Can A Long Distance Relationship With Your Online Crush Work?

Straight talk here, HIC: you’re making a mistake that a lot of folks make when they don’t have much in the way of social or dating experience. You’re assuming that emotional chemistry is exactly the same as physical chemistry. The fact that you two spark when you trade DMs back and forth like a modern-day Abelard and Heloise tells you that you two are on the same wavelength, but there’s a physical component to an attraction that can’t be denied or circumvented. The truth is that no matter how enlightened we may claim to be as individuals, but you may love someone for their mind but you want them for their ass.

What works between two people in the text doesn’t necessarily translate when the two of you are face to face. Humans as a species are designed for face to face communication. There are reams of information that we convey in the tone of voice, in our body language and even in scent and touch that just can’t be conveyed by the text. Even regular Skype sessions can’t quite convey the physical side of things when you’re in person with one another. No amount of FaceTime can equal the gut reaction you have when you smell, touch or even kiss someone for the first time. You could well find yourself in the position of meeting up in person and realizing that you’re not quite so warm for her form as you thought, or vice versa. Or you might find that you’re kind of into her, but not so much as you expected to be. Now you’re in the awkward position of asking yourself whether you try to move forward despite being kinda “…enh” about her or choosing to be friends instead.

And that’s before we even address the question of whether she’s still into you. Right now you’re tying yourself into knots trying to figure out whether or not she’s still into you and it’s draining the excitement from your upcoming trip. You’ve built up this idea that this trip is going to be the start of a grand romance; if that doesn’t happen, then that’s going to taint what might otherwise be an awesome trip.

You can already see this playing out with the way you’re interacting with your crush. When you were just in the moment and just talking with her like anyone else, you were doing so much better. Now that you feel like there’re consequences, you’re tensing up and second and third-guessing every single thing you say. It’s draining all the fun playfulness the two of you had going on when there were no stakes.

One of the best things you can do – in dating in general and on this trip in particular – is outcome-independent. If you’re focused on getting with this one particular person OR ELSE, you’re going to psych yourself out. You’re going to invest this one person with terrible significance and subject yourself to any amount of anxiety as you try to read the tea leaves and tell whether or not she’s into you. But if you remain outcome independent and focused on just enjoying yourself, you remain calm and relaxed. You don’t scrutinize everything you say and she does because hey, if it doesn’t work out, then it doesn’t work out. The only important question is whether you’re having fun.

So it should be with this upcoming trip and any potential relationship with your crush. Focus on just enjoying the trip and the possibility of meeting an Internet friend in person. Everything beyond that is gravy. Do that and you’ll be in a much better position to handle whatever it is that comes your way.

Good luck.


Question 2

Hi Doc,

I’m a 23F looking to start seriously dating again after being single ~half a year. But I don’t know how (or when!) to tell any future boyfriends that one of my closest friends is my ex. We broke up on good terms after 3.5 years, when we finished undergrad. He lives on the other side of the world now.

He and I transitioned pretty easily back to being the great friends we were pre-relationship. We text a good amount and call about twice a month, I’m in his skype d&d campaign, my mom messages him sometimes. We have clear boundaries in that we established early on where our line of platonic-ness is and how to not go over it and make things uncomfortable (like not teasing, even though we tease other friends, in case it comes across as flirting). Everything’s been totally fine–we even give each other relationship advice.

Even though this feels normal to me, especially because my best friends have historically been guys, I don’t know how to handle the “ex” part of my friend’s situation with future relationships. I can’t just not talk about him–it would feel weirdly sneaky, and I have too many stories that involve him. But when do I bring it up, and how? Knowing us, our friends thought it was a given that we would pop right back into being friends after we broke up. But I feel like to a new date it would seem weird.

Permanently Platonic

Harris O’Malley
Harris O' Malley is a dating coach who provides geek dating advice at Paging Dr. NerdLove, as well as on Kotaku  and elsewhere. He and his work has been featured on Nightline, Vice, The Guardian, New York Magazine, The Huffington Post, Wired, Sex Nerd Sandra, Daily Life, Slate, The Austin-American Statesman, Austin Monthly, Geek and Sundry, Boing Boing, Everyday Feminism, Buzzfeed, The Daily Dot, The Washington Post, Kotaku, Lifehacker,, The Good Man Project, MTV’s Guy Code, The Harvard Business Journal, and many others. Paging Dr. NerdLove has been featured as one of the top 10 dating blogs on
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