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Don't Stop Believing

I connected with a guy I’ve only spoken to in passing on Instagram after we got chatting in DMs one night back in July, he then perused me heavily, called me ‘wife material’ and ‘wifey’ almost immediately but I brushed it off as a joke, he messaged and still messages me every morning and throughout the day with songs, questions, pictures of what he’s up to and his cute dog, updates on his day etc but a month ago he cut all flirting and sexual talk after two months of flirting saying he wanted to stay friends and manage expectations in case there is no chemistry when we meet.

We hadn’t met up because of my work schedule but once I was free he was avoiding confirming dates or even video calling me for a date to ‘meet’. I feel mad at myself because he did all the instigation of flirting and sexual talk, and I really loved the imagined intimacy and connection, and someone giving the impression they gave a shit about me and my life and wanting to get to know me with a view of seriously dating me (his words). It seemed perfect at the time, and a great match.

It’s been a month since this has cooled down and I’m feeling really rejected and I don’t want to be his friend, I wanted to date him. He’s 44 and I’m 45, I haven’t dated or had sex in almost five years and this experience has scared me again, I always worry men will go and find someone more attractive or younger, which they do so I assume that’s what’s happened here because I’ve snooped at who he follows on IG (of course) and they are all incredibly beautiful younger women, and he comments ‘notice me’ messages on their photos, which he has never done with me.

I feel like a fool for going along with it, I feel I can’t ask him about the comments as we aren’t and hadn’t dated, just talked every day since July until now, and I want to remove myself from this whole shitshow I’ve placed myself into. Do you have any advice on how I can remove myself from this situation, I want to be gracious and adult about it when I really feel furious at myself for going along with it and for him for leading me on so much, or am I overreacting and this is normal dating behaviour?

Please help x Many thanks

The desire to be gracious and adult comes from being told that - as a woman - you must never show any emotion other than contentment and gratitude.

Fuck that. Be petty.

1. Create a burner Instagram account and respond to some of the comments he writes with, “Bro, you’re delusional. She’s way out of your league.”

2. “Accidentally” send him a text and attach screen shots of his dirty talk. Include a message that says, “Here are thee screenshots I was telling you about. So cringe.”

3. Block him everywhere.

This guy doesn’t have the capacity to engage in a healthy emotionally intimate relationship. He’s either already in one and acting out (in which case, bullet dodged) or he was engaging in this relationship because he’s an avoidant and there was no threat of true intimacy or rejection. That’s probably why things came to a screeching halt when your schedule opened up.

Once you became available and ready to take things to the next level, he got scared. Between his online dalliance with you and his one-sided parasocial relationships with women on Instagram it sounds to me like this guy prefers to engage with unattainable women.

Here’s the most important thing to remember:

There was nothing you could have done to avoid this. He did not detach because you wanted more. He was always going to do this.

While I wouldn’t call his behavior normal I would say what he did is all-too-common. Dating apps are the perfect place for avoidants and those seeking validation to go for their daily dose of dopamine and attention. They can be whomever they like. They can use the gratification they receive to avoid the pain, fear or disappointment of a failing or failed relationship. Dating apps are a great way to take a hiatus from reality.

I haven’t dated or had sex in almost five years and this experience has scared me again,

This is a very important part of this puzzle. We know why he got involved in this electronic entanglement. Now let’s talk about the reasons behind why you did as well. Just spit-balling here but I don’t think he was the only one in this scenario drawn to the safety this flirtation provided.

While dating apps can enable bad behavior, they can also provide a sense of connection to those feeling lonely but too afraid to jump back into the dating pool.

I think subconsciously you knew this guy was unavailable. This is not to blame you or to say pick better men. In fact, it’s just the opposite. I believe your conscious brain didn’t choose him at all. On some level, your brain knew a relationship with this man was never going to be a reality. That’s why you stuck it out. Not only did it provide you with the feeling of being wanted but it allowed you to be vulnerable in a way where there was less risk of rejection.

Unfortunately, this relationship also reinforced your already firmly held negative beliefs about vulnerability and dating, giving you the perfect reason not to put yourself out there and remain single.

We don’t find ourselves in any relationship by chance. Something led us there.

This guy was keeping you around as a fall-back while he pursued women he has literally zero chance of dating. He’ll probably continue on like this, wasting women’s time and spinning his wheels, for the rest of his life.

Know this: He enjoyed the conversations he had with you. They meant something to him. You meant something to him. His inability to meet you where you were is not a statement of your value or attractiveness. You weren’t stupid or desperate. Even if you were, neither is a crime.

All you did was believe. Don’t lose sight of that. Believing is what carries us through to the other side.

For now, work on taking tiny steps to rebuild your belief that love is possible for you and that you are worthy of it.

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