Online Dating and the Dance of Pursuit and Distance
The delicate dance of pursuit and distance has been played by us humans since the beginning of time. Just look at the volumes of books and poems written about the subject. The British brought it to perfection with their literature, old and new. One of the main themes of the new British Classic drama “Downton Abbey”, which won so much acclaim, is this dance played by two lead characters.
Not only in literature – pursuit and distance is the subject of much psychological research and many marriage and family counseling books. It is also the subject that brings many couples to therapy and to a divorce.
We engage in this dance naturally and it exists in every relationship; be it a couple, parents and children, between coworkers, employers and employees. But when this balance is disturbed, when it becomes obsessive or demanding, the pendulum usually swings strongly the other way; the more one persists in his/her pursuit, the more does the other want to keep his distance. That is no more evident than when we talk about the dating stage, when we first get to know each other.
In today’s world, online dating is one of the most popular ways to find a mate, and we bring this dance into the World Wide Web. Except it becomes even more complicated.
When to push and when to let go? When is it time to be active? What does he/she really means? Those new relationships which start through an electronic device, sometime from a great physical distance, have a new set of problems. Even if the other person is in the same city or around the corner, he/she can disappear at any time. It is a problem that ruffles many feathers and breaks many hearts. But it isn’t always your fault.
This medium provides the ability to start something that the other party can’t or is unable to finish. It provides the means to do something that is called “hit and run”. With a few clicks of the mouse you can start a ‘relationship’ without having to dress up or look in the mirror. When that becomes the next stage, people just disappear.
There might be some people on these sites that are scared of intimacy. When someone can’t tolerate being open or intimate, not only in the physical way, but by reviling him//herself, what they do is bolt. Intimacy is learned at home from the adults and many who didn’t experience honesty and trust are unable to form meaningful relationships.
Some of the people on these sites are there after a divorce or a separation, when they are most inclined to use others to heal their wounds. Some just try it out and when a new set of problems develop with combining the past and future relationships – they run away.
Some of the ‘never before married’, or those who never had a long term relationship and are now in their 40’s, might have a problem with commitment, but they also have a wide range of excused and explanations.
Unfortunately some people cross the line and become chronic pursuers, or even worse – harassers. It is so much easier to send a text or an e mail than talk on the phone, isn’t it?
How to avoid being one and respecting the dance you are dancing? How to avoid being pulled into a dance you don’t want to dance?
Here are a few ideas:
No means no. Behave like a grown up and learn to take rejection. You can meet many more people online than you can in your physical world, but you can also be rejected more often. It does not reflect badly on you and don’t get discouraged. All it means is that this specific person is not for you.
Don’t insist on answers why it didn’t work out. Move on.
If you don’t get an answer in a timely fashion, or don’t get an answer at all – it probably means no.
If someone does contact you, but in a sporadic matter, you can either drop this contact, or take it for what it is; a sporadic relationship.
Be honest. Tell the other person what are your intentions. And if it doesn’t work out, let them know. A few honest words, although might hurt a bit are much better than a disappearance act.
Never pursue a distancer, my mother used to say, it will not work.
Russell Collins is the blog owner of http://over50datingnow.com where he writes and shares genuine articles about dating tips, advice for Over 50 Dating and many more.