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Thread: Pesky pen pals (not a family thing)

  1. #1
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    Pesky pen pals (not a family thing)

    This is not quite a family matter, but it does involve personal relationships. On the job, I have a lot of free time on my hands. I'm planning a vacation, and through two separate travel forums, I've met two different women who also seem to have a lot of free time on their hands. I have an unfortunate tendency to be overly flattered when people show interest in me, and I'm very lonely while at my job.

    I've got one pen pal (we'll call her Mary) who tells me every single detail of her day (i.e. I'm going mattress shopping, I have to take my mother to the doctor, and her blood tests were fine, etc. etc.). We started out talking about travel, and then came the inevitable personal questions/answers/details. It just kind of snowballed, till I was getting multiple emails every day. During the summer, I sort of managed to keep Mary at arm's length and am pretty sure we could break off our relationship.

    However, I never seem to learn from my mistakes (or how was I supposed to know, really?) and now I've got a new Mary. Let's call her Joan. I don't mind discussing travel, but suddenly, and it's partly my fault, we're talking about work, where we live, personal stuff. She's sending me links to this and that. What I really don't like is she has asked me about my spouse's and my retirement plans, and what does my spouse do for a living. I am reluctant to discuss my spouse with her, and frankly, this is all moving a bit too fast and she's becoming a PITA.

    Right now, I'm in the middle of a very upsetting legal matter and some personal problems. I can barely stand to talk to my "real" friends about this stuff and I don't want these online relationships to go any further (farther?). Here's a good laugh: I told Joan that I've been dropped without a word by several pen pals in the past, and she said she'd never do that to anyone. But that's what I'd like to do right now--ignore her!

    I'm sort of socially inept, and I don't know how to let Joan know I don't want to answer her personal questions, nor do I want to be emailing back and forth every day constantly. Like, at times, I DO actually have work to do on my job.

    Mary, I'm not so worried about. I think she's very lonely but she'll be fine w/o me.

    Please advise, if you have any thoughts. Thanks!

  2. #2
    Senior Member iris lilies's Avatar
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    Based soley on what you have posted here, I would, if you, do the following:

    * tell Joan "I'm sure you will understand, but I dont want to talk about my husband because I think it invades his privacy. Thank you for your u derstanding amd support." And then, dont. If you havent already, I might say "My husband and I have been together for x years" to let her know you are partnered. Then drop discussion of him. If she asks a question you dont want to answer, dont amswer. That is true for any communication, online, IRL! Etc.

    * answer Joan as often as you want, not according to the many daily emails per day she sends. If you like 2X weekly communication, do that. If you wish to respond only to one thing in her slew of messages, do that. You aren't obligated to respond to her comment about mattress shopping. That kind of textual chitchat would be extremely boring to me.

    I guess that's why I like forum chat. There is always a variety of messages, some more interesting than others. I am not obligated to respond to each and every one, just the ones that inspire me to answer.

  3. #3
    Senior Member razz's Avatar
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    Parameters are hard to set without some discussion but often one does not know what might be required down the line.

    I have one friend IRL where we share everything with as we walk regularly and are trying to schedule times to walk so that relationship simply evolved.
    Another friend is "my go to the movies friend', another is my "go to the HDMetopera friend", etc.
    Can you find a common interest and simply mention that you would love to have someone to talk about just travel, for example, as that is special to you. Keep responding to just the topic that you have suggested and that triggered your connection and ignore the rest, maybe?
    Gandhi: Happiness is when what you think, what you say and what you do are in harmony .

  4. #4
    Senior Member herbgeek's Avatar
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    If you've been answering her multiple times per day, and you don't want to, just start answering once a day and cutting and pasting from her multiple messages only those items you want to talk about. After a few weeks, move it to every 2 or 3 days before you respond.

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    Thanks! These are a lot of good suggestions.

    The thing about my spouse: He actually would prefer I do not discuss him with online friends. So no problem with telling her that one!

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    Update: The multiple times per day woman has stopped emailing me. That would be Joan. Mary emailed me today but I just told her I am not in a good place at all and I don't feel like talking. She has also backed off since my original post.

  7. #7
    Senior Member SteveinMN's Avatar
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    It's good to hear a follow-up. Thanks, frugalone.
    If Americans expended even a fraction of the energy on civic engagement that we spend on consumer ideology, our democracy would be much healthier. Can you imagine people camping out to vote? -- Charles Roberts, Amherst, Mass., Nov. 25, 2006

  8. #8
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    Online is so different then face to face with people. I have over the many years made"""friends""" with some on the assorted boards. The topics stay 100% on the subject of which we had uncommon on the board. Then when is fades it just disappears. Maybe this will happen as it seems to be.

  9. #9
    Senior Member catherine's Avatar
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    I'm that way with phone calls. I hate getting them. I've joined the millennials in communicating by text whenever I can. My brother and I have a better relationship since he got on Facebook and we can IM each other and I don't feel I have to answer his calls at random times.

    I do have one son who has called me more than normal lately because he's had recent job and relationship issues, and of course I'll drop anything to listen to him. But he's a talker!!! 45 minutes to an hour is an average length of time. OTOH, I can never get my DD on the phone. And when I call and leave a message, she'll text me back. She takes after me!

    I think you've gotten good advice, frugalone, and I'm glad you were able to tactfully back away from the communications you've been getting from your online friends. You can also tell people that your policy is never to talk about loved ones in writing. (I personally think that's a good policy. It's an invasion of their privacy, IMHO.)
    "Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it--every, every minute?" Emily Webb, Our Town
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