I met Matt backstage at a summer music festival in my hometown of Philadelphia. Wearing retro sneakers and a plaid shirt, he looked like Clark Kent’s cooler younger brother. “You from around here?” I asked.
“Nope, Brooklyn,” he said. When he casually mentioned his girlfriend, I cursed my luck: Not only did the first adorable guy I’d seen in ages live two hours away, but he was also taken. Our burgeoning romance did not look promising.
“Let’s be friends,” he said, and asked for my number. I figured I’d never hear from him again, but he soon lit up my phone with a steady stream of witty texts. Within days, we had graduated to online messaging sessions. Because I typically date artists and musicians, I was impressed he had his own office at a Manhattan startup, where he worked as a project manager. We’d Gchat all day, about everything from the mundane (how his assistant was terrible at answering the phone) to the intimate (I consoled him when his best friend was diagnosed with cancer; he sympathized when I felt disconnected from my newly married best friend). But as much as I loved Matt’s attention, it didn’t feel appropriate, given that he had a serious relationship. So a month after meeting him, I pulled back, taking longer to respond to him, until we’d stopped communicating altogether.
The following Spring, Matt texted me out of the blue: “I broke up with her.” I couldn’t believe ithe was really single? I logged on to Gchat for the first time in six months. We quickly picked up where we’d left offbut this time, we didn’t hold back.
“What are you wearing?” he asked a week after our happy cyber reunion. “Show me.” I snapped a quick selfie of my pink tank top and black miniskirt and nervously sent it. He hadn’t seen me in almost a year: Was he still attracted to me? “You’re gorgeous!” he said. We started sending each other daily photos: me at Starbucks sipping an iced coffee; him in front of his dartboard at work.
“Are we ever going to hang out?” I texted one Saturday night. It was now summer, one year after we had first met, and I still hadn’t held his hand. I’d stopped dating other guys; I was only interested in Matt. “Of course,” he wrote back. “I’m just in between places right now.” Hmm. I offered to come to New York for a dayafter all, it’s not like he lived across the countrybut he made a somewhat logical argument. “We’ve waited this long to see each other. What’s a few more weeks?” he texted. “I could make you dinner and you’d stay over.” Then: “What are you wearing?”
I was in a nightie. As usual, I snapped a pic and sent it. “I can’t wait to kiss your neck,” I wrote.
“Yeah?” he replied. “What do you want to do after that?”
Our texting ramped up to a whole new level as we tried to out-dirty each other: “I want to suck this,” “I want to lick that.” I’d never talked this openly about my sexual desires before, and it was thrilling. But taking racy pics in my old tank tops wasn’t cutting it; I needed to step up my lingerie game. So I bought a slinky red teddy, handfuls of lacy panties, and a hot-pink silk robe. The cashier must have thought I was staging a low-budget porn shoot.
Sexting is addictive at first, but once we’d said and done as much as two horny people can do alone with their phones and laptops, it started to lose its appeal. “Is this relationship going anywhere?” I finally asked. I got the same response: “When I get my own place, I’ll be all yours.” I knew that he was still processing his breakup, and I wanted to give him space before we started seeing each other. I would’ve asked him to visit me, but at the time I was living with my parents and couldn’t exactly have my sexting partner stop in. We finally decided that I’d come to New York in early October. “I’m going to ravage you as soon as you walk in the door,” he said.
I laughed, but I had a horrible feeling that something was amiss. A day before my visit, I texted to confirm. “Are we on?”
“Unfortunately”my heart sank when I saw that word”tomorrow is no good. I have to give my ex the keys to our old apartment. I’m sorry.”
“I understand,” I said, even though I didn’t. He was dragging his heels on what should have been the best part: being together. “I’m doing a reading at a bookstore in Brooklyn next week,” I wrote. “If you’re serious about us, I want to see you there.”
“I’ll be there,” he wrote. “Promise.”
The day of the event, I was so nervous that I couldn’t eat. I fretted over which outfit to wear, deciding on a blue dress with red heels. I couldn’t focus during my reading. When I wasn’t nervously checking my phone, I was staring at the front door, waiting to see him walk through. But he didn’t come. Dejected, I cried the entire drive back to Philly.
“How was it?” He texted the next morning. “Sorry I couldn’t make it.” I didn’t reply. After all the waiting, after our countless hours of talking, after how much energy I’d put into fantasizing about him, I didn’t want to hear his excuses. I just wanted it to be over. It took all my courage to block his phone number, but I did.
As painful as it was, looking back it’s clear that Matt never actually planned to meet me. I had to move on to someone who was ready for a real relationship. A month later, just as the snow began to fall, I met a lawyer on Match.com. We’ve been happily dating ever since. And the best part? Aside from the fact that he’s smart, warm, and funnywhen I kiss him, he kisses me back.