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. 21
    Cheryl

    Thanks to all of you for sharing your experiences!  I seem to be in this same boat now too, we are in different countries and about 2200 kms from each other.

    We have been talking for over 6-weeks now and seem to be getting closer.  He shared his phone number immediately and wanted me to friend him on facebook.  He seems to be very real and sincere.

    We are discussing meeting but I would prefer to do this on some common ground rather than going to his home for this first meeting.

    So far we had just communicated through text and messenger but then he called me on Easter to wish me a happy Easter and wanted to discuss plans to meet up in a place that neither of us live in.

    So we are seriously planning a meet and greet likely in June.  I totally know that this may never happen, or it could and be a disaster, or it could and I could have a new friend for life or more.

    We definitely have some really great conversations at this point and seem like we both know where we are, who we are and what we want out of life.

    I have decided that it is definitely time for me to take a chance and try something different and adventurous.  At the very least I will have a really nice trip away with the opportunity to have met a new friend.

    I am so glad I came across all of your comments as this helps keep it all in perspective.  So go at it with no expectations; however, be aware that anything is possible!

    @Mike, I am truly sorry for your broken heart. Hope you will find that special someone yet–it will happen when you least expect it.

    Love and happiness to you all! 

  2. 22
    Lulu

    in LDR for almost 1 year ..and he keeps breaking promises to meet. all his words about him being serious about me, wanting to be together, his presents, daily calls and sms mean NOTHING to me now.. I feel rejected and scammed. So, I am thinking about breaking off this ‘relationship. We never met and it looks like we never will. (he is 58 y.o and I am 44 y.o)

  3. 23
    CountryRoad

    Reading all your messages i can’t help myself but share my story too. I met a man online a month ago. It was the first online experience of my life and there he was. I had a bad relationship in the past so i told him i wasn’t ready for another relationship. Maybe that was a part of me who was scared to get hurt and hurt others too. So since then we have been chatting on kix(sometimes) because he’s busy with work and his son most of the time. And i find myself checking on my phone every minute to see what if he texted me. Its been 5 days now since we last chat. I really like him because he’s different. He’s decent and respectful. I’m 28 and he’s 31. He’s had two failed marriages and have two children. But everyday i find myself missing him. Please anyone help me with your advice. I agree that we live continents apart and it is almost impossible. But like most women have written that they live in a small town with less compatible men, its the same with me.

     

  4. 24
    Marian Querubin

    he sent a friend request last 2010 and i find him attractive and as i check his profile, it seems real and he’s nice so i accepted his request. he just said thank you for accepting and just that. over years we do not communicate, we do not message one another. he post a photo of a baby and i commented “cute” that was 2012. then i we started chatting then, but not consistent, we are just being nice and friendly, and maybe attracted. then, 2013 we expressed interest to one another. on the other hand, i am dating way back and later on i’ve got a boyfriend. communications almost lost. 2014 or early 2015 my boyfriend and i broke up. maybe he noticed that, he started liking my posts again or liking almost all of my photos and statuses. i liked back. i think it is a modern way of saying “ehem.. i am here” then he messaged me again then there, we chat almost everyday and anytime of the day, i sleep early then wake up in the middle of the night, and same with him. there are few days that we might miss, it is because we both love going to different places in our own countries, especially beaches and islands. we excused ourselves from that or other circumstances. there are times that i feel that he is not serious. however, it doesn’t look that this is just a fast-time. and, me myself is serious and being loyal to him, so it is also possible that he feel the same. maybe, it starts with your own belief or simply have a little faith. until now, we communicate and i am at work now and he just go to bed. he booked a flight for me to go there and we will see if we are compatible, if we are really in-love, then we put it to the next level, i will find a job and get married. that pattern is in his initiative. he wants to have family with me. oh, before concluding that we want each other for good, we talked about our selves, family traditions, culture, hopes and dreams, and we both want to settle (we are 30 years old). and, i made sure that a real friend of mine from my same city and country (living near there) will be there for me in any moment (just a precaution as they say)

  5. 25
    Gulaz

    I was not looking around for love, Tinder did not work out for me and i deleted it after one month trial. And then I found out about another app called Whisper- which is actually a platform for people to vent out anonymously. And there were a few people who talked about the issue i posted for weight loss, and there is this guy who stood out from the rest.  He is very polite and smart, and very patient with me. We both live in different countries, and the distance between us is more than 10,000 miles. And we are both of different race. In the beginning, I did not know he likes me- its more of discussing day to day life. But he sure knows what he wants and acts really fast- and he progresses with asking for a phone call and calling me dear. I freaked out of course, because its too sudden and I have been single for the last 4 years. To be back in the game, with someone that far away- the idea scares me alot. so far, he have asked me about his intention about wanting this to be more serious – and his willingness to fly down to my country just to travel and to meet me. He offered to be my date for my best friend’s wedding. i never thought i will be one involved in online long distance relationship- but i really think i will say yes to him.

  6. 26
    helen

    with all the scams going on its hard to know if the guy is sincere or not what if you think you are talking to a person but turns out not to be that person my friend started a relationship with a guy on facebook she thought she was actually talking with the person turns out nope when she flew to meet him who met her was a colored man from nigeria not the person she thought she was talking to so im not in facvour of long distace romances not my cup of tea

  7. 27
    Karen

    It can be extremely difficult trying to take another person at face value when there are so many heartbreaking stories out there. When I first began online dating 5 years ago, after my marriage broke down, I was confounded by the number of people who decided to lie not only on their profile but also in person. The problem is once you start lying……

    I myself have been in a 3 year middle distance with a wonderful man. We maintain separate households but have spent every weekend together, shared holidays; met each other’s families. The majority of the time we’ve spent together has been fantastic.

    Unfortunately, I have decided I no longer wish to continue this arrangement indefinitely. Bluntly put, I want to remarry and he is reluctant in this area. I guess sometimes despite everything people do/ must move on.

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