Q. I’m 26 and a bit clueless about the relationship area of life. Back in March, when quarantine started, I started talking to a guy on Bumble and we never stopped communicating. We have talked about everything: what we like, our dislikes, hobbies, life plans, our dreams, etc. The only issue is he had to go back to his country to spend quarantine with his sisters and hasn’t been able to return because the borders are closed in his country. I wonder if we will ever meet and what will come out of all this.
Yesterday we were talking about our type. I explained how I usually go for older guys (around five years older) and he said he’s usually into older women (I’m one year younger), but if he met someone younger who was mature, he would date her. Even though he’d hoped to move here, he said he has nothing that would tie him to moving right now. He said that he will do it eventually, but not for the foreseeable future, and he will come back to get all the things he left before COVID. He does not know when that will happen, but he said he won’t stay for more than a couple of months.
After many years in therapy I am finally looking for a serious relationship, and after talking to him last night, I came to the realization that maybe he is not, and that I should just let it go. We can keep being pen pals but not have any expectations. (Let’s face it, that’s what we are, flirty pen pals.) My question here is: Why do I keep putting all this energy into people who do not want the same thing? How do you know who deserves your energy? How do you know when you have met someone who is going to appreciate all your effort and is going to give you the same? How do I stop meeting the right people at the wrong time?
Thank you so much!
A. “My question here is: Why do I keep putting all this energy into people who do not want the same thing?”
I want you to give yourself a break on this one. You put energy into this texting relationship because he seemed nice and it was March. Very few people understood what was really happening in March. People were canceling plans and rescheduling them for June, like the world would be back to normal in just a few months. It makes sense that you continued communication to see where it might lead.
After that, I imagine, you weren’t doing much of anything. Maybe you were home most of the time, seeking out conversation and activity, and there he was, ready to message. It’s not as though it was easy to seek out others. I just think that under normal circumstances, if a person didn’t show up in person for many months, you’d drop it.
As for your other questions, all I can tell you is that even in COVID-19 times, it shouldn’t take someone too long to want to show up for you. If people are on a dating app, they are probably capable of taking a walk with you or sitting in a park with some takeout. You can ask for what you want — which is to get to know them, to do something fun together — and if they can’t reciprocate, you end it. It’s that simple, especially on an app.
Many of us are making wish lists for later — what we’ll pursue when it’s safe. But there’s a lot happening in the present. If someone is unavailable now, don’t save them for later; let them go.
Get back on Bumble; this one isn’t for you. You can’t have a relationship with someone in another country who has no idea when he will be coming back. Don’t you want more for yourself? You know, like hold someone’s hand? LEFTYLUCY
He’s made it pretty clear to you that he’s probably not going to move back here. If you want to keep him as a pen pal, that’s fine, but time to get back on the Bumble to look for someone who is actually available. BETTYMCBOOPFACE
Your statement indicates that you are aware of the reality of the situation — “Let’s face it, that’s what we are, flirty pen pals.” Maybe you have some kind of fear of commitment or intimacy and choose people who aren’t truly available. It’s safer to text and call — you are investing less of yourself than with an “in real life” relationship. My advice is to look for people in person (local to your area). If you do the apps, filter out anyone who doesn’t live within 30 miles or so of your location. That way you won’t even see all those people outside of your location range. FREEADVICEFORYOU
It doesn’t sound like you are meeting the right people at all. Try meeting people who can physically see you. This will help you weed out the “bad ones” a lot sooner so you don’t invest a lot of time in trying to find out what Internet connections might become. SUNALSORISES
“After many years in therapy …” OK, good — you’ve already been in therapy. Now, realize that life does NOT always work out the way you want it to. You’ll be bruised along the way. NO ONE’s dating life is doing much of anything in these COVID times. Join the club. GDCATCH
If this person was the right person, it would be the right time even when it isn’t. BRAVE-NEW-WORLD
Catch new episodes of Meredith Goldstein’s “Love Letters” podcast at loveletters.show or wherever you listen to podcasts. Column and comments are edited and reprinted from boston.com/loveletters. Send letters to firstname.lastname@example.org.