In March, I met a guy online after resolving to gain an inkling of relationship experience despite trust issues. I was happy to discover that “Dude” wanted to be in a relationship as much as I did! We have been talking almost every night for about two hours and the online chats are always something to look forward to. The thing is, it has been three months and though we have chat online, we have only spoken once on the phone (because he’s so awkward), and traded photos that obscure our faces (Dude hates photos and dislikes sending anything with his face that can be replicated online). Usually I’d find this sketchy but he has extensive experience with computers.
He and I agreed that everything should be taken slow and I am relieved to say I am not desperately clinging to the hope of a relationship. But to be honest, I have never done something like this, I have no dating experience, and I’m a little lost on how online relationships are supposed to work. I really want something to bloom between the Dude and me, but I can’t tell if his lack of photo exchange and phone calls is a bad sign or not, and I’m not sure if I’m investing time in the wrong guy. Does this look like a healthy pace we’re going at? What do you think about his hesitation toward photos and phone calls? Is there anything else that generally sticks out in this letter? I need a lot of advice on this one! — Online Newbie
I always hesitate to answer questions about how relationships are “supposed” to work or what normal looks like. The bottom line is, it doesn’t matter what other people’s relationships look like or how they developed; what matters is how you feel and whether you’re comfortable with the pace things are moving at. If you aren’t, it’s your responsibility, regardless how new you are to the dating game, to speak up and express yourself. If you’re uncomfortable with how little you know about this guy you’re talking with hours every day — like what he looks like, for example — for God’s sake, say something to him. If you’re concerned that his behavior might be a bad sign, ask him questions and seek out more information about him.
It’s up to you to get to the bottom of things. If you have doubts about anything — anything at all — you have to find a way to address those doubts, and if they can’t be addressed to your satisfaction, then you need to MOA. Because you know what’s even better than my advice in helping you figure out whether you’re investing time in the wrong guy? Your own intuition. So, listen to it.
All that being said: yes, this situation sounds extremely sketchy. Three months is a very long time for two people who both claim to want a relationship to “chat” online almost every day for hours and not exchange photos or have more than one phone conversation. You don’t say how old you are, and I just hope to God you’re at least 18, because if you’re not there’s a very good chance this guy could be some sort of child predator. Even if you are 18, I’d be very, very leery about continuing communication with someone who was so opposed to “showing his face,” both literally and figuratively. What is he hiding? What is he afraid of you finding out?
And even if we are to take him at his word about being afraid of his image being “replicated” online, does that mean that after three months of talking with you, he doesn’t trust you enough to keep his photo(s) private? And, if so, how do you move past that? How many more hours of chatting do you have to complete before he does trust you enough to show you his face? And what about meeting in person? Has that idea ever been broached? Do you live close enough that you could easily meet? If so, it’s definitely odd that it hasn’t happened yet. (But if it’s in the cards, please, please, please meet him in public place and do NOT tell him where you live).
Tomorrow, I’ll be posting some online dating tips that may help you further, so keep an eye out for that column. In the meantime, listen to you intuition and if it’s telling you there’s something sketchy about this guy, then get the answers you need to the questions you have. If he can’t provide them, MOA, sister. Never invest time in someone who avoids answering your questions if the questions you have are important to you.
*If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, send me your letters at firstname.lastname@example.org and be sure to follow me on Twitter.