Q: Dear Dr. Ranjan,
I have a dilemma and I need your advice. I am twenty six years old and I have been friends with a 40 year old man for the past two years. It has been a mutual attraction and he is very interested in dating me.
However, I have another male friend who is about my age and I like him a lot. Nothing has ever happened between us, but sometimes I wish we can date.
The first gentleman is very nice and kind to me, but I am not sure if I am ready to date him. He often takes me out to dinner and I like to talk to him quite a bit. He is an interesting man in many ways. He treats me in a way that I have never been treated by other men. He is very complimentary and likes to make me happy. He makes me feel intelligent, beautiful, respectable and desirable. I like that very, very much. I can see ourselves dating someday, but not now.
I kind of want to be friendly with both guys, so both my options are open. I do wonder, however, if the first gentleman will start to look elsewhere if I cannot start dating. What should I do?
A: One of the basic principles of dating is honesty. I believe you may be unintentionally misleading the older gentleman since you don’t have any intentions to date him currently. Stringing somebody along is one the cruelest things you can do to a person. You should tell this gentleman, in no uncertain terms, that you don’t want to date him. Unless he is content with just being a friend, you should not go out with him because that will give him a mixed message.
You should also realize that nobody waits for anybody forever. You cannot live your life like that. Essentially, you need to make up your mind. If you feel that this gentleman is a good match for you, date him for awhile and see how things develop. If you do not want to date anybody at this time, be very clear about that.
Q: Dear Dr. Ranjan,
My best friend is forty nine years old and she recently moved to South Carolina to live with a guy she met on the internet. This man is about fifty three years old. She talked to him over the internet for about a year and has visited him only twice for short visits, before moving in with him this past March.
He lives in an isolated area and shares the property with his elderly parents. He has never been married, nor has he ever had children. He never visited her in Ohio and none of her family members have ever met him. My friend has always been outgoing and social. I am quite concerned about my friend’s safety. What can I do?
A: It is possible to find decent people to love on the internet, but you must use common sense and take precautions. Looking for love this way can expand your potential dating options and may be especially helpful to those who are shy in person.
Having said all of that, I would say that you have a reason to be concerned about your friend. It is very difficult to get to know a person, even when you live with him or her. It is infinitely more difficult to get to know a person while on the internet.
I do believe that your friend should have made a series of visits to him and also had him come to Ohio for visits to get to know him better. In the very least, she should have had her family meet him before she made the decision to move in with him someplace far away.
I also highly recommend doing a background check on people you meet on the internet. I recently saw an ad for a new web service called been-verified.com which claims to be able to provide background information on people. I have never used this website, therefore, I do not have a specific opinion about it, but the more you know, the safer you are.
The purpose of this article is for educational purposes only. It is not intended to diagnose or treat any medical or psychiatric issue. Dr. Rakesh Ranjan is a practicing psychiatrist and a researcher. He is a recipient of several research awards and has authored several peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters on psychiatric illnesses and their treatments. He is a national speaker for several organizations and serves on the medical advisory board for NAMI for Greater Cleveland. If you or a loved one is experiencing any symptoms that would lead you to believe that there could be a mental imbalance, please email your questions to Dr. Ranjan at firstname.lastname@example.org. Each Wednesday, Dr. Ranjan will address some of these questions in this column. All contact info will be kept confidential.