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Post by KMR Mon Feb 01, 2021 9:36 pm

I don't usually seek out dating advice because I tend to be pretty decisive or just prefer to reason things out on my own, but I'm in a situation where I just keep not making up my mind and feel like I could literally go either way and feel fine about it. So I thought it might be helpful for me to get some outside perspectives and see if that sways my decision at all. Or maybe just get an analysis of the situation without ultimately doing anything about it.

So for the past several months, I've been back in the online dating world after my previous long-term relationship ended this past summer. A couple weeks ago, I messaged a guy on OkCupid that I had matched with (meaning we mutually "liked" each other's profiles) and he replied. The conversation was going well, and it was particularly refreshing because I had recently been feeling disappointed about other conversations I'd been having on the site that were lacking in substance or just didn't have that spark. We exchanged messages for several days, after which he said he was really enjoying our conversation and asked if we could exchange phone numbers. I said that I didn't feel comfortable giving out my phone number just yet but offered to switch to a program like Discord or Skype for a video call instead.

Now at this point he's been starting to respond less frequently, but he'd also apologized for the slow responses and stated that he was extremely busy those days (he's a grad student and the semester was just starting up) and he still seemed enthusiastic about our exchanges. He replied that he tends to interpret it as a bad sign when someone offers to switch to "an anonymous platform" but that it's a "not unreasonable" request (using his wording here). He said that he's never used Discord before and asked me for advice on how to proceed. I responded that it was pretty straightforward to get an account and I also said that if he didn't want to deal with the hassle of a new program, he could suggest another platform that he's more comfortable with instead. I also explained why I would prefer to use a chat program instead of giving out my phone number at this stage (including that I have some phone anxiety and actually feel a lot more comfortable doing a video call where I can see the other person than doing a voice call) but assured him that I would be happy to keep talking to him. He replied with a short message that he would like to try a video call and will work on getting Discord set up. I thought he'd get back to me with an update, so I didn't reply at first, but after I hadn't heard from him for a bit, I responded by giving him my username so he could add me and told him to let me know if there was a specific time that would work well for him that we could schedule a video call.

He didn't follow up with me after that, neither on OkCupid nor on Discord, and it's now been about a week since I've heard from him. The default assumption is that he is no longer interested, which is the most likely scenario, and I don't actually expect him to get back to me at this point. But given that we were right on the verge of taking our interaction a step further and that he seemed enthusiastic to do so (if a bit uncertain about the logistics), it feels like an odd mixed signal. Which is why I keep wondering if it would make any sense for me to send one last follow up message to ask if he might still be interested in video chatting and that I'd still be down for it if he is. He could have just been interpreting my own responses as signs of disinterest (e.g. that I didn't respond for a bit when he said he'd try to get Discord working, coupled with his previous assumption that not giving my phone number was a bad sign) and that's why he decided not to pursue further.

Again, it seems weird to bother at this point, because odds are he's not interested anymore, plus the momentum of the conversation has largely been lost. But it's also kind of like, what harm can it do to send this one last message, because the worst that would happen is that he would continue to ignore me or just outright tell me he's no longer interested, which is what I'm assuming is the case anyway. I just don't know if it's worthwhile doing, and I'm not sure how to phrase it if I did decide to message him again.

So anyway, my overall questions are:
-What's your interpretation of this situation? Is it just a classic case of disinterest and I'm reading into the possibilities far too much? Or is there something a little odd going on here?
-Does sending one last message make any sense at this stage or should I just keep up the radio silence (as I've pretty much been doing due to indecisiveness anyway)?
-If sending a message would be a not unreasonable thing to do, what's the best way to phrase it?
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Post by Datelessman Tue Feb 02, 2021 12:54 am

I think your instincts on the situation are close to the mark. It's possible that he's a busy grad student or some other life event happened which is soaking up more focus than an OkCupid chat. These are crazy times. On the other hand, a lot of men in my experience treat "getting her digits" as some sort of "mark of progress" with a woman and perhaps your very reasonable alternative was interpreted by him as a sign of disinterest or "the friend zone" or something similar.

I mean, a lot of baloney about "how to pick up women" is either from The Game from 2005 or other pre-social media "rules." The codes of manhood have not always kept up with technology.

That said, I don't see the harm in sending him one final message. You were doing a back and forth and he didn't text back, so you sending one more "nudge" text after a lull is not unreasonable. To use a sports metaphor, the ball was bouncing back and forth over the net, and this time he didn't serve it back. So now you're sending a new ball. If this one also lands dead, then the match may be over.

As for how to phrase it? Dang, if I knew how to phrase OkCupid messages, I'd actually date. Laughing I'd say start out by acknowledging it'd been a while and you were hoping everything was okay, considering Covid and all, and maybe something about if he still had time for Discord or so on. After that, there's really nowhere else to go until he responds.

I do think you're right that for whatever reason he lost interest, but I don't see the harm in one last message.
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Post by inbloomer Wed Feb 03, 2021 2:52 pm

Yes, when someone suddenly goes cold just when it all seemed promising and genuine, there are three main possibilities:

1) They were playing a numbers game and something else has come through, so they're trying to stand down their other options.

2) They were flirting for entertainment and never had serious intent. When someone has overcommitted and is trying to backpedal, they often do this slow fade act of claiming they want to do it while subtly throwing obstacles in the way.

3) They have some other urgent priority that really is unrelated, but they don't want to explain it to you.

I would have thought fine to try one more tentative message and then move on if it doesn't get a response.

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Post by KMR Thu Feb 04, 2021 2:30 pm

Thank you both for your input.

Datelessman wrote:On the other hand, a lot of men in my experience treat "getting her digits" as some sort of "mark of progress" with a woman and perhaps your very reasonable alternative was interpreted by him as a sign of disinterest or "the friend zone" or something similar.

I can understand this mentality, but at the same time, given the pandemic, it always seemed to me that the logical next step for advancing an OLD interaction would be to move to video chat. Since people are generally more reluctant to get together in person and are taking some precautions, using a video call is sort of the "next best thing" to having an in-person date as a way to see if there's enough chemistry to justify the risk of meeting IRL. So to my mind, suggesting a video call should be seen as a positive step that the interaction is going well and proceeding to the next level. But I do recognize that other people can have their own preferences and different expectations for how these things would proceed.

I have been floating some ideas around in my head for how I might phrase a follow-up message, pretty similar to what you suggested, Datelessman. On the other hand, I've been having a pretty busy work week that hasn't given me much social energy to really want to engage with online dating and other interactions at the moment. And as the stretch of radio silence continues on, it feels less and less worthwhile to try to open the lines of communication again. So I'll have to see how I'm feeling as the week comes to an end. Maybe I'll have enough motivation to shoot a message out into the wind and see what comes of it. Or maybe I'll decide that I would rather disengage for a bit, relax, and just play Path of Exile all weekend. In which case, I will leave this be, because then it really will have been too long to be worth investing any more mental or emotional effort into and it'd be a better use of my time to try and start fresh with someone new instead.

It was good to see other takes on this situation, and I appreciate both of your responses.
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Post by Hielario Thu Feb 04, 2021 5:15 pm

Hi. I think it makes sense to shoot him a last message. You were talking and he's suddenly disappeared, it's perfectly normal to be surprised and to want to know if something's gone wrong. (Also: It would do you good to be a bit less dubitative. If you want something, you gotta go for it! As my mom says, "he who doesn't cry, doesn't get to suckle".)

I suspect that it's because of Discord. I understand your issues about phones, i have some myself. But, maybe, having to use a platform he isn't familiar with (or maybe finds somewhat cumbersome) has cooled his enthusiasm. And you know he is a busy man.

As to how to phrase it? Hmm...I'm always crap at this when people do that, but I just had a wild idea: Add "handsome" or some appreciative term in there, so it sounds sweeter. Something like..."Hey, handsome, is something wrong? I didn't want to pressure you since I know you're busy, but I haven't heard from you for a week and I thought we had something good going. Are you OK?".


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Post by Hirundo Bos Thu Feb 04, 2021 10:56 pm

To add my own response to the good ones already here: I've been on both sides myself of OLD-conversations where one side stops responding, and I have the impression it's quite normal. It could be any of the reasons suggested here, from being distracted by life to loss of interest, and a number of other reasons as well, like insecurities taking hold, or falling back into regular messaging habits (which aren't always as your turn-my turn-quick response as early interactions can be). Just letting it go sounds like a sound option. If you decide to send one last message, the way I would have phrased it would be something like "Hi again, hope things are going well. I just wanted to say I enjoyed our conversation, and if you still want to keep it up on another platform, I'll be happy to find one we're both a bit more familiar with. If not, well, it was nice getting to know you a little, and I wish you good luck on here in the future."
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Post by KMR Fri Feb 05, 2021 8:05 pm

I decided to go ahead and send the message out and see what happens. I borrowed a bit of phrasing from each of your suggestions, so thanks everyone for helping me verbalize it!
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Post by Datelessman Sat Feb 06, 2021 2:24 am

KMR wrote:Thank you both for your input.

I can understand this mentality, but at the same time, given the pandemic, it always seemed to me that the logical next step for advancing an OLD interaction would be to move to video chat. Since people are generally more reluctant to get together in person and are taking some precautions, using a video call is sort of the "next best thing" to having an in-person date as a way to see if there's enough chemistry to justify the risk of meeting IRL. So to my mind, suggesting a video call should be seen as a positive step that the interaction is going well and proceeding to the next level. But I do recognize that other people can have their own preferences and different expectations for how these things would proceed.

It was good to see other takes on this situation, and I appreciate both of your responses.

You're welcome.

I actually totally agree with you that your choice of a video chat was not only a reasonable alternative to the "next step" instead of your phone number, but in some ways it's better. It's voice, it's video, in real time, LIVE! Even in 2005, that stuff was still almost science fiction for the average person. People can live STAR TREK talking sessions in everyday life! Besides, the key to bring strangers together is comfort. A phone number can be very personal because that's the number everyone who is close knows. A dude on OKC is still a stranger, even if he seems cool. I totally get it.

Just one of the things about being a man is, well, I am sometimes privy to how they think. I don't get past the dude-bros at the velvet rope, but we all go to the same bathroom. And I know a lot of guys treat "her digits" like a "key mission" in their "dating quest." I've literally seen a guy go from "you're so beautiful" to "*****, you think you're better than me" because she, god forbid, offered an email instead of her phone number when he cold approached her on a train. Throw in that a lot of people are resistant to change and technology is outpacing social norms sometimes, and...perfect storm. I wish it was different.

KMR wrote:I decided to go ahead and send the message out and see what happens. I borrowed a bit of phrasing from each of your suggestions, so thanks everyone for helping me verbalize it!

Glad to have helped! Hopefully it was something unrelated that caused the radio silence, but your attitude about it all is very healthy.
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Post by Hielario Sat Feb 06, 2021 3:51 am

Just one of the things about being a man is, well, I am sometimes privy to how they think. I don't get past the dude-bros at the velvet rope, but we all go to the same bathroom. And I know a lot of guys treat "her digits" like a "key mission" in their "dating quest." I've literally seen a guy go from "you're so beautiful" to "*****, you think you're better than me" because she, god forbid, offered an email instead of her phone number when he cold approached her on a train. Throw in that a lot of people are resistant to change and technology is outpacing social norms sometimes, and...perfect storm. I wish it was different.

Um, I'd just like to point something.
Phone number? Personal. It matters for everything. Everybody answers their phone. Allows for privacy. Everybody has a phone and it's simple.
Video chat? Email? Not personal. Disposable, can have more than one. Very easy to ignore. Easy to intrude. Often requires specialized equipment not evrybody has, or knows how to operate.

Therefore, the second is a second-class communication method. A phone number is serious, how do you expect that an email or video chat don't sound like an excuse or a smokescreen (excluding KMR's situation since she gives a reasonable explanation) to any regular person?
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Post by Enail Sat Feb 06, 2021 4:38 pm

I disagree with your view on phones vs. video, Hielario. I was actually really surprised by "everyone answers their phone," because I'd say more people under 60 won't answer their phone unexpectedly than will! And a lot of people absolutely hate phones. Other than texting, I think of them as a near-obsolete method of communication mostly used by Baby Boomers or for professional services etc, and I thought that was pretty much the common view; I've certainly seen lots of complaints about people calling when they could have just texted/emailed/DM'ed.

And definitely for dating purposes, it makes a lot more sense to me to use video when possible, especially in a pandemic when meeting up in person is a much more serious thing, because it's closer to in-person and lets people use more of their senses. While video definitely doesn't give you everything that an in-person meeting does, a chat face-to-face even on video has a lot of advantage over just a disembodied voice, it gets more personality across, does a better job of letting each person evaluate if the other is really are who they say they are, and gives people a chance to see if there's any attraction to the person in motion rather than just images, which don't always tell the whole story. If it were me, I'd be a little worried they were avoiding visual mediums because had lied about their age or something like that if they wanted to stick to phone over video for anything other than "we're meeting soon, so give me a way to contact you if I'm running late etc," especially when we wouldn't be able to meet in person for some time.

But also, as you say, phone numbers are not very easily disposable and are important for some things - which makes it a meaningful risk. For someone that you've only spoken to in fairly anonymous, text-only formats and haven't even gotten a chance to see visually if they really are who they say they are, if you enjoy interacting and if they treat you with basic respect and consideration, that seems like a somewhat big ask.

So giving a phone number seems to me like greater risk (of having to change numbers if they turn out to be a stalker, potentially of them using it to find out their address or workplace etc.) for less benefit for both people (get a more limited form of communication with more limited ability to confirm identity, get a sense for what they're going to be like in person or tell if there's attraction) - unless someone strongly dislikes video or has technological or health reasons they're not feasible (which I do agree with you are valid issues), the only benefit I can see is that the recipient of the phone number feels they have more of a "hold" on the giver, more ability to get their attention whether or not it's a good time for them, more ability to pursue them if they stop interacting. Which doesn't really seem to me like something reasonable to expect prior to even seeing them in real-time. It's also an imbalanced risk by gender, since women are considerably more likely to be endangered by a stalker.
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Post by Datelessman Sun Feb 07, 2021 10:34 am

You covered just about everything I would have said, Enail!

But like Columbo used to say, "Something just occurred to me..."

Hielario wrote:
Just one of the things about being a man is, well, I am sometimes privy to how they think. I don't get past the dude-bros at the velvet rope, but we all go to the same bathroom. And I know a lot of guys treat "her digits" like a "key mission" in their "dating quest." I've literally seen a guy go from "you're so beautiful" to "*****, you think you're better than me" because she, god forbid, offered an email instead of her phone number when he cold approached her on a train. Throw in that a lot of people are resistant to change and technology is outpacing social norms sometimes, and...perfect storm. I wish it was different.

Um, I'd just like to point something.
Phone number? Personal. It matters for everything. Everybody answers their phone. Allows for privacy. Everybody has a phone and it's simple.
Video chat? Email? Not personal. Disposable, can have more than one. Very easy to ignore. Easy to intrude. Often requires specialized equipment not evrybody has, or knows how to operate.

Therefore, the second is a second-class communication method. A phone number is serious, how do you expect that an email or video chat don't sound like an excuse or a smokescreen (excluding KMR's situation since she gives a reasonable explanation) to any regular person?

With all due respect, KMR's "reasonable explanation" is an extremely common one, at least among the women I know. Wariness of giving a personal number tied in with friends, family, work, etc. to a relative stranger that early is more of a concern for women than men, since they're typically the victims of abusive men. Video chats are a modern alternative to many things and allow each person to see the other without having to get close, which is ideal for a pandemic. I'm a little confused about you being so hostile to the idea, yet allowing KMR's explanation alone. Her explanation is a variant of what many women (and men!) might say.

But honestly, it all comes down to comfort. My philosophy is comfort is key and that ties into projecting safety (which DNL talks about a lot), especially in the beginning, and a guy should be willing to be at least a little accommodating. You are right that not everyone has ready access to technology, which is why texting is still very common. People have been able to text on cell phones since the 90's.

Heck, if I thought things were going well on an online match and she wanted to communicate by messenger pigeon, I'd give it a chance! Laughing
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Post by KMR Mon Feb 08, 2021 10:58 pm

Enail and Datelessman have summed up quite well my feelings on the subject. I will give my phone number to a guy once we've scheduled a first date, in order to have an immediate form of contact in case one of us is running late or has to cancel/reschedule. Or if we've had 1-2 video chats and things are going well but we can't set up an in-person date just yet (in addition to current Covid concerns, I also have a tendency to match with people who live at least an hour away, so it's not always easy to set up an in-person meeting), we might exchange phone numbers to make it easier to keep the conversation going in between and schedule subsequent video calls. Other than that, I see no point in using the phone.

Funnily enough, my last boyfriend and I almost never actually spoke on the phone for the entirety of our relationship. We always either texted or did a video chat. If he had actually called me at some point, I probably would have panicked, thinking it was some kind of emergency. It's funny how the culture has shifted. I'm old enough to remember when having regular phone conversations was the norm, but it's definitely becoming less common as the years go by. As someone who has always hated phone calls, I'm completely on board with this trend.

So... an update on the situation. He replied about a day after I messaged him, saying that the added hurdle of trying to figure out how to set up Discord was tripping him up and that he didn't know if we could proceed without it. He said that he would love to talk sometime and offered that we use a different chat program instead and gave several options. I picked Skype, since I already have an account, gave him my username, and asked if there was a day and time that would work well for him to schedule a call. And... I haven't heard back from him again for two days now. So once again, getting a bunch of mixed signals here. If he is genuinely interested, as he claims, he certainly doesn't seem to be in any hurry or particularly motivated to keep the conversation going. So that's not a great sign.

What's even more bizarre about this whole thing is that before he went silent on me the first time, I had explicitly said that we could use a different program other than Discord if it would be easier for him. In fact, I said it twice! First, when I initially proposed the video chat, I said that I typically use Discord so we could connect there if he also had it, but that we could also use Skype or some other program instead. And then, when he said that he'd never used Discord before and asked how to proceed, I told him it should be pretty straightforward to set up, but if he didn't want to do that, he could suggest another program he's already familiar with. He was the one who kept fixating on Discord and saying he would try it, and I just went with it at that point. So it's like he wasn't even reading what I wrote and somehow leapt to this strange assumption that if Discord wasn't going to work out, I wasn't going to accept any other option, so better to just not respond than to ask if we could find a reasonable compromise? *shrug*

Anyway, whatever, I did my part and gave him every opportunity to move things forward, so he can take it or leave it.
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Post by inbloomer Tue Feb 09, 2021 2:21 pm

Yes, I think quite a lot of people actually always had anxieties particular to the telephone - it breaks in and demands your attention, is easily missed and you can catastrophise what it was going to be about, and then you've got no read on the other person's non-verbal cues. Now there are alternatives, it's increasingly acceptable to avoid it as much as possible.  

This kind of simultaneously hot and cold behaviour is familiar to me, and it's incredibly frustrating to deal with. My pet theory is that the person's head is saying yes but their heart is saying no, which is causing them unpleasant cognitive dissonance. So, they're trying to twist the situation into being that they did want to do it but you made unreasonable demands they couldn't meet, allowing them to walk away feeling they're the hero not the villain.

That's only a theory, I can't prove it. But it's an annoying aspect of dating and socialising that can be hard to talk about.

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Post by Datelessman Fri Feb 12, 2021 6:28 am

KMR wrote:So... an update on the situation. He replied about a day after I messaged him, saying that the added hurdle of trying to figure out how to set up Discord was tripping him up and that he didn't know if we could proceed without it. He said that he would love to talk sometime and offered that we use a different chat program instead and gave several options. I picked Skype, since I already have an account, gave him my username, and asked if there was a day and time that would work well for him to schedule a call. And... I haven't heard back from him again for two days now. So once again, getting a bunch of mixed signals here. If he is genuinely interested, as he claims, he certainly doesn't seem to be in any hurry or particularly motivated to keep the conversation going. So that's not a great sign.

What's even more bizarre about this whole thing is that before he went silent on me the first time, I had explicitly said that we could use a different program other than Discord if it would be easier for him. In fact, I said it twice! First, when I initially proposed the video chat, I said that I typically use Discord so we could connect there if he also had it, but that we could also use Skype or some other program instead. And then, when he said that he'd never used Discord before and asked how to proceed, I told him it should be pretty straightforward to set up, but if he didn't want to do that, he could suggest another program he's already familiar with. He was the one who kept fixating on Discord and saying he would try it, and I just went with it at that point. So it's like he wasn't even reading what I wrote and somehow leapt to this strange assumption that if Discord wasn't going to work out, I wasn't going to accept any other option, so better to just not respond than to ask if we could find a reasonable compromise? *shrug*

Anyway, whatever, I did my part and gave him every opportunity to move things forward, so he can take it or leave it.

It isn't the greatest sign that he's not reading your texts or PM's completely. I mean, the one advantage they have over actual talking (in person or via a phone or video link) IS that you can take your time, read every word, interpret, and so on. The fact that he didn't seem to do that and fixated on Discord and his issues with it is odd. I don't want to sound too hypocritical, as a guy who can miss neon signs, but it's not a great look when he is displaying a lack of an attention to detail before you even arrange a date.

You are right; you've given him many chances and he either seems disinterested, wishy-washy or distracted. It's a bummer if you were interested at first, but I don't think there is much hope for this one. He seems to be coming up with reasons not to link up!
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