Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“I’m Afraid of Dating Fatigue”

Man woman talking

I’m a 27-year-old woman, and I’ve never had a relationship (just a few fun one-night stands), but last fall I decided I wanted to pursue dating and I’m starting to worry about dating fatigue. I joined OKCupid and have not had any horror stories so far. I’ve met six men, three of whom were first dates only while the other three (I’ll call them T, W, and F) were more significant.

T and I ended very amicably after dating for three months (I wanted something more than maybe seeing each other twice a month, and he could not commit to that). W was really fun for a few weeks, but he ended things with me because he did not feel he was falling in love with me. (I believe he jumped the gun on that one; I think it takes longer to get to know someone, but I did tell him I was glad he let me know sooner rather than later).

I am currently seeing F, a grad student who is about six weeks away from graduation. We’ve been dating for about three weeks. He is very busy with end-of-the-year projects and such, and I’m very aware that he should not be compromising his long-term goals for someone he just met. That is the logical side of my brain talking. The other side is full of anxiety, like, when he says he’s busy with work this week, does he really mean it? Am I yet again not worth the effort? Why would he pursue dating if he doesn’t have the time to actually get together?

I’m looking for advice on staying positive during this uncertainty and not letting my anxiety get the best of me. I’ve (mostly) enjoyed the dating process so far, and I realize it’s a long pursuit, but I’m also concerned about getting fatigued jumping from one short relationship to the next. Again, the logical side of my brain knows I shouldn’t compare my life choices to those of others, but a big part of me is scared that, because I never dated in my teens and early 20s, I will always be playing catch-up. — Getting Fatigued

You’re definitely not always going to be playing catch-up, mostly because you aren’t behind anyone. Dating isn’t a race. And even if it were, getting to the finish line first isn’t the goal; enjoying the run and finding true happiness is. Besides that, at 27 you’re in a peer group that is mostly still dating and you still have many years before the pool of eligible bachelors begins shrinking. And even when that happens, it’s only for a couple years before many of the guys who married young start hitting the market again after they get divorced. This is all to say: relax, stop putting so much pressure on yourself (and the guys you’re dating), and keep in mind that time is still very much on your side.

One thing that stood out in your letter is that you seem to want to immediately jump into seeing someone pretty frequently. You broke up with one guy because he could/would only see you every two weeks or so (which is pretty normal frequency for someone you’ve just met, especially if you are also dating other people and have a busy schedule). And now you’re complaining about how a guy you’ve been dating for three weeks is so busy with end-of-school projects. I mean, God, sometimes it takes me three weeks to return a friend’s phone call. Granted, that’s an entirely different scenario, but I want to point out that three weeks in adult time is super, super brief. If you’ve even seen him three times in that period, that’s impressive, especially considering his busy schedule. As to why he would pursue dating when he doesn’t have time to get together, I don’t know. His idea of dating might be different than yours. Maybe he’s fine meeting up for lunch or a quick drink here and there until his schedule opens up. Maybe he was pretty passive on OK Cupid until he saw your profile and decided to act. Maybe he knows what a catch you are and doesn’t want to miss out, and he hopes that, by keeping in touch at least tenuously until he can give you more of his time, you’ll stick around. Maybe he figured you, like many people who try online dating, are seeing more than one person and wouldn’t have time to meet up more than once a week at the most anyway.

And you know what, seeing more than one person is a pretty good idea. Just because you’ve found someone whose company you enjoy doesn’t mean you should stop looking for others. Having two or three people you’re casually seeing has multiple benefits: it increases the likelihood of a potential match; it occupies your time; it (hopefully) keeps you from getting too anxious and wound up over one person since there’s someone else vying for your attention. So, while you’re waiting for Grad Student’s schedule to free up a bit, see who else might be up for going out. Maybe you’ll find someone you like even better. Maybe YOU will be the one in the position of being too busy for more than one date a week. And maybe comparing different guys and the feelings you have about them when you’re with them will guide you to a better match than you might make thinking you only have one option.

Finally, if you feel like you’re experiencing dating fatigue, the best antidote to that is to take a break. Hide your profile for a few weeks and spend time with your friends or engage in some solo activities that help you re-charge. Remember, this isn’t a race you win by being first — or even by being fast. This is a race best “won” by having fun, keeping an open mind, and, oh yeah: checkin’ yo’ self before you wreck yo’ self.

***************

Follow along on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy@dearwendy.com.

59 comments… add one
  • LlamaPajamas

    LlamaPajamas April 8, 2014, 9:32 am

    WWS! Especially about checking yourself before you wreck yourself – that’s my MO! It sounds like you’re having a lot of success with your online dating experience in more ways that one – you’re actually having dates (it can be so hard to take interactions from online to real life) and you’re figuring out what you want from a relationship. Hooray! I experienced dating fatigue when I used Match.com and was just about to take a break from the site when I met my fiancé. I’d been on the site for 6 months and had met some nice guys, but it was starting to feel like online dating was a chore rather than the fun I had signed up for. So if you feel like you’re getting even a little tired of it, take a break! And don’t worry about comparing yourself to your friends. Dating experience is so varied and there’s no real “normal” when it comes to the number and length of your relationships. Good luck!

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      rachel April 8, 2014, 10:26 am

      Haha, I met my fiance on okcupid about the time I was getting sick of online dating too. Funny timing.

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        lets_be_honest April 8, 2014, 10:27 am

        Maybe you should share your engagement story…

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        lets_be_honest April 8, 2014, 10:29 am

        Oh look rachel, someone liked this. THEY WANT TO HEAR IT!

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        rachel April 8, 2014, 10:30 am

        I’m pretty sure YOU liked it.

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        rachel April 8, 2014, 10:30 am

        lol. nerd.

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      • LlamaPajamas

        LlamaPajamas April 8, 2014, 11:04 am

        It is funny timing. I wasn’t even looking for a serious relationship when I joined, I just wanted to go on some dates and see what happened. I was ready to quit because I was tired of going out on dates when what I really wanted to do was spend the evening in sweatpants on the couch with my cats watching 48 Hours Mystery. Luckily my sister told me to keep trying until I found a guy who would do that with me, and then I met Mr. Llama and that’s exactly what we do!

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    WAPS April 8, 2014, 9:40 am

    Just to offer a different perspective – I don’t think that LW is wrong, per se, for wanting to see someone she’s dating more than every 2 or 3 weeks, or even for wanting to be exclusive immediately. I would not date somebody who was available twice per month either because I know that’s not what I’m looking for. Some people take it slow, but others don’t; the trick is to find the person who moves at the pace you do. My husband and I started out as a hookup, and even then we saw each other 2-3x per week, and we were both exclusive immediately because neither of us wanted to hook up with someone who was seeing other people. We saw each other almost daily after our first date, and got married 4 years later. So, LW, I guess just recognize that other people’s timelines are not your timelines and cut your losses if the anxiety interferes with your daily life, especially if it’s only an investment of 2-3 weeks. Some day, you will likely meet someone who matches up with you in the important ways. To help with the fatigue, I suggest you be very, very cautious and picky with whom you choose to give chances. If you tend to make good decisions in general, I’d say trust your gut with whether someone is worth that chance to you.

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      SasLinna April 8, 2014, 10:17 am

      I agree with this. I think one of the best ways to avoid dating fatigue is to “do you” instead of sticking to a concept of what dating should look like. If you want to attract someone who is a fit for you, your best bet is to be clear about who you are and what you expect.

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  • katie

    katie April 8, 2014, 10:15 am

    it sounds to me like this LW thinks there are two worlds- the “fun” dating world and the “serious” dating world. the fun dating world is fun (duh), and requires no commitment and/or second thoughts. the serious dating world is the one where you pick partners quickly and get serious. now that the LW has changed her mindset from “fun” to “serious” the rules have changed, and now she is upset that her dates arent acting accordingly…. but here is the thing LW- there is just dating. there is not any type of dating. all that fun dating you did before? that is exactly what you are doing now, your mindset has just changed. there is no different types of dating, there is only dating, what is different is the people doing it.
    .
    also, yea, i dont get needing to jump into exclusivity and/or seeing each other all the time and/or talking all the time right away- why? i mean, i do get how it *could* happen- but i dont get why it *has to* happen. let things happen on their own time. and personally i wouldnt push the need for exclusivity and/or seeing each other a lot and/or talking a lot, because that will push people away. its a balancing game between your needs and recognizing when you are forcing things. dont force things. and then the way you talk -“Am I yet again not worth the effort” – just read wendy’s advice again, especially the part about dating not being a race. “Am I yet again not worth the effort”- what does that even mean? not the effort to form a relationship with? it sounds like you are the one who isnt putting in the “effort”, actually- you arent willing to put in the effort of actually dating. you are looking to jump ahead to something else… marriage? something long term? i dont know what exactly you are looking towards, but you dont just get to jump to that, LW, because you changed your mindset about dating.

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  • Fabelle

    Fabelle April 8, 2014, 10:49 am

    I think online dating is a kind of very deliberate process of, okay, Find a Person–> Get to Know Each Other–> Long Term Relationship Potential?? Yes/no?? which doesn’t really lend itself to an organic chemistry developing between 2 people. Not that it CAN’T, but I think anyone involved in dating online needs to check themsleves periodically, & pull back mentally/emotionally from that rigid step-by-step process. Otherwise, timelines tend to get rushed.
    .
    Another thought—it’s possible LW is remembering past relationships, or hearing about/witnessing others’ relationships where, all of a sudden, you’re attached at the hip with somebody else. Which CAN happen really, really suddenly, but often, there’s a process that leads to so much togetherness. That lead up tends to be forgotten though, if you weren’t actually TRYING to become a couple. In online dating, you’re very present & aware for that lead-up (where maybe you’re only seeing the person once every 2 weeks), & it can feel agonizing. So, again, try to pull back emotionally a bit, & be patient 🙂

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      lets_be_honest April 8, 2014, 10:52 am

      That’s a really good point Fab. If you meet someone “offline,” there is less immediacy/specific timelines I would think.

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      • LlamaPajamas

        LlamaPajamas April 8, 2014, 11:15 am

        I actually had the opposite experience. I met so few guys offline that when I did start seeing someone I was way too invested in whether it was going to work because I didn’t know when my next chance would be (trust me, I know how desperate that sounds). But I wasn’t overly invested in any one guy while online dating because I knew I had lots of other options. Online dating was definitely frustrating and stressful, but it was oddly liberating for me in a way, too. But that might just be me!

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        lets_be_honest April 8, 2014, 11:20 am

        Oh, to be honest I have like zero experience with either, so I’m not surprised I’m wrong here. haha.

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      • LlamaPajamas

        LlamaPajamas April 8, 2014, 11:26 am

        Oh, I wasn’t saying you’re wrong! I’m sure it’s different for everyone. I didn’t have a lot of dating/relationship experience in my 20s and, like the LW, always thought I was a little behind everyone else. Online dating helped me work through my fear of rejection and learn to calm the eff down, but I know lots of people have negative experiences online dating.

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        lets_be_honest April 8, 2014, 11:34 am

        Its fine Llama. You just destroyed any and all credibility I have when giving advice about dating. Its fine. Really. 😉

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      • LlamaPajamas

        LlamaPajamas April 8, 2014, 11:42 am

        MY WORK HERE IS DONE.

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        No Pants April 8, 2014, 11:45 am

        YES! THIS. EXACTLY. When I broke up with an ex at the age of 27, I was terrified of rejection and constantly wondering if dudes would be able to see past my very obvious disability. Online dating helped me suck it up and just get out there.

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        lets_be_honest April 8, 2014, 11:49 am

        I bet if I were an online dater, I’d just stay online and like, only IM them rather than ever meet. I hate having to meet new people and think of shit to say.

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      • GatorGirl

        GatorGirl April 8, 2014, 11:51 am

        omg me too. it’s the worst.

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        lets_be_honest April 8, 2014, 11:55 am

        Also, I can’t talk to hot people – male or female. I just start mumbling and saying incoherent things. Its weird and uncomfortable for everyone involved.

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        bethany April 8, 2014, 11:57 am

        We hired a really hot guy at work last year (captain of his college swimming team!). I couldn’t look at him w/o wanting to giggle. It was horrible. Luckily he quit after a few months.

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        lets_be_honest April 8, 2014, 12:00 pm

        Haha, there’s an associate next door that it beyond hot and is super friendly which is bad for me. Every time I have a cig outside, he chats and I just nod and mumble. He once said ‘nice weather for a smoke, huh?’ and I said ‘uh, err, uh, YEA finally spring!’ all enthusiastically and…it was raining and he was not being serious.
        Please leave me alone hot guy.

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      • GatorGirl

        GatorGirl April 8, 2014, 12:08 pm

        hahaha, I oddly don’t have that problem. I do get extra intimidated when I have to talk to Amish guys (which is often for my job).

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        No Pants April 8, 2014, 1:05 pm

        Me either. I work with someone we call Mr. Handsome. He just asked me how my day was going, and I turned bright red and said it was going great because the cafeteria added honey mustard dressing to the salad bar.

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        Eljay April 8, 2014, 1:06 pm

        Oh I’m totally with you on this! An incredibly hot guy just sent me an email on OKC and my first reaction was to reply “You talkin’ to ME??” But of course I was like of course you wanna talk to me, I’m friggin awesome! Not quite sure how I’ll manage if we ever meet…I’ll have to get my shit together quick fast & in a hurry!

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        No Pants April 8, 2014, 11:52 am

        I definitely felt very safe by keeping things over email and IM for weeks. I was in downtown Philly at the time, and I remember repeating to myself that I had to be breezy when I walked to meet up with a date. “YOU GOTTA BE BREEZY, NO PANTS.”

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        bethany April 8, 2014, 11:58 am

        That’s what I said prior to our meetup. Be breezy, Bethany, be breezy!

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        No Pants April 8, 2014, 12:46 pm

        Hmmm. The “reply” link isn’t working on your comment below, so I’m just here to say that the Pivot episode is one of my most favorites! And, “MY EYES!!!!!! MY EYES!!!!!!”

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      • LlamaPajamas

        LlamaPajamas April 8, 2014, 11:59 am

        I loved the Friends episode where Chandler said “I’m breezy” when he left a voicemail! I incorporated that into my twitter name. 🙂 My anxiety is better now that I’m medicated, but I found that Facebook helped me in a similar way to online dating. I didn’t FB for years because I was so afraid that no one would want to be my friend or reply to anything, but once I finally joined I realized that I had to actively be a “friend” if I wanted that in return. It sounds like a really basic, stupid lesson for a grown ass woman to have to learn, but it was so helpful. Online dating was the same – the more rejection I experienced the better I was at recognizing that it wasn’t me, personally, and that not everyone is going to like me.

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        No Pants April 8, 2014, 12:13 pm

        Yes! I was totally referring to that Friends episode. And I thought I was going to barf before our meetup because I was so, so nervous. I second everything you said. I’ve been trying stop second guessing myself for years. I almost had a heart attack when my crutches fell over at The Boathouse and in my head was all, “GREAT. YOU BLEW IT, NO PANTS.” Which I know is so silly.

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        bethany April 8, 2014, 12:19 pm

        I don’t even remember them falling over??

        No one is nervous for Thursday, right? Cause it will be awesome and fun! We can play Friends trivia!! PIVOT! 🙂

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      • LlamaPajamas

        LlamaPajamas April 8, 2014, 1:14 pm

        I don’t remember your crutches falling over either, probably because I was so worried that I had something in my teeth. But I’m not nervous for this Thursday!

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        No Pants April 8, 2014, 11:49 am

        Aw, man. This makes me want to go back in time 10 years and give my 20-something self a hug.

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  • avatar

    No Pants April 8, 2014, 10:54 am

    What everyone else said – If you want to take a break from online dating, take a break. When I took a break from it, after just few weeks, I fell back into my pre-online dating life of hanging with friends, family and work and not worrying about dating at all. It was such a relief to be reminded that dating isnt the end all, be all. I have pretty bad anxiety and was constantly stressed, so it wasn’t fun for me. Once I felt more relaxed, I reactived my profile and online dating became much less stressful. It’s worth a try. It may also give you time to reflect on what you really want out of it.

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  • avatar

    TECH April 8, 2014, 10:56 am

    “And you know what, seeing more than one person is a pretty good idea. Just because you’ve found someone whose company you enjoy doesn’t mean you should stop looking for others. Having two or three people you’re casually seeing has multiple benefits: it increases the likelihood of a potential match; it occupies your time; it (hopefully) keeps you from getting too anxious and wound up over one person since there’s someone else vying for your attention.”
    I LOVE this. This is what dating should be about. Too many people rush into dating one person, while telling themselves they’re not rushing into it. A great reminder.

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    • LlamaPajamas

      LlamaPajamas April 8, 2014, 11:09 am

      That’s a really good point and one of the reasons that I found online dating so helpful. Seeing more than one guy at a time helped me avoid hyper-focusing and obsessing over anyone in particular, which I’ve totally done in the past.

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  • avatar

    WAPS April 8, 2014, 11:10 am

    I disagree that there is something that dating “should” be about. Dating doesn’t mean changing your needs and wants in order to fit some ideal about what dating is. It’s entirely possible that the LW doesn’t date multiple people because she just can’t be in to multiple people at the same time. I know that I can’t do that – the only way I could date 2-3 people and see them every 2-3 weeks is if I really didn’t care for any of them romantically.

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      WAPS April 8, 2014, 11:11 am

      Whoops, supposed to be a reply to TECH, but I messed it up somehow. At least I’m getting lots of basic math practice today!

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      lets_be_honest April 8, 2014, 11:13 am

      I think there’s a difference between changing your core needs and wants as to relationships and changing, say, the “need” to talk to the guy you went on one date with every day. Some “needs” are not healthy and advising someone to chill out a bit is a good thing I think.

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      • katie

        katie April 8, 2014, 12:05 pm

        exactly. for instance, if being married is a “need” for you, do you go on the first date and say, ok, well i like you, i think we should progress to marriage ? no, i hope no one does that, and regardless it would be not healthy and push everyone away. its fine to have needs, of course, and you need to find someone who matches your needs- but that still doesnt mean you get to skip the dating phase of dating!

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        Eljay April 8, 2014, 1:13 pm

        You’d be surprised at how many marriage proposals I’ve gotten after date #2. Seriously, it’s insane.

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        lets_be_honest April 8, 2014, 1:19 pm

        Whattt? Are you Gisele Bunch-whatever? That’s crazy!

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        Eljay April 8, 2014, 3:37 pm

        LOL! I wish! I’ve come to realize it has nothing to do with me and more to do with their desperation to be with someone – anyone! The first woman who smiles at them and is nice must be THE ONE! Ugh…desperation ain’t sexy, people.

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  • LlamaPajamas

    LlamaPajamas April 8, 2014, 10:31 am

    Also, there was a related discussion in the forums last week:

    Dating is fun but it can be really hard, yo!

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    applescruffs April 8, 2014, 11:48 am

    Seeing someone once every 2-3 weeks wouldn’t be enough for me. People are busy and all that, but if you’re really into someone, you make the time. But I think you know that.

    It’s hard to bring the logical side of your brain and the emotional side of your brain together. Try to listen to both (your wise mind) even though your emotional mind is going to be sitting in a corner yelling annoying things at you. Logically, the dude is busy. But you’re probably having the emotional reaction because you’re into him! And that’s ok! That side is important to listen to, also.

    Keep dating if you want, or take some time off, but either way make sure you’re focusing on all the best parts of YOU, the parts you want to nurture and celebrate outside of any relationship.

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    bethany April 8, 2014, 11:55 am

    I wish someone would take me on a date.
    🙁

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      No Pants April 8, 2014, 11:57 am

      Will you be my date on Thurs?

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        bethany April 8, 2014, 12:00 pm

        I thought no one would ever ask!! YES!! I’ll be your date!!

        ps- Dave might bring Rudy to Conshy to walk on the SRP while we’re drinking. Sooo… You might get to meet him! (I meant Rudy, not Dave, but you could meet Dave, too)

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        No Pants April 8, 2014, 12:17 pm

        Yay! Are you taking the train in? I think it’s a long walk from the Conshy station, but it may be close to the Spring Mill station. I’ll do a drive by tonight and check it out.

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        bethany April 8, 2014, 12:22 pm

        Yep, I’m taking the train. Yeah, it’s closer to Spring Mill. I already checked it out. I am a Regional Rail Master.

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        No Pants April 8, 2014, 12:44 pm

        OK, great!

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      • LlamaPajamas

        LlamaPajamas April 8, 2014, 1:17 pm

        I AM SO EXCITED FOR THIS!

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        No Pants April 8, 2014, 1:43 pm

        Me too!!

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        No Pants April 8, 2014, 1:48 pm

        CONFESSION: I was super jealous (and still am) of your pink glasses. Also, I hope SummerChat saw the Forum post and joins us!

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    • GatorGirl

      GatorGirl April 8, 2014, 12:10 pm

      Make Dave! (well, I guess it’s not as fun if you have to make someone. But plan a date night!)

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        bethany April 8, 2014, 12:21 pm

        One can only drop so many hints, ya know? I planned a date a few weeks ago and he enjoyed it. It’s his turn now.

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  • Lyra

    Lyra April 8, 2014, 1:25 pm

    I think the LW should participate in our dating forum threads! Dating fatigue definitely is a thing and we address it a lot in the forums.
    .
    I agree that seeing more than one person can definitely increase potential of finding someone you want a relationship with, but if it’s overwhelming, you don’t *have* to date more than one person at once. For me, it was ridiculously overwhelming to go on dates with multiple people at the same time. I was having job stress and everything at that time too which definitely didn’t help, but even without that it would have been too much for me. In person I would rather get to know one person at a time. I was messaging multiple guys online, but once I found someone I had a connection with face-to-face I would focus my energy getting to know him and seeing if he was a good potential boyfriend.

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  • avatar

    Maggie April 8, 2014, 7:08 pm

    I’m not sure if I’d blame the LW for wanting to see him more than every two weeks. I’ve honestly never had a dating situation where we saw each other that infrequently. If two weeks went by and the person didn’t really seem interested in seeing me over that time, I’d probably assume they weren’t interested. At the very least, I’d be concerned that we’d ever be able to get to know each other enough to get any further.

    Overall, though, I don’t think there’s a set rule about time a person has to follow in dating. It would be different if she insisted on seeing this guy daily, but I would just chalk this up to him not being interested or them just having differing (but still OK) preferences.

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