How to Have an Online Relationship/Dating whilst mourning.
Hey. This summer my dad passed away. He's American and I was in the States for a couple months. I knew he was ill but didn't expect him to die so suddenly. It was a big shock to me and my dad's side of the family. My mom's English. They got divorced when I was 16 (I'm 26 now) but I've been living in the UK for 8 years. My dad, me and my brother (who still lives in the States) had a troubled relationship since the divorce but I guess we all still loved him.
Anyway whilst I was out there, I signed up to an online dating app on my phone. I'm a bit old fashioned and never tried this before but I guess I was bored and wanted a distraction? I didn't plan on meeting anyone from it. I talked to a few girls and flirted just for fun but no one caught my attention. Then I started talking to this girl call Helena. She's 21 and a student. She's really pretty and works hard, ambitious, real smart and motivated. She even has a weekend job at a store 10 minutes away from my apartment!
I think we talked for a few weeks. She had this ice queen demeanour at first so I didn't know if she liked me but we kept talking so I figured we got along. I guessed she just didn't want to come across as easy and the iciness made me want to pursue her. I was still in America but we live in the same city in the UK so I thought what the hell and asked for her number and she gave it.
But it was about that time when my dad died. I was so upset so I deleted my account but before I left I wrote her explaining what happened and left my email. I didn't think she'd write but the next day she did. We carried on talking on email then I asked her to add me on Kik which is an instant messenger app I use to talk to my friends. She didn't have it but she downloaded it and added me. Again these were signs that she might have liked me. I wasn't 100% sure because we always had this love-hate act going on and trash talked each other a lot.
We chatted for a couple more weeks on Kik. I came back to London after dad's funeral. We'd text, email and talk for hours. I developed really bad insomnia after his death and cuz it's summer and school's out she'd also be up really late too. So she kept me company on many lonely nights. It's really rare to find someone you can talk until the early hours.
I'm attracted to her for a ton of reasons. We never shared dirty photos or the typical stuff you do with online flings. She's had 2 bfs but she's a virgin. I really admire that she's respectable and elegant and although she's good looking she doesn't flaunt it like she could. She's really independent and works hard at school plus holds down a part time job to pay for herself. The more I think about it, she's amazing. She has the old fashioned ideas about relationships like I do which is another rare thing these days.
When I got back, I had a date planned with this other girl (we had already arranged it just before I went out to America). I cancelled that and told her I wasn't in the right place to date after my dad died. It was true but secretly I had also lost interest in the other girls after Helena. This was last month in July. Helena was getting worried that we had talked all this time and hadn't met. She suspected I wasn't real and said she wanted to stop talking until we met. I emailed her back proving I was real and also explained that I thought it was disrespectful and also confusing to date someone so soon after my dad died. She emailed back apologising and said she was nervous that we got on so well and hadn't met. She said she wanted to support me through and let whatever happen between us just happen. So we continued talking for a few more weeks. During that time she did admit she liked me more than a friend. Sometimes we have these amazingly flirty conversations with so much innuendo and tension which really turns us on but we're classy about it and it never gets explicit or sleazy.
So on Friday (two days ago) she tells me she had a dream about me but in it she was texting me instead of being with me in person and it really upset her because I'm so intangible but obviously important enough to be dreamt about in the first place. She said she felt childish that it upset her so much and that although she understood my situation, she was beginning to feel rejected and losing patience. I told her in the past that she shouldn't wait around for me and should date other people and whatever happens is my problem but she said she wasn't the type to date around and that she wanted to see if anything would happen between us first but it doesn't seem plausible. She said she wasn't mad but thought we should stop talking until I was ready to see her.
I wasn't mad either. I can understand what she's saying. And we agreed to just say bye for now. Well just yesterday my mom and her family were passing Helana's work place to get to Hyde Park and my stepdad needed the washroom. So they went in. It's a huge department store and I wanted to wait outside but my mom thought that was weird so dragged me in. I was really nervous cuz I don't actually know where her stall is and was more concerned that I hadn't shaved and was looking gross. Well I didn't see Helena but it made me realise how much I really care about what it would be like to meet.
I guess the advice I need is on what to do? I don't want to strike up a relationship or even date someone whilst I am still grieving for my dad. I have a lot of anger towards him to do with the divorce and now he's passed away I'm dealing with a few emotions. I don't know if it's fair to myself or someone I was seeing to be with them while I feel this way. And cuz it's Helena, well that makes it even more important. I already miss talking to her but I don't want to risk doing anything like meeting her too early before I'm ready but I'm also scared that if I don't take action I'll lose her. Then the other thing I'm worried about is if I do meet her, what if the chemistry we have isn't there in person? I doubt it will happen but I guess I am worried it won't be the same. There are girls in my life that are interested in me but all I can think about is Helena. If we really get along like we do online then I know this is someone I'd be on a long term relationship.
Sorry I've written so much! But any help you can give I'd appreciate. Thanks.
Dear St. Helena,
Great question and you certainly have not written too much. Given your question addresses a multitude of issues and there is minimal personal information, I have marked my response as public to educate others in your similar situation. I am sorry to read about the loss of your father and the grieving period is always a unique experience. From my old psychology classes in grad school, I remember being taught people have up to 18 months after the loss of a loved one to adjust to that loss. The process of adjustment is as unique as a finger print and all of us adjust differently.
BTW, the name Helena is a cool name too. It is an ancient Greek name meaning “wicker, reed, shoot, torch and basket.” Before I continue, I must applaud you for this comment you wrote as written,"We never shared dirty photos or the typical stuff you do with online flings." I wish every online user practiced not sharing or communicating "dirty photos or the typical stuff" in cyberspace. From an Internet safety and digital reputation standpoint, it is vital.
Regarding Helena, from what you describe about her, I certainly understand why you cannot stop thinking about her. Without going into my psychobabble or knowledge of the animal called "Homo Sapiens," us, I strongly suggest you follow these steps and I'm confident it will be to your benefit. If you decide to implement "Project St. Helena," I would do it now.
1. Spend a couple hours making "Eric" a lean, mean handsome machine. Put on your coolest jeans and button up (make sure ironed and pressed), get a hair cut trimmed to perfection, use a dab or two of your cologne (very little), make sure your eyebrows, nose and ear hairs are trimmed, and be sure to wear a pair of sneakers or casual shoes that are clean and tidy. Also, jewelry is fine so as long as it is minimal and conservative. Most women prefer well dressed men contingent of the occasion, who are clean, groomed and not reeking of cologne.
2. Since she works in a large department store and you do not know where her stall is, you can either call the store to find out her stall location, go to customer services upon your arrival to the store or plan on spending an hour or two going through every aisle until you locate her.
3. Since I do not know her birthday, favorite colors or personal preferences, spend a little time on Google researching her birthday month's flower, colors and any other related information. If you know none of these, purchase 1 white rose with some baby's breath. Remember, you will be going to her place of work so you must be respectful and understated.
4. Very important is to purchase and make a simple, but classic greeting card. A hand made or computer generated card is always better than store bought as it shows effort. In the card, write something simple. Using your creativity gene, maybe format and design the card similar to a text message since the two of you are text fanatics.
5. When the time arrives, and probably will not be until next weekend since you state she works at the department store on the weekends, approach her and the first thing you say is, "Hello, I'm sorry to disturb you, but I'm trying to find someone who works here and her name is Helena. Can you help me?
6. Once the two of you have chuckled about your meeting, give her the single flower, the greeting card and tell her that you simply wanted to stop by and confirm you are very real and still very interested. Plan on spending no more than 5-7 minutes with her as it is her place of employment.
I hope you find these steps helpful and I highly recommend you go to meet her ASAP, whether you use my steps or not. Although I understand you are grieving and adjusting to the loss of your father,if you really like Helena, you will take the next step and go introduce yourself even if it is only for 5 minutes. Going to introduce yourself is not "Dating whilst mourning," as you wrote in your subject line. It is common courtesy.
Lastly, I’m posting another statement you wrote in your question for others to read because it is so important for all Information and Communications Technology users to read. I am truly impressed, being so young, that Helena and you are adept at both proper etiquette and Internet Safety. Your statement for all online users who happen to read this is as stated, “ Sometimes we have these amazingly flirty conversations with so much innuendo and tension which really turns us on but we're classy about it and it never gets explicit or sleazy.”
Good luck and please let myself and other readers of AllExperts know how it turned out.
Michael Nuccitelli Psy.D.,C.F.C.
NYS Licensed Psychologist