"I have recently met an amazing guy online and we’ve only met to go for socially-distanced walks. When we do, we chat the whole time, share pictures of our families, talk about where we want to go on holiday. Last week, I was showing him a picture of my dog on my phone, and when he swiped it went to a Google search I had done of him earlier that day. It was mortifying! He laughed at the time, but now he’s gone really quiet, ignoring my requests to meet. Have I done a bad thing?" Lily.
Oh, darling I get it, there is nothing worse than having your feet swept out from under you, especially in front of the person that is making your heart flutter. Once on a first date, my best friend mentioned the guy’s famous aunt by name – something he hadn’t told her - only be met with a look of shock and suspicion, giving the game away that we had spent hours prowling through his Facebook.
But in this day and age who doesn’t Google a prospective date, especially if you met online. You wouldn’t know if he was a convicted felon, or the son of a preacher man, or both. Remember that what you are doing is normal, and even advisable. UK dating industry body the Online Dating Association advocates exactly that: “check their LinkedIn or run a Google Image search to check any photos provided."
There is nothing wrong with prioritising your own safety with a little digging, which can also tell you whether you are wasting your time on someone whose Facebook is full of Dungeons and Dragons. Public information is not snooping. You’d Google a company you were going to work for, right?
You haven’t told me what your search uncovered if anything. I suspect not much otherwise you wouldn’t still fancy him, although an online search is never a full picture. The fact that he has disappeared into the unknown could be a sign that there were things to be found. Yes, it’s weird to find things, but the real red flag comes when you can’t find anything at all, don’t you think?
My assumption is not the act but the getting caught that has left you feeling embarrassed I'm guessing that your search didn't say 'John Smith dick picks'! But was there something else in that search bar that you're not telling me: his name plus 'ex-girlfriends', 'addiction', 'police report'? Did you push the Google boundaries too far?
Whatever it was, it likely made him feel uncomfortable, but why? Everything about a person online is there because they put it there, either by their actions or choices. Unless of course they have a particularly bitter ex-partner, friend, colleague or dog. I couldn’t care less if I found out someone had Googled me, it shows they have done their groundwork, and I have no shame about what you’ll find out there.
I have to put this out there too, have you considered that his backing off could be completely unrelated? Maybe he’s just not that into you?
Now to the nitty-gritty, what to do? You have options, it just depends on how comfortable you feel with them. Here are my suggestions…
1. Baby Steps: text him now
Tell him that you are sensing some changes in his behaviour and ask if everything is alright. If you were talking as often as you say then, this shouldn’t feel awkward. You are just checking in, because you haven’t heard from him in a while. If he replies, then you take it from there, and if he doesn’t? Well, no response is a response too. This is a toughy, because we all like closure, but as long as you can confidently say that you have been the bigger (wo)man and taken all the mature steps to find out the truth then you must choose to be at peace with that, and frankly, it’s his loss.
2. Head-on: pick up the phone.
Look, it hasn’t been going on that long, so you have nothing to lose. If he doesn't pick up he could be call screening. Send a voice note telling him that you kindly ask for some clarity on the situation. Was it seeing the Google search that caused it? Keep it relaxed, don’t go into apologies. Remember this is nothing to apologize for, other than making him feel a little awkward. If he is a solid, guy, he should be able to see the situation for what it is, not some secret mission to uncloak him. And if it has nothing to do with Google-gate then this gives him a safe space to tell you what is really going on. If he doesn't volunteer it, ask him what the silence is really about.
3. Full nuclear: hire a brass band
Hire a band, buy tons of flowers and stand outside his window singing to him (I actually had a friend who did this. He took a full brass band to the window of his wife’s office in a bid to win her back after some ridiculous argument. It worked but only for a time, and they actually ended their marriage in a very bitter and convoluted divorce after many more arguments and dramatic apologies).
Oh, does that sound overdramatic? Well, just maybe, you are being overdramatic. This is a guy you have known for all of five minutes in the grand scheme of things, and what with everything going on in the world, I’m sure it felt lovely to have someone to share the apocalypse with but let’s be real. He might have some major life dramas unrelated to you going on or he may just be a total flake. You are a strong independent woman who needs to embrace her own worth. If some man-child decides to ghost you then you need not waste another second on him. Thank you, next!
Now, of course, the choice is yours and I am only here to give you options, but take a little advice from someone with a bad-boyfriend list as long as my arm. If it seems all too much like hard work, it usually is. You must be confident in what you deserve and accept no less, even if it hurts for a little bit. It’s easier for your heart to heal now, than further down the line.
Got a shame you want to change? Message Hattie at firstname.lastname@example.org . Hattie is a confidence coach and NLP Master Practitioner. She reads all your emails but cannot reply individually. Names will be withheld if requested and letters may be edited. For an in-depth consultation find her at hattiesloggett.com
Names have been changed.