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The Downside to Online Dating
Dear Dating Coach,
I am a 30 something, single female, who met a man online several months ago. After a period of e-dating, we took our relationship offline and are now intimately involved. I discovered last week that he still has his profile posted on this web site, and that he is getting winks and/or emails from women users. However, he assured me that he is not dating anyone else from the internet at this time. Trust in this relationship was an issue for me before my cyber discovery because he will not tell me how he feels about me or our relationship. I don't know what to think. Can you help? --Not Interested in Sharing Him
So, you were just "mousing" around THAT dating site and happened to see that his profile is still up? What a coincidence? I'm going to take a not so wild guess here and say that you have had a funny feeling for some time now that the state of this relationship may not be quite up to par with your current and projected expectations and desires and you decided to act on those feelings and went cyber sleuthing. Predictably, you found evidence that this relationship may not be mutually monogamous, and you confronted him with your findings.
The only problem I have with your approach is that you went looking for evidence of cheating by someone who has not yet made any promises or uttered the "C" word to you. In other words, you assumed that this relationship was exclusive, even though he has never said that and has, in fact, avoided the topic altogether. I'm sure you've already figured out that his avoidance was a red flag, and along with your suspicions, this added up to a serious discordance between the two of you, even before the evidence was found.
It's amazing that women have made such strides in our society, yet when it comes to relationships, some things really don't change. Take intimacy for instance. He is enjoying the sex, yet not offering any promises of undying love to keep it coming. You are also (apparently) enjoying the sex--but for you, it defines a level of intimacy that is only shared by two people who are (at least on the way ) committed to each other.
He has told you that he is not "dating anyone from the Internet." That leaves a lot of other places to meet women. What else has he said or not said that perhaps you have not heard because you don't really want to? Let me suggest a way to read him that will tell you what you need to know, even if he is not really saying anything. The next time you two see each other and talk about the relationship, turn off the volume. In other words, tune out what he is saying and just observe his posture, facial expressions, eye contact (or lack of), and what he does with his hands and feet. Carefully note what he DOES and what his body language seems to be saying. Take mental notes so you can go back and reflect on the interaction afterwards. I guarantee that there is no way for him to fool you with what he says when you are carefully "listening" to what he does.
(from April 2007)
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Toni Coleman, LCSW
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