Looking for love online

Originally Published: May 16, 1997 - Last Updated / Reviewed On: July 10, 2009
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Alice,

I recently (about one month ago) met a guy on-line and we have been BF, GF for about three weeks now. Every one is worried about what will happen when we finally see each other for the first time. I just want to meet him. I feel as if I have known him for all my life. We talk all the time and he always tells me that he loves me. How can I be sure that what he says is what he really means?

Please answer me...

Lost in LOVE

Dear Lost in LOVE,

Meeting someone online is becoming a more common way to meet potential friends, activity partners, and yes, love interests. In fact, according to the online dating industry, 20 million single adults visit online dating sites each month. While more and more people are starting a relationship online (some of which end up being long-term), the process is not without its risks. It sounds like you've made a connection with a person and are interested in exploring that connection further. By taking some precautions, you can meet your online boyfriend and start to get a better idea of how he really feels about you, and just as important, how you feel about him.

One factor to consider is that although you've communicated online and over the phone with your boyfriend, he is still in many respects a stranger. We may wish it weren't so, but people do lie about themselves online. As you decide whether or not to meet him, you may want to prepare yourself to deal with the possibility that he has not been truthful about his age, job, background, relationship status, or other important parts of his life.

Here are some tips for staying safe when meeting any online friend in person:

  • Take your time — you don't have to meet right away. Getting to know someone through email, messaging, and the phone can help you understand who they are and how interested you are in meeting.
  • Meet in a public place, and bring a friend along. For example, you could meet at a shopping center and have your friend nearby. Not only can your friend help get you out of any sticky situations, s/he can also debrief with you later about what you think of your new friend.
  • Do not meet someone alone. If s/he insists on meeting alone, there should be big, flashing warning lights going off in your mind. Someone who is truly interested in you will be happy to meet in public.
  • Tell others where you're going and why. You could even give any contact information you have for this person to a trusted friend. Some people also ask a friend to call them with an "emergency," so they will have an excuse to leave if the meeting isn't going well.
  • Continue to meet in public for awhile. Don't go home with this person until you know her/him well (knowing someone well includes knowing some of their friends, and having had some of your friends or family meet her/him, knowing their living situation, and being able to speak openly with her/him about what you are and are not comfortable with).

As you can see, the main emphasis when meeting someone new is to let people who care about you know where you will be and who you will be with. Telling a friend or family member has the added benefit of creating a supportive network of people who will be able to discuss your feelings with you before and after you meet your online acquaintance.

Moving on to your question about if your online boyfriend "really means" when he says he loves you — no one can determine this except for you and him. It may help to ask yourself some questions, such as:

  • How do I feel about him telling me he loves me so often? Do I really think that it's possible for him to know he loves me so soon, without meeting in person?
  • How do I feel about him, based on our conversations so far? Am I interested in knowing him better?
  • You mention that your friends and family are concerned. Why is that? Are they concerned for your safety? Are they afraid you will be disappointed when you meet your boyfriend?

If you do meet him, a few different things may happen: you may find out you have been deceived and feel disappointed, sad, confused or upset; you may find out he was truthful, but also realize that you are not really interested in having a romantic relationship with him; or you may meet him and continue to be interested in dating him. Even after meeting him (if you decide to), it may still take some time to understand his true feelings; this is simply the nature of getting to know someone — it takes time.

It's clear from your question that you have made a connection with someone you feel understands you. These types of connections are important to have, and can turn into friendships and/or romantic relationships. However, remind yourself as often as you need to that there is no hurry; taking time to get to know someone is the best way to figure out your true feelings, as well as theirs.

Best of luck and be safe,

Alice

June 29, 2009

21565

Dear Alice,

I just started on-line dating, and I really enjoy it! I have met some nice people, but I have also met some who seemed a little off and were not 100% honest about who they...

Dear Alice,

I just started on-line dating, and I really enjoy it! I have met some nice people, but I have also met some who seemed a little off and were not 100% honest about who they really were. It is possible to find love on the internet, but you need to make sure you are taking precautions. My main advice... meet in a public place and let someone close to you know where you are at all times.

December 3, 2007

21367

Dear Alice,

Not everyone you meet from the internet is a creepy pervert. I agree you should always exercise caution with anyone you meet. I know you've probably heard many of the horror...

Dear Alice,

Not everyone you meet from the internet is a creepy pervert. I agree you should always exercise caution with anyone you meet. I know you've probably heard many of the horror stories from internet dating. However, my husband and I are an example that love can start online and trascend into the real world. My husband and I have been together for almost 10 years, 6.5 of which we have been married.

Meeting someone online is just like meeting someone anywhere else...you gotta use your head and common sense! We met in a chat where neither of us were looking for anyone. We just hit it off and started talking daily. It grew from there. After many months of chatting, he came out to see me. We met in a public place, and he stayed at a hotel. Sparks flew...and a year after we met online, he moved out to where I live. We got married 3 years after we met and have been quite happy. Unfortunately, none of friends and family have been able to repeat our online success.

May 31, 2007

21250

Dear Alice,

I met my most recent ex-boyfriend online and he turned out to be the greatest guy I've ever met. I fell for him and I fell hard. We recently broke up but I've learned a lot...

Dear Alice,

I met my most recent ex-boyfriend online and he turned out to be the greatest guy I've ever met. I fell for him and I fell hard. We recently broke up but I've learned a lot from this relationship. I learned a lot about myself and it helped me to be smarter. Our relationship lasted 2 years and although I ended it, we are still friends. I wouldn't say that online relationships are bad, but just be careful because a lot of people know that you are excited about meeting a person and they may try to take advantage of the situation. I would definitely meet in a public place to ease any tension. Good Luck!

December 14, 2006

21088

Yo Alice,

Wow! I was seriously reading through all of the comments in hopes of gaining some direction in my own little situation.

I, too, have been talking with a young gentleman I...

Yo Alice,

Wow! I was seriously reading through all of the comments in hopes of gaining some direction in my own little situation.

I, too, have been talking with a young gentleman I met online. We met about two years back and somehow lost touch. He recently emailed me, and we have been speaking day and night everyday for the past month. He has expressed very strong feelings for me, and I find myself liking him more and more each day. We have yet to meet, but I have a positive attitude about the whole situation (which is also allowing me to keep my feelings in check and pursue this possible "thing" as carefully and slowly as possible).

I have no advice to offer really, but I just wanted to thank everyone for being candid about their opinions and experiences. G'night!

September 25, 2006

21061
Hi,

I recently read the online love question and I would have to disagree with Alice on this one. I have met someone online also and we talk every night (since June). Yes, we lost contact for 2...

Hi,

I recently read the online love question and I would have to disagree with Alice on this one. I have met someone online also and we talk every night (since June). Yes, we lost contact for 2 months, but now we are happily back together. I have never met him face to face, but I love him dearly. We have seen each others' pictures and seen each other via webcam. We only live about an hour apart, but with him in school and me working, we haven't found time for us to meet just yet. We both love each other very much and are planning to get an apartment together.

I think it's possible to love someone with out meeting them because you learn about them on a deeper level than appearance. It also makes you appreciate them for more than looks. And when you do finally see them, you know it was worth waiting for in the end.

— Long Distance Relationship-er

June 22, 2006

21065

Alice,

For the past year I have been talking to some guy I met on the internet, and we spoke truly as friends. I had my boyfriend whom I loved, and he had his girlfriend he loved. I lived...

Alice,

For the past year I have been talking to some guy I met on the internet, and we spoke truly as friends. I had my boyfriend whom I loved, and he had his girlfriend he loved. I lived in California, and he lived in New Jersey, but with instant messenger and free night & weekend minutes, we were able to build a very solid friendship.

Recently, due to some unfortunate events, my friend had to move to Nevada to help his family with some troubles. We both were single at the time, him having to leave his girlfriend because of problems, and my boyfriend having left me... BUT he found time to visit me, AND I WAS SO SCARED TO MEET HIM! When he finally came out to see me, we fell in love instantly, and now, we've been together for a month, and we're still madly in love with each other. I still live in Northern California, and he still lives in Las Vegas, but he's found room for expenses to fly me out to see him and his family every once in a while.

Online relationships are risky, and long distance relationships are tough, but with enough love and patience, things can work out for the best.

May 6, 2005

20905
Dear Alice,

Hi everyone,

All I want to say is that the Internet is just the same thing as the world. Sometimes you can meet someone and they can make you believe they are someone they...

Dear Alice,

Hi everyone,

All I want to say is that the Internet is just the same thing as the world. Sometimes you can meet someone and they can make you believe they are someone they are not. I think anyone should be aware at anytime.

December 16, 2004

20832
Alice,

I'm a 23-year-old girl who started chatting with a guy my age online in January. We got along so well, within a week we were talking on the phone every morning and chatting online every...

Alice,

I'm a 23-year-old girl who started chatting with a guy my age online in January. We got along so well, within a week we were talking on the phone every morning and chatting online every night. After about a month, we met in person. Although the date went well and we both found each other attractive, there was no chemistry between us. There's no shame in meeting someone from the Internet. In fact, a lot of people have actually found long-term relationships that way. Just remember that you don't really know anyone until you've spent a considerable amount of time with them in person. Do they get road rage? Are they nice to sales people? How well do they deal with elderly people, small children, and animals? How do they deal with everyday problems? These are all things you won't know until you've spent time with him face-to-face.

I met my net guy in a very public place during the day, and I told a good friend where we would be and what time we'd be there. I also had her call me during the date to check in and make sure I was okay. I was lucky; he turned out to be a really good guy. But you never know, so take extra care.

June 4, 2004

20740
Alice,

I think it is better to err on the side of caution as getting to know someone at a slower pace is more fun than regretting an unpleasant experience. I recently met someone online while...

Alice,

I think it is better to err on the side of caution as getting to know someone at a slower pace is more fun than regretting an unpleasant experience. I recently met someone online while playing an online game and we had much in common, as well as a good rapport. It was easier to talk online and cut through much of the superficial stuff that happens offline. I really like this aspect of online chat. However, this person became more and more focused on feeling attracted to me, to the point where he would ask me if other players were my "new flames" if I mentioned meeting other players in any context. Basically, it became unpleasant to play the game after a time. The freedom that the Internet allowed in getting to know him also let him create a fantasy about a relationship between us. I know that this doesn't always happen... this experience did curb my enthusiasm for meeting people online somewhat. Balance in this area as in all things!

May 19, 2004

20554
Alice,

(on Internet love) Don't be so quick to put down Internet love. Many of your responses lean toward saying it's not real love. You don't always need to physically be with a person to love...

Alice,

(on Internet love) Don't be so quick to put down Internet love. Many of your responses lean toward saying it's not real love. You don't always need to physically be with a person to love them. I met my boyfriend on the Internet two years ago and had a long distance relationship with him for a year. After that year (b4 even meeting me), he moved across the country so we could be together "the normal way." It's a year later now since he has moved to me and we are still together. B4 we even met, we knew each other better then anyone else knew us. Meeting someone on the Internet can eliminate illusions of love caused by looks. Love sparked on the Internet is just as pure, if not more pure, than normal. You get to know and love the person for the person they are without the distraction of looks. Yes, there are risks, and creeps out there. You must always take precautions. But rather then letting your readers lose hope of their Internet love, inform them on risks and precautions they can take. Please in the future try not to be so biased toward Internet love.

~Found true love on the Internet

May 19, 2004

20555
Dear Alice,

I was reading through your archives and saw a couple of questions about online love. Well, I met this guy a couple of weeks ago. He is supposedly "27" and I am 21 going on 22. He...

Dear Alice,

I was reading through your archives and saw a couple of questions about online love. Well, I met this guy a couple of weeks ago. He is supposedly "27" and I am 21 going on 22. He gave me his phone number and I have called him a couple of times, but I am not comfortable with giving him my phone number, due to the fact that every time I do call him, the topic always winds down to "SEX"... and him masturbating (pretty freaky, huh?). Then he had the nerve to ask me when we could meet in person... he does not live too far from me. Both of us are in New York. He told me when he meets someone new, he does not take them home. He rents a HOTEL ROOM FOR A COUPLE OF HOURS JUST TO TALK!!!!!! Now call me crazy, but is there something strange about this or is it my imagination? MY comment is be very aware of who you meet online!!

Sorta Freaked Out!!

May 19, 2004

20556
Dear Alice,

I would like to respond to the comment from Muffy, who believes that it is possible to really, truly love an Internet contact before meeting them in person. I disagree with that,...

Dear Alice,

I would like to respond to the comment from Muffy, who believes that it is possible to really, truly love an Internet contact before meeting them in person. I disagree with that, because it's impossible to really KNOW someone that you've never met in person. The illusion of "love" before meeting in person is merely infatuation with a romantic ideal, and sometimes, like in Muffy's case, it turns out by chance (or destiny if you will) that the partners are compatible in person, too. I also met the love of my life on the 'Net in 1994, and I was infatuated with his picture and his voice, but I did not actually begin to love him until we met in person about 10 months later.

-Karoliina

May 19, 2004

20557
Hi Alice,

This is a reader response to several articles about Internet relationships on this site.

I met Miss R on the internet 8 months ago, via her website, as we are both fans of Sonic...

Hi Alice,

This is a reader response to several articles about Internet relationships on this site.

I met Miss R on the internet 8 months ago, via her website, as we are both fans of Sonic the Hedgehog, and I contacted her first by e-mail to comment about something on her site. This simple e-meeting has now grown into the deadly serious and wonderful relationship we now have. She fell in love with me and I decided what the heck and went for it.

She is in the U.S.A. and I'm in South Africa, and by sheer luck, it worked out. But here's a word of caution to others — be sure before you leap. I was lucky that we are very honest and we traded photos and personal info very early on so there were no "surprises" looming. Also, I'd like to stress that an online relationship is a very stressful, expensive, and difficult affair, but if it happens to you, give it your best shot. You never know. It's also tiring to have to wake up at 2 am to be online in your partner's time zone.

Me and Miss R are very much in love and I'll be united with her soon. We keep in touch daily using IRC and weekly phone calls.

In conclusion: It worked for me, but it's NOT for everyone.

May 19, 2004

20558
Hi Alice,

This is referring to Looking for love online. It can happen. Eight months ago, I was going through separation with my ex husband, and started to go onto online...

Hi Alice,

This is referring to Looking for love online. It can happen. Eight months ago, I was going through separation with my ex husband, and started to go onto online chats to meet people, not necessarily looking for love, but companionship. There was this one "special" person who seemed pretty genuine... I was very hesitant to meet with him, but honestly, it felt right... that's all I can say (a gut instinct). He has taken to my little girl and believes she is an extension of myself. I was at one time extremely bitter, thinking marriage is the last thing I'll ever do again... but with the right person, that can all change... We are already planning... Now I can say that after 11 years of a bad marriage, I'm on to better and brighter things... he is an angel and I thank god for sending him to me. So finding true love online.... can really happen.

always keep an open mind.
(-;

May 19, 2004

20559
Alice,

I want to respond to looking for love on-line. I have met a fair amount of men on-line, and I have been pretty disappointed with a good majority of them. I have...

Alice,

I want to respond to looking for love on-line. I have met a fair amount of men on-line, and I have been pretty disappointed with a good majority of them. I have mostly met men from Yahoo! and they are mostly about the sex. It has been good and bad in that I have had very sexually satisfying "booty calls," and I am currently in a monogamous relationship with someone I met on-line, but I have also gone to meet guys that I wasn't so sure about. I have been very lucky that I haven't been hurt because I have unfortunately taken some risks. I think that the person asking about the man that says he loves her sounds pretty naive. I think that the advice about staying in a public place where they will not be alone together (not including the park, even during the day) is very good advice. Also, the person who talks with the guy that masturbates — that guy is freaky. I would highly suggest that you do not maintain contact with him, let alone meet him. On a more positive note, I enjoy meeting people on-line because it seems to cut out a lot of the social game playing that goes on even when you are interacting for platonic purposes. I've found that I have been able to have some of my most candid and open, even telling, conversations with strangers on-line.

sisterfeatha

May 19, 2004

20560
Alice,

Regarding Looking for Love Online, there is definitely two sides to the coin. I agree with you that you must be very careful. After ending a 10-year relationship...

Alice,

Regarding Looking for Love Online, there is definitely two sides to the coin. I agree with you that you must be very careful. After ending a 10-year relationship, I went on the Internet to meet people for dating, as I had not been in the dating scene for a while. Needless to say, I found some men who were rebounding, some who were not looking for a committed relationship, etc. One guy in particular said he had "fallen in love with me" even before we met. After corresponding for two months, we finally met. Needless to say, the physical chemistry was not there, even though we talked for hours and spoke to one another every day before we met. You can never tell by a picture, by a voice, or even by what they say. I was going to give up, but then I met someone online who was very honest and wanted to take things 'one step at a time.' Though I felt that things should have moved along rather quickly, I am glad I slowed down to experience each new discovery with him, to find out how special he is, and to find out how much I love him today. Our first meeting was two years ago. Some people may say that we should be married by now, but I decided to go with my 'gut instinct' and take things slow and easy. Each day is better than the next and our bond is stronger than people who have been married for years. There is no hard and fast rule for Internet dating. It all depends on what you want, what you expect, and what you can live with. Falling in love too fast and too hard is living in a fairy tale and for those who have done this, I do wish them the best of luck!

-Shahara

February 18, 2000

20343
Dear Alice,

Although your response to "Lost in LOVE" was very valid, I just wanted to point out that I think it is possible to love someone (truly) without having met them in person. My...

Dear Alice,

Although your response to "Lost in LOVE" was very valid, I just wanted to point out that I think it is possible to love someone (truly) without having met them in person. My boyfriend and I met on the Internet and have been living together for close to a year now, and plan to marry next year. Of course, there are risks in meeting someone on the Internet, and you may be lied to (about age, sex, EVERYTHING!), and even put into a dangerous situation if you aren't careful, but for some of us at least, it is like the most miraculous thing in the universe! Of all the people in the world, we managed to find one another, and I'm sure it must have been like this for other people out there.

Muffy