So, you’re on your phone doing your daily lazy scroll, mid work break. You’ve already checked Instagram, liked a few posts of your friends taking the piss out of influencer style captions. Of course, you’ve hit up Twitter and there are no celeb feuds brewing. You’ve replied to all your WhatsApp messages about what you’re doing this weekend. Only thing left is a little, cheeky look at your dating apps. You spot a hottie, their profile is pretty jokes, so you like them. Luckily, they like you and what do you know?! It’s a match. Let the chat begin… * 4 Weeks + Later… * You’re. Still. Chatting. Have you met your match in the flesh? No. Does it seem like you’re about to anytime soon? Nope. Congratulations! You may have, unwittingly, entered into a pen pal dating situation! Here are 4 signs that this might be the case and 4 reasons why it might have happened at all…
You’ve Been Talking For Ages
There’re not really any rules about how long you should talk to someone before you meet up with them. Purely up to your discretion and comfort level. However, when it gets to a month plus, you start to wonder if it’ll happen. Firstly, at this point, you probably would’ve been talking regularly. With all that time and effort put in, you become invested. Can you really just ghost? You’re intrigued now. Will their chat hold up in person?! Maybe it’ll be worth the wait…
The investment is even higher when numbers have been exchanged. The number exchange doesn’t happen with everyone. So, when it does, you assume that you’ll at least go on a date soon. If you’re finding that even after you’ve exchanged numbers and been chatting for ages, there hasn’t been any mention of a date, then you’re entering a pen pal dating situation.
There’s Always An Excuse Not To Meet Up
Maybe you’ve recognised the first sign and have decided to take matters into your own hands. So, you try to subtly suggest potential date ideas, but they’re not acknowledged. Maybe you’ve outright asked when they’re free and been met with a number of excuses. The classics like “work is crazy at the minute” being used over and over can get irritating.
Even more irritating is when you’re finally asked out, then something comes up and it’s just never rescheduled, but the chat continues. Spoiler Alert: If someone really wants to meet up with you, they will make it happen. They’ll definitely reschedule and ask when you’re free. If they don’t seem that bothered about meeting, count it as a pen pal dating situation red flag.
They Tell You Their Darkest Secrets, Real Quick
Most people during the initial, pre-date chat keep it quite casual. Talk of favourite shows, what you do for a living etc. The heaviest question tends to be “so err, what are you looking for on here?” However, when they start spilling the beans on everything or sharing all their problems with you, a literal virtual stranger, it’s a bit much.
You can tell yourself that they’re just opening up to you and that’s a good thing, but really the things they’re telling are usually reserved for mates. You’re nowhere near the ‘we’re committed and they’re sharing with me because they’re taking our relationship to the next level’ stage. Sounds like they’re looking for a friend or ‘pal’ (see what I did there?! Ok… I’ll see myself out after this) to confide in, doesn’t it?
When They Message, They’re Not Really Saying Much
So, we’ve established the chat is ongoing, there’s either been no mention of a date or there’s always a reason to cancel/postpone and they may or may not have overshared repeatedly. Another red flag is when the conversation isn’t really going anywhere, but they’re still persisting with it. It’s just them giving regular updates about their day and hoping you have a nice one, until they stamp out your last bit of patience.
Another (further) sign is when they disappear for a bit and come back, still not saying much. Their messaging constantly goes from consistent to ‘I haven’t heard from them in a week, should I be worried?!’ Then, when they do message, you’re so relieved it takes you a minute to realise the message wasn’t even exciting and that you’re over this pen pal bullshirt (any Good Place fans here? Nope, cool. Moving on!)
All of this can be a real dampener on things. After all, most of us are on dating apps to actual meet and not have to use the apps anymore. You’re not doing anything wrong if you’ve found yourself in the pen pal position, don’t worry. However, there are many reasons why anyone can end up in a pen pal dating situation. Here are 4:
Look, in London or other big cities for that matter, it can be hard to make friends. We all get to an age where our friendship groups start to change. Everyone’s lives are on different trajectories. Some move to new countries, get married, have kids, start new demanding jobs or you just grow apart. Loneliness can make people do… interesting things. Including download a dating app just to have someone to talk to.
Some people are more confident about asking people out ASAP. They see someone, they’re interested, they shoot their shot. Done. Others like to build up to it. Or they lose their nerve… a lot. Sometimes in these pen pal dating situations, you just need a little patience. If you’re not about that life, ask them out. Can’t hurt. Worst they can say is no and then you move on with your life. Simples.
They’re Bored or Juggling Multiple People
You know what else can make people do interesting things? Boredom. In the name of boredom, we have all ended up in some regrettable and some surprisingly entertaining situations. It happens. Some people like having something to do when they’re bored. Unfortunately, that could be talking to you. Try not to take it too personally, it’s not even really about you. Another option? They’re talking to multiple people and haven’t really figured out the delicate balance that is modern day dating. It’s an art form that takes practice.
They’re Already Taken
Lastly, and by no means least, they’re already in a relationship. Not one of those profiles you see where one half of the couple is crowdsourcing for a third to join them one evening. As in a ‘full on, they’re exclusive, definitely using the app behind their partner’s back’ exclusive. Why are they talking to you? Maybe they’re telling themselves if they never meet you, it’s not cheating. Or they’re keeping you ‘lined up’ as a back up plan. Quite possible they just want the ego boost of ‘even though I’m taken, people still want me and I still have options.’ Either way, not cool. If you want to be single, be single. Don’t straddle both worlds and bring innocents into it!
So, there you have it. 4 signs and 4 reasons why you’re in a pen pal dating situation. Whatever the reason, if you’re not into your current pen pal dating situation, put an end to it. Whether you decide you don’t want to talk to them anymore or you go for the whole ‘either we actually meet up or this is done’ approach, it’s up to you. If you don’t want a pen pal, then don’t have a pen pal. Period.