I am on a dating site with the aim of finding a partner who will eventually become my wife.
Just before Christmas I received a message from a girl who lives many miles away. We exchanged messages and photos and then our telephone numbers.
We seemed to get along well – she even said she would be willing to move to my city. Sometimes she called me at work and we called almost every evening and sent messages.
Thought of the day
I am in love with every church
And every kind of sanctuary
Because I know it’s there
That people say the different names of the One God.
Hafez (Persian poet, 1315 – 1390)
But I made the mistake of searching for her on one social media platform and she didn’t like that. She asked if I was ‘stalking’ her. The following day my apology was not acknowledged when we spoke.
For four weeks our communication was almost non-existent, although I would try topics and sometimes get a cool, reserved response – even a hint that she didn’t want to leave her family and move.
Most of my friends say that my relationship with her is on its last legs and I should let her go – but I have trouble with it.
A friend suggested that I send her a message and say that I am willing to travel and take her. Another friend believes that I say I love her and her company has put me in a weak position. He thinks that if we get married, she will benefit fully and that our marriage will last no more than a year.
Two weeks ago we had a long conversation. She waits for us to go on a date before she decides where our relationship is going. She still holds her cards close to her chest. I try very hard to build bridges and bring our communication to the same level as before. I’m afraid we’ll drift apart.
Although I was on good terms with her, she mentioned the difficulty of long-distance relationships.
At the moment it is me who keeps this friendship / relationship alive. I’m not sure how long I have to give it.
Am I considering the situation and am I overwhelming?
I am completely confused – I am not sure if she is interested in making this friendship / relationship work. Is it dead or just dead in your opinion?
If the latter is the case, how can I resuscitate our band and which important points should I work on so that I don’t lose it? I can’t believe she’s become so hot and so cold. Her feelings could not have changed so quickly.
This week, Bel advises a young man who has fallen for a woman he met online and who desperately wants to restore their bond after a disagreement
Because I only have room for less than half of your original letter, I know enough to feel sympathetic and annoyed. So my answer will first be general, then specific.
Let’s start by clarifying the timeline. Not long before Christmas, this lady was contacted via the dating site. Two weeks in January you fell ‘stalking’ your misstep.
Your communication attempts were unsuccessful until ten days ago – and this girl of your dreams you’ve never met is cool and reserved and you’re bitterly confused and disappointed.
This is the question I have to ask everyone who places so much faith and hope in dating sites: in which universe can such a pathetic report of distant, short interaction between two strangers be called a “relationship”?
What needy illusions led a young woman to call “moving” after talking to a man on the phone in just five hours – and calling him a marriage?
Dating sites can be very useful and I know they have led to a marriage.
Of course older people like me are more used to the idea of meeting a partner through school, work or social life, but we cannot close ourselves to more up-to-date methods.
What we can say is that you just can’t call it a “relationship” or “band” if you’ve never met.
You both went way too fast, and when you ruined it through social media, she made a fast U-turn.
I’m sorry, but I believe she was only practicing common sense. You were too enthusiastic and you are still too enthusiastic – and therefore doomed to disappointment. All who place their faith in dating sites must be wary. They have limitations.
Now here comes the part that is specific to you. Your mention of the marriage seemed strange and unusual – and it appears that you obey what is a deep, cultural and religious necessity.
Not for you the rather sloppy “swipe right” and “hook-up” habits of Western youth; You are a serious young man with “old school traditional values” and a sincere wish to one day do a religious pilgrimage with your future wife.
But you live on both sides of England, so this is not a starter.
You should stop contacting her, because it is a waste of time and she could quickly consider bothering her. Leave her alone to tell someone in the neighborhood where she lives, just like you should. Try to meet someone in your faith group so that you can date and see how you are doing.
A true relationship requires understanding of tone, expression, body language; it needs familiarity, teasing, shared tastes and good conversation, built up during many meetings.
You sound like a sincere, potentially deeply caring man who has a good chance of making someone very happy.
It’s hard to tell my boys my problems
I am 74 – a divorced mother of three adult sons. My oldest tries to keep in touch despite a very busy life. My middle son and his wife both work very hard with little free time – and two bright, busy children. My youngest lives fairly close, but (recently divorced – no children) works long hours to cover his mortgage.
I miss my sons so much, although I have many friends. Their father and I are alienated; he never gave any support, financially or otherwise.
I live in a nice house, do yoga, meditation classes, etc. But at the end of the day I feel isolated and lonely, and without a decent pension my financial situation is pretty weak. I also suffer from long-term clinical depression and poor physical health.
I try to be positive, put on a “happyish” face and largely keep my problems to myself, because I want to spoil the lives of my sons no more than absolutely necessary.
At the moment I am in a very bad place, physically, mentally and emotionally. I don’t know how to tell my sons.
I feel desperate about my health and well-being and I am not sure how long I can continue while I remain calm. Which way should I go without creating a huge gap between me and my sons? I could not bear my life without them. I love them so much.
Why should you let the people you gave birth know that you love them and that they should ‘spoil’ their lives? Why would a real report of how you feel open “a huge abyss”?
I have seen a mother collie a warning against her great offspring when he ran to greet her and in the animal world it works the other way around; the youngsters do not feed their parents. But I keep hoping that we humans are different.
In the best case scenario, we obey ties of affection, piety, respect, love, and tradition, and we value our elders. The fact that so many families understandably don’t live up to that ideal is no reason to let it go.
More from Bel Mooney for the Daily Mail …
You say that you love your sons and emphasize how busy they are; your biggest concern is not to be a burden. Which is all very noble.
But you are the only mother they’ve ever had and they should know how you feel – and although you keep yourself busy and live in apparent satisfaction in your house, that’s not the whole story.
You say that you are lonely – and yet stress activities and friendships. So the situation you describe is really more specific than the generic loneliness with which so many people (and not just the old ones) have no human interaction in our complex society.
I suggest that you are not alone, but full of desire. You have friends, but nevertheless miss the attention of the three men who owe their busy lives to the woman who wore each of them for nine months and then cherished them.
Would it make them feel guilty that you are sad, unwell and “pretty desperate”? Maybe … but (I’m having a hard time talking about this) so what? You could say they have the right to know. Don’t they have a duty? Perhaps they would work out a system of regular calls / emails / visits. I totally agree with your brave face, but it shouldn’t stop you from telling the truth.
If I were you, I would write a “happyish” e-mail to all three, in which I would update your health in a business tone and say that you want to chat about the future (including your will). Whether you like it or not, we all have to face practical issues (including future care) and this would be a good time to start.
And finally … Plant trees and pick up trash!
My mother moans a bit when she gets out of Tesco’s parking lot. “I feel old,” she said.
“Well, you’re 95!” I respond cheerfully. She nods and we look for her groceries. There is a lesson about continuing. . . an example for me.
It is not always easy to witness beloved parents struggling with your own pains at the same time. We all just continue with it.
Meanwhile, my husband Robin and daughter-in-law Aimee plant 45 small trees (purchased from the Woodland Trust) at the end of our field, while two grandsons “help”. Over time, the trees will act as a “lung” against traffic on the runway – where terrible people sometimes fly.
Of our four generations, most of us will of course not see them for long; we will frolic in the glorious forest in the sky. All the more reason to continue with it now.
Please contact Bel
Bel answers readers’ questions about emotional and relationship issues every week.
Write to Bel Mooney, Daily Mail, 2 Derry Street, London W8 5TT or email email@example.com.
If you wish, a pseudonym is used.
Bel reads all letters but regrets that she cannot enter into personal correspondence.
Two weeks ago I published a letter from 25-year-old “Hanna” – bitterly angry and unhappy about her lack of worldly success and Brexit and people who don’t care about the planet. I tried to give a positive peptalk, which contained the words: “the trajectory of humanity goes towards a slow but sure improvement. That’s it really, really. “
A loyal reader named Stephen agreed with this tone (mainly because he has two daughters) and recommended the book Factfulness by the late global educator Hans Rosling to reinforce the message.
The subtitle is ten reasons why we are wrong about the world – and why things are better than you think.
Packed with statistics, it is an explosion of fresh air. Everyone should read this fascinating paperback (greatly admired by Barack Obama), especially poor Hanna, and all those who cry ‘catastrophe’ for almost everything.
The moral in all this? To start (with two great Mail campaigns in front), I will say: “Plant trees and collect garbage!” Then make the most of the time you have on this earth, be positive – and (even if things go wrong) you just keep going.