Meeting an online love for the first time can be a little daunting considering you can no longer hide behind a computer monitor. Everything is out in the open, but it can be a lot of fun too! Meeting someone for the first time is exciting! When you’ve met someone through a digital medium, it’s given you the opportunity to get to know the other far better than you would have in person. Long distance relationships sustained through technology create a deep bond and intimacy, one researchers have claimed has stronger bonds and more substantial communication involved than couples who live near each other. But what happens when your online lover of several years constantly dodges meeting up with you?
Making the transition from instant messages to the real world is a bold move. It takes a really special person to want to hang out with them, which can ultimately put a lot of pressure on the situation at hand. A lot of times, insecurity can pop in with one of the online lovers and deter them from wanting to meet up without them having the courage to say something. Then of course, there’s the unpredictability factor–wondering, is this person who they truly appear to be?
With such insecurity, thoughts and countless of episodes of Catfish that have been engraved in our head, what makes online relationships so successful? According to a 2002 study, “Relationship Formation on The Internet: What’s The Big Attraction?“, one of the key draws of Internet dating is the ability to find people who like the same stuff that you do. Couples who lived apart tended to have fewer daily interactions, but those interactions were much longer and more meaningful as each person revealed more about themselves. The researchers are not certain why exactly distance tends to foster deeper interactions, but they do suggest that couples who live apart may idealize their partners’ personal disclosures.
In an article with The Huffington Post, licensed psychotherapist and author of The Breakup Bible: The Smart Woman’s Guide to Healing from a Breakup or Divorce, Rachel Sussman says that the nature of long distance relationships has changed dramatically, not only because of the ubiquity of technology, but more specifically because of the access to video chat programs like Skype and FaceTime. “You’re seeing someone’s face and having those facial expressions really makes a big difference,” she said. “Sometimes when we’re on the telephone, we can be distracted, but if you’re sitting down for a video chat, then you’re really focused on each other,” she tells The Huffington Post.
The study’s researchers have found that technology has been a major tool in the growth of long distance relationships. According to the data cited in the study, there are some 3 million Americans now who live apart from their spouses for reasons other than divorce or problems, with between a quarter and one-half of college students currently in long distance relationships. However, Sussman doubts the new study’s truth. In an excerpt from The Huffington Post:
While communication may be strong in long distance relationships — possibly even stronger than in geographically close relationships — the research doesn’t consider what she dubbed the “loneliness factor” or other stresses that come with living apart. She acknowledged that as a relationship therapist, she sees couples when they’re already experiencing problems, but in her experience, couples in long distance relationships second guess their relationship when they’re apart, and often feel lonely.
Furthermore, Sussman says that she sees long distance relationships can be really stressful. Even though stressful, these relationships are on the rise today, especially in the United States. And though some may laugh at such a relationship and not believe such “magic” can exist, don’t let others discourage you from what you feel because they are real and every element involved in the relationship is real.
But what do you do when your online love doesn’t want to meet up? Communication is key and something we’ve always stressed with any issue on our column here at The Hudsucker, so always be open and honest with the other. You’ll find everything you need to know when you actually talk with them without any fear.
This week we hear from Jeremy of Denver, Colorado who is wondering why the girl he’s been involved with online for two years has been giving him excuses when it comes to meeting up. After a failed meet up and discussions about trying again, he’s not sure if it’s about her or him. What is it? Our writers help Jeremy out!
Jeremy, that is a really tough one, and I’m not sure what I can say to help you. I think it’s going to come down to communication between the two of you. Presumably there is a reason that she isn’t sure about meeting you. Maybe she’s been burned before, or maybe she’s worried about ruining what you already have, in case the reality doesn’t match up to what’s in her head.
At the end of the day, you can only be honest. You don’t want to pressure her, but equally, you don’t want to sit in limbo wondering where you stand. Tell her how you feel, and if it’s meant to be, it’ll happen. Best of luck!
Jeremy, I’m really sorry to hear about the frustration you are going through, especially about what happened at the coffee shop. I’d also be crushed to wait for someone who never showed up! In regards to your overall situation though, it simply sounds like this woman may be nervous to meet up in person, despite her expressed interest in you and meeting you in real life. There are many possibilities as to why she may be hesitant. As you’ve experienced yourself with your friends and your brother, your online love interest could probably be facing the same opposition from her family and friends about her feelings for you—another person only known through computer and phone screens—and meeting you. Perhaps they don’t even know at all about your interactions, so going somewhere seven hours away might be difficult for her to hide. There are definitely some negative perceptions from outside connections when Internet friendships/relationships carry over into the real world. Some people automatically make the assumption that everyone on the Internet is some kind of predator or criminal who will only hurt everyone they can actually meet, and there are others who simply think that anyone who builds deep connections over the Internet is a loser with no life. Both generalizations are untrue and hurtful and unfortunately, there’s not much anyone can do to change someone else’s mind about those things. You two would actually have to have the meeting, stay alive, fall in love, and act like normal people and a normal couple to make a case for yourselves!
Maybe the lady herself is concerned for her own safety. Even though it seems like both of you are planning to meet at a public place (And that’s the way it should be done), she might have the fear that you may not be who she thought you were. I say that not to turn this on you, but just to say that she might be scared, maybe after watching Catfish or reading other people’s horror stories. It can be nerve-racking to meet any online friend outside the Internet, especially one that you have a romantic interest in. It could be that she’s not scared of you, but scared of how she might present herself to you and scared that you may think differently of her once you meet her in person. She is probably a hot and nervous mess in some way shape or form and that’s fine—we all struggle with self-confidence issues and we want to appear and feel confident when we meet someone we really like. Other possible reasons for her holding back is that perhaps her job is really demanding or she has some other responsibilities to tend to that’s putting a meeting out of the question for now. Maybe she is struggling financially, so the cost of driving somewhere else or taking a plane or crashing at a hotel overnight might be a burden on her, assuming the meet-up would take place in your area.
I understand your eagerness to meet this girl, but I do have to side with her and say that the next step may have to occur naturally. It seems like her own feelings or something else on her side is holding her back from finally meeting you in person, and you have to be considerate of those feelings. I think one day you just have to tell her “I’m ready when you are.” Somewhere down the road, when this past summer’s mishap is just a blip (Okay, a blob) in your memory and it doesn’t come totally out of the blue, you can bring up that you’d like to give a meetup another shot. Say she mentions in a conversation that she has a vacation coming up and doesn’t know how to spend it. You can reply with something sneaky like “There’s this exquisite coffeehouse you’ve got to visit — just a few hours up north in my ‘hood!” or “I know you love skiing. Just so you know, the snow up here is awesome!” Make a suggestion based on her interests and some of your favorite local spots. See how she responds. If she seems welcoming to the idea or gives an otherwise positive response, let her know your thoughts about possibly trying to meet up for good, but no pressure — just that it might be a good idea, wink wink. But if she says she can’t, doesn’t respond, or changes the topic, just let it go. Unfortunately, you may have to stick with talking to her through technological means for a while and just have to wait another time to talk about it, or wait for her to say the words. I’m sorry if this may not be what you were hoping to hear, but if the topic of meeting up dominates your conversations, then that’s just a lot of pressure for the both of you. Give it time. If she truly cares about you the way you care about her, she’ll come around and at least express her feelings fully and honestly. I hope it all works out, Jeremy!
Jeremy, congratulations on meeting a girl you are head over heels for! However, with the details you provided, I’m at a loss for words and advice… I can’t even fathom how frustrated you must be.
I think Drew hit the nail on the head–honesty is always the best policy. I can understand why long-distance gal would be a little apprehensive about meeting you, but she’s certainly gone about this in all the wrong ways. Flaking at the last minute and completely standing you up are both unacceptable. If you have been talking via email, Skype, text messages, etc. for TWO YEARS, she needs to take that leap of faith and meet you so you can take your relationship to the next level. Otherwise, I fear you both may be wasting your time because she may never actually be ready for the next step.
If I were you, I’d be upfront with her about how eager you are to meet her. However, I would set some parameters–we don’t want you waiting around forever! Explain that you’ve grown to love her and think that spending time in person will enhance the relationship. If she can’t make the effort after you’ve given her two years of your life, then maybe it’s time for you to start considering your options…
Best of luck! I’m rooting for you, Jeremy.
Jeremy, I agree with my peers in that you should be honest and explain your feelings. If you don’t, then you two won’t ever take the next step.
I don’t believe that she is lying to you. In fact, it does seem like everything is on the up and up. I would say that nerves are the reason behind most of it. To be in a long distance relationship and finally have a chance to meet someone…it’s huge.
I think the both of you could benefit from having a conversation about the “after.” The after-the-meeting is something that both of you have probably thought of. But have you talked about what it actually means?
Try talking to her about it. It may quell some of that anxiety. Good luck to you, Jeremy.
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