Not stringing people along –
It’s so much easier to not string people along in the real world. There are a lot more checks and balances. Your friends and family would notice pretty quick if you were dating multiple people at the same time. Where as in the online world, those accountabilities aren’t there so it becomes much easier to enter into multiple relationships at once.
Having said that, the solution isn’t to only talk to one person at a time, because reality is in the online space you’ll need to filter through a number of different people at the same time. And taking it one person at a time could cost you time and the opportunity to meet someone more suited to you than the one you’re talking to right now. Just set yourself a limit. Remember that these are real human beings with a heart. Treat them well. Be clear; be loving.
Figure out what your limit is. Maybe you’re pleasant with everyone to begin with but then only really get to know two people at a time in the initial conversations. Or maybe you can handle a handful. But be sure to be charitable and don’t toy with all these peoples hearts, and don’t allow your heart to go onto the emoticoaster either. If you wouldn’t say it to their face, don’t put in a message.
If after a couple of days you find yourself unable to remember who that person was when you get back to replying to their messages, you’ve probably got too many to go between, reel it back. Remembering, the aim is NOT to stay in this messaging space, it’s to move away from this in a timely manner.
What if you start dating them virtually/video calls? How many should you date at a time?
Investing in virtual dates should come with added levels of energy and time put aside, it should be an investment. So how much energy and time do you have to invest, without jeopardizing your own emotional purity. What are your motivations here? Are you genuinely interested in figuring out which of these people you’re attracted to? Or are you simply in it for the thrill of the chase?
If you’re in it for the thrill, it’s time to pause. You’re on the wrong track. We don’t use people for a thrill. That’s uncharitable. Take a breather and come back when you’re ready to be intentional again.
If you’re being intentional, ask yourself how many people you would be comfortable with the other person virtually dating at the same time, knowing you are just one of those people?
If you’re able to, be clear about where you’re at with them when you speak to them. Eg. be clear that at this point you’re not exclusive to them and you’re speaking to a few different people trying to figure out if there’s a connection with any one person. Don’t just be clear in your own mind, communicate that clarity that you have with the other person. Be transparent about it. If after date 2 you’re still keen on getting to know them more and you think there could be a connection, this is a point to really think hard about why you would go on a virtual date with anyone else.
If after 3 dates you’re still attracted to them, it’s time to commit to one and see that one through. We’re saying 3, because dating isn’t meant to be as serious as courtship, but it’s also not an opportunity to use someone. Be genuine, and don’t toy with someone’s heart.
Ending contacts in the online world – when you’ve met someone
We get offended too quick when someone says ‘I’m actually entering into a relationship with someone to work out if this is a good match, so I won’t be engaging in this relationship any this point’. We get offended as if that somehow is an insult to us… it has nothing to do with us
Men often feel rejection, without giving it its proper context. We can take rejection as a personal attack, or as a commentary on their masculinity, or that somehow they are less as a result of that rejection. This is not only in an online space but in general.
I hear too often of women being upset that someone turned us down because they’re not romantically attracted to us. That’s not a reflection of us. That somehow we’re missing something or lacking in some way especially if we think it’s a direct reflection of our beauty as a woman. Not at all! That’s just the dumb marketing gimmick we bought into that all these products we use are meant to make us ‘irresistible’ to the world, that romantic attraction is the only determinant of beauty and therefore of our value and worth. Garbage. The ‘no thanks’ is actually a reflection of THEIR attraction to you, not YOUR worth or value as a woman. AND be grateful they said it from the start! Ladies, We’re not meant to attract the entire male species. What a nightmare that would be if every time we turned the corner we kept getting a male romantic attraction. I’m telling you, our workspaces would get uncomfortable, we’d have a hard time having friendships with men, even church worship would become difficult. Be grateful that is not our default setting, nor a man’s default setting.
Ending contact with others without ghosting them
When we end up in a relationship with someone but we’ve been speaking to a few people without getting any deeper in relationship with them, the appropriate response is NOT to ghost them. SO then what do you do? Tell them you’re going to pursue a relationship and won’t be using the platform for a while? What if it doesn’t work out and you end up coming back?
As embarrassing as that fear may make us feel, it’s not a legitimate reason to ghost someone you’ve been growing in a form of friendship with. If it were in person, we would say to them, ‘Sorry but I’ve met someone that I’m going to pursue a relationship with’. The same needs to be the case for the online world. If it doesn’t work out and you end up back on the platform, then so be it. In the same way that you end up being available to date again in the real, face to face world.
Be the same person online as you are offline, remembering these are real people with a real human heart and they deserve to be treated with respect. A lot of questions come from, how do I deal with ‘this particular’ thing in the online space, and isn’t it weird if I do that. Well what would you do in the real world, the offline world, and the person was someone you were pursuing a distant relationship with. Treat the situation like that. If it means having a difficult conversation, so be it, so long as you’re being congruent, being the same person online and offline.
Padre – Preparing for Mariology class with Hans Urs Von Balthasar
Stina – A friend recently took on something in her faith journey, and she called on myself and another one of her friends to be there for her as support. Her witness struck a chord with me.