I met this guy on OKC and we had a very intense emotional connection and messaged every day and talked about really deep stuff but when we finally met in person I found that I wasn’t attracted to him. I felt awful. I knew he was still attracted to me and all i ended up feeling was anxious. I had a 2 day long anxiety attack and am riddled with guilt because even though he is a great person I just am not attracted to him romantically and I feel awful about it. got any advice or encouragement? Of course I admitted to him that I wasn’t attracted to him but I was really into him before we met so I know even though he was understanding he was also confused. I feel so shallow but I just wasn’t attracted to him physically when we met and I tried to deny it but in the end I know how I feel and despite our deep emotional connection I am just not attracted to him and I just feel so guilty about it. I’m not sure how to calm down. My guilt based anxiety keeps coming in waves because of it.

You are not obligated to be sexually or romantically interested in anyone. Ever. No matter how you met. No matter how well you connect in other areas. Period. End of story.

It can be really frustrating to connect emotionally with someone over messages, then realize that you aren’t physically or sexually into them. I think it’s unfair that our culture conflates those feelings - there are people I have spectacular sexual chemistry with who I don’t click with emotionally; and there are people who meet my emotional and intellectual needs on a deep level, but I don’t want to sleep with them. One thing polyamory and relationship anarchy have helped me do is find the space and the language for different kinds of relationships.

It’s okay to tell this guy that you really enjoy your conversations and would love the opportunity to pursue a friendship based on your connection, but that you aren’t interested in a sexual or romantic relationship. It’s okay for him to say no - he might see online dating exclusively as a way to meet people for sexual/romantic connections. But he might say yes! Either way, neither of you have done anything morally or ethically wrong, you’re just being honest about what you want and whether you can provide what the other person wants.

If this is creating a serious issue for you, it’s okay to take steps to mitigate this in the future. You can take a break from online dating while you work through the underlying causes of this severe anxiety (more on that below). Or, you can add a note to your OKC profile saying that it’s possible for you to meet someone there and discover that you’re better suited to be friends, and that you don’t expect or demand that every OKC connection turns into a sexual/romantic connection. We don’t assume that everyone we get along with well who we meet through work or mutual friends must become a sexual/romantic connection, so we don’t have to make that assumption about OKC as a way to meet people either.

Finally: a two-day-long anxiety attack and continued waves of guilt and anxiety over a social situation like this is not normal, and you deserve help for this. You can get help learning how to set boundaries, identify and meet your own needs, and say no. I don’t know if you identify as female and/or were socialized female, but this is a really common source of pressure and guilt for women and people socialized as women. The world likes to act like we owe men our attention and affection, and like we’re shallow and cruel if we don’t return their sexual interest. That’s garbage, and it’s a lie designed to control us. It can be really hard to find healing and learn to let go of this shame that’s been pressured into us for our entire lives, but there are lots of therapists who specialize in issues like this. Please consider reaching out to a mental health professional for help.