Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“My Internet Boyfriend Doesn’t Have Time for Me”

Online Dating

I live in Florida and I have a boyfriend who lives in Texas. We have been together for almost a year now. In the very beginning things were wonderful and blissful. We would text every day and/or talk on the phone, and then we started video chatting almost every day. He has all the attributes I have been looking for. I will admit we have never seen each other face to face, but he has made promises to me that you could only imagine. He even has told me his love for me is unconditional. For my birthday last year he even gave me a promise ring, and on video chatting he had said that with the ring he promises his love for me is real.

After he finished school, he started looking for a job in his career field. It took a little while, but I supported him all the way and it finally happened. He got the career of his dreams. I started going back to school myself, and he has told me he has been so proud of me. The issue is he has a demanding job and it’s reached a point where I only talk to him once a week maybe and only for a few minutes. He has talked briefly of coming to visit me in Florida, but I just don’t know if that will ever happen as his career is more important than anything else. I support him on what he does and I know he likes that I support him, but his job is stressful and he has told me that he gets distracted very easily although he said he always keeps me in the back of his mind.

I’m just not sure what to do because I don’t want to punish him for doing something great with his life, but at the same time I want more attention from him. I know timing is everything, but how long is too long to wait for something to happen? The hard part is I can’t really tell him how I feel because I barely have time to talk to him about it and I don’t want to send it in an email. What should I do? I know he has told me that his past relationships didn’t work out for this reason, but he has also told me that he has never felt about anyone as he does for me. Please help. — Desperate in Florida

I get letters like this one all the time, but it’s been a while since I published one so maybe it’s time to address this topic again for new readers or anyone who needs a refresher. (Also, to be honest, my in-box is feeling a little uninspired lately. Do you have a juicy, interesting personal dilemma you’d like to share with the general public and receive some guidance on? Email me!).

So, here we go: if you haven’t actually met in person, you aren’t in a relationship. Call it a long-distance flirtation or a friendship or being pen pals, but you aren’t “in love.” You don’t even really know each other. You know a filtered version of one another. And the version you know of this guy is very filtered if you only talk to him for a few minutes maybe once a week. That’s not a relationship. And it most certainly isn’t love (unconditional or otherwise). At the most, it’s a distraction. A distraction from reality.

What is the reality you need a distraction from? Is it loneliness? Is it fear of being single forever? Is it boredom? Whatever hole exists in your life that you’ve been trying to fill with this online distraction, I promise there are better ways to fill it. You can meet someone in the real world, for one thing. You can go on real dates with real people. You can foster relationships with people who actually want to spend face-to-face time with you and get to know you and maybe even build a future with you.

You want to know how long is too long to wait for something to happen? Three months is too long. If you invested three months in someone, either online or in real life, and have made it clear you want to move forward but you still don’t have any idea where you stand with that person, whether you’re on the same page, or, good God, whether you’ll actually meet, you have waited too long and it’s time to move on. And you’ve been waiting almost a year? Sister, this ship is long, long, long gone. I don’t care how many promises he’s declared on how many damn rings, if he hasn’t gotten his ass on a plane or a train or a damn Greyhound bus to come meet you and look you in the eyes and be in your presence, let alone found more than a few damn minutes in a damn week to talk to you, he is lying when he says he loves you. And you are lying to yourself if you believe his empty words. You are lying to yourself. And I can only assume you’re doing so because the lies are more comforting than your reality. But they don’t have to be. You have power to change your reality if your reality isn’t fulfilling your needs.

This guy? He’s not the answer. I don’t know exactly what or who is the answer, but I know it’s not him. Maybe it’s career change or some new friends or a new hobby or a new direction. Maybe you need to step out of your comfort zone and do some things that scare you because being scared makes you feel alive. And being alive? It’s better than being distracted.

You’re tired of waiting for something to happen and I appreciate that. Life can get stagnant when all we do is wait for something to happen. So stop waiting and do something. Take a risk. Do something that gives you chills. Make a decision you’ve been putting off. Move on and move forward. If promises mean so much to you, make a promise to yourself that you won’t waste another year of your life on someone who doesn’t make YOU a priority — at least enough of a priority to meet you in person.

***************

Follow along on Facebook, and Instagram.

If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at [email protected].

43 comments… add one
  • avatar

    MissDre January 21, 2015, 9:42 am

    I definitely agree with Wendy, if you guys haven’t made arrangements to meet after a YEAR (!?!) he’s definitely not your boyfriend. I understand how good it feels to have text messages and flirtatious chats even with someone so far away (I’m currently doing the same thing… text/phone relationship with someone long distance and it’s exciting!) but if this guy was actually serious about you, he would’ve made an effort to plan some kind of meeting with you long ago.

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  • avatar

    SasLinna January 21, 2015, 9:56 am

    Please let’s help get Wendy some non-crazy letters! Unfortunately I got nothing right now, but if something comes up, I’ll write in. Actually I’m just starting a LDR so I might ask for advice about that soon (no worries, I’ve met the guy).

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    • avatar

      MissDre January 21, 2015, 10:01 am

      Me too! I’ve been going through Wendy’s previous posts about LDR’s but haven’t really found an answer to the question I’ve been asking myself but haven’t written because I figured she probably gets a million letters about LDRs (don’t worry I’ve met the guy too lol).

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    • Dear Wendy

      Dear Wendy January 21, 2015, 10:02 am

      Yes, new letters, people! Surely, some of you have some relationships problems you want all of us to weigh in on.

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      • Stonegypsy

        Stonegypsy January 21, 2015, 11:57 am

        If my life falls apart again, the DW community will be the first to know

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    • honeybeenicki

      honeybeenicki January 21, 2015, 12:05 pm

      I have one. I was thinking of how to write it without outing myself, but I may end up just outing myself.

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      • avatar

        MissDre January 21, 2015, 12:11 pm

        Maybe it’s better that way? Since people here know you and can give advise based on more information, not just what’s presented in a few paragraphs.

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      • honeybeenicki

        honeybeenicki January 21, 2015, 12:15 pm

        That’s true. It’s not anything juicy unfortunately, but it’s something bugging me and I think what I really need is an outside perspective. Ok, ok, you convinced me. I’ll try to remember to write it tonight.

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      • avatar

        MissDre January 21, 2015, 12:34 pm

        Yeah, the thing on my mind is nothing juicy either. Seemingly quite boring compared to the drama being posted lately. Hmmm.

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      • honeybeenicki

        honeybeenicki January 21, 2015, 12:50 pm

        Maybe we should go create some drama so we’ll have something juicier!

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    • avatar

      Deigh January 22, 2015, 11:21 am

      I’ve been lurking for a while but haven’t posted. In an LDR where we “knew” each other online for a long time (almost 16 years!) but didn’t start dating until we met in person for dinner. I agree with Wendy here – I flirted on and off with this guy during that time but didn’t want to start an LDR. We both dated other people and lived our lives. Until we met in person, it wasn’t anything more than a flirty diversion from my day.

      I figured Wendy had enough letters about LDRs but now I’m tempted to ask what’s been rolling around in my head.

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  • mrmidtwenties

    mrmidtwenties January 21, 2015, 10:02 am

    where do people meet to have these online only relationships? there are so many of these letters, is there some giant site or something? I know when I’ve done online dating I just set my radius to something reasonable like 25 miles and meet the person within a couple weeks. Or say if I was using something like Tinder, I also maintain a similar radius. Also, I know Tinder doesn’t have the best rep, but I did meet an awesome lady who I’ve been seeing for 3 months off there.

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    • avatar

      MissDre January 21, 2015, 10:12 am

      In my case we met in person years ago, lost touch, reconnected on FB a few months ago, discovered that he’d moved to another city for work. It’s not online only though, he’s flying here (today!!) to see me. Can you tell I’m excited? Haha.

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    • Diablo

      Diablo January 21, 2015, 10:17 am

      My sister met her husband (she got married this past NYE) online and they lived in different small SK towns about three hours apart, but part of their common ground is that he had previously owned a business where she lives, and within a short time he had moved back there to be with her. Admittedly, last time I was single was before the internet, but i just don’t know how interested I could get in a girl who I had never actually met in the flesh. (I find the flesh to be quite important in romantic relationships, but that may be just me. Mmm… flesh…) When i see letters like this i always tend to flash on this old Woody Allen line: “To really be in love with someone, you must be in the same room, crouching behind the drapes.” Are all internet relationships the modern form of old school romantic stalking?

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      • mrmidtwenties

        mrmidtwenties January 21, 2015, 10:59 am

        Wait, small town SK has internet now?

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      • Diablo

        Diablo January 21, 2015, 11:16 am

        Well, carrier pigeons…. but they call it the internet.

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      • avatar

        MissDre January 21, 2015, 11:23 am

        Ahhhh hahaha!

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      • Moneypenny

        Moneypenny January 21, 2015, 2:30 pm

        Um, that quote is amazing. I think I can relate to that feeling.

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    • othy

      othy January 21, 2015, 10:43 am

      I have a number of online friendships. I meet them through video games I play or online message boards like this. I’ve seen a few ‘relationships’ start and fizzle online, mostly because the two never met in person. Or when they did finally meet in person, one person wasn’t what they expected the other person to be. Although, all of my friends that I’ve gone on to meet in person are very much what I expected them to be.

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    • Stonegypsy

      Stonegypsy January 21, 2015, 10:47 am

      My sister met her husband online when she was 15 and he was 17. They lived in different states and maintained a friendship for a long time before they met, and then had an online relationship for a year or two before she moved to his state to be with him. They have been married for almost a full 10 years now.

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      • Stonegypsy

        Stonegypsy January 21, 2015, 10:47 am

        Oh! And as to “Where” it was one of those random AIM chats

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  • Crochet.Ninja

    Crochet.Ninja January 21, 2015, 10:08 am

    ok… so once upon a time, i had an internet relationship. we spent a year emailing and talking back and forth, and every few months, he’d become distant. of course i was distraught, so i pushed and pushed and just waited patiently for him to come back – which he did.

    however, this is not a good way to have a relationship. i actually ended up marrying this person and moving countries. and you know what? his behaviour did NOT change. he would still become distant, like it didnt really matter to him whether i was there or not. you cannot feel all the things for both of you. believe me, i tried. almost 10 years. and he never changed – because people don’t change. and i had to leave because i was not getting what i needed from my partner. and it was painful.

    it might be ‘just’ online, but this behaviour isn’t just online. it’s easier to walk away now. don’t do what i did.

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  • Skyblossom

    Skyblossom January 21, 2015, 10:32 am

    When I was in college I met a friend of my roommate. He was traveling from the west coast to the east coast to start a new job and came through our town on the way. The two of them had met through a 4-H exchange when they were in high school with their clubs meeting people from different regions of the country. So we went out the evening he was in town. During the next year he was new on the east coast and sometimes he would call my roommate to talk, I think because he was lonely, and if she wasn’t there I would talk to him. (This was long before the internet) I knew from meeting him in person that there was absolutely no physical attraction between us. On the phone he was fun and if I hadn’t already met him it might seem like we were a match. I loved talking to him on the phone. I always think of him when someone talks about their internet relationship. You can’t know if there is anything between you more than talk if you haven’t met in person. Diablo is right, you have to meet in the flesh. Sometimes you don’t even need to kiss or touch in the flesh to know that it isn’t for you but you can only know that if you’ve met.

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  • avatar

    Essie January 21, 2015, 10:41 am

    LW, I know how easy it is to get caught up in an online relationship; I was there myself, a very long time ago. Just where you are.
    .
    I know you’re reading what Wendy said, and shaking your head, and saying no, it’s real, he really does love me, he made me all these promises, he sent me a ring.
    .
    Wendy’s right. He’s not your boyfriend. It’s not a real relationship when you haven’t actually met the person. What makes it a relationship is the way you are *together*. And you can’t tell if it’s right until you spend time with someone, and how you interact together, just doing the simplest things. And until you see how he acts in the real world. How he treats other people, like the server in the restaurant. How he interacts with his family and friends. How he treats you. Right now, all you know about him is what he chooses to tell you. You have no opportunity to observe for yourself.
    .
    I know…the attention feels sooooo good. The promises feel so good. The declarations of love feel so good. So right. You want to believe them, so much.
    .
    A word about promises…..whether this is someone you know IRL, or someone you’ve only talked to online. Promises mean nothing. Actions are the only thing that matter. People can promise ANYTHING. I can promise you that I’ll buy you a car. It’s meaningless.
    .
    As for why he’s not available to talk much anymore…..you know why. The initial thrill is fading, and he’s losing interest. Because it inevitably does fade, when you’ve never met. It’s not his job, because no matter how busy you are, you make time for the people you love. There’s no job that’s so busy you can’t spare a few minutes out of your day to communicate with the person you love as much as he claims to love you. I was working 65 hour weeks a few years back, 7 days a week, and I still found a little time every day to talk to my parents, my best friend, and my boyfriend.
    .
    I’m sorry. I know how much it hurts. But you need to start stepping away from this, because it’s only going to cause you more pain.

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  • coconot

    coconot January 21, 2015, 10:51 am

    Are you sure he’s not in prison or married or something? “New job” and I can only talk a few minutes a week is sounding super suspicious to me… Regardless, I agree with Wendy that you should definitely MOA and find someone who matches you in terms of the amount of time you want to put into a relationship.

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  • TaraMonster

    TaraMonster January 21, 2015, 11:44 am

    A few thoughts.
    1. My favorite line from Wendy’s advice is, “You know a filtered version of one another.” This is a fact. Just from going on a few online dates, I know this. Someone can seem awesome when you’re communicating with them, and turn out to be a total weirdo IRL.
    2. As noted above, this guy is not your boyfriend because you’ve never met him.
    3. Promise rings are super icky to me. They make me think of purity balls and purity balls make me want to vomit.
    4. Texas and Florida are not that far apart. It makes the fact you haven’t met even more ridiculous.

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    • avatar

      MissDre January 21, 2015, 11:48 am

      What is a purity ball??

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      • Stonegypsy

        Stonegypsy January 21, 2015, 12:04 pm

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Purity_ball

        “A purity ball is a formal dance event attended by fathers and their daughters which promotes virginity until marriage for teenage girls. Typically, daughters who attend a purity ball make a virginity pledge to remain sexually abstinent until marriage. Fathers who attend a purity ball make a promise to protect their young daughters’ “purity of mind, body, and soul.”[1] Proponents of these events contend that they encourage close and deeply affectionate relationships between fathers and daughters, thereby avoiding the premarital sexual activity that allegedly results when young women seek love through relationships with young men.[2] Critics assert that the balls promulgate messages encroaching upon women’s freedom,[2] promote anti-feminist ideals, and ignore homosexuality.[3] They also assert that purity balls define a woman’s worth by her virginity rather than her whole being, actions and attitudes, and emphasize her role as a possession to be passed by her father to her husband.[4]”

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      • avatar

        MissDre January 21, 2015, 12:12 pm

        Is this a religious thing?? This is craziness to me.

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      • avatar

        SasLinna January 21, 2015, 12:27 pm

        Fathers protecting their daughters’ virginity is so icky to me. Especially because the father-daughter relationship is supposed to be a stand-in for a sexual relationship, if you read stonegypsy’s wikipedia post.

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    • avatar

      SpaceySteph January 21, 2015, 1:01 pm

      With regard to number 4…
      I live in Houston, and there are parts of Texas farther from me than Florida. If this guy lives in El Paso he’s 2 time zones and like a 6 hour flight from most of Florida. So it’s not close. But once in all this time you guys could certainly meet up. (Also if he has a good career job now he can certainly afford a cheap plane ticket during the next Southwest sale).

      You’re right about promise rings. And purity balls. Gross.

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  • avatar

    RedroverRedrover January 21, 2015, 12:16 pm

    My brother had his first relationship online. He was a newly out gay teen in a smallish city that had no gay scene. So he met this guy online in some chatroom, and they were in love for a year. Then, finally, the guy was able to come visit my brother for a week. He left after two days. There was just nothing there in real life. My brother’s “boyfriend” turned out to be nothing of the sort, most of my brother’s perceptions of him were things he’d assumed or made up himself, and the boyfriend had done they same. They were totally different people from the pictures each one had formed in their head of the other.
    .
    Like Wendy said, if you’ve never met, you don’t really know each other. Online friendships are one thing, because you can be friends at different levels. You don’t need chemistry or some kind of deep compatibility to be friends. You can just be friends who chat about a specific topic and enjoy doing that, and that’s it. With relationships it’s completely different, and right now you don’t have any of that with him. You are friends at best. Until you meet, there’s no way to decide if you are more than that.
    .
    Truthfully, what’s probably happened is that when he was in school, he felt like his life was still somewhat on hold and he didn’t want to get into anything with another student when he was almost done school, so this was a great outlet for him. It made him feel wanted, and like he had a girlfriend, without really having to commit to anything. And it gave him the support he needed to get his life up and running. But now his life has restarted, and he’s doing new and interesting things, and meeting new people. I’m sure that the real world is a stronger pull for him right now than the internet world that he’s been living in with you. And that’s why he’s no longer giving you the kind of attention that he used to.
    .
    Unfortunately the only thing you can really do is move on from this. Do as Wendy said, meet people in your own area. At least then you’ve got a shot at building a real relationship with someone who you can see on a regular basis.

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  • avatar

    Laura Hope January 21, 2015, 12:22 pm

    Interestingly, my “best friends” on line are people I barely say hello to in person. And if I had known my husband only on line, I never would have dated him.

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  • Lyra

    Lyra January 21, 2015, 3:14 pm

    Ummmm…you aren’t boyfriend/girlfriend. There is no way that you can sustain a “relationship” long distance like that without ever meeting. It just isn’t possible.
    .
    I will warn you, my friend from college had an online “boyfriend” for a few years who she hadn’t met and when he flew up to meet her he was BEYOND creepy. Seriously creepy. So be careful.
    .
    You are building him up to be this person and you *really* don’t know if he actually is that person. Despite talking, texting, Skype, etc. an in-person relationship is VERY different. That’s a big reason why it’s so dangerous to talk with someone when meeting them through online dating for an extended period of time before meeting in person.
    .
    I totally agree that it sounds like something is missing from your life because yes, you DO sound desperate. Heck you even sign off as “Desperate in Florida”. So you ACKNOWLEDGE that you’re feeling desperate. Desperation is a horrible horrible feeling — been there, trust me! — and it is NOT indicative of a successful, healthy relationship.

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  • avatar

    wobster109 January 21, 2015, 3:31 pm

    I disagree. Long distance relationships ARE real. If your BF talks to his friends and family about you, if he rejects offers of dates with “I have a girlfriend”, if he behaves like he’s dating you, then he IS dating you. On the flip side, I have friends in med school or grad school or otherwise, and they are truly incredibly busy. Too busy to visit their SOs except for holidays.

    However it is important to meet in person. Florida, why don’t you go visit him? Ask him when’s a good weekend, and then go.

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    • Dear Wendy

      Dear Wendy January 21, 2015, 3:44 pm

      How can they possibly be “dating” if they’ve never been on a date?

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      • avatar

        wobster109 January 21, 2015, 11:16 pm

        Many people use “dating” to mean “in a relationship”, and they could very well be in a relationship.

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    • Lyra

      Lyra January 21, 2015, 4:18 pm

      I did the distance thing for 3.5 years. I’m in no way saying it can’t be real. When I was in a LDR we saw each other at least every 6 weeks. This situation however…they haven’t even met each other. They haven’t hugged. They haven’t kissed. She has no idea what he is like in person. Sorry, but that’s not a relationship. That’s an online pen pal.

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    • avatar

      ktfran January 21, 2015, 4:38 pm

      All she has is her word that he’s not seeing other people. It’s hard to gage whether or not someone is telling the truth if you’ve never actually met said person. And it gets even more sketch since he’s minimized contact.

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      • avatar

        ktfran January 21, 2015, 4:38 pm

        * his word

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      • avatar

        wobster109 January 21, 2015, 11:17 pm

        That’s why she should go visit him, especially since she’s in school and presumably gets holidays. If he’s happy to see her, brings her to his work, and introduces her to his friends, then she can believe him. If he makes excuses or goes out without her, then she should move on.

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  • Regina Chapman

    Regina Chapman January 21, 2015, 6:39 pm

    I’m sorry to tell you, but this is one of those cases where actions speak louder than words. If he says he’s never felt about anybody the way he feels about you, but at the same time can’t spend more than five minutes a week with you – and even that’s just video chat! – never made any effort to meet you in real life, and obviously puts you last in his list of priorities time-wise, then there’s but one conclusion you can draw from that. He’s not going to give you what you need. And by saying that he’s broken up with other people who demanded more from him, he’s only trying to get you to be okay with that. You’re not okay with that. No sane person would be. Move on.

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