danger wrong way turn back signCraig asks: I am 37-year-old single male who decided to try Internet dating as thought it would be a great way to actually meet someone based not entirely on physical attraction. I’d only been on the site for a month when I made contact with a woman who had been unhappily married for twenty years and it had ended two years ago. We initially sent each other a couple of emails before exchanging mobile numbers.

Our first conversation lasted two hours and one of her stipulations was that she did not send text messages nor ask men out. I was comfortable with that. We talked a few more times on the phone with each chat lasting about an hour. In these chats we shared so much, which ranged from meaningful to light-hearted etc. I didn’ t phone her for three days and I received a text message where the general gist was “You are in my thoughts” and “I thought you would have phoned me”. I replied saying that I cared about her etc and would call that night, which I did and we had another long chat where she asked when we were going to meet up. I agreed to meet her on the Sunday – This was no blind date as both our photos were posted on the dating site.

At 7.00pm on the Saturday evening, I received a text message asking “Do you want some company tonight?” I’d already made plans with friends and I did not reply but met up on Sunday as agreed. Our encounter was at her place and for only three hours, as she had to meet someone at the airport. The encounter was very intimate – good conversation, hugs, kisses but no sex, which was fine, as I did not read her to be the type of female sleeping with men they had known for a month.

We had a few more conversations over the phone and same as before they were long etc. I sent her a text message on a Sunday night saying that I hoped she’d had a good weekend and that I would call her the following night, to which I got a 4 page text message saying in short “met up with an old friend who was a groomsman in my wedding party, his wife left him, don’t know where it is going to go but as old friends we need to be there for one another”. I believe her as she has removed her profile from the site.

What I can’t understand is that given her marriage etc I was giving her time and space (not suffocating her so to speak) and allowing what we had to grow. The other thing I found confusing was that during our encounter she would still be on the site nearly every second-third day. Sometimes I felt like I was just a number. And she had been on the site for over a year.

She also had two dependent children who spent only every second weekend with their father. I was comfortable with that and the fact she was dating other men. Having felt for a long time chemistry with a female (not just physical etc) as much as this and knew she felt the same way as per details given.

Did I blow it by not going to see her on the Sat night after she sent text message? She needs to remember that 37yo single guys have already made plans by 7.00pm for a Sat night. Maybe the comment in her text message gave me a hint “her old friend was there for her”. In short what went wrong?

Let me tell you something Craig: it’s not just men who are emotionally unavailable or playa players. Women clearly do it too and you have been played by someone who doesn’t really know her arse from her elbow. The classic sign of someone who is emotionally unavailable is that their actions are almost always in contradiction with whatever is coming out of their mouths. They love the thrill of the chase but they’re always setting you up with tests to fail. You were literally damned if you did and damned if you didn’t.

Trust me, if you had responded to her text and abandoned your Saturday night plans, she’d have thought you were a sucker. You didn’t respond, so she decided that someone she’d barely known a wet month had abandoned her. But regardless of what you had done, she is still likely to have found some poor hapless groomsman to be co-dependent, commitment-phobic, emotionally unavailable, and generally screwed up with. This woman is clearly looking for a source of comfort that she has been struggling to fill and right now, someone who has just been burnt themselves seems to fit the bill better.

That aside, the first alarm bell was her total contradiction with her initial statement that she didn’t do text messages and she doesn’t ask out men. Whilst some may read her subsequent text message as a sign of how interested she must be in you, I read this as a trap. I know I am not wrong in deducing this because after arranging to meet you on one day, she texts you prior to the event the night before to see if you’ll basically drop everything and go and see her, which is actually asking you out. Even after you meet up, she still continues to text you. Clearly texting is not a crime but don’t you think that her actions are in complete contradiction to what she previously stated and doesn’t this bother you?

This woman has manipulated you. It might not be what she intended but it’s what she did. You inadvertently put her in the situation of feeling that she just “had” to do the two things that she claims that she doesn’t do, and it’s possible that in her mind, this translated to “If this guy really understood me, was interested in me and yada, yada, yada…I wouldn’t be doing this”. The big flag that did jump up at me about you though was not calling for three days. I won’t excuse her behaviour but if there is one way to drive a woman cuckoo it’s by appearing to make a connection, promising to call…and then leaving it three days. Why three? Couldn’t you have just left it a day or were you afraid of showing your interest? There’s nothing to say that she wouldn’t have still texted you after a day, but unfortunately you’ll never know…

To add insult to injury she informs you that she’s essentially met someone else via text message and that he was a groomsman in her party (he’s clearly the separated husband of her friend), and how they ‘need to be there for one another’.

You went wrong when you determined how you’d treat her based on her previous marriage. Clearly she wasn’t looking for time and space but you decided that she needed it anyway and there was a clear mismatch here of expectations and interpretations of what was happening between you. You felt very connected to her but you still chose to create this idea of space. You weren’t heeding her rather mixed signals and instead decided to operate on your instincts, which pretty much puts you in isolation. You say that you didn’t mind her dating other guys but you didn’t fail to notice her lurking around on the dating site and she’s wasted no time removing her profile with this other guy. If you did mind, which I sense you did, there is nothing wrong with that.

Some people just need to blow off steam and get some attention, even if it from people that they hardly know that they’ve met on the internet. The trouble with internet dating is that it can create the illusion of a connection that may not actually exist. The flurry of emails and phonecalls and appearing to be soulmates is no substitution for getting to know each other face to face in the real world. You haven’t really done anything wrong other than be a little assumptive, ignore a few cues, be a bit slow off the mark calling her, and maybe having some slightly unrealistic expectations of her and internet dating. I think you’re well shot of her.

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9 Responses to Advice: Where did I go wrong? The trap of the emotionally unavailable, inconsistent woman

  1. Brad K. says:

    Craig, you didn’t describe your relationship with her kids. You realize nothing can happen with her, in a long-term sense, without a relationship between you and her kids, don’t you? Some single mothers ‘shield’ their kids from their dates, some use the kids to evaluate the guy, others fall somewhere between. If you aren’t getting face time with the kids, she considers you expendable. And ‘I am OK with her kids’ just doesn’t come close to making the grade with Mom.

    I had some other thoughts on my blog

    Basically, I don’t think she was ready to make sense with anyone, yet.

  2. cheekie1969 says:

    Hi Brad, guess who?
    I have to completely and totally disagree with your comment.
    I am a single mother, of an 8yr old boy, and I do NOT introduce him to anyone I have only been on one date with and known for less than a month. Unless of course this person is a friend he had known prior.

    This is absolutely NO indication of commitment on the woman’s part, nor any other single mother’s part. This is taking your child’s emotional health to heart, and not making your front door appear to be a turnstile for dates to them. It is about mutual respect between mother and child.

    To expect that there was a ‘relationship’ between Craig and this woman’s children is completely unrealistic given the circumstances. Furthermore, introducing your children to a man does denote commitment, but not with someone you met online! Safety first Brad!

    Case in point:
    I was dating a man I have known for quite some time, nothing very serious, but it was mutually exclusive (which by the way I always am and state so upfront), so after a month or so, I felt comfortable introducing my son to him.

    It was very casual, very no pressure, and they got along well. No expectations on my part of anyone or anything. Because it was done MY way as my child’s mother.

    After a child goes through a divorce, even a very amicable one such as mine, you still have to tread very very carefully. Children have very black and white, cut and dried views on relationships, and having to disappoint them with “sorry sweetie, Mommy and ____ aren’t friends any more” is just too much BS for a kid.

    Just fyi. So please all you men out there dating single mom’s, don’t push this issue, and please do not assume what Brad says about not introducing you to be correct. Give it time!!!

    NML, very very good response to Craig. You were 100% correct. Texting should be illegal anyway. Especially after a pint. I am having a breathalyser installed on my cell 😉


  3. cheekie1969 says:

    P.S. I would never use my son to ‘evaluate’ any man I was dating. I would do my own evaluation based on my love, caring and compassion for all involved. I know my son well enough to know that if I am happy, he is happy. It is my job as his mother to ensure that anyone I choose to bring into his life will be the best possible influence to him, but especially me. Do they need to get along?! OF COURSE! but, I wouldn’t put a guy through that test, and any guy I choose would have passed it long before it anyway….

  4. Brad K. says:

    Cheekie, It seems we actually agree, mostly. You are one of those that shield the kids from Mom’s dates – that works well for many families. I have also seen other strategies work as well or as badly.

  5. Sar says:

    This woman had severe issues. Three days is not a long time to not call someone you haven’t met in person. No matter what you did she would be inconsistent and you are lucky that it did not go further. I had such a bad experience online and it took a year to get over it. Disturbed people can play because of that false connection and the ease of lying online. The internet is full of disturbed and confused people. The more disturbed people you allow in your space, the lower your self-esteem goes and then you become even more of a target for predators. Disconnect at the first sign of inconsistency and move on.

  6. Nada says:

    cheekie: totally agree.
    As a general comment, the whole online dating thing is very different from what people who are single after a long term relationship are used to. It is difficult to adjust to the concept of getting to know somebody without actually having met them, and one ends up expecting to start a relationship after a few, however intimate, phone calls, which tends to be bad news.

  7. cheekie1969 says:

    I prefer to think of it as ‘mama bear’ rather than ‘shield’.

    Nada, agree with the online dating comment.
    Another point to make is that number ONE rule with internet dating is always meet them at the restaurant/bar/club/movie. NEVER EVER have them pick you up at your house. Ever. I mean EVER. At least for a long long while, and this is especially important if you have kids.
    So, again, it’s another reason why you might hold off with introductions in a case like this for a good length of time. Meet his friends, family – anyone! first. Then introduce him to your family. Namely kids. You really can’t take any risks with this stuff.

    I have had the very unfortunate experience of being stalked by a guy I met online. Of course, when I first met him he was sweet, gentle, romantic…a professional, athletic guy who seemed very down to earth. That went terribly wrong about a week into it, and my spidey senses told me not to give out too much info. I am so glad to this day that he only had my first name and cell number. PHEW!

    So, until one is in the position of being a Mama (or Papa) Bear themselves, you can’t judge based on that at all. You really don’t know.
    And it isn’t like I am going to ask my dates on the first outing ‘ hey, are you a stalker by any chance?’…LOL (for many reasons not the least of which is a real stalker will say no)

  8. webgurl says:

    I tend to agree with you cheekie1969 about kids and dating. I can remember meeting my divorced parents many dates. A situation I found uncomfortable and no doubt added to my cynicism about love and romance that I struggle with today. I think you should only make introductions if this person is someone you would consider making a commitment to and if not carefully explain the nature of your relationship to the kids so they won’t be confused like I was. That woman fits the bill as classic wishy washy woman…good riddance I say and better luck next time.

  9. Steven McCormack says:

    Not sure where my comment fits in to any immediate discussion, though felt in general that my recent experience is worth sharing. I wanted to give voice to gay men out there, who find themselves with other gay men…who are still married to their wives. There was no secret about it when I met him online. As a divorced man and father myself, who experienced a less than amiacable divorve, i viewed his situation as potentially healing for me. Embracing not only him, but his supportive wifa and children as well.
    Our overall loving and romantic relationship was hampered by a theme that kept rearing it’s head over and over again..and in different forms. Namely: YOU CAN’T HAVE YOUR CAKE AND EAT IT TOO! After 2 years, and numerous seperations it all finally clicked. My final words: My love cannot flourish under these circumstances. I remain still somewhat stunned by the reality that some are either unwilling or unable to grow. I realize now how love and desire can blind you to unavailability. It wasn’t easy, but I take pride that I DID THE RIGHT THING. Thanks for letting me share.

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30-Day Project: Dealing With Tricky Family Members

Tired of dealing with family drama or waiting for them to spontaneously combust in to changed people? Need to find ways to step back and take proactive steps to redefine the relationship from your end? This 30-Day project will help you do just that.