"Phantom Dating": If It Takes Too Long to Get Together, Are They Even Interested?

Do you ever get into that strange situation where you're involved in "negotiations" or "discussions" about an upcoming first date? If it goes on too long, it turns into the elusive "phantom date."...

Do you ever get into that strange situation where you're involved in "negotiations" or "discussions" about an upcoming first date? If it goes on too long, it turns into the elusive "phantom date."

Don't get this confused with the "fizzle." Things usually fizzle after a first date, or after very short negotiations to get together.

Right now I'm involved in a record-breaking phantom date. The idea has been floating around between the girl and me for the past couple of months. Here are the characteristics that are alarmingly turning things from "concrete" to "phantom":

The Negotiations Are Lasting Forever

If you both really want to do it, and the circumstances permit it to happen, why would you both wait so long to actually do it? Any idea to get together that is discussed longer than a month without happening feels very "phantom."

The Media Is Confusing

The main problem with getting together with this girl is that all of our correspondence occurs through Facebook private messaging. I'm much more used to phone, texting, and email. There are long layoffs between our messages, and the customary apology: "Sorry I took so long to get back to you, I am slow on Facebook messaging."

No One Names a Time

So, by the time the next Facebook message comes in, the "I'm free over the next two weekends" is stale. Neither of us says: "OK, let's do it this weekend" (because we aren't sure if the other will get the message in time), or even says: "Let's do it in 20 days." It's just: "Let me know when you're free and we'll do this."

Summer in the City

Summer changes everything in NYC. People get summer shares at the beach and go on weekend trips. Once summer hit, I knew this girl's time would be limited even more than before.

The Friend Factor

I'm friends with this girl, so she might not even be thinking of this thing as a date. And, if she thinks of me as a friend, she probably assumes this event is something we can keep rescheduling until we do it, because that's what friends do.

It's Been the Same Idea

When this girl moved into her new apartment, she invited me to come see it, and the idea has remained the same ever since. So, every correspondence has been: "Can't wait to see the new apartment," and "You have to come see it!" I might suggest going to the art museum first to spice it up a little — at least we can keep putting off a bigger event then.

We Don't Owe Each Other Anything

I'd date her, but I'm not sure how she's feeling. One thing's for sure: We are both meeting other people all the time (OK, she is, but I'm not), and we aren't reserving time for our event (at least not yet).

We Sustain It with Interest

Both parties expressing interest is the life support system of a phantom date. So, in every Facebook message we both say: "We definitely have to do this." As long as both parties are acting enthusiastic, there's no reason to abandon the idea.

It Would Be the First Time We Hung Out

To be a true phantom date, it must be the first date. When two people never actually go out at all, but create the idea, then it's a phantom date.

So, unlike most dating-related things, I have a solution. I'm naturally unaggressive and low-effort. But I'm going to get the conversation off Facebook and actually text or call her and see if she's around for an upcoming weekend to go to the museum and show me her apartment.

Whether she makes up an excuse, ignores it, or has a real excuse, maybe it will be more clear if we are going to get together sometime or if we have to kill the phantom.

I wish there was a magic alarm signaling when it's time to realize that a date is never going to happen. This may not be "phantom dating" at all. Maybe my friend is being nice with no intention of hanging out because she's just not as into it as I am.

I guess there is one good thing about phantom dating: Even though it's a bit lonely, it's incredibly cheap.

What is your take on this situation? Do you ever get hung up in phantom-dating scenarios? What causes it, and what's the best way to avoid it? Is this happening because one of us is not interested enough to do it, or because of the reasons above?

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