My boyfriend, whom I haven’t met

fog manA man has been wooing me the last 6 weeks, first via email while I was abroad, then during daily phone calls, emails and/or text messages.

We haven’t met, however, because 3 days after I returned home, he was called to his dying mother’s side 2000 miles away. While the doctors told him she only had a few days to live, she lived two weeks, only passing the other day. This week he’s finishing her burial plans and awaiting the rest of the family’s arrival for her funeral next weekend.

We’ve gotten close during this time, discussing important topics as we’ve shared stories of our childhoods and parental influences on us. I’m getting to know his values by what he talks about and what he asks me.

If we had met — assuming we hit it off after meeting — I might consider him my beau. He certainly behaves beau-like — at least as much as one can long distance — calling me every day, asking about my life, values and opinions. But this is backwards — usually people get closer after meeting. I’ve done this before — become close to a man via weeks of phone and email, then when we met, zippo. No connection or chemistry. So I’m working to not get attached to him until we meet.

It’s always a quandary to give a word to this type of relationship. Not boyfriend. Not beau. Wooer? When I saw a bunch of my friends at a conference this weekend, they asked, “Are you seeing anyone special?” I’d stammer, “I’m being wooed by an interesting man, but we haven’t had a date yet.” I could have easily said, “Yes, I have a boyfriend whom I haven’t met.”

But the challenge bigger than what to call him is how much to allow myself to feel connected to him. It seems like jump starting an intimacy that usually begins with meeting and a mutual agreement to get to know each other better.

So to keep from getting too attached I continue to entertain inquiries from men who meet my criteria. I’m slated to have coffee with two new men this week, and perhaps see Playgirl Guy. By not putting all my eggs in one man-basket, I think I’ll be better able to assess my connection with the mystery man when we meet next week.

Have you ever become attached to someone after weeks of regular chatting? If so, how did you keep yourself from getting too attached, knowing you had to meet face-to-face before determining if you wanted to invest more energy and emotion?

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9 responses to “My boyfriend, whom I haven’t met”

  1. Elena Avatar

    Personally, I avoid sharing too much personal info before meeting someone for the first time. Keep it light and airy. No heavy talk, no three-hour chat marathons about our hopes and dreams. No way. I’ve done that in the past only to be disappointed when we finally do meet the first time or never even getting to that first meeting because the guy goes POOF! before then.

    So, until you meet and know that the emotional attachment is real and reciprocal, he’s just a guy you’re talking to. Period.

  2. Elena Avatar

    P.S. By the way DG, do you plan to continue dating like this for the foreseeable future or do you think you will take an extended break this year from online dating? I admire your stamina and will to keep going but it seems like it would be really draining after so many hits and misses.

  3. Dating Goddess Avatar

    Elena: Yes, of course you’re right that he’s “just a guy I’m talking to.” However, since so much of my professional relationships are forged by phone, it is possible to become fond of someone with just that communication vehicle. But it is important to not plunge too deeply before the initial meeting — and even afterwards.

    I took a break from dating while abroad, only emailing with potential suitors a few times. I let my mood set the pace. If I’m drawn to someone who writes, I respond. If not, I send him a nice “we’re not a match” email. So it’s not like I’m expending a lot of energy on my search.

    That said, I come from a sales background (nearly 30 years) and know that it is important to keep your pipeline full if you want some “deals” to come through. So it is in dating, with the “deal” as a plausible bf. But just like in sales, you know many of the “prospects” fall through the cracks, even with proper qualifying. So until I find the man I want to spend my life with, I’ll keep filling the funnel, with more or less verve, depending on my mood.

  4. yeoww Avatar

    Hi DG,

    I completely agree with you on the “let’s not expend too much psychic energy until we meet” approach. I’ve done that twice – e-mailed for months in one case – only to meet and discover the in-person chemistry was non-existent! I

    I’ve been e-mailing with someone else for about a month now because of the distance between us, and he’s talking about driving down to meet me. But I’m afraid that if the chemistry’s not present, he’ll have made a drive for nothing. I’m thinking of suggesting that we meet half-way (we’re about 60 miles apart) – so that if I can’t see myself spending much time with the man at all, I don’t feel obligated because he drove for hours. What do you think?


  5. Dating Goddess Avatar
    Dating Goddess

    Sherri: Yes, I think offering to meet half way is commendable. Some women say, “Make him do all the driving to show he’s really interested.” But I’ve also heard men complain that women want it all to be totally convenient for them.

    Especially if you have some doubt that it will be a fit, I think it is honorable to drive half way. On the other hand, some would argue why spend any energy at all if you have doubts. I’d counter that argument with wanting to treat others with consideration, just as you’d like to be treated. Also, by meeting half way you have more control over when you end the encounter. (I know I lingered too long with the Steve Urkel guy, in part because he’d flown in a day early to meet me and had several hundred dollars of expenses because of that. Had he been local, I would not have felt obligated to spend more time than lunch with him, and would have just met him for coffee instead.)

    Tell us how it goes.

  6. Cynthia Avatar

    Thanks, DG and Elena, for your insights. DG, I really hope that things go well when you and the guy meet in person!

    I’ve also been corresponding with a guy who lives about 1 1/2 hours away. I look forward to his E-mails, and we’ve been having fun sharing stories about how our respective days have gone, etc. I also suggested to him the idea about meeting halfway. We’ll see if anything works out! In this age, you have to be both careful and flexible…

  7. Gatti Avatar

    My guy is 70 miles away but about 5 days after our first emails he happened to be driving right past where I live so we met for lunch and…boom. It’s just over a year later and it just gets better and better.

    I had put an arbitrary 100 mile limit when I was dating, and I did cover some miles during that time.

    I don’t think driving 30 miles to meet someone is too much of a bother, really. Curiosity would would have gotten me at least that far!

  8. bookyone Avatar

    Hi DG,

    Congrats on the rapport you’ve established with your new online guy friend! BTW: I really like the term wooer, it seems so appropriate in this situation, and, dare I say it, even a bit mysterious and romantic, which is how I like my men. Maybe that’s why they all turn ghastly on me in the end, though. Hmmmm)…

    I’ve met a number of guys online in the past several months, no F2F dates though, as I’m not ready to date just yet, (too shy, too scared, too social phobic and too afraid of sticking my foot in it for the umpteen millionth time), I’m just looking for supportive midlife pen pals. Interestingly, I have spoken with three out of four of my regular pen pals on the phone as well, and they’ve all been very sweet as well as highly intelligent and interesting to boot; (in fact, there’s one PP I talk to on an almost daily basis, which sounds odd as we’ve never met in person, in fact he has no idea what I look like, which actually works in my favor, so we gab it up like old friends by the hour! I think the reason I feel so comfortable with him is the fact that he says he’s not looking for a relationship either, so that takes a lot of the pressure off).

    Soooooooo, as far as online rapport and phone chemistry go, yes, I believe there is a bit of chemistry there, and, yes, a bit of attraction, too, at least on my part, but as three out of four of my PPs live overseas, I don’t plan on getting attached to them anytime soon. It’s number four I’m a bit worried about, as he’s local, and, yes, I do feel a certain attachment, but I keep myself from getting too attached by telling myself we’re both just looking for friends, nothing more, and, believe it or not, it’s worked wonders for me. Now, if I could just get up the nerve to join him for a friendly dinner, as he’s suggested a few times already, I’d be money ahead. Social phobia stinks, and while the Net does help to alleviate the loneliness a little, there’s still a longing for the human connection, despite the fact that it’s nearly impossible to achieve at this point in time.

    Good luck, I hope Mystery Man turns out to be your knight in shining armor (or at least a smart, funny, friendly, good looking dude in a nice sportscar), you deserve him and then some! 🙂

    Best wishes from bookyone 🙂

  9. Diane Avatar

    You do not have a boyfriend. You are talking to someone who is living “in his head.” This fellow is engaged in a rich fantasy life and can’t be bothered with the messiness of reality. Sometimes he may not be able to participate in real life because he is married or living with someone. Whichever it is, you may never know. He gets exactly what he wants out of the “virtual” relationship, but do you? If the answer is no, then you know what you need to do. Let him know he either has to meet you for a date or else you will break off contact.

    I have absolutely no patience for this kind of guy, and I refuse to invest weeks of time in someone I might never meet. That time could be much better spent meeting someone new who actually wants to take me out on a date. Do yourself a favor, and cut him — and yourself — loose.