DEAR ABBY: I'm a man in my mid-30s who has recently recognized a pattern in my romantic relationships. A few of them lasted for several years, before they ended for various reasons. In between, I've gone a couple of years before seeking out and starting a new relationship. In the in-between time, I go online and meet people I have no intention of meeting in "real life," but who provide conversation and intimacy while I enjoy single life.
I'm about to repeat the pattern again. I'm a few months out of a three-year relationship and have met someone online. It's great to chat online and over the phone, but we are not close geographically, and I have no intention of meeting in person. What's your insight on this, and do you think this is healthy for me? Any ideas you can offer regarding this pattern? -- NEW RELATIONSHIPS
DEAR NEW: I wish you had told me more about the circumstances of your breakups. Were they your idea or the other person's? If they weren't your idea, you may be using the in-between relationships as a safe form of entertainment while you are healing.
If you are upfront with the people you're meeting online, and they realize you have no intention of letting these friendships go anywhere, then I suppose they are healthy for all concerned. If not, then what you are doing shows not only a lack of character, but also a lack of sensitivity for the feelings of others, and it may be one of the reasons your long-term relationships aren't lasting.