We’ve all been there: You meet someone online, via Tinder, or approach a dude at a bar. Digital diarrhea of the mouth via text ensues for days, maybe even a week until seeing him again on your offish first date. During your mutual overshare over text/Facebook/Instagram, you learn too much about him—his work, friends, families, dog, taco preferences, favorite shows. He’s texting you just to say, “good night;” lavishing you with compliments. Everything’s kind of amazing!
But when you actually meet IRL and hang out, BAM! You realize you want absolutely nothing, zero, zip, to do with him. In some cases, you might even hope to Jesus that you never f*cking see him again. There’s only one problem: He wants to keep seeing you.
“I call this ‘pseudo intimacy,'” says Marni Battista, dating and relationship expert and founder of DatingwithDignity.com. “You act like you’re getting to know the person through Facebook chatting, texting, talking on the phone, and getting a sense of who they are, all while simultaneously conjuring up this whole fantasy of what you want them to be. But your vision of what they are isn’t even close to what the person actually is.”
This is how you might find yourself, like I did, having to break up with someone you’re not even dating. I recently connected with a a super sweet, super cute gentleman who happened to be one of Cosmo’s 50 Hottest Bachelors 2012. We’d met months ago and he reached out to me after spotting me on Cosmo’s Instagram, modeling a pair of wine-colored leather pants. (He commented, “marry me.” This should have been a sign of the pseudo intimacy to come.) I was dating a guy who was pretty emotionally unavailable at the time, but after we broke up, I reached out to Bachelor, who lives in another state, and we started texting and talking on the phone for almost a month. At first I loved how I never had to wait for his texts or calls to come through. He was so sweet and attentive! But then he started mentioned marrying me—multiple times—and dropping that he’d love to take me to his friend’s wedding. It all felt a little fast.
Soon, Bachelor was coming to NYC for work and we planned to meet up in the flesh. But when I finally got to hang out with him, I wasn’t feeling it. I just didn’t get the butterflies in my stomach. Not to mention he told the couple next to us at the bar that we were married. I didn’t want to take it any further, or lead him on, but since we had talked for a legit amount of time before actually hanging out, I felt like I had to “break up” with him rather than do the “slow fade” or just stop talking to him cold turkey.
According to our girl Marni, my situation happens all the time. “Most men divuldge more on the phone than in person, and this is where the lines of reality blur. He might not be as outgoing in person, there might not be a spark between you, perhaps you’re not attracted to him in real life. He could be rude to waiters when you go out, or maybe he’s frat boy-ish. Regardless of what it is, he just doesn’t line up to be the person you created him to be over the phone,” she says.
My friend Achelle also had to dump a guy she wasn’t dating. “This guy reached out to my friend to find out who I was, since he saw me in a ton of her pictures on Instagram. We talked over text for a few days, and then went out for drinks. We ended up having great conversation for five hours and had a lot in common, but I wasn’t sure if I was attracted to him,” she says. “Basically, I didn’t know if I wanted to put his P in my V. Respecting this guy, I didn’t want to lead him on any longer, so I constructed a ‘break up’ text that basically said, ‘I think you’re a great guy, but I just don’t think we’re the right fit.’ He replied with a novella of a text that said, ‘I just don’t get it, I thought we had a great time, did I do something wrong?'”
If you do have to dump a non-boyfriend, honesty is the best policy. Cosmo Girl Michelle found herself breaking up with Michael, a guy she met at a networking event.
“We got to talking—a lot over text—and went on a couple of dates. The conversation was great, but I felt like there wasn’t any attraction there. I even did the courtesy f*ck to see if there were any sparks after the seventh date, but still nothing,” she said. “I ended up using the ‘it’s not you, it’s me/I’m not ready for a relationship just yet’ kind of conversation.”
Marni’s advice: “You just have to end it immediately, because you don’t owe anything to them. It’s best to just be direct. Honesty always pays off.”
Which is what I had to be with Bachelor. I sent him a text that said exactly what I felt, but I was still annoyed at myself for even letting it get to the point where I had to ‘break it off.’ He responded favorably and said that he understood, thanked me for being honest, and said he hoped we can be friends, which we can and will.
How do irresistible women such as ourselves avoid this dating hot mess? “Avoid pseudo intimacy altogether by meeting up with the person as soon as possible to get to know them one-on-one,” Marni says.
We should be keeping texts to a minimum, brief and informational, she says. If the text is reading longer than your thumb on your screen, you’re doing it wrong!
“It doesn’t have to be an intimate setting, maybe coffee or a walk in the park, but a meet-date is lower risk and you can decide after you’ve meet them whether or not you want to tell him about your deepest, darkest,” Marni advised.
By Carly Cardellino