I Am In Love With a Separated Man Who I Have Never Met. Does That Sound Healthy?

woman kissing her phone

I began an online relationship with someone about a month and 1/2 ago who is separated but has filed papers for an uncontested divorce which should be finalized shortly.   He originally said on his profile that he was divorced, which is not true – yet.  I confronted him on his “divorce” status and called him a liar.

He apologized profusely and said he never ever wanted to hurt me, but that things spiralled out of control and went too fast, which I completely agreed with him on,  and that he also fell in love with me, which I feel in my heart is true. And my heart raced when he told me that, because I feel the same way, and then he said he needs to take things slow, which I fully support 100%.   He has been out of the dating scene for so long (he’s in his 50’s) that he has no idea how to date, period.

You are a victim of something extremely commonplace – believing in your own fantasies

He changed his profile the next day and stated that he is really separated and that his divorce should be final very shortly. Things between us have been left as peaceful and good. The last time I heard from him was last Friday. He really doesn’t know all that much about me, (it’s only been a month and a half) I know more about him really. But I told him we need to guard our hearts, especially until his divorce is final.   I honestly fell head-over-heels in love with this man, I still am.   He has a beautiful heart and is truly very caring and tender. I did pull back emotionally a little when he told me the truth which was very soon after we started emailing.   But then I just jumped right in with both feet and would respond to his daily sometimes 2x or more daily emails.

I have never felt this way about anyone in my entire life, and am in my early 40’s and never married, and can’t help dreaming and fantasizing about him and when we will meet. He said he wants to come and visit me where I live, which is about a 2 or 3 hour flight. I think I just need to wait and see what happens after his divorce is final. Then and only then, I think I will feel safe in telling him more about myself. Does that sound like healthy boundaries and good judgment? I can only hope so.

I really miss hearing from him. Any comments or suggestions?


Dear Laura,

You know when a parent tries to console her 12-year-old daughter whose romantic fantasies have been dashed by the jock who liked her on Monday but asked out her best friend on Tuesday? And Mom tells her daughter that this is only a temporary feeling, that the jock’s no good for her anyway, and that she WILL love again someday?

You’re the 12-year-old. I’m your Mom.

And while I’d like to joke that this will hurt me more than it hurts you, it’s clear that’s not true.

You are a victim of something extremely commonplace – believing in your own fantasies. I can’t think of anything more dangerous, which is why I’m not going to coddle you at all right now.

Believe me when I tell you that you HAVE to absorb what I’m about to share with you – and GET it, deep in your bones. Failure to do so will lead to much greater heartbreak down the road. You ready? Here goes:

You are not in love.

You are not in a relationship.

You are not exercising good judgment or setting healthy boundaries.

You sound like a teenager who is intoxicated by possibility and has projected that possibility into your own reality.

Consider these facts:

You sound like a teenager who is intoxicated by possibility and has projected that possibility into your own reality.

You have “known” this man for 6 weeks.

You have never met him in person.

He is not divorced.

He lives a plane flight away.

He is dating online.

He doesn’t know anything about you.

So when you share, with your swollen heart and dramatic prose, how your heart races and how you’ve never felt this way before and how you’re in love with this man you have NEVER MET, I have to grab you by the lapels and shake you out of your fantasy. You are infatuated. You are excited. You are not in love.

Let’s play a quick game:

Do you have any idea what percentage of first dates turn into love?

What percentage of online first dates turn into love?

What percentage of long-distance online first dates turn into love?

What percentage of long-distance online first dates with separated men who don’t know anything about you turn into love?

The odds you’re playing, accompanied by your astounding naivete about the nature of love, mean that you are leaving yourself wide open for a massive heartbreak – and all because you refuse to look at the facts above. You don’t want to see facts; all you want to see is your fantasy. As such, you’re willfully ignoring minor details like the fact that you’ve never met. And that chemistry is rarely a predictor of compatibility.

So even if you think I’m the biggest buzzkill in the entire world – even if you think I’ve rained on your parade and pooped on your carpet and ruined your prom – please take this next part seriously…

You don’t have to do anything. Your man will reveal himself in his actions.

If he calls you every night, takes down his online profile, books a flight to see you, treats you like a queen, returns back home, continues to call you every night, and immediately starts planning for his next visit, congratulations – you’ve got yourself a boyfriend.

But if he doesn’t do ALL of those things – if he calls you once a week, or keeps his profile up, or doesn’t follow up on your magical weekend in a timely fashion so you don’t know where you stand – then, guess what? You’ve poured your heart and soul into just another confused, separated, middle aged man.

Wait to render judgment until you’ve got a ring on your finger. That’s when it’s love.

Do yourself a favor, Laura – and anyone else reading this who thinks she’s got the “perfect” guy:

Wait to render judgment until you’ve got a ring on your finger. That’s when it’s love.

Until then, it’s just a projection of a fantasy. And sadly, most fantasies don’t come true.

Join our conversation (17 Comments).
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  1. 1

    I have to agree…I think my current BF of 3 years and I exchanged maybe three brief e-mails and no phone calls before meeting because after 4+ years of online dating, I knew the proof was in the pudding and extended non-F2F contact prior to an actual meetup was a recipe for disappointment.

    Honey´s last blog post…Can He Come Too Soon?

  2. 2

    Dear Laura,
    When Evan’s right, he’s right, and he’s 157% right this time. But don’t beat yourself up, just join the club. I’ve done this exact same thing, only 4 or 5 times. Because I’m a writer, when I meet up with a man who can write, I get drunk on it. It feels like he’s “speaking to me.” Only he’s not. He’s filling his lonely life in the safest way now known to humankind — online. You don’t know me, but trust me when I say that 5 out of 5 times, who he is on line is never, EVER who he is in person. I’ve gone the whole 9 yards – emailed across the country, became intoxicated with our mutual interests & writing styles, ideas flowing east to west, and OH, the flirtation! Nothing like it. Then the phone calls, and (twice) the eventual visit. One guy flew all the way from Florida to Oregon. He was a definite “for sure” in my book, even more so when he looked even better in person. We spent 3 wonderful days together, had a great time, hands all over each other….the guy even looked at some condos to buy while he was here. Then, on the 4th day, he got on his plane, & I never heard from him again. Duh. Whenever I build an email relationship with a guy now, I realize that that’s exactly what it is & all it is. I enjoy the written repartee, the connection with someone who can put his ideas easily into writing, and-above all else- the easy flirtation. Sure, it’s something, and it’s not without it’s rewards, but it’s not building a real relationship, and it sure as hell isn’t love. It’s infatuation, intoxicating. But In spite of all that, I still understand it’s hard & even hurtful when it reveals itself for what it is. Like Evan recommends, do nothing and see what happens. But while you’re putting no further energy into him, don’t sit around and overthink it or crucify yourself. Get back on the horse & put your new energy into finding someone more available and LOCAL…someone you can meet without a plane ticket & see for yourself, quickly, what terrible table manners he has. Har! Best of luck!

  3. 3
    I Agree

    I’m going through this right now, trying to keep an online correspondance in it’s proper perspective. Problem is, the guy is convinced he’s in love. He lives 10 hours away and neither one of us looks to relocate so for that reason, I don’t know how it can go anywhere. I think he’s so lonely that he NEEDS what he thinks that he has with me and I can’t give him what he truly wants or needs from this distance.

  4. 4

    You can’t love somebody you don’t know. You can’t know somebody until you have spent more than a few weeks with them, in person.

  5. 5

    @Kim (#5) I don’t know about this…maybe it is different if you were never married, but my BF was with his previous girlfriend for about 4 years and I was literally his first date after being broken up like 2 months. We were exclusive from day 1 and now live together, 3 years later.

    Honey´s last blog post…Takeways from Vegetarian and No-Alcohol Experiments

  6. 6

    Evan slays me when he’s sooooooooo on point! Just an additional negative angle – even if this man lived close to me, I would run away as fast as my big feet could take me. When I first began online dating, a friend (who I met on a match.com date and became great friends with) told me NEVER to go out with a man who is recently out of a serious relationship or marriage and, according to my friend, these men are really not safe bets for THREE YEARS after their big split. I laughed. I thought he was overstating it quite a bit. Then I started to meet men who were just divorced….but (they all say this) the marriage had been over for years, its not like it just happened, these men had moved on and were “ready”….and I think they all meant it at the time but the fact is that what they were “ready” for and what I was looking for were two very different things. They are ready to date, play, have sex, tell you how wonderful you are (and mean it) and then move onto the next piece of online candy — and, really, who can blame them? I’m sure there are exceptions to every rule, but I haven’t found one to the “stay away from recently divorced/divorcing/breaking up men” and believe me, I’ve tried. I think three years is a little outrageous, but I’ve now decided that I won’t even consider dating a man who hasn’t been divorced (not just separated) for at least one year. (I’m working on my run-on sentence problem…promise!)

  7. 7

    I started off disagreeing with Evan but he had me by page 2. At least he doesn’t entirely discount the possibility of it working out, which I think it might.

    It’s all right to have those el retardo feelings of hoorah so long as you don’t put too much stock in their predictive power, I think.

    casualencounters.com/blog´s last blog post…Jerking off in my model train room

  8. 8

    How can you be in love with someone you’ve never actually met? You may like them alot, may be infatuated, but love? Get a grip! Another thing that’s off about this is the fact that the contact still exists only in the virtual realm. I’ve noticed that some online daters aren’t really daters, but emailers. Even if if it’s long distance, the objective is to eventually meet. After a month and a half, things should have progressed to a phone call or two. Then an actual meeting should be discussed. I would be suspicious of a not-yet-divorced man who may find an email “relationship” a safe and non-threatening distraction from his impending divorce. If he’s been out of the dating scene for so long, that means he’s been married for a long time, and long marriages are not gotten over quickly. These men will say they’re ready, will really want to be ready, but when the divorce becomes final, they run. Believe me, being separated and being divorced are two different things.

  9. 9

    @Kim, post #3

    Interesting post! Thanks for typing it all in.

  10. 10

    One thing I noticed that I’m surprised no one else made mention to, is the fact that he changed his online profile when she called him out on his marital status, rather than taking it down, which should tell her without question that they are not in a relationship. They are in an Online, long distance, friends with flirtation relationship.

    I’m not a big fan of Online dating to begin with, and I can’t help shaking my head when I see, and read about people who constantly proclaim to be in love with some long distance person because the flirtation through email and phone feels good to them.

    I have to agree with the rebound, rebound, rebound, and yes, there are always those few exceptions to the rule, but anytime I hear a man state that he has just come out of any relationship, especially if he refers to it as just coming out of a bad relationship, I can’t run fast enough. They need to have time to get their feet planted firmly back under themselves again, and I have no intention of having them use me as the cane or crutch to do it with. It is just one of those things we all have to do for ourselves.

    Just my two cents.

    searchingwithin´s last blog post…Writer’s Block

  11. 11


    As many others here have attested, I also know too well those overwhelming feelings of care and commitment that ooze over the screen. For me, as for them, it also never panned out to anything.

    But I don’t know if I agree with a time table for when to date someone coming out of a serious relationship. I’ve met men newly out of a relationship ready to go again, and others divorced 10 or more years who are incapable of more than a few casual dates. Weigh it out with the individual and do what Evan said, wait the man out. What a man says means very little, it’s what he does that shows his true intentions.

    Good luck!

  12. 12

    It sounds like this woman has no real world experience whatsoever. Just wondering what’s been happening in her life until the ripe age of early 40’s. It’s as if she’s seen / read / heard nothing but romance novels her entire life.

  13. 13

    This post suggests to me someone that may need to work on finding balance with emotions. Not that emotions are bad, per se, but they are not facts. They must be used in conjuntion with wisdom for guidance.

  14. 14

    Couldn’t agree more with Evan’s assessment. However,…why not prove to yourself what it is and isn’t? Tell the man you want to fly out to where he lives for a long weekend and get to know him in person. See what he says/does about that. You can either live restlessly in fantasy or be proactive and waste less time.

  15. 15

    This advice is spot-on. You’ve never met him and he’s just ‘separated’. Please love yourself by finding someone real to love you.

  16. 16

    I have recently met a man and have fallen head over heels for him. He on the other hand is quite level headed and logical. He tells me that I am not thinking clearly about things. (I told him I could move closer to him!!) All of his strength in this “thing” we have is making me even more crazy for him. I call it “being in love”, when I know in my heart it is infatuation. But saying “I’m in love” feels so much better! And the kicker is it’s only been 3 weeks. Now, I am no spring chicken.and neither is he. He is a veteran at online dating, me, the first time out of the gate! I don’t care what people are saying, I don’t care what they think! This is the best I have felt in 19 years and I don’t want it to stop! He has been very clear that we are not BF and GF until we are having a F2F and sexually intimate relationship. Fine with me. I still call him my sweetheart. He is very reassuring to me and has in 3 short weeks help me make decisions that I should have made years ago (get a divorce from a very abusive man) If nothing else, he saved my life, mentally and physically. we are making plans to meet. He won’t have a physical/sexual relationship with me until my divorce is final. He wants to see the papers! He has never cheated but been cheated on and doesnt want me to “cheat” on my husband either, no matter the curcumstances. I have never cheated but been cheated on. By my boyfriends and my husband. Don’t know why I stayed. That speaks volumes to me.

  17. 17

    jlpw: Please get a grip on yourself you were married for 19 years and is head over heels for a man you just met 3 weeks ago.   You sound like some giddy school girl and not a grown woman.
    This man helped you make decisions you say, that you should have done yourself like get a divorce. Any healthy minded woman wouldn’t need are stranger to tell her right from wrong.
    Honey you are right out of the gate so here’s a word of warning. Don’t always believe everything a man tells you especially one you just met.
    He said he never cheated but was cheated on. He’s feeding you what you want to hear.  Not all men are cheaters. This man is dating you and you’re still married in the eyes of God. Do you really think what you are doing is the best way to go.
    How many times has he been married? So many questions you are not looking at.
    I say get the divorce take a year to date yourself. If he’s still around after that  then see this man but until the paper’s are signed. Get a hold of yourself. This is lust an infatuation not love

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