How do you handle someone who is sharing strong feelings toward you in online dating when you haven’t even met yet? Or looking at the issue the other way, how much of your feelings should you share when you feel strongly about someone even though you’ve only communicated through a few emails?
I’m going to first discuss how to handle a situation where the person you are talking to starts to show excessive interest/emotions. After that, I’ll discuss how to avoid creating that situation yourself and hopefully I’ll be able to help a few online relationships avoid being ended prematurely.
How to Handle Someone who is “Emotionally Pushy”
The term “emotionally pushy” isn’t exactly right but I’m not sure what to call it. It basically refers to when you’re talking with someone and they start telling you how perfect you are or how they’ve been looking so long to find you. They might spend large portions of emails just telling you how great you are.
That might sound like a nice thing but, trust me, it can start to feel awkward very quickly. Here’s one reader’s experience in this area:
I have just started online dating and have been overwhelmed by how soon people start being emotional (for want of a better word) and so I feel like I am “cheating”. For example, at the moment I have 3 men who are all saying they think I am perfect for them and wanting to meet and therefore sending me messages in a tone that I would expect if you were already in a relationship. I don’t mean rude messages I mean loving messages. But it all seems a bit strange and early. I had expected to just talk about ourselves and then meet for coffee but it seems much more intense than that. Did you find this and how did you handle it? Thanks.
To answer my readers question, I did find this, but honestly I was also guilty of being they guy rushing the emotions early. Since I was on both sides of this, I want to talk about a few different ways to handle this.
End the Communication or Disappear
First, if a guy or girl is getting “emotionally crazy”, you can just disappear by no longer responding to their emails. Alternately, you can tell them you are going to pursue some other relationships and end communication that way.
This is a valid approach depending on how much interest you have in them. However, before assuming they were a crazy, understand that things can be easily misunderstood in online dating. In one case, I was very excited to have a first date and I sent an email to a woman expressing that excitement. She then disappeared. I was confused at first but when I later reviewed my email to her, I realized I was coming on way too strong.
Because people can send underlying messages they never intended to, I’d say instead of always ending the communication in this situation, also consider one of the next two approaches.
Express the Discomfort being Created
This one is tricky but having been the guy who was coming on too strong, I wish someone would have tried to politely tell me to slow it down a bit. Had I not recognized it on my own, I’d hate to think at the other times I might have chases women away without knowing why.
Expressing your discomfort is tricky to do partly because we can feel like a jerk trying to “correct” someone. It’s also difficult because if someone is convinced it is true love after a few emails, talking them off that ledge might be difficult. Still, in many cases, I believe you will find people are open to better understanding how they come off when they communicate.
So if you’re not ready to meet yet but don’t want to end communication, I’d try let them know that you appreciate how strongly they and appreciate the kind things they are saying but let them know that it makes you uncomfortable. Let them know you want to take things slow in the beginning with anyone you meet online, especially before you’ve met in person.
Sometimes they’ll calm down and recognize how strongly they were coming on and you can move forward. Other times they may just argue more strongly about how wonderful you are and at that point it’s probably time to end it or disappear.
Meet and See Where it Goes
A third approach is simple: meet them.
There are a lot of normal people who can come off as strange when they date online. I’m a big proponent of meeting quickly and I think in many cases if you meet that person who’s getting emotionally pushy, you’ll find they’re actually fine. Not necessarily someone you want to continue to date, but not obsessive like they appeared in their emails either.
So if you feel comfortable doing so, I’d say be open to meeting…especially if you were feeling a strong attraction to them before they worried you with their emotional talk. If you’re really worried about meeting them in person because of how emotional they’ve been, then try using Skype or some other video chat. This keeps you comfortable at home but also gives you the opportunity to see if they’re just doing a poor job of representing themselves in their emails.
I think every situation is different. Sometimes you’ll disappear, other times you might feel comfortable expressing your discomfort and still other times you might be ready to meet and see what they’re really like. I think that’s good: be open to different approaches based on the situation.
How Much of Your Feelings Should You Reveal in Emails?
First, understand that excitement can be risky. If you’re happy and excited to be talking with someone, you can accidentally come off as obsessive and you put the person you’re talking to into a situation where they have to choose one of the options I listed above.
The fact is that with online dating it is easy to misunderstand and to be misunderstood. This is especially true of the earliest phases of online dating when you are only communicating through emails, instant messages or text messages. Keep this in mind early on as you experience the desire to tell someone how excited you are to meet them or how awesome they are.
Hold back on diving in to all the feelings and instead keep moving toward that first date. If you’re excited to meet them, just say so and leave it at that. Limit your compliments early on, even if you do think he/she is the most beautiful creature to have walked the earth. After you’ve had your first date, you can start to be a bit more open as they’ll have met you and will be able to put your comments into context.
Again, this is another area that shows how communication in online dating can be easily misunderstood and, knowing that, we need to be careful in how we communicate. And from the other direction, understanding that miscommunicating happens, hopefully we can also give the people we communicate with the benefit of the doubt sometimes and give them another chance.