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A few months ago, a lovely, youthful 65-year-old client informed me that a man with whom she met online concluded they were not a good match. I asked her how many times she and this potential suitor met face-to-face? Her response was “Never.” I was a bit surprised, but subsequently, I asked how many times they spoke. Again, she answered, “Never.” I looked at her and said, “You have to be kidding.” She indicated she was not and continued to share that their few exchanges took place over two weeks of emails and texts. This nice woman seemed to be a bit taken aback by the whole matter, and I empathized by stating I could understand why. The fact that a so-called mature, educated gentleman could not even meet her for a cup of coffee astonished me. Yes, people do not wish to waste energy in these expedient, preoccupied times, but it behooves me that one cannot take a few minutes for a brief encounter with someone who might be more interesting than they envisioned based on a virtual exchange. Well, welcome to 21st century dating and the protracted virtual relationship…Really? Yes, really!!

Times have changed over the last several years. Match.com and eHarmony used to dominate, but competition abounds. Now there are so many other venues for online dating one could spend hours perusing one or several which is the best service for them never mind capturing the elusive right match. Over the last few years, the free sites of “Plenty of Fish” and “OK Cupid” have risen. For the over 50 crowd, “Our Time” appears to be front and center. More recently, “Tinder” which according to Investors Business Daily is the fifth most utilized app and its younger rival “Bumble” have become more popular especially with the Millennials. There are many more, and I speculate new ones will gestate as virtual communication continues its march forward.

The good news is that there are so many ways to connect for a population which is busier, healthier and living longer. What is the not-so-good news? People are increasingly more anxious and less communicative. Consequently, they may not necessarily be looking for love in all the wrong places, but looking for quick love without even going places except their computer and cell phone. Because of this, the virtual relationship becomes protracted and may develop into nothing more than what occurs in cyberspace.

What does this mean? Well, it does not bode well for people who wish to have something more meaningful. As someone with 35 years in the people business, I suggest for those who wish to remain “unstuck” do not waste your time with anyone not willing to meet after a couple of text, email or phone, yes old-fashioned voice, encounters. If they cannot take time for a brief face to-face, what does that say about them? If the answer is busy, poor excuse because everyone has a story for being busy. If there are other excuses, all the more reason to cease communication with a possible charlatan, scammer or unsavory character.

Brief, virtual connections have their place in 21st century dating and may be an inevitable, first step to inquiry and engagement for potential romance. With that said, it is not necessary to become involved in protracted virtual relationships. For those who want a deeper, more fulfilling connection, stay “unstuck” through movement and growth, and remain open to the possibilities. Resultantly, a special someone may reveal themselves sooner than later when you least expect it.

As for the lovely woman I mentioned earlier, she continues her pursuit of love and is looking in all the right places.