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Making contact

Penfriends or a real date?

Every Parship member likes getting nice messages, but ultimately they are a means to an end and should lead to some real-life dates. Fiona (41) found the transition wasn’t happening and asked for a few pointers ...

Penfriends or a real date?

“Dear Parship

It’s happened to me a couple of times that I’ve come into contact with men on Parship who seem to be quite happy never to take things beyond the email stage. I found this a real shame … I enjoy sending and receiving messages, but I would be nice to hear a voice over the phone and at least have the prospect of a proper date. An email relationship is not what I’m looking for, but it seems to be enough for some people. How can I stop this from happening without putting off the other person?” Fiona (41), music teacher

It would be a bit perverse to join an online dating agency simply to send messages. But that’s not the explanation for this behaviour. The majority of our members have probably experienced this they’ve come into contact with people who are not quite clear on their motivation for being on Parship - and maybe feel a little anxious. But they are the exceptions. Most men on the service are happy to correspond with a woman who would prefer to meet at some point soon.

A question of speed

Don’t be afraid of expressing your wishes. Of course the chances are best when two members have established some kind of acquaintance through online correspondence, and one of the advantages that Parship offers is that you can do this anonymously. If the man in question seems to want to take his time, respect that, but don’t feel obliged to take things more slowly than you would like, and don’t put up with being treated as some kind of virtual soulmate. If you feel that he is being evasive, then be prepared to confront him, politely, but firmly: “Would I be right in thinking that …” If he doesn’t seem to like the idea of talking or meeting, ask him why not and try and find out when would be good for him to chat on the phone or fix a date.

It’s worth mentioning here that a Parship survey showed that 12% of men (as against 8% of women) thought that there is a point in an intense and prolonged email correspondence where you pass the stage of wanting to arrange a date. This gives you another reason to find ways of avoiding the ‘pen-pal syndrome’.

Beware of dreamers

As your desire for a date grow, so do your fears that it could all be destined for disappointment - with the man in question still seeming to be reluctant to commit to a ‘real life’ encounter. Maybe you’re even considering pulling out. If so, set a limit of five more emails and, if necessary, bring it to an end, in a well-mannered, but firm way: devote your energies to a correspondence that looks like it might lead somewhere. In the survey already mentioned, some 60% of respondents said they would take that kind of action to avoid getting caught in an inconclusive email relationship.

But what is the reason for someone avoiding a date, even if - online at least – the two of you seem to be clicking? Perhaps he or she is not yet ready for a new relationship, or it could be a severe lack of confidence, doubts about social skills or maybe even a very low frustration threshold: “I’d prefer not to meet because I could not take a rejection”, or “…because we love each other and I’m afraid we could split”. On another tack, women in particular can also be anxious about their personal security.

What to watch out for

Can you spot a date-shy man early on? (We will talk in terms of a man here, but these observations could equally well apply to a woman.) There are in fact signals that should alert you. Your contact partner always replies quick as a flash and in great detail … He has already begun to build you into a romantic figure, treating you less as an online date than as a friend of long standing. He eloquently discusses love and relationships with you on a philosophical level, but becomes evasive as soon as you want something more. All this can suggest (although not necessarily) that you are in contact with someone who is more comfortable working on an abstract level than dealing with realities. If you come across one of these members, go on corresponding, but don’t get in the habit of answering by return and retain a little healthy scepticism. If you find it happening to you time and again, maybe it’s worth taking a look at your profile. Maybe you have included something which especially appeals to these theoretical types.

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