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Ask Marry Well: Guarding Your Heart

Oct 14, 2017 | No Comments

by Motte Brown

DEAR MARRY WELL,

I’ve been corresponding with a guy on Marry Well for just over a month, via messages. That’s a lot of words and time!

From my perspective, he seems like a good “match.” We have a lot in common, and I’m really appreciating our conversations and learning from them. However, I can see from his activity on MW that he is still “looking around.” How do I guard my heart from getting too attached, and how long should I wait before suggesting we either end the conversation or move it to other means of communication?

The longer this continues, the harder it gets to guard my heart.

Sincerely,
Guarded

DEAR GUARDED,

People often make the mistake of believing they’re less vulnerable to becoming emotionally attached to someone if they meet online. As we’ve written in The Guide, however, the opposite is often true. The Internet “has a way of putting you at ease, of making it less awkward to lower your guard.” And before you know it, you’re sharing your life’s story to a complete stranger.

When this happens, you’re likely to form an attachment that outpaces your level of commitment. This is where things tend to get frustrating, especially for women. Part of our mission at Marry Well is to revitalize the God-given relationship roles of men and women. That’s why we generally encourage men to initiate and women to respond. In your situation this means that you should hold onto the potential relationship loosely.

What does that look like? Continue to talk to him and engage in cordial conversations, but unless he has communicated a desire to explore a deeper relationship, do not give him unlimited access to you. This means holding back on what you share and how you share it; not hovering near your laptop waiting to hear the email notification chime; and responding to him casually, as an uncommitted woman would. Because until he asks you to be otherwise, that’s what you are. And it’s exactly what’s he’s doing with you.

He will either choose to move forward and pursue you, being prompted by his desire to have more access to your affections, or he will stay in buddy mode, and hopefully realize you aren’t interested in settling for that level of relationship.

Additionally, here are some other thoughts on how to guard your heart and have a healthy perspective as you connect with men on Marry Well:

Exercise restraint. Be conscious of the stage you are in and the information you provide in your emails. Make sure what you’re sharing about yourself matches the commitment level. And if the man you’re emailing begins opening up too soon, try steering the conversation back to less intimate topics.

Ask for clarity. If you’ve been corresponding for a few weeks, that’s long enough to know if there’s potential to move forward. There’s nothing wrong with having a little DTR at that point, plainly asking if you’re both on the same page.

Ask for help. Get a second opinion if you’re concerned that your connection is beginning to outpace your clarity. Ask someone whose advice you respect to read and respond to one or more of the emails between the two of you.

Stay in the real world. Don’t neglect your family and friends for your virtual suitor. If you’re spending more time online than you are in real-life conversations — especially if he hasn’t asked you for a commitment–you’re in danger of getting out of balance. Make a point of investing in your real relationships, too. It’s a great way to keep things on Marry Well (or any place else in the virtual world) in perspective.

Limit your access. If there’s still ambiguity after your clarifying conversation, consider limiting his access to your time and words. Keep your online communication short and sweet. It’s a polite way to withdraw while saying I’m still interested.

Cut it off (if necessary). If you feel yourself becoming anxious over it, and he’s still not moving forward with clarity, it may be best to end it altogether.

This article was originally published by Marry Well on May 11, 2010.

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