Ask Lynn-She’s Reluctant To Date Him

He met someone special online, but she doesn’t want to move forward. Should he throw in the towel?

By Lynn Harris

ear Lynn,
I’m 31 and have really not had a ton of experience in the dating scene. I had a serious girlfriend for a while before things fell apart… after which my life sort of fell apart, too! The bottom line is that I haven’t seriously tried to seek romance for a
She, for whatever reason, is not that motivated to meet you.
while now, and I’m currently employed in a small town, with very little to choose from in the form of desirable dates.

So I’ve tried my luck online, and incredibly enough, I found someone and started chatting with her. She and I have similar interests, and I’m starting to like her.

Here's the thing, though. She’s pretty nervous about taking our relationship, whatever it is, off-line. She says she’s had a friend who had a truly awful experience as a result of meeting someone online, and besides, we’re a state away from each other, and there’s that whole thing with long-distance relationships. Now, this should set off warning flags, and I’ve been paying very close attention to our chats. If she’s lying, though, she’s very, very good at it, because I haven’t been able to catch her, and we’ve been chatting for a long time, about two years.

So do I try to force things? Do I just give up and never contact her again? Neither of those is sounding like a great choice, quite frankly. I mean, why would she be chatting with me for two years if she was lying or trying to con me? Hopefully you can offer some good suggestions on what to do.
– Trapped on the Internet

Dear TOTI,
So I’m reading along, thinking, “Aw, these two are both just a little skittish. That’s normal — and nothing a little pep talk can’t fix.”

Then I get to the end of the third paragraph.

Two years?

Two years, my dear, is a lot skittish.

I’m not sure what kind of lie or “con” you expect to catch her in, when the truth is right there, plain as day: She, for whatever reason, is not that motivated to meet you. Nor, really, you her — or you would have written me 1.75 years ago.

She says she’s spooked by an experience a friend had when she met someone she’d found online. That kind of thing never makes any sense to me. She might as well say, “I’m scared because sometimes relationships don’t work out.” Because meeting someone online, really and truly, is not that different
The whole point of the Internet is to get things done fast.
from meeting someone in “real life.” How often have you heard people — people who met people at parties, through friends — say, “He’s not the person I thought he was,” or “She said she was a dentist/interested/available when we met, but she lied”? As a “reason” not to meet you, her friend’s drama doesn’t really fly. Neither does the distance. It’s not easy, but when you really like someone, you at least try and make it work. Or, more to the point, you meet them in a safe and friendly public place and confirm your hunch that it’s at least worth a try.

And that’s a hunch that should take less than two years to develop. Two years! That’s 730 days, which is probably at least 300-something phone calls, 2,839 emails, and Lord knows how many IMs. What other data are you waiting for? The whole point of the Internet — computers themselves, even — is to get things done fast. And the whole point of meeting someone online is to, you know, meet someone. Two years is far too long to “chat.”

So yes, you do need to “force things,” though I wouldn’t put it that way. Say you know things have been going on for a while, and you’ve enjoyed every minute, but you’re in this to find someone — someone who wants to be found. And if she’s not interested in meeting you, you need, respectfully and sorrowfully, to move on.

Still and all, I’m not convinced these two years were wasted time. You probably needed time to tread romantic water after, as you described, everything fell apart. This was a good way to have some companionship in your life without letting it get too overwhelmingly heady. But now the fact that you’re restless means you’re ready to take it to the next level—with someone who’ll join you there. I know you’ve got slim pickings nearby; keep looking online, but just to make things easier, limit searches to not too far away. If you find someone even remotely interesting, go meet them. After maybe three emails, not 2,839. Then meet another. And another. Whatever. It’s just dating; you’re getting your sea legs back, along with your perspective. Before you know it, you’ll find someone you want to spend forever with, not forever waiting for.

Lynn Harris ( is co-creator, with Chris Kalb (, of the award-winning website — you can visit BG's blog to discuss this letter! A longtime journalist, Lynn has written about dating, gender, and culture high and low for Glamour, Marie Claire, The New York Times,,, and many others. She is currently the communications strategist for Breakthrough, a transnational organization that creates pop culture to promote human rights. Submit your own dating questions for Ask Lynn via Your question may be answered in a future column.
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