't* have jobs like this, there are some who do.

Yes, and those people do not waste hours trolling online dating sites and talking with women they have no intentions of meeting up with.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 9:38 AM on July 12, 2007 [2 favorites]

what always kills me about this sort of stuff (i am, a bit embarrassingly, what one may refer to as an "early adopter" of the online dating world) is that you usually know EXACTLY wassup but you're sort of hoping for that outside chance that all of the little excuses really do amount to something completely innocuous - like he really was too busy with work. violetk, this is wassup, couldn't have said it better myself:

a) he's in some sort of relationship so they really can't meet up


b) he's just like fucking around online with no intention of ever meeting

on this one i'm going to go with b but it really could be either. it's maddening, i know, to give of yourself and your time in getting to know people online when there are so very many out there to start talking to. know that you're doing everything right (meeting up asap is a good call), and that you can't get to where you want to be without trying. Just reserve enough of yourself to stay sane (seriously, take breaks if you're getting frustrated and focus back on YOU, it'll help) and good luck! ~ss
posted by smallstatic at 9:57 AM on July 12, 2007

I'm nthing everyone who says he's got a girlfriend.
posted by Stynxno at 10:03 AM on July 12, 2007

Let's say you give him the ultimatum, and he apologizes and agrees to meet. The date goes well, but he doesn't call the next day like he said he would. Now what? Is he a flake? Is his mother in the hospital (this actually happened to me)? Did he not have fun? Does he like you or what? If he likes you, why would he not call?

How many hours are you going to spend agonizing about it? How much time do you think he's spending agonizing about you? (I'm guessing a big fat zero.) Believe me, I have wasted half my life worrying about what some boy thinks, and y'know what? Not fucking worth it. Step away from the computer and do something that soothes your soul.
posted by desjardins at 10:27 AM on July 12, 2007

Smalltastic presents a false dichotomy. A possible third option is that he is actually busy. A fourth option is that he's a flake. I have been in his situation before and it was not due to a girlfriend or lack of intent.

I think one of the pitfalls in online dating is that it is so structured (lists of people, email back and forth, etc.) that this becomes the foundation that people use for the ensuing relationships. I've noticed this in myself as well as women I've met online. Thing is, I don't do "dates," even if it's what's expected in the conventional wisdom of online dating. I'd rather try and work out a time to meet, not necessarily do the rules of the game, and generally not be too uptight about the means by which I am meeting/dating someone.

Look, why does he have to decide right now when he's going to be available? Sometimes it's like, "Yeah, I'd like to meet you Tuesday, but I might not be available for a few weeks." This actually does happen, believe it or not. A fifth possibility is that he likes you but doesn't want to tell you he's too busy for you right now and lose you. Self-defeating when combined with flakiness, sure, but there you go. People are not logical.

Also keep in mind that people who date online are people who are not meeting people outside. A corollary to this is that there are a lot of online daters who spend a lot of time in front of a computer. I believe these two characteristics are not coincidental.

So, go ahead with the ultimatum. It may make sense in an online dating context, but as many many MeFi posts will attest to, it's not a good relationship strategy. Hopefully it makes you feel better about your perceived rejection.
posted by rhizome at 11:10 AM on July 12, 2007

Response by poster: thanks everyone for always sharing your opinions and experiences! i think that while we always intellectually know the answer, sometimes we just need complete strangers to tell it to us. and, i also just like hearing about other ppl's experiences to put mine into perspective.


a) i find nothing "desperate" about online dating; i know a ton of ppl who do it and no, none of them are desperate

b) my main reason for signing up for it is to meet ppl outside of my wider social circle, which i would not otherwise have the opportunity to meet

c) that said, i do meet far more ppl offline than on, and i do have other irons in the fire as it were—i just view online dating as another experience to be had

d) i agree with not putting too much pressure on the first date because it really is just a checking to see if you do in fact click in person…i just would rather deal with ppl in the real world, even if one did meet in the virtual one

e) i'm not so much emotionally involved as curious about what motivates ppl to do the things they do (when they differ from how i would do things), which is why i do devote some time to think about these things
posted by violetk at 11:34 AM on July 12, 2007

My apologies if this has already been covered (lotta readin' to do on here) but I'm a pretty regular online dater - I've been on personals sites (either casually or actively) for the better part of 7 years.

It's been my experience that meeting up after talking online for awhile can sometimes be tricky. Especially from the male perspective, you wonder how "real" this person you're talking to is. If they're pushy about meeting up, but reasonably attractive from what you can tell in their photos, you wonder "why is she pushing to meet up so bad? Doesn't she have other options?"

That having been said - a female's desire to meet up after talking doesn't raise red flags in and of itself.

I usually do my research. Check their social network pages, see if the "friends" they have on their profiles say anything that would strongly imply they've hung out. A HUGE red flag goes up if I'm talking to an attractive woman online and her profile comments are along the lines of "hey girl - lookin' hot, we should hang someday" and the like. If I see a lot of "Going out drinking w/you the other night was so much fun! we should do that again soon" - then I can pretty well know that the person's profile is real, and so is that friend (provided, of course, there's more than like 1 or 2 of those comments from other friends).

It's possible he's of the same mind as me, and he hasn't gotten a clear indication of whether or not you're real, and he's waiting to see that out. The paranoia factor is directly proportional to how attractive you are, btw.

As others have said, there's a possibility of other things at play (he's married, he's lying about who he is, he's got a g/f, etc etc) but I wouldn't rule out that he's just nervous cause he's not sure if you're real or not.

If you have a webcam (bare with me here) then you should IM him with an invitation to view it - saying something like "you HAVE to see this (fill in the blank) I just bought! It's so (cute/cool/neat/ugly/weird)". Ideally, if he has a cam, you can also find out if he looks like the guy he says he is.

After that - if he dodges a meet-up, you can safely move on, because there's clearly something else at play there.

Just my $0.02, from a longtime-online-dater. If you ever want more "from the frontlines" advice/stories, e-mail is in my profile.
posted by revmitcz at 3:50 PM on July 12, 2007 [1 favorite]

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