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How to move your relationship from ‘online’ to ‘in-person.’

senior-woman-on-phoneI had an interesting email this week from a reader who finds herself in a dilemma that some of you may also be able to relate to.

Dorothy met Harry on a senior dating site over a year ago and they have developed very strong feelings for each other. What makes their situation difficult is that they live in different parts of the country, and they have not been able to meet yet.  They are planning on meeting for the first time in person and Dorothy will be going to visit Harry for a few days. The problem is that Harry is pressuring Dorothy to move in together (even though they haven’t met yet) which also means that one of them would have to relocate across the country.  She deeply cares for Harry, but is terrified of making such a huge commitment this early on in the game without allowing time to really get to know each other – but she doesn’t want to lose the relationship either.

Ok – so the way I see it Dorothy, is that there are two separate issues here.

First off, I have no doubt that you have deep feelings for Harry.  You’ve spent many hours together online and on the phone and he has become a big part of your life. The intensity of emotion that you can feel under these circumstances can be incredible and there is no question that these are real feelings.  This, however, is not real life.

Knowing someone online (even for a year or more) does not mean you really know them – even if you have spent hours on the phone talking until the sun comes up. Until you’ve spent a good amount of physical time together – seeing the way he interacts with other people (both in his life and in yours) and finding out how compatible you are, you cannot decide if he is someone that you can share your life with. 

Some things as trivial as manners, cleanliness and personal hygiene, how someone dresses or even how they treat animals, can actually be BIG relationship deal breakers for some people and you need time together to share both of your real worlds to experience this. Time spent together in person will reveal all of this and more. The computer and the phone are wonderful tools, but they are not the real world when it comes to building a relationship and determining whether you have the same values – which is key for any relationship to last.  You have to be able to successfully integrate what you’ve developed online into both of your lives and this takes time.

What is the rush anyway? I always tell people to take it slow and steady with anyone you meet online because until you start spending time together in person – you have no idea what the dynamic will actually be – especially living so far apart.  To consider moving in together under these circumstances – when you haven’t spent enough time physically together to really get to know one another is (in my opinion) a disaster waiting to happen.

The other thing that you must understand is that it is not acceptable for anyone to pressure their partner into doing something that they aren’t ready for.  The fact that you tell Harry that you love him but need to take it slow and cannot rush into anything is absolutely the right way to handle this.  If he loves you and wants to have a future with you he has to respect your wishes and realize that what he is asking of you is unreasonable.  When he gets upset because you won’t agree to his demands he makes you feel bad. That’s called emotional blackmail, and it’s an unhealthy basis to any relationship.

If he can’t see that he’s being unreasonable by trying to push you into this huge step that you’ve rightly indicated you’re not yet ready for, then this makes me question what is going on with him.  Is he emotionally unstable? Could he have a drugs or alcohol dependency? Is he looking for someone to take care of him financially?  Either way you need to stand firm on this issue and not allow yourself to be manipulated into making a decision you may come to regret.  Harry’s problem may be just a bit of insecurity, but you will not know this until you start spending a lot more time with him.

The second issue relates to your first in-person meeting. I have written an article about this on the site but I will reiterate this to you Dorothy and to all my readers who will plan dates with people they meet online, because this is extremely important. If you are planning a meet up with someone you’ve met on a dating site regardless of whether it’s across the ocean or across town, PLEASE tell someone close to you that you’re planning this.

Dorothy, you must not only tell someone  your plans to meet Harry but you must share Harry’s contact details and your itinerary (where you will be staying along with the phone number,  any transportation details – flight numbers etc, along with the day you leave and when you’re expected back).  You must also tell Harry that you’ve told someone. You can blame it on the other person and say something like: “my sister/friend/cousin made me tell her where I was going. I’ve given her your contact details because she’s worried about me.  I guess if the shoe was on the other foot I’d be just as worried about her.”  If Harry cares as much as he says he does, then he will totally understand and not feel threatened by this.  It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been communicating with someone and how well you think you know each other because until you spend real time together in person you are essentially strangers.

I would also suggest that when you go to visit Harry that you book yourself into a local hotel rather than agree to stay with him.  This way you are meeting on neutral turf and if things go well you can plan to stay at his place the next time you come to town.  If things do not go well however you are in a more public place rather than feeling trapped in his home. When you have your own accommodation you always have somewhere to go by saying you’re feeling unwell if you need to escape an unpleasant situation.

Dorothy, although my advice may seem extreme, your safety and wellbeing is my number one concern so please take it seriously.  There are too many mistakes that people can make because they are thinking with their heart instead of their head.

I do wish you all the best and I hope that your relationship with Harry will bloom into something wonderful and lasting.


One Response to “How to move your relationship from ‘online’ to ‘in-person.’”

  1.  ann says:

    very good and clear advice. is good to know .thank you

    Posted on 08-Aug-16 at 6:05 am | Permalink

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About This Site

Kathy Damer studied Sociology at University and has worked as a marketing executive in the Retirement and Senior care industries for many years. Kathy has a deep understanding of the issues unique to senior dating and relationships and has been featured on the radio.

Kathy founded senior-dating.org as a way to provide free advice and resources for anyone looking to enter the world of senior dating. Please feel free to send Kathy your questions, comments and suggestions for topics that you would like to see covered.

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