DEAR DR. NERDLOVE: I am 27 years old. I have this friend named D. I have known this girl since I was in high-school. The thing is, I have never actually met the girl in person. We have talked a great deal since getting to know each other and now we have become pretty good friends. Well, just recently, as in last year, our conversations began to become slightly heated. We have begun to talk more in depth about fantasies of being together. We have talked about this before, just not so intensely.
I should point out that D is married and already has one child by her current husband. I understand that finding an attraction to someone else’s wife is morally wrong. But I really do feel an attraction to this woman and I’ve told her so. Her response to me expressing my feelings to her were to ask me why I waited to tell her how I felt. The truth was, I wasn’t ready to tell her because I always believed that until I felt confident that I could support a significant other I didn’t want to express myself to someone like that. I should also point out that another reason I waited to tell her was because of the distance. She and I live away from each other by a distance of several states. Also, we’ve never actually met, although I’ve expressed significant interest in coming to visit her for at least a few days.
So back to my story. Recently the conversations have become more heated. Early this year, we decided to cross the line into sending each other explicit texts and pictures. Not much, but one or two is certainly enough to tease. That is not my only drive or reason for sending you this letter. I honestly feel that I can communicate freely with her and tell her whatever is on my mind and not have to fear anything that she may back. I feel as though we understand each other on many levels. I have already expressed my desire to be with her and just whisk her away to a world that currently only resides in my imagination. My question, and this is a big question, is… is it worth it? I’d be making a huge leap of faith here on my side.
I am already established in my career where I live and she’s established in hers. I have asked her what she would do if I decided to take the big leap and seek out a relationship with her. She expressed a desire to stay close to her family, which I understand since I have a close relationship with my family here. This would seem to leave me with the big decision of either uprooting my own lifestyle and trying to adapt to hers. Or maybe I could ask if she would be willing to move out to me.
I understand it would be gambling a lot and the two of us could stand to sacrifice big initially. I certainly don’t want to break into a marriage unless I was sure it could work, although I believe I already crossed this line somewhat when we started sexting. She has expressed discontent in her current living arrangement with her husband though. I don’t know if this means I am truly able to have a chance with this girl or if I’ve somehow just conveniently become her outlet while she is at a low point. I really want to believe that she has feelings for me the way I have for her. I’m just curious to know if all these feelings are worth making the leap to see her though.
Would it be better if I made a short trip to her area and talked with her? I am not looking for someone to make my decision for me. But seeing as you have given much sound advice in the past, I feel that you are a fantastic person in which to ask their opinion and get an outside view into the situation I am facing. I would appreciate any advice you can give to me, no matter how brief or long the advice is. I thank you in advance.
Leap of Faith
DEAR LEAP OF FAITH: Slow your roll, son.
This isn’t gambling; gambling implies that there’s a vaguely reasonable chance you could win. This is buying a scratch-off ticket and hoping for the million dollar jackpot.
Let’s start with the fact that you don’t really know this woman. You are talking about uprooting your life and completely disrupting hers (and causing not inconsiderable levels of trauma to her kid) when there’s a critical stage that you haven’t hit yet: meeting her in person.
Now look, don’t get me wrong: I believe that successful relationships can and do start online. I know people who met on World of Warcraft and got married in real life. I’ve got friends I’ve known for over a decade now that I met through an online forum and I consider many of them lifelong friends. But the thing is: I’ve met most of ’em out in meatspace. I’ve eaten with them, gotten drunk with them, danced with them been to movies and cons with them, I’ve sold comics with them, helped them hit on women (and men), even been to (and officiated at) their weddings and they’ve been to mine. There are several of them who I haven’t actually met in person yet and while I consider us friends, it’s just not the same as having met in the flesh.
And that’s a critical issue here. You may know each other’s deepest, darkest secrets. You may have had long text and IM conversations into the night. You may have run up insane phone bills talking to one another, but you still haven’t met in person. And to be perfectly honest, there is no substitute for that. No amount of phone calls, sexting or Skyping or trading photos back and forth is going to equal the experience of actually being in the same room at the same time. Yes, the Internet lets us build connections, even relationships with people from all around the world but we’re still animals and no matter how much we may connect on an intellectual level, that physical connection is absolutely vital. I’ve met people I’ve had insanely flirty emails and phone conversations with but when we met in person we had all of the charge of a damp squib.
And you really don’t want to find this out after she’s initiated divorce proceedings and you’ve quit your job and moved half-way across the country.
Of course, this is all before you factor in all of the other issues.
Could a relationship between the two of you work? Sure. Someone’s gotta win the MegaMillions jackpot, after all. But it’s pretty goddamn unlikely. You two may love each other as much as you can without actual physical contact but, frankly (and now this song is going to be stuck in my head) but love just ain’t enough. You’re coming into this with some serious problems – you live across the country from each other, you’re both firmly established in your own lives, she’s married, has a child with her husband and, like I said, YOU HAVE NOT MET IN PERSON YET. Any one of these is going to cause problems in a relationship. Put them all together… well, I hate to be blunt but I wouldn’t be betting on you crazy kids making it work. You’d be banking on being the exception rather than the rule and the odds of that are next to astronomical.
But hey, I get that when you’re in love, you’re in love and you want to give it a shot no matter how ill-advised.
So if you’re determined to ignore me and actually try to pursue this (DON’T), then my advice to you is to put everything about a relationship on the back-burner. Hell, I’d recommend putting it all back into the damn pantry for now. Start slow. Try taking a trip out to just visit her – not to have the “defining the relationship” talk, not to decide who’s moving where – hell, not even to sleep together (which, considering that she’s married, is another topic entirely). Just go and see how the two of you do in person. Even if the two of you get along like a house on fire when you’re together in the flesh, do not start making relationship plans. There is a profound difference between seeing each other for a weekend at a time and living together as many a long-distance couple has found to their sorrow.
And believe me, visiting her is going to be difficult enough, what with the aforementioned husband and child. Unless the two of them are in an open relationship, it’s going to be pretty damned awkward for her to get some serious alone time with a dude from the Internet she’s never actually met in person before. You’re going to be lucky if you manage to get a movie together, never mind quality naked time.
You have feelings. Fine. But feelings aren’t going to make a relationship work, especially a relationship that requires disrupting your lives to the degree that this would. Take some time – a lot of time – to make sure this is a relationship that has legs in the real world before you make any hasty and life altering decisions.
(Side note: there’s nothing morally wrong with feelings, even if you have feelings for someone who’s in a relationship. It’s what you do with those feelings that matters.)
DEAR DR. NERDLOVE: I recently had a one night stand with some talent coming through my city. It wasn’t a drunken escapade, and it was an overall very pleasant experience. We cuddled, almost as much as being otherwise entertained, and he was really affectionate. He was leaving for the next venue the next day, and he stayed with me until he had to leave, I dropped him off with hugs and kisses and he said he’d like to keep in touch and will probably be performing again in a few months. I joked he has my number too, and wished him safe travels.
So my question is this: am I deluded to think he actually wants to hear from me? Isn’t that how one night stands work, the cliched, “I’ll call you?” Are all single incident escapades that … intimate, for lack of better word, even after the sex?
I actually like him, despite living in different states at the moment, and would like to text him. What do I follow up with?
(And for the record, I did go into the experience knowing it would probably be the only time I see him, and am okay with that, however I had a wonderful time and connected more than I expected, so why not reach out?)
Sleepless In San Antonio
DEAR SLEEPLESS IN SAN ANTONIO: There’s no law that says that hooking up with someone can’t be emotionally intimate as well as physically. Many an amazing relationship started as a one-night stand, even long-distance ones. Sometimes you get a friends-with-benefits relationship. Sometimes you end up as friends who had a fling. And sometimes that one night stand just doesn’t end. Over the course of my dating career I eventually made the decision that I wasn’t going to sleep with anyone, even just for a one-night stand, that I couldn’t see myself being friends with… and I’ve ended up with some great friends that way.
Clearly the two of you had great emotional chemistry as well being hot for each others bods. There’s no reason why you shouldn’t make at least an overture to stay in contact; send him a text and say “hey”. You don’t need any elaborate excuse to get in contact, just ask him how life on the road is going. Keeping it light, friendly and open-ended is the key.
Just keep your expectations reasonable and open; going in hoping that this is going to turn into a romance to last the ages is going to be a recipe for heartbreak.
Please send your questions to Dr. NerdLove at his website (www.doctornerdlove.com/contact); or to his email, firstname.lastname@example.org)