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Saturday, August 17, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Carolyn Hax: Feeling anxious about a possible new relationship

Washington Post

Hey Carolyn: I’ve found all of my relationships through work, school, or a shared activity. We got to know each other over time and when we started spending time alone, it felt natural. This is probably why online dating has always felt kind of weird to me.

I met a guy in person this past weekend. He’s very nice and almost perfect on paper. And yet I feel … indifferent, leaning toward not interested. I don’t want to write him off just because it takes me a while to warm up to someone. I also don’t want to lead him on when I’m not really into it.

But I don’t want to be alone forever.

But it seems like I’m looking for excuses not to go out with him – that he can’t travel because he’s paying his kids’ tuition, that there’s something weird going on with his teeth. Meanwhile, he’s texting me all day, every day, and it’s too much considering we barely know each other and it’s just adding to my anxiety. Please help! – Anxious

It’s good to try something new.

It’s not good to force it, though.

Or to throw away what you learned from the old ways.

Or to let fear of being alone make decisions for you, instead of letting your interest in someone determine how much time you invest.

“It’s too much considering we barely know each other” is a clear-eyed observation based on knowledge you already have about a relationship you don’t need. Your judgment tells you something isn’t right. Respect for such judgment and instinct is your most effective defense against bad situations – getting into them or staying in them too long.

Think of it as your social immune system.

Then recognize you’re having an immune response to this person, then take a polite but firm pass on any more dates.

I feel for him. The teeth! But he is responsible for the way he conducts himself, not you. You owe no one a second date.

You do owe it to yourself to let this experience inform your next one, though. (Just as he owes it to himself to learn something from his whiff with you.) You like to get to know people before dating them – OK! That would be fine even if you were the only one on earth who felt that way, because it’s your life, but it also happens to be a preference well represented by healthy people. And I struggle to think of a different situation where I’d argue against making an informed decision. Why are we so inclined to discard them with love?

You obviously turned to online dating because you’re not happy with the pool of people in your work/school/shared activity axis, which also isn’t uncommon. So meet yourself halfway: Go online to broaden your “shared activity” exposure (Meetup, or local networks), find a good fit or two, then settle in to take things slowly from there.

Oh – and “perfect on paper” just means “I have multiple incentives to talk myself into this one.” A self-generated red flag.

Email Carolyn at tellme@washpost.com.

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