Dear Rosie & Sherry,

Recently, I shared e-mails/phone calls with a gent in another state for two months. We agreed to meet at a resort city closer to his state. It was a 7-hour trip for me, and about 2 hours for him.

When he did not show up at the meeting place or his hotel, I was hurt. He gave me two phone numbers, but I did not call either one. I felt he was playing a game. I did not know it, but apparently my hotel had my name incorrectly spelled and told him that I was not there. He did not have a room reserved until the next day at his hotel, then he canceled it.

When I returned home, there were two messages that he tried calling me everywhere and I did not call his numbers. He said he would phone or e-mail me. I figured since I was mad and the conversation would blow up, it was better to e-mail. Well, it did blow up. I told him that I felt he was unavailable to me on the weekends, and it took a long time to answer me. He was always giving me excuses. I wanted his attention and felt I should not be chasing him in three states.

He gave me the excuse that he was taking his son back to college and they could not get into the dorm room until Tuesday. I did not believe this. I learned from the college that he had his key on Sunday. Then, this guy told me he was finished defending himself.

I tried calling to mend things and e-mailed him. He did not respond. I told him how deeply hurt I was, and he said that he was sorry I had to be alone, but he was not sorry that he took the necessary precautions to prevent this occurrence. I took it to mean that he was not sorry that he returned home and did not meet me.

He sounded so innocent, and I just can't believe that he did not follow through. The empty feeling that I have won't go away, and I need to move on. Any advice?

Caroline

Dear Caroline,

We suspect that this isn't the first time you've been disappointed by a date, and that could be a reason why you're feeling particularly hurt this time. Another reason you probably feel so badly is that you invested a lot of time and effort into a potential courtship (two months of e-mails, a 7-hour trip and the cost of a hotel room), and that effort appears to have been wasted. You may also feel partly to blame for what went wrong. After all, you reached some incorrect conclusions that kept the two of you from meeting in the first place. Had you called him when he didn't show, instead of assuming that he was playing a game with you, you might have gotten together.

We think that you can move past this unfortunate situation by approaching it on two levels. First, we suggest you stop beating yourself up over "what might have been." It doesn't matter whether the hotel, you or your friend made mistakes; this date didn't work out. It may not have been "meant to be" in the first place. Try to accept what has happened so that you can move on.

Even though the courtship with your e-friend was relatively short and never materialized into a face-to-face meeting, since you've been shaken up by its demise it will be healthy for you to devote an appropriate amount of energy to putting it to rest -- by going through the stages of denial, anger, depression, bargaining and acceptance.

The next suggestion we have is that you try to learn from this experience. It seems to us that you may have sabotaged yourself because from the onset you were a little wary of getting together with your e-friend. When he didn't show up at your hotel you concluded that he was playing a game and didn't try to call him at one of the emergency numbers he had given you. We can understand how furious and used you must have felt. Your friend's no-show reinforced all of your suspicions -- that you might travel a great distance and be disappointed, that e-mail dating is risky, that some men don't have the nerve to follow through with a date.

In retrospect, though, you can see that what might have seemed to be an appropriate reaction to your circumstances ended up being counterproductive. You allowed your uncertainty and suspicions to gain the upper hand. If you had only been able to concede that there may be a perfectly logical explanation for his not showing up, you would have discovered that there was one! Your hotel had told him you weren't there!

We live in a culture that discourages us from following an important precept: Give the other person the benefit of the doubt. In Hebrew, this is called "dan le'kaf zechut" -- judging another person favorably. When our society is regularly assaulted with lies and deceptions on the part of co-workers, acquaintances, employers, politicians and cultural icons, it's no wonder that so many of us are jaded and suspicious. If we've been hurt before, we take extra care not to be made a fool of again. However, it's easy to over-react. We have to learn how to balance our wariness with the fact that most people we come into contact with are basically honest and well-intentioned.

If you can take a step back and look at your situation objectively, which we know is hard to do, you might see another instance in which you may have acted with undue wariness. You didn't believe what your e-date told you about moving his son into a college dormitory and went so far as to call the college to learn when his son received his room key! Aside from the fact that this man and his son probably took many factors other than key availability into account when they decided on a moving date (factors they were not required to explain to you), it seems that you over-stepped a boundary by checking out his story in the manner you did. Most people don't start off a courtship by trying to catch their suitor in a lie.

Please don't get us wrong. We are not out to berate you for making unfavorable, and possibly unwarranted judgments about this man. However, we do see a big problem with trust on your part, and we think that if you are able to address it you will be more successful in future dating. It may be as simple as encouraging yourself to look at life's experiences with a more favorable eye. We recommend two excellent books on the topic of judging other favorably: Hanoch Teller's "Courtrooms of the Mind" (Feldheim.com), and "The Other Side of the Story" by Yehudis Samet (Artscroll.com).

We hope that you will be able to move past this experience and view a future dating in a more open-minded manner. We wish you the best of luck.

Rosie & Sherry