Online Affair Fizzles
Q: I recently started using the Internet to find someone to start a relationship with. One person stood out. She was cautious, kind and complementary. We exchanged letters leading to the point she gave me her cell phone and email. She told me to send texts and emails. First warning sign I ignored was that if I texted a question, she would rarely reply. However, we became closer, and in an email she expressed how fond she had become of me and "let's meet next weekend." Three days later she sent me a 3-sentence email telling me she could not meet me and was going through a stressful time, which was different from what she said in previous emails. She also said she's not sure she could commit to anything now. She sent another email saying she was not sure "her head was straight" and "did not and could not mislead me," but again, no explanation.
After a few messages, she went off on me stating I was not giving her time to breathe and was hounding her. She finally told me she was just finalizing her divorce, and I decided to cease contact. Then she sent me a text that said, "been thinking about you." She ended up sending nine texts that night including words like "miss your letters," "girls' night out, but why am I just thinking about you" and "hugs." Nothing since then. I'm just baffled why she contacted me that night and why she would offer information that I in no way would want to know about. That just seems to be hurtful. I'm really confused and depressed about it all. I wonder if she was drunk the night she sent those texts. Does she have some serious mental issues? I know that, in the end, it doesn't matter, but do you have any advice? -- Bob, 46
Dr. Susan: There is a limit to how much you can really know about a person via a series of emails and texts. "Finalizing" her divorce could mean so many things, from she's thinking about divorcing her husband and wanted to see what was out there, all the way to she's waiting for final papers to come through so she can be truly free. I suspect you'll never know what was going on in her mind when she teased you with those inexplicable emails. I understand your frustration, but try not to take any of this personally. She never got to know you genuinely either, remember? When someone tells you their head may not be straight, believe it. It's impossible to say whether she's mentally ill or unstable, or just texts too much without thinking or while drinking. But I wouldn't trust her, or any other e-only contact, with anything important. Like your heart.
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Susan K. Perry, Ph.D.
Susan K. Perry, Ph.D., is a social psychologist, relationship expert, and bestselling and award-winning author. Her books include Loving in Flow: How the Happiest Couples Get and Stay That Way, and Kylie's Heel, a novel for adults.
Pamela G. Chollet, Ph.D.
Dr. Pamela Chollet has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and Master degrees in educational psychology and fine arts. Her passion has been helping people face and get through those times when they feel trapped and unable to move forward.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, stress management expert, and author. If you're feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, or struggling to make changes in your life, Anna can help.