How Do You Know If It’s Worth It To Try a Long Distance Relationship?

How Do You Know If It's Worth It To Try a Long-Distance Relationship?

Dear Evan,

I have seen a lot of interesting questions about dating and the internet. So here is mine: How do you know if this guy that talks to you on the phone for hours every day…and lives overseas…is for real?!?

Let’s see a tell-tale list of signs for women to know when he IS interested. I, like most women, think we have guys figured out but are so wrong most of the time. Men DON’T usually share their feelings or sometimes are afraid to I guess. So we play the “let’s read into everything he does” game.

Keep in mind this is an international relationship and not the boy who lives 30 minutes away and I can meet him anytime.  So how do I know if it’s worth it or if it’s all gonna be like a giant bomb exploding around me because what we have online or the phone just can’t be sustained “in real life.” I would like to know what to look for.

Thanks,

Charoa

Dear Charoa,

I trust you’re asking me if this relationship is real, as opposed to the person. Because believe me, there are people overseas who are out to scam you out of your money, and you should be aware of that. Generally, scammers will show interest in older women or men who haven’t been getting much attention online. Then, they’ll develop a rapport over a few weeks and ask you to send money. And when you do, you’ll never hear from them again.

I remember one nice Midwestern man calling American Singles customer service (where I was working in 2001) to complain about a Russian woman he had met on the site. Apparently, he had fallen in love with this woman, who, in turn, asked him to send her $2000 so she could move to the United States. There was nothing the site could do – as all they had on her was an email address, a fake name and a cancelled credit card.

But assuming you’re asking me about long-distance relationships, Charoa, yeah, I’ve got a few ideas.

As it stands, I’m driving up to San Francisco in a few minutes. There, I’m going to have breakfast with my little sister who has left New York to move in with her boyfriend that she met on Nerve.com.

My best girl friend from high school has just moved from New York to Baltimore to move in with her fiancé that she met on eHarmony.com.

A woman I briefly dated cross-country who told me she’d never leave New York is now living in Santa Monica with her husband and new baby.

If you can find a guy who lives closer to you, it will be much easier to establish, maintain, and/or drop the relationship quickly.

These are real stories of real people who are really close to me.

And yet, I still wouldn’t recommend a long-distance relationship….

Not unless you have a choice. I may link to it every other column, but it’s important to remember that you’re As Valuable As Your Options.

If you can find a guy who lives closer to you, it will be much easier to establish, maintain, and/or drop the relationship quickly. As it stands, everything gets slowed down when a guy’s overseas.

Back to your question:

So how do I know if it’s worth it or if it’s all gonna be like a giant bomb exploding around me because what we have online or the phone just can’t be sustained “in real life.”

Well, let’s look at it logically. If 99.9% of the men you’ve ever met are ones that you don’t want to marry, what are the odds that the guy who spends hours on the phone with you in another country IS the guy?

Probably pretty slim.

That doesn’t mean he’s NOT the one, and it doesn’t mean you should suddenly stop returning his calls. I just think it’s important to not get too excited about ANYBODY before you’ve, say, met in person. In fact, it’s dangerous. Because it leads to things like your letter. Or like the “bomb” that explodes around you. Or, more likely than not, the realization that phone chemistry is different than “real-life” chemistry.

Listen, nobody stresses establishing trust over the phone more than I do. Except I’m usually talking about two phone conversations in a week before you meet. When you let anticipation build up for a month or three prior to meeting, you set yourself up for three scenarios:

You see him, the chemistry is not there. You’re very disappointed. Crushed, even.

You see him, the chemistry is there. It’s on. You live happily ever after.

You see him, the chemistry is there. You throw yourself into it headlong. But due to the distance, all you ever have are week-long trips that seem like vacations. You never know what it’s like to just be normal together. So if either of you are to turn this into a regular relationship, someone’s going to have to uproot his/her life and take a big leap of faith that chemistry is a good precursor of compatibility.

Frankly, I think chemistry is just chemistry. There are lots of people I’ve had the hots for. There are very few I could spend my life with….

Dating is tough. Online dating is tougher. Long-distance dating is toughest.

So when you’re looking for a definitive list as to what to look for in a guy, I’m not sure what to tell you. I’d venture to guess that it’s no different than what you’re looking for in a guy up the street.

How often does he email you?

How often does he call you?

How quickly after meeting does he talk about meeting again?

Is he willing to make big sacrifices to make a relationship work?

Is he actively dating online even when you are “committed” to each other?

Can you be authentic with him without scaring him off?

Do you trust him enough to be secure when you haven’t heard from him in a bit?

All of these questions can reveal a man’s emotional investment in you. But beware of a guy who passes all of these tests. Sometimes a man’s willingness to throw himself into a long-distance relationship means that he doesn’t have much of a life worth preserving at home. Many people who you might want to be with are firmly entrenched because of their businesses, families, friends, homes, etc. Be wary of someone who’s willing to instantly throw it away for a stranger he met on the internet.

To sum up: long-distance relationships can work. But if you’re looking for that master list that will give you every reassurance that your time is well-invested, I’m not going to be the one to give it to you.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.

Dating is tough. Online dating is tougher. Long-distance dating is toughest. Throw them all together and, well, the odds are always very slim. But the couples who make it despite those slim odds are bound to be the strongest. Good luck and stay in touch.

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Comments:

  1. 1
    Carmin Wharton

    My opinion: if there is an option between dating someone in close proximity versus someone long distance, always, always go with the person in close proximity.

    Why? Isn’t the reason we date to get to know someone better, perhaps to explore a long term relationship? Or, to simply have companionship. How can you really get to know someone better and have companionship at a great distance.

    I believe to “be there” one has to “be there.”

    Carmin Wharton, The Relationship Teacher
    Author, “Lessons Learned: While Looking for Love in All the Wrong Faces”
    http://www.carminwharton.com

  2. 2
    becci

    A year ago i met a man online , in May of this year we met for the first time, and have been together ever since. Its hard been in a long distance relationship and i miss him terribly when were apart. We talk everyday on the phone, usualy 2/3 times and we email and chat online, we also try to meet up for long weekends at least 2 times a month. It i hard but worth it, we know that eventually one of us will have to move so we can be together but we are also being sensible and taking it slowly to ensure that were both ready when it happens. Honesty is the most important thing in a long term relationship, without it , it will not work. When your apart from the person you love for 80% of the year, you have to have trust.

    hope this helps you, but it is worth it, plan and discuss what you want for the future together, but dont rush

  3. 3
    Sue

    About 2 years ago, I met an incredible man playing an online game. Had been doing the online dating thing for a long time and had poor results. Not all dates were bad, there was just no interest in anything other then friends (and that was fine with me as well). Then along came the man of my online dreams. He lived 1800+ miles away. We spent over a year getting to know each other, bickering, out-right fighting and one of us ignoring the other. Our mutual online friends listened to us bemoan our bad luck and listened to us say how miserable we were when not playing together. 4 times I had planned to move to meet him and everything. 3 times he changed his mind and just wanted to be friends. I found other people to play the game we enjoy with and decided that enough was enough. Last December he told me that he was miserable without me even in a virtual world. Last Feb, he asked me to marry him. Keep in mind that we had never met in person. We had talked on the phone, written dozens of emails, talked on the computer with VoIP. I FINALLY packed everything, got on a train and moved 1800+ miles to meet the man of my dreams for the first time. Now, as the train grew nearer to the final stop where he was waiting to pick me up, I imagined all sorts of things. I was imagining him taking one look at me and sending me right back. He had seen pictures of me and me of him, but pictures don’t always tell the whole story. I thought “What if I am in love with a troll?! What if he thinks I am a troll?!!”. Needless to say, 5 months later, we are deliriously happy and plan to marry soon. So, depending on how much time you put into getting to know the person before actually meeting, it can be very rewarding and so very worth it.

  4. 4
    NIKKI

    I meet this guy on a phone dating service..Its been 2 years, and i spent 4 days and plus Christmas with him last year.. But we haven’t seen each other since..Although we talk every day at least 2-3 times …His told mehe loves me and can’t live with out me..What’s the caught is that he lives only an hour and 30 minutes away…I not sure if i am in a relationship or just a penpals..I do care for him and he told me that he loves me and wants to spend his life with me..Am i crazy for thinking things will change and we will be together..what sure i do? Very confused…

    1. 4.1
      kristine

      hi there. seems like your love story is like a fairy tale but then, I was glad to know it really went well after the long process of getting to know while being far from each other. I was wondering what sorts of things that you and your man share something in common, what were the topics during the first few emails…I have an on going 3months email and skype buddy, we show interest of getting to know somehow deeper and deeper.And we like talking with one another…I can say because he always alot his time to wake up in wee hours to talk to me in skype…Only that,his job takes alot of his time in graveyard shifts that he didn’t answer my few msgs in skype…it is still pending till now which means he wasn’t able to go online.What are the things to perk up men? I mean, what are some ways to make them go after you? silly to ask but maybe you can give me some points;) thanks ahead 

  5. 5
    Hopeless Love

    I have fallen for a guy that lives overseas as well.. and I have felt this way for three years about him. We talk almost every day on Messenger and webcam and practically are the same person. (He says one thing as I am about to say it and vise versa) The problem is I am about to go off to college and will be there for four years and that limits all opportunities of meeting. Although a part of me wants to get over him and meet people in college and maybe find someone else, another part cares deeply for him and worries that they could make the worst decision in their life by letting that one in a million chance go.

  6. 6
    Ellen

    all I do is long distance relationships (for two years now) so I’m a friggin’ expert folks. Well, not terribly long- I date in two major towns about 1 and 1.5 hrs. away by car, respectively, so not awful.

    As a result the relationships (while they last anyway) tend to be weekend ones only and sometimes only 2x/month if the guy has kids and partial custody (as I do).

    I’ve met about 4 great guys this way, & my fwb lives 1 hr. 20 minutes away. It takes work, it can be very hard emotionally at times, and each MUST text/email daily to make it work. My advice: Don’t enter into one with a guy not willing to do that…

    Everyone stays so busy I don’t see why these sorts of relationships can’t work, ongoing, for a long time if both are willing. I tell my dates- you would spend 30 minutes, more in traffic trying to get to me if we were both local, so think about that! I’m a little less convenient, but I am willing to make the effort if they are. It’s just impossible to find anyone here in this small town I live in. I am sophisticated, highly educated so MUST troll in bigger dating pools, sorry!

  7. 7
    Bluebell

    longdistnce relationship didnt work for me. First one we never met. Second one, I made the effort to meet after knowing each other for 3 weeks. Then low and behold he was still living with his mother! he didnt tell me that outright. It was the day after I bought my ticket he told me this. He also had terrible self image problems that I found out in the end. He didnt trust women as his previous girlfriend went off with his cousin, when i asked him if his attitude may have contributed to this! he blow the roof saying that my personality was just like hers. It was appalling. I must admit I was desperate to love and b loved so I rushed into this one but was hurt. He told me what my fantasies wanted to hear.

  8. 8
    Anjali

    @Sue

    Strange that you broke the rules of the dating game and went to meet your man instead of his coming to meet you like Evan tells us all to do! But, it worked for you. And hey! that’s what matters in the end.

    A guy I met online has also invited me to come and meet him at his place and he lives 2000 k.m. away. I was debating what to do after reading all that Evan has told us about man being the “chaser”. But your experience shows that a woman CAN go to meet her man and things can turn out  well in the end. Happy for you Sue! Don’t know how my visit will turn out though. Am keeping my fingers crossed!

  9. 9
    Grace

    I met a man online late December 2012. I’m in Chicago, 48 yrs old, he’s in New York and 51 years old. We started talking on the phone first, then added in texting as well. He didn’t have a webcam but went out and bought one so we could skpe.  I helped him set up his skype account. This was the end of January.  He didn’t know how to hook up the webcam and didn’t get it working til March.  We finally skyped and it was very good, we had good interaction with each other. He is not a lover of modern technology so to speak, but he thought skype was pretty cool.
    He sent me flowers for Valentine’s Day and I sent him a gift as well.  A few days after V-Day, he said we need to nail down 3-4 days that we can spend together. I let him bring it up. I have a 14 year old son so I can’t just go away any weekend.  We finally decided on dates in April to meet for the first time.
    I purchased Evan’s WHD which has helped me to not put all stock in this one person. I am talking to other men and meeting new people. If we are exclusive, then of course I wouldn’t see other men.

  10. 10
    dillpicklecrunch

    Long distance relationships are hard.  And they take a lot of work.  I’m in one now, but didn’t plan on it.  We met up for coffee, knowing we live 700 km (430 miles) apart and therefore only planned on potentially meeting a cool person for a few days.  I would have laughed at anyone who would tell me I’d be dating a man who lives 7 hours away from me.  That was never in my cards.  But…

    after our first date, I ‘just had’ this feeling that it would be a complete shame to not even tell him it would be nice to see each other.  I live in a small town with an even smaller number of men I’d consider (based on values, hobbies, goals, etc.).  Here was this man who appeared to have the same values, hobbies, goals, need for some relationship independence and understanding of mine.

    We met up again 2 nights later and he spent the night.  I made it clear where my nighttime intentions stopped, and he was more than okay with it.

    3 months later, several hours spent and actuating weekends of planning mini trips/camping, making the time to visit each other in our respective homes and already meeting some friends and family, I am very happy.  Emotionally we are moving very fast even though at first we tried to keep it ‘in step’ with conventional values.  But we know it, and we’re aware of it and try to talk about our future lives together without wearing rose-coloured glasses.

    We’ve  discussed moving, and it would probably be me since I’m the one with the more mobile skills.  We’ve looked at pertinent jobs for me there, we’ve also discussed the fact that my first goal is to continue working here for a while since I’ve been out of work for a bit.  We both want to live together, but would rather wait to let the steam of a new relationship settle a bit to see clearer.  And I especially want to ensure I can support myself without screwing him on house bills (I don’t feel comfortable living for free anywhere) for a while if I have some issues finding work right away.

    Yes, this is one of those “I’m sooooo in love” relationships, but the thing is I haven’t been legitimately In Love with anyone in 9 years.  It took this man to come into my life, show me patience, understanding, good communication skills and a similar sense of humor to allow me to even entertain the thought.

    I understand this may sound whirlwind and unwise.  But in my case, I feel a long distance relationship IS the right thing.  If we lived closer, we’d hang out more, but for now we’ve figured out a way to make it work.  It IS hard work of planning, committing and some sacrifice on the part of our home lives, but we see it as worth it.  I’m not freaking out about it.  I’m the most confident about this relationship out of all that I’ve had.  If I’m wrong, I’m wrong and will deal with the hurt then.  But for now I feel it would be a greater loss to not even try.

  11. 11
    Grace

    I agree completely dillpicklecrunch. I did not seek out a LDR, but it happened that we fell in love.  We live a little over 800 miles from each other.  We are committed to each other and that makes all the difference in the world.  My son is just a freshman in high school so I cannot move to him til he graduates from high school.  Right now, 4 years seems like such a long time but it helps to know that being apart will not last forever.  If someone would have told me I’d be in a LDR, I would have said not me.  It is not ideal nor is it for everyone.  But I wouldn’t trade our love for anything.  Love doesn’t come how we want it.  The main thing is that it did come and I was open and receptive when it came.
    I do believe that when you are in a LDR that at some point you do have to close the gap.  When that gap is closed is different for everyone.  If my son was just starting school, like 2nd or 3rd grade, I’d move now.  But moving my son in high school would too drastic.

  12. 12
    keepingitrealistheonlyway

    dillpicklecrunch is spot on. I like her attitude and it seems that she and her honey are being very pragmatic which is very essential as some people move WAY too fast and are so invested in someone they barely even really know!
    As with many things, there is no right wrong as in “yes” it can work or “no” it can’t. It is purely individual and based on the two parties involved. I think it is important to be very real with yourself although sometimes it is hard to decipher if you “can do it” without first being the situation itself.
    Like the writer here, I met someone online in the strangest of ways. I quit the online scene in 2011 as I just didn’t think it was for me anymore and then end of 2012 I realized I forgot 1 profile! So here I am about to press the “delete profile” button when lo and behold, I had an email! I said if he was cute and had a nice profile I would reply. Well, long story short we started corresponding and I did delete my profile as I had originally intended.
    So here cam the problem; he was living in Europe but was planning to move on his own accord to the States and working on a business visa. Turned out the place he was planning to move, I was planning to move too as the job market for me was booming! But, I asked him for a timeline as to when he would be in the states b/c it’s unrealistic (at least for me) to put my life on hold for someone for ad infinitum as I don’t multi-date. He ended up winning a visa lottery so that curtailed his initial business visa plan as this would be a gateway to permanent citizenship (catch 22 really b/c great, I know how wasn’t just trying to get papers from me but now it would be even longer to meet).
    If what he presented to me was accurate, I have never had that much in common with any man, past, present and future plans ever. We seemingly have complementary strengths where the other has a weakness. BUT one of the biggest issues besides distance/lead times are our communication styles and time difference. When I moved from NY to LA it made a 9hr time difference which was even more strenuous! He doesn’t have stellar communication skills (quiet shy and according to him his ex GF barely ever wanted to talk when he would go back to his country) and he never did the online long distance thing before so it was hard for him to comprehend if you cannot meet regularly in person, SKYPE and the phone are the only means of connecting. Sometimes he would be on the ball and we’d talk regularly but other times like when he travelled for business or was out living life in the REAL WORLD (he is very active with playing sports, volunteering, spending time with fam, etc) it would be difficult.
    I am used to men who communicate A LOT but when I’m up/working, he’s sleeping and vice versa. Furthermore, he said it was hard to invest emotionally fully with someone he hadn’t met in person first b/c there could be a million things I don’t like about him once we meet for real. I beg to differ but I have experience that he doesn’t so it is what it is. He also said I didn’t trust him enough, which is true, but I have a hard time fully trusting someone I have never met or interacted with in person. It is absurd to me (but obviously not to him).
    A few months back after talking for like 6 months I had to pull the plug on it. It was driving me nuts. We still chat every couple months briefly but I told him I can’t do this computer lovin thing as an adult so give me a ring when he is in the neighborhood and if we’re still single/interested we should give it a shot.
    I am not dating now not so much b/c of waiting on him, but b/c I am just taking it easy for now. If you do long distance, before becoming too emotionally invested, make sure you two can meet in a reasonable time frame (as per the two people). Otherwise it feels like the song that doesn’t end and it’s pointless.

  13. 13
    WhatsGoingOn

    I agree with Evan on this one.  Successful long distance relationships are the exception rather than the rule.  This from someone who just married her LDR and we are now in the same city and very happy together.  If someone had told me that this was how I would find the one before I met him, I would have said that was crazy.  The prerequisite: the relationship itself has to be EASY.  Because everything else will be hard.  You have to be good at communication.  You have to be good at relationships.  You have to see each other in person at least every two weeks and ideally should Skype every night in between, even if just for a short time.  You have to be secure.  The guy absolutely has to be committed with every piece of his soul to making this work.  And you must discuss an end date for finally being together in the same place. 
     

  14. 14
    dillpicklecrunch

    I completely agree with WhatsGoingOn.  Skype (if possible, it isn’t always), phone calls, open communication and being secure in yourself so that you don’t succumb to jealousy (induced doubt).  You need an end date.  And both people in the relationship have to be absolutely committed.

    To me, it kind of sounds like the way a good relationship should be anyway, right?

  15. 15
    Michelle

    I’ve done, perhaps, half or majority of my dating online. A third were men who live outside of my state or country. I’ve always been flexible with face to face dating and online dating.
    Face to face dating is always great because it shows you the whole picture of your date and they can’t hide anything (disadvantage: you gotta stay until the date’s over and what if they have a dry personality?). Online dating gives you an opportunity to meet all kinds of freaks and weirdos, the kind that you like (haha), and leave them in the dust if you don’t like them. I always liked personality compatibility before appearances so online dating gave me that chance to look around and chat with different guys. 
    I actually found my other half on Chatroulette (not intended for looking for guys). I was in the lows of online dating (hey, no one said it was all fun and easy) and I wanted to randomly spend my time on that website to say hi and duck away in fear to random strangers around the world. After a few people I met that one guy, we hit it off and he asked me for my number that same night. It’s been.. about two years since we first met. 
    We naturally like to send a lot of text messages (on average, AVERAGE, we send 400 text messages!), ask many questions to no bound, and share every bit that happens in our daily life. 
    After meeting him in February in 2012, I decided to go against everyone’s warning and advice and fly over to Washington in May 2012 (I live in California). I paid for my own airfare and he provided all the necessity I needed out of his pocket. To say the least, that was one of the best adventures I’ve decided to take in my life (it still is). Instead of talking with a guy online for 2 years, meet a second, decide that he’s ugly, and relent and regret why I wasted 2 years on him, I like to test our chemistry and compatibility as soon as I can (physical and personality wise). 
    It was the best decision I made. 
    Online dating does have sharks swimming in the water (you don’t know if he’s what he says he is), but dating in real life also poses the same issue. So I don’t really give a shit about scamming or what not. 
    Just be sure what he wants, how he says it, and how he treats you. The more transparent he is with his time, schedule, and feeling, the truer he is. 

  16. 16
    ameliza

    In most cases long distance relationships dont work out. But in my case it is. A litlle over a year ago i met an awesme guy online. We started dating and eversince we have kept talking for hours everyday. We share everything we have to say and not to mention, both of us live thousands of miles away. There isnt a day that we have went by and not talk. Even if we have completely different time zones we both put the effort in waking a bit earlier or sleeping a little later in order to have out hours of talking everyday. I live in Belize and he lives in Germany. He has come to visit me from Germany and we are still together and we havent got tired of each other. I know it is tough and we have had out ups and downs too but both of us had put the effort in making this relationship work out. So now we are engaged. We plan to marry this fall and we will both go live in his hometown in Portland, USA. trust me, its been tough but also an adventure. All u need to make a long distance relationship work out is time, effort and commitment. Once you have those you will make it work out. 

  17. 17
    Karen

    Last December i met this guy online through a dating site. He lives in Portugal and i live in Costa rica .We skyped  1- 3 hours a day untill he first came to meet me in person 85 days later. Only to confirm what we felt online ,the chemistry was there,the atraction was there.He was completely  real in all levels, .Not a hoax, not pretending to be something he wasn´t. During 10 days i had the best time of my entire life, i showed him my country, he met my family my closest friends. The hardest part was when he left as i know in my heart we are soulmates. He is coming back  August 15th , then i will be visiting his family in December. He is coming back with me then and we are going to get married  February 23, we skype , talk on the phone EVERY day.  We write eachother snail mail once in a while also. Long distance relationships are hard when you love someone so much, but true love knows no distance. For all you who are in a long distance online relationship, fight for love , never give up. If you want to know that you´re online love is not a fake, test him, through camera, meeting other family members, knowing their daily routines, in other words be sherlock homes. If everything makes sense, than he is real. A guy when is truely interested in you will make the time to be with you even if it´s online.

  18. 18
    gigi

    Yes, a long-distance relationship is absolutely worth it if you find the right person.  I met my boyfriend online last year.   We met in person a month after our first communication.  We were in love before we met.  Once we met in person, we never wanted to be separated again.  We are mature, both in our forties.  He lives 1500 miles away.  He is most incredible man I have ever known.  We are both moving next year so we can be together.  Our kids are grown, so we are free to go where we want.  We are both self-employed and can work anywhere.  If you find the right person, don’t let distance deter you.  I would rather spend one weekend with him, than every day with someone else.  True love makes everything worthwhile.  I know we will be together for the rest of our lives.  I would gladly move anywhere to be with him.

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