Dear Eli, I was chatting to this cute guy before everything went into lockdown, but we’ve kept in contact on and off, the problem is I don’t know if I want to take it to the next level. What should I do? – Sam

Hi Sam,

So a guy is interested in you? That’s great, I wish I could relate. Your issue appears to be one of two things, either you want to take things to the next level but your instinct is telling you he isn’t as committed to seeing this long-term, or you’ve created an “ideal” version of this guy and he is neither aware of nor living up to this ideal, and you’re using that as an escape to project your insecurities onto his behavior. Let’s talk them out.

Scenario one – Ask yourself how engaged do you feel in the conversation when the two of you talk? Do you both keep the enthusiasm to hear the other’s answers going or do you feel like you’re always asking him questions to get him to talk more? While long breaks from conversations could be a sign that he’s busy, the fact that we’re all social-isolating means that if he doesn’t message after a while, it’s probably because he isn’t thinking of you. Yes, we all have responsibilities to our friends and families and maybe we want some time to ourselves, but how long does it take to send that gif of Stitch saying “Hi”?

If it’s stopping you from what you think you want by moving to the next level (still a little confused about that, given that we are meant to in quarantine Sam, but I’ll skip over it because we haven’t the time), talk to him about it and use clear language, you’ll know if the response is what you want to hear. If not, cut your losses and move on, because it sounds like he already has.

Scenario two on the other hand is a little more complicated, but something a LOT of people do, so if it applies to you, don’t feel bad but be aware of it. You’ve matched with a guy on any number of dating apps and that instant shot of serotonin felt euphoric: somebody thinks I’m cute enough. Starting off, he’s Prince Charming for having done literally the bare minimum.

After introductions and an undisclosed amount of time just chatting and getting to know each other, you become hyper aware of small insignificant things such as: who messages first? How long it takes for him to reply? Did answering “haha” leave me with many options to keep the conversation going? (Not speaking from personal experience.)

Soon, it becomes clear to your close friends that your using this guy to get a sense of validation, and while it’s subconscious and you didn’t mean to, it’s not really his fault for not being that provider. But that’s the drawback of rose-tinted glasses, they don’t just blind you from the other person’s bad habits, they blind you from your own.

The solution in this case is to be open and honest with yourself about why you want to be in a relationship, and why you want to be in a relationship with this guy specifically? Once, you’re satisfied with those answers, talk to him about and put your cards on the table.

Communication is the answer to both these relationship problems – who would have thought? Certainly not my ex.

If you have any questions that you want Eli’s advice on, email with the subject line: Advice Column question, and I’ll be sure to pass it on.