How Come So Many People Delay Meeting Up In Person?

Name: Caritimthumb.php
Comment: Hello,

I’ve been on two paid sites (JDate and Match) for approximately eight months, and I’ve noticed something happening with greater frequency. I’m having more men in “my” age bracket want to spend excessive, if not all of their, time engaging in virtual dating. I’ve been reading your blog for awhile and am well aware of your advice to avoid men to want to engage in prolonged email and texting before meeting off-line, and I’m getting better about letting them know that I’m looking for a date and not a pen pal. But my question is why do so many of them do it?  And no, I’m not *just* talking about men I approach; I’m talking about those who email or wink at me first.
Age: 49
City: Austin
State: Texas


There are a number of reasons people do this. Yes, women do it, too.

1. They’re just on the site out of boredom or for entertainment

2. They are lying about something in their profile and do not wish to risk rejection or get caught.

3. They are juggling options. They’re chatting with you while chatting and meeting with other people.

4. They are and never were terribly interested in the first place. Sometimes people flirt or wink for the hell of it. Sometimes it’s a mistake. Other times they read your profile more completely and notice something they didn’t notice before they makes them think you and they aren’t a match.

5. They have limitations or issues that make socializing difficult for them.

As common as deception is in regards to online dating, I would guess that a lot of people who stagger and prolong communication are doing so while they feel out their options. I think all of us at some point in time have done that. You’ve met someone you like and you want to see where it goes, but you don’t want to completely shut the door on another option. As maddening as it can be, playing the odds and exploring your options are an integral part of online dating.

Making up another large chuck of the online dating audience are people with serious social anxiety or other emotional issues who are isolated and fall in love with people over the internet. The amount of letters I’ve received in the past few months from women who fall for dudes who live hundreds of miles away only to come up empty handed and confused has me at a loss. The internet is a great place to pass the time and join communities and learn, but it should never fully replace good old fashioned person to person interaction.

I never find myself in this situation. Do you know why? Because I don’t let things get past 3-4 emails before one of us is suggesting that we meet up offline. If he doesn’t do it, I do it. If he stalls, I abandon the conversation or suggest that he follow up with me when he knows his schedule. I do not give him my email or phone number. I do not respond to any follow up email that doesn’t include a plan to meet.   I walk away and find someone else. You shouldn’t even be getting to the point where you notice that they seem more interested in emailing than meeting.

I have a zero tolerance policy for special snowflakey paranoia or attention seeking. Oh, so you don’t want to post a photo because of work or because you’re cautious about your safety? Beat it. Those people don’t belong on online dating sites. I also have no interest in being someone’s online paramour or long-distance pen-pal/fling.

Again I will point out the passive role that many men and women take in their dating or online dating experience. This doesn’t keep happening to you. You continue to choose to engage in it, probably because you’re sitting on principle. There’s no time for hesitation any more. You either want to get off line or you don’t.The people who need to “get to know someone better” before meeting them or who require that their matches jump through hoops have issues that will make them tres difficult to date.


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26 Responses to “How Come So Many People Delay Meeting Up In Person?”

  1. Sherry Says:

    I currently use for online dating, and men usually ‘initiate contact’ with me by sending the first message or wink.

    If a guy wants to remain in perpetual pen pal territory after a certain amount of time has elapsed (typically 1 week), I move on and communicate with people who make concrete plans to meet offline.

    A person (man or woman) can type engaging emails, compose witty text messages and have interesting phone conversations for weeks and months on end, but be downright repulsive in person.

    You can learn more about an individual during a two-hour date than you ever will through endless hours of emails, text conversations, instant messaging and telephone calls.

    Some people would rather spend weeks supposedly ‘getting to know’ a person through emails and texting. I’d rather spend an hour or two getting acquainted with the person before deciding to invest more weeks or months into the venture.

  2. fuzzilla Says:

    I hardly ever have my profile up, but I do now. I’ve been chatting with someone who seems great – cute, engaging and consistent conversation, only two miles away from me, and we do have a date set up. Not ’til next week, though, and the waiting is making me nuts. Oh well.

    Don’t know how relevant my comment is, but I will say that all the advice and feedback I’ve absorbed on this site has done wonders for my ability to navigate online dating again – mainly ditching the time wasters and abandoning people don’t give back a lot of energy so I have energy left for people who are (at least so far seem) worth it. So thanks.

    When I was all depressed and full of self-pity (and trying not to be) I noticed that the people who had great lives and fulfilling relationships didn’t necessarily have circumstances so very different from my own, but one thing they decidedly had was the ability to quickly read and ditch dead-end situations.

  3. Ashley Says:

    Before I read Moxie’s advice, I was assuming the guy does it for the attention and to get an ego boost. He probably doesn’t have intentions on meeting up, or is worried a woman is going to be disappointed.

  4. noquay Says:

    Yep, 99% of the time they’re hiding something. Either 50 pounds heavier than their photos or a wife/girlfriend. Ditto for those without photos. I email a few times, talk on the phone once (impossible to date locally and don’t wanna waste gas money on a weirdo), if they don’t suggest meeting, bye bye. No amount of emailing is gonna sus out psychos; they’re usually far more articulate and suave than the average man. This is where you ensure your own safety by having your own transport, not letting on where you live, letting a buddy know what you’re up to, and not getting drunk on a first date.

    • Eliza Says:

      Yes, lies, low self-esteem (based on how they look vs. how they used to look)? in a marriage/relationship – which is not fulfilling, but nonetheless, can’t break away at a moment’s notice, since they are not single, or they do have social anxiety, some other issue, are not working, whatever they don’t feel good about–hence, they hide behind their monitors–and play the “let’s pretend to be someone else today”…who shall I be? hmmm.. And all of great tips on safety–it’s common sense. Tons of topics to talk about – like music, arts, sports, films…other than discuss the Lot # your bldg. is situated on! Geez. People know–once you meet them–you get to see “who they are”–age, weight, the whole thing – right there smack in front of you. People who like who they are and have nothing to hide–won’t waste their time or yours – and are able to meet. 1 cup of coffee–is all it takes to decide if you are “attracted” enough to meet up again … and see what’s under the hood.

  5. D. Says:

    In my case, when I’d drag my feet in meeting someone, it was usually due to one of three things:

    1. I was overscheduled. Had a vacation coming up, work got busy, etc., and I honestly did not have the time to date right that second. A week or two later, sure, but by that point they may have moved on.

    2. I wasn’t all that interested. Eh, they were kinda cute, and they seemed interesting enough, but…I just wasn’t feeling any great desire to meet them. Might’ve been my own issue at the time (e.g., burned out on dating in that moment), or might’ve just been that I really wasn’t that attracted to them and was on the fence about “giving it a chance” (translation: forcing the issue).

    3. I was juggling. This is similar to #2, but subtly different. It wasn’t that I WASN’T interested in them. It’s that someone else had me MORE interested, and I was prioritizing them. Sometimes to my own detriment, but hey, sometimes you make shitty calls in life.

    Here’s the thing, though. Whenever I did end up eventually meeting the other person after an extended period of back-and-forth, it usually went one of two ways. Either I’d confirm that I wasn’t interested within one date, or I’d give it a chance for around 4-5 dates, realize that while there wasn’t anything objectively wrong with them, it just wasn’t going to go any further, and then call it off.

    The important factor here is that not once did I ever end up being totally blown away by this person in the long run and having things turn into something more serious, and I don’t personally know anyone for whom that happened. Not saying it never ever happens, mind you, but I’d bet it’s far less common than either a straight up “Nope. Not happening” or 4-5 dates followed by “Nope. Not happening.”

    As for the long-distance thing, it’s true: people usually only do that are when they’ve exhausted local options, and/or they are uncomfortable dating in person for whatever personal reason. There are SOME instances where you really do find your soul mate or whatever on the other side of the continent (and I know two examples personally where it worked out fantastically), but based on my own experiences and those I’ve seen, such results are in the extreme minority. Like, 0.5%.

    • fuzzilla Says:

      In the case of #1 where it’s not lack of interest, it’s just that people got shit to do, I think it’s important to demonstrate desire and willingness to meet if not immediate ability – that is, if a busy schedule truly is the only holdup and you’d otherwise love to meet.

      I really am pretty busy with full time work and school, but I don’t want people to think I’m a flake or unwilling to meet. I guess it’s a handy excuse if I’m not that interested, but if I’m truly not interested I probably don’t care much how “legitimate” my reason is (I mean, I wouldn’t be openly rude about it, but I also wouldn’t feel wracked with guilt). If you are interested but busy, you make a point to communicate that and stay on their radar with cute little “hey, funny story” messages and whatnot. That’s the plan; fingers crossed.

      • D. Says:

        Yeah, and within reason, that kind of “Hey, still interested, just busy this week” contact can help. But I’ll be honest here. When I’ve been genuinely interested, even if I’m slammed with work, I’ll try to set up a time to at least go get a drink. Maybe that means I skip the gym the next morning, maybe it means I stay out a LITTLE later than I’d intended or have to go into the office a LITTLE earlier to make up for cutting out earlier in the evening, but I’ll make it happen if I really want it to.

        There’s also a difference between actually tryign to schedule something and your respective schedules not matching up (e.g., they’re free Wednesday through Saturday, but your only free night is Tuesday that week), and keeping things nebulous like “I dunno. Maybe I’m free next week?” or being sooooo busy that you have to plan, like, 2 weeks in advance.

        Anyway, I think you have to actually make time (and want to make time) for dating in your life. I tend to think that a genuine desire to meet up will come through, but eventually you have to actually make it happen. Likewise, there’s kind of a rhythm to the early stages of dating and you do have to strike while the iron is hot, so to speak.

        • fuzzilla Says:

          Well, I do have an actual date planned for next week, it just feels far away. I proposed something this weekend, but he’s a divorced dad and has dad stuff to do.

          Other feedback I’ve gotten on this site is to not be so afraid to seem needy/pushy/overexcited that you come off aloof, which I dunno, maybe I do, maybe I should’ve pushed for grabbing a drink tonight…anyway, we’ll see what happens.

          • fuzzilla Says:

            **There’s also a difference between actually tryign to schedule something and your respective schedules not matching up (e.g., they’re free Wednesday through Saturday, but your only free night is Tuesday that week), and keeping things nebulous like “I dunno. Maybe I’m free next week?” or being sooooo busy that you have to plan, like, 2 weeks in advance.**

            I missed this the first time – okay, so I guess as long as a concrete time is made in the reasonable future I don’t seem too much of a flake.

          • D. Says:

            I can’t speak for anyone else, but I wouldn’t take that as flaky. You each have constraints on your time. He’s got dad stuff. You’ve got fuzzilla stuff. You’re trying to find a time sooner, and it’s not working, but you’ve got something planned later. Sounds good.

            I also wouldn’t get too worked up about anything at this stage. Some excitement/positivity is good, but you barely know this dude, so don’t sweat it. You’ve made a good faith effort. That’s all that’s really required in my book.

            Flaky is usually more like not having any sense of your own schedule. Coming across as flaky/disinterested happens more when you’re vague about your availability, or otherwise just seem sort of in the ether about making plans.

          • fuzzilla Says:

            **I also wouldn’t get too worked up about anything at this stage. Some excitement/positivity is good, but you barely know this dude,**

            Ha ha, I know. This is what I avoid having having my profile off 90% of the time. I know to keep my spaz to myself, anyway. ;o)

          • Lucy Says:

            Ah I do the aloof thing all the time! It takes me ages to warm up to anyone. I can’t do the happy-go-lucky thing that some girls have perfectly – I’m just too reserved for that.

        • PGHGal Says:

          That’s exactly it. I can give you a little leeway if our days aren’t matching up. But if you claim to want to meet yet never pick/suggest a day or time? You’re a timewaster and I’m out. This happened recently and I simply ignored his requests to “chat”unless he suggested a meet up. Of course he didn’t.

  6. Andrew Says:

    Another possibility which hasn’t really been talked about is that some of the persons could be clueless when it comes to online dating. For example recently I read an e-book written by a man in his early mid 50s who found the “love of his life” online. The book is filled with awful advice like sending long specific emails and having several phone conversations prior to meeting, so on and so forth. While I tend to agree that a majority these people are likely time wasters, some of them might just be completely clueless when it comes to the protocols of online dating. Based on the OP’s email, she seems socially aware specially when it comes the rules of online dating. My advice would be to keep plugging away, ignore the time wasters, and let the socially clueless figure it out on their own.

  7. Mark Says:


    I think it’s fair to say that you believe your time is important to you.

    You know what? It is important.

    So don’t waste it. Don’t go beyond two/three e mails or a phone call. Nor go beyond a week or maybe a little longer.


    Because iff someone want’s to meet you, they will try very hard to do so. Vice versa.

    If they say that something is always putting a kink in things, then either: one, they are too busy to date to begin with and this is a harbinger of things to come. Two, they materially misrepresented themselves in the profile they put up and they don’t want to be called out on it. Three, they are on there for mind games.

    Ultimately, it doesn’t matter all that much about their motivations. If they can’t meet sooner rather than later, or the occasional cancellation, then move on.

    Seriously. If someone just can’t make time during a weekend for a quick meet and greet without making a mess of it then there is something very off.

    Hope things improve.

  8. Howard Says:

    Great article; good list on why people delay to meet, but the real problem is the very structure of online dating.

    Online dating is the candy store everyone always dreamed about. Online dating has pretty much caused most people to up their required standards regarding visual appeal and the perceived life success of the prospect. After all, there are seemingly so many targets of successful good-looking people at that online site.

    This has led to a situation where people who meet those high standards, get an over-abundance of attention. I suppose this creates a situation where these people never seem to want to meet. I can bet if women were chatting with lower status guys, they would not have as much of this problem.

    Some guys fall into the same situation when they only target higher status women. However, most guys make the adjustment, and do online dating like applying to college. There is always a bit of thinking, ” I would love to have tier one girl, but if not, I am sending notes to tier two, tier three and tier four girls as a back-up plan”. This works well for the guy, but further exacerbates the problem of people never seeming to want to meet. Knowing it will cost money and time, said guy is stringing along lower tier girls, while holding out for the highest tier girl he can get, so he doesn’t waste his resources.

    Some smart women do the same, creating the same problem on the other side. Whatever illusions people have about the endless wonders of online dating, should be laid to rest. Online dating has great benefits, especially for women, who can now approach men easily, and get a level of interest from a number of guys, that they could never equal offline. However it has its pitfalls, namely time requirement to do it properly, and the frustrations of said problem in this post, among others such as privacy, safety, and the ability to stomach endless lying.

  9. jane Says:

    Im this type of online dater and I’ll give you my reasons why I dont meet up quickly. 1. I find men reveal a LOT about themselves if you give them a few extra emails to communicate before meeting. Nobody shows you anything about themselves in their first short messages on a dating site. I figure if you are online dating but cant put the time into a handful of emails or a handful of days of texting, you arent going to have much effort to put into dating me.

    2. Im on the fence. Something about his photo,profile,communication isnt selling me on the idea of meeting. Im hesitant to get into a real life meeting with someone Im getting mixed vibes about. Sure, call it cowardice but id rather not put myself into an awkward person to person meet up if I dont have to.

    3. Im moderately interested but have a difficult schedule. Yeah I know, dont date online if you dont have time to date, but in months of using a dating site its inevitable that sometimes you’ll be busier than others and arranging a date might not always be top of your list for the current week.

    4. Yeah, sometimes I just talk to shoot the breeze. If I havent dated in awhile I might just be testing the waters and enjoying a bit of online flirty attention. Maybe there is a chance it grows into something but Im in no hurry.

    • James Says:

      Jane, you are the typical woman who haunts the online dating sites. You like to waste time with pointless emails then probably pull the fade.
      You’re on the fence? In womanese that means I’m looking for the hot stud that doesn’t exist.You can’t get vibes by reading an online profile. You need to meet face to face.
      Your difficult schedule means that you will make no time for someone new in your life. Whether kids, family, work or whatever you will always have an excuse for not meeting.
      Go to a bar if you like to shoot the breeze and flirt. Online dating is meant to meet someone not be elusive and aloof.

      Women like you are the reason why I don’t do online dating anymore. My time is too valuable to waste on people like you. And people like you are the ones who are on the online dating sites for months and years because you’re not “going to settle” but will, in all probability be alone for a good long time because no man will meet your unmeetable standards.

  10. James Says:

    Women are notorious time wasters when it comes to online dating.
    A popular excuse was: Very busy with work, family problems, kids, etc. and yet they’re on the site all the time.
    One woman contacted me a month after I messaged her. My response? Fuck off. Why? Because she ran out of options. I will not be anyone’s option.
    Regardless this seems to be common among the 40 somethings it seems, so go figure.

    • Greg Figueroa Says:

      Here’s the positive for you. You seem to have a great idea or experience in dealing with Time Wasters, like Moxie, You know how to cut your losses — a great trait to have is knowing when to fade out yourself.

    • Speed Says:

      I agree that Jane is a typical “time-waster,” waiting for some George Clooney/Will Smith type to blow her doors off. And there are tons of self-deluded, unicorn-chasing “Jane’s” online. And, to be fair, there are probably an equal number of balding, overweight, underemployed +45 guys demanding nothing less than a Kate Upton lookalike.

      Even so, I don’t agree that this justifies “giving up on online dating.” There are many reckless drivers on the roads. It doesn’t mean that we have to “give up on driving.” Online dating is a tool, a medium, and it’s up to us to master it effectively. Huge numbers of people have done so.

      PS: Don’t automatically write off women who ignored your messages from months ago or even +1 year ago. People grow, change and evolve, and we can’t always be somebody else’s first pick—the same way, after striking out with the hottest blonde in the nightclub, we lower our sites for the cute brunette. What guy hasn’t done that?

      In your case, maybe initially the woman was only half-heartedly online dating at first. Maybe she got burned a few times and is now wiser. Or maybe she never even checked her messages at first. Maybe, as you imply, she’s an entitled princess just wanting you to treat her to drinks and attention. Maybe she’s the love of your life. However, there’s no way to tell unless you meet her. An hour and maybe $20 during Happy Hour. What’s the harm? But if you go, bring a positive attitude, dude.

      • fuzzilla Says:

        I agree Jane sounds like a time waster, which can be frustrating to deal with, but I don’t agree with all the conclusions people jump to after that (that she’s entitled or won’t settle for “less than George Clooney” or whatever). Sometimes people are scared to meet because they’re burned out on bad relationships or disappointments, they’re dating someone who won’t commit and want to test the waters to prove they’re independent, they were physically attacked and really do fear you might be an axe murderer, etc.

        If so, that’s not your problem, and no, you shouldn’t have to put up with a time waster, just saying – sheesh, what’s with all the hate? Someone wastes your time, you disengage, reclaim your time for yourself and move on. James with his “fuck off” sounds to have a way worse attitude than Jane.

  11. Isabella Says:

    So many tactics to navigate online dating… just try to remember that there are people on the other end, so be kind and upfront. Some are great and some not so much. The biggest issue seems to be not being yourself and misrepresentation. I personally reply back briefly to someone because there are just as many male “bots” and overseas scammers that caution is prudent. Taking a bit of time to know someone online is not such a bad thing, just have reasonable boundaries and take info with a grain of salt until proven otherwise.

  12. Sonster Says:

    Just a quick comment. Like Fuzzilla says “Sometimes people are scared to meet because they’re burned out on bad relationships or disappointments etc, etc Well I think people like that have no business going out on dates and for the most part wasting other peoples time, They need to take care of their issues first and don’t need to be dipping their feet in the dating pool.
    Once again I say, Take care of your issues first then start dating. other than that all your doing is bringing “luggage” when meeting someone.

  13. Sonster Says:

    Sorry I meant “Baggage”

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