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Office Hours With Dr. Jim
by James Houran, Ph.D

In this column, "Dr. Jim" honestly and candidly answers your questions about dating, love and sexuality. He doesn’t tell you what you want to hear – he tells you what you need to hear. Dr. Jim is committed to offering you guidance based on responsible clinical practice and hard data from the latest scientific studies. Send Dr. Jim your questions today for consideration in an upcoming issue.

Fake Online Dating Ad Exposes Lover's True Intents

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No talk of future - when is the right time?

I read your response to the question of having more than one online "flame" at a time and absolutely agree with you.... it's all in being open and honest about what you expect from online dating and the beginning of new relationships.
Usually, I take it slow and I tell guys that I'm “getting to know a few people right now.”


I'm a 39 y/o female who met a man via an online personals site four months ago. This guy was different! I wanted to take him exclusively after spending five mins. with him. We have a ton in common and hit it off right away. We emailed daily for weeks and then met in person for the perfect first date. Conversation was fun and never stopped. We didn't want to say good-night!

Even though he works long hours and lives a good 60 miles from me (in SoCal), he calls and drives up every Friday or Saturday. I have also driven to see him a few times on the weekend, as well (making some entire weekends spent together). I have not "chased" this man and felt that his calling me and driving up to see me after working a 12 hrs. day and a two hour commute was "proof" that he was really serious about me. He also attended a friend’s 30th birthday party with me four days after our first date, which said that he didn't mind meeting people in my life.

We became sexually intimate just over a month ago. Again, we are HIGHLY compatible there, too! However, that seems to be as far as we go. There is no talk of "future", no meeting his friends or family, and what's worse is that he doesn't seem to want to spend any time with my teen-aged son. When I mentioned "....if you ever meet my parents...blah blah" he actually looked away from me and I had the sense that he had no intention of meeting my family. Also, we talked about taking our ads down when we began sleeping together. I took mine down, but he didn't. I didn't say anything to him, but I sort of watched his once or twice a week and it seemed like he was checking in daily.

Last week, I set up a fake ad and emailed him. He was all over "me" and wants to meet even though I made sure the fake me had little in common with him and was very rude. He told "her" he's not dating anyone, hasn't found anyone worth dating from the site, wants to find one woman and his perfect woman would have a lot in common with him.

I'm totally crushed and don't know what to do. We never had a talk about US and our future. I mean, it's only been four months, but I assumed that we had something. Is it worth talking about now, or should I just call it quits?

For future reference, how and when does one bring up the seriousness of a potential partners intent? I always feel like if I ask that right away, I'm assuming a lot. What if after a few months, I find that we don't have a lot in common? So, I wait, let things develop and always seem to get burned. Feel free to edit my long email, but I hope you have some advice because I've been doing the online dating thing for nearly 10 years with very little to show for it but a badly twisted sense of how to set boundaries?

I wanted to reproduce this entire question, because it concerns exactly what I was talking about in a previous article I feel for this person, because she is dealing with a lot at once: A jerk, a strenuous dating life and a twisted mindset (according to her).

First and foremost, drop the jerk. For whatever reason, he can’t bring himself to be honest with you and to commit to you. In my opinion, there’s really nothing to be gained from trying to make it work with this guy. That’s not an invitation to be mean or vindictive; just break it off and get some closure on this episode. Once that’s done, give yourself from time off from serious online dating and spend that time taking stock of yourself.

I say this because dating sounds painful to you from what I’ve read here. Dating should be fun and productive, but you describe it like you’re struggling with a dead-in, unfulfilling job. Like job burnout, you might have dating burnout. Take a break from it to gain perspective. I suspect your desire for a committed relationship is so strong that it clouds your attitudes and behaviors – it may well be sabotaging your dating life. If you can’t enjoy the process of dating, then I doubt you’ll enjoy the results you gain from dating.

I recommend that you approach dating as a fun adventure rather than a time-sensitive chore to find a life partner. If you go in with heavy expectations about outcomes, your happiness will always be tied to the presence or absence of those outcomes. In short, you’ll make yourself sick. It’s okay and natural to look for a person with whom you can establish a committed relationship, but approach online (and offline) dating with fewer expectations. Your goal should be to have fun learning about other people and playing the field. If you feel you have something with another person, don’t push the relationship card. Instead, simply acknowledge that your feelings are telling you to explore the origin of those feelings more – are you feeling physical chemistry, deep friendship, admiration for a person, etc. Feelings are often times best if they’re labeled and used as markers for continued action and exploration. Don’t give in to what your body tells you; love ios great but it is blind. When we’re under the spell of early stages of love it’s all too easy to lose ourselves and to act without really thinking of the ramifications. Rather, use your head and enjoy the sensations. Let a relationship develop naturally; don’t force it. And don’t jump in bed right away, if at all in the early stages.

Have fun and gain fulfillment from simply feeling the excitement of love and attraction and the natural progression of events. Ask a lot of questions and share a lot about yourself and what you want out of life. Seize and enjoy the process, not just the destination – which in your case seems to be the desire to gain a committed relationship. If you start feeling like the time is right to talk about taking the relationship to the next level, then it’s absolutely fine to ask the other person and work out what that means. You have one set of expectations when something happens in a relationship (like physical contact, meeting the others friends or family, moving in together, etc.), but those may not mirror the expectations or assumptions from the other person. It’s crucial to talk about the meaning of what happens in a relationship, so there are no surprises to either of you. So don’t be shy to bring up commitment if the time is right.

How do you do this? Do it in a way that’s natural for you, but don’t push the concept on the person and leave it as a topic that you both need to explore together. Something like this: “It seems we’ve the passed the holding hands and kissing stage, huh? To me, this usually means that two people are headed towards a committed relationship. Is that what we both had in mind at this point?” An approach likes this doesn’t put all the burden on one person to decide anything, and it keeps the outcome ambiguous and up for negotiation. And it keeps your own expectations and assumptions in check. Once you know where you stand and where the other person stands, then you’re in a position to make an informed decision about taking the relationship to the next level – whatever a couple decides that means.

> - The best approach to find the one. <

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