Dear Em & Lo: Is Long-Distance, Virtual Love Real?

photo by NightRPStar

Dear Em & Lo,

I am a 64 yr old widow of 16 yrs. I met a 59 yr old divorced firefighter online.He says he loves me and is planning to move to my hometown to be with me when he retires this summer. We’ve been chatting online for a month. We have not been intimate either with cyber sex or phone sex but for the last week upon his urging we both got webcams on which we have undressed for each other. He has been totally nude but I’ve only been topless. He wants me fully naked but I said I wasn’t comfortable, that I want to save this for when we meet this summer. He is now giving me the silent treatment and is pouting. Is he worth giving him my heart and soul and introduce him to my grown children? From what I’ve shared about him does he sound like someone I can commit to?  Please advise.

— Long-Distance Doubter

Dear LDD,

Good for you for getting back out there, and via online personals no less! That’s very cool. But as with anything, online relationships have their drawbacks.

Our standard suggested policy is to NOT fall in love or make any big commitments with someone you’ve never spent time with in the flesh. Video chat helps break down barriers, but there are some things (like chemistry, personal habits, scent, patience, kissing style, table manners, the list goes on…) that you just can’t assess fully without being face-to-face for awhile.

Of course, circumstances may prevent you from having an opportunity to get together; in which case, you should think of your current online relationship as something wholly separate from your potential future “real-world” relationship — just because one works, doesn’t mean the other will. There is something inherently appealing about the unknown, about the obstacles that define a solely online relationship — but once you lose that mystery and those impediments by coming together in the same space and time, there’s a good chance the relationship either can’t handle such drastic change, or turns out was not that strong to begin with.

We’re sure falling for someone without being able to be intimate is really frustrating for some people, but his reaction to your discomfort with disrobing via webcam sounds pretty immature and disrespectful to us — a possible red flag that he won’t be as great in person as you once thought. So again, we’d recommend spending a lot of quality face-time together before you totally commit to a serious relationship with this guy or make him any promises. It’s one thing if he was planning on moving to your neck of the woods before he met you, but if the sole purpose of the move is to be with you then please, for the love of love, have him come visit you and/or you go visit him for awhile — long enough for you to determine whether you want to get naked with him and introduce him to your kids (not at the same time, of course). Even if you feel Online-Firefighter is worthy, you don’t owe Real-World Firefighter anything if things don’t end up feeling right to you.

Good luck!
Em & Lo


  1. I also agree with Em and Lo, its better to be secure on a relationship before doing something that you might regret in the end!

  2. In addition, I’d recommend making your first meeting somewhere neutral, because you can never be too safe with online dating. His immature reaction to her not wanting to undress more may be a red flag for more underlying behaviors. It may be completely harmless, but it’s never a bad idea to be safe. Meet somewhere that isn’t either of your homes, where people know when/where you’re going and can contact you, and possibly bring along a friend or someone else to hang out with so they can check up on you and also be on the trip with you to hang out with in case this guy ends up being a dud in person. Otherwise, I second everything else everyone else said!

  3. I am a 25 year old girlie in a similar situation. I met someone across the pond (on Em&Lo’s side!) and the distance prevents us ‘moving things along’. We have kept things in perspective in the same way that this article suggests–to remember that real life is different than virtual. I will be meeting him for the first time in real life within a week (after nine months of chatting!). I am terrified that the ‘dream’ may die but we both remind each other: we have a wonderful time talking online and if that is all it is meant to be, then so be it!

  4. I completely agree with Em&Lo, spending some times together before deciding any permanent move is required. His attitude toward your refusal is pretty much a turn off. Wonder if he will ever play the I-moved-across-the-country-for-you! card if you don’t buy his favorite cereals….

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