Recently, while browsing through other blogs, I noticed that the topic of people meeting and/or dating online is quite a hot one. Although there is a lot of it going on, there are still those who are quite skeptical and even critical of this type of interaction.
While some can be downright nasty about it, other people seem to have legitimate concerns and likewise raise legitimate questions; questions that I had too, before I found myself falling in love with a man I had never seen face to face.
Mike and I have been in a long distance relationship for a little over seven years, and were married this past March. When we met online, neither of us was looking for a relationship; it just naturally grew into one. Our love has grown stronger every day since then, and we are deeply committed to each other and our marriage. We have overcome numerous obstacles, and each one has brought us closer and made our relationship even more solid.
It seems to me that maintaining a long distance relationship, especially one as long distance as ours (he’s in the U.K. and I’m in the U.S.), requires extra levels of commitment, dedication and trust. There are also certain sacrifices that a couple must be willing to make; sacrifices much different to those required in traditional relationships.
That said, I would like to address some of the questions and concerns that I’ve encountered recently and over the years. Of course, my thoughts on the subject are based solely on my own personal experience and success story, if you will. They are, however, thoughts which I have examined extensively for more than seven years and discussed at great length with my wonderful husband for just as long. I will begin with the question that inspired the title of this post:
How can you fall in love with someone you don’t even know?
Well, you don’t. But what does it mean to truly know someone?
I believe that the best way to get to know someone is through conversation. Of course, there is a lot to be said for sharing meals together, having drinks, seeing movies, going to concerts or sporting events, dancing and all the other traditional dating activities.
It could be argued that couples get to know each other by doing all these things; each learning what the other likes and dislikes. This might be evident through body language, facial expressions, etc., even if not expressed verbally. But it’s one thing to sense whether or not someone enjoys something, and quite another thing to understand why. By learning the “whys” we get to know people on a much deeper level, and that can only be accomplished through talking.
There are a lot of things people learn about each other when all they have is conversation. For the two and a half years before Mike and I met in person for the first time, conversation was all we had. We talked as often as we could – every day if possible (you can imagine our phone bills). We talked about everything from how much we love each other and our plans for the future to how I sort laundry and why.
We laughed together, cried together, listened to music and sang to each other. We told each other what we did each day, what we had eaten or would eat for dinner. We talked about religion, politics, films, books, parenting, cooking, gardening; we compared our cultures and our upbringing. I don’t believe you could name a topic that we haven’t touched on.
We were (and still are) so very interested in each other that no topic was off limits or boring; all conversation was welcome and even intriguing. Not only do we both know where the other stands on just about anything you could imagine, we know why. That is truly knowing a person for who he or she is. And that is what falling in love is about, in my opinion.
I think it’s also important to mention that when there is no chance of becoming sexually involved right away, there is more time for real communication. Mike explains this very well in a comment under Talking ’bout my girl… at The Odd Blog:
Well, that’s the thing. When it’s a long distance thing, you get to know the other person more fully as a person without having the chance to be as physical as you might want; lots of couples who meet in an ordinary way start with the physical and then find out when that wears off that they don’t even really like each other that much. What we found was that we really, really like each other as people; my gf is the best friend I’ve ever had. That makes us totally strong as a couple.
When we finally did meet in person, we were not two strangers meeting up for the first time. We were completely at ease and comfortable with each other because we had spent the prior two-and-a-half years getting to know each other on a level that might not have been possible but for the distance between us. I’ll go out on a limb and say that Mike and I probably knew each other better and more completely before we ever met in person than many traditional couples will ever know each other.
There are several other points which I would like to address, so I have decided to make this a series since this has already become quite lengthy. I will address one or two points per post, as time permits. If you have any questions, please feel free to post them in comments and I will answer them as best I can.
Again, I am speaking only from my own personal experience mixed with a little common sense. My goal is to work toward removing the stigma attached to online and long distance relationships.
The following two questions can be answered in the same or similar way, so I will address them together in part two of this series:
How do you know the person you’ve met online isn’t lying to you?
How do you know he isn’t a psycho?
Update: Getting To Know You – Part II