Dear Dategirl,As you've often recommended, I recently posted my profile on an Internet dating site. I've been corresponding with a hot 40-year-old guy who has lived all over the world. He's a little older than I am (I'm 32), but I'm looking to settle down, so I thought a slightly older man would be a good bet. We've exchanged many e-mails on and off the site, and have talked on the phone once. We had a great conversation, but instead of making a date with me, he just made another appointment for a phone chat. WTF? Is he a weirdo? Is he pretending to be someone else? Or is this normal? I thought you'd have some insight.—Suspicious in Seattle
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While online dating has much going for it, there are also downsides. You happen to be experiencing one of them—the noncommittal browser, aka the Time Waster.Presumably you join a dating site to get a date. That certainly sounds like why you did it, and that was absolutely why I did. Unfortunately, a certain segment of the population doesn't ever leave their laptop and enter the real world. Judging from the daters I've interviewed, women are more apt to pull this crap than men, but then we ladies are more vulnerable to getting roofied and raped, so a little more caution is called for.My first thought is that he's married. Married dudes trawling for side action online are more common than zits on a 14-year-old's chin. Or maybe his photo's a decade old (or of someone else) and/or he's far older than he claims. That could explain his reluctance.The Internet is also a haven for socially inept scaredy-cats who get all their gratification via technology. Or he could be what we call a buffet dater, busily gobbling everything he can fit into his piehole. If you're lucky, he'll get to you around dessert.Whatever you do, don't let him lure you into some lame phone/Skype-sex scenario before you meet. Unless that's what you're into, resist, because you're going to be pretty mortified if you find out the guy you've been phone-fellating is a dead ringer for Danny DeVito and stinks of rancid nacho cheese.There is a timeline for online dating; once you've e-mailed a couple times and talked on the phone once (maybe twice), if both of you are still interested, you make a date. To meet. In person. If this prospect is too daunting for your would-be date, it's time to move on.Attraction comes down to chemistry, and while you can rule it out via e-mail/phone chats, it's impossible to know if it exists until you meet. Just because you laughed at his jokes and don't find his political views abhorrent, that's no guarantee you won't be completely put off by his funky man-musk or pit-stained T-shirt. Or that he won't cut and run once he finds out you snort loudly when you laugh or are a militant vegan. Why waste all that time dicking around?So be careful, my little dater. Most people are a little dishonest in their daily lives ("No, really—you don't look fat!"), but the anonymity of the Interwebs makes it a little too easy. Since you're a newbie, you should know that most men under six feet lie about their height. Women are more prone to fudge their pudge. Fibs about age are epidemic in both sexes.Speaking of lies: I had a friend who fell madly in love (keyword: madly) with a man who wouldn't give his home phone number and flat-out refused to tell her where he lived (sleepovers took place at hers). He would disappear for weeks at a time, and yet when I suggested he might be married, she blew up at me. In her mind he was simply mysterious. Yeah, right. Mysteriously email@example.com