Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

Have You Ever Had an Online Relationship?

Over in the forums, there’s a discussion about the new TV show “Catfish” on MTV, a reality show about online dating based on the documentary movie of the same name (which is an awesome film). In the show, Nev Schulman, who starred in the film, and his friend and filmmaker Max Joseph help couples who have never met in real life and aim to find out whether these people are in fact who who they portray themselves as online or whether they’re “catfish” โ€” an “online figure who pretends to be someone they are not by using someone else’s pictures and information.”

Of course, we here aren’t strangers to the idea of people who have never met in real life “dating” online. I get letters from these people all the time asking for advice. But I’m curious: have you ever had a relationship with someone strictly online โ€” someone you’d never met in person?

[polldaddy poll=”6742251″]

53 comments… add one
  • Friend of Beagles December 4, 2012, 1:08 pm

    I married my online squeeze. Fifteen years, one mortgage, and two kids later, we’re still going strong. I also have a number of friends I’ve met online only. If everyone is honest, online relationships can be terrific.

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    • zombeyonce December 5, 2012, 12:49 pm

      I am also married to a man I met online, but it was a dating site and we only emailed back and forth for about a week before we had our first date. I didn’t like the way I handled it with guys I met on the site before him where we wrote back and forth for a long time before we met in person (if we even ever did).

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  • MissDre December 4, 2012, 1:13 pm

    I’ve met some great friends online, both guys and girls. One of my best girlfriends I met via Facebook, and we have a long distance friendship. We’re pen pals, and I didn’t meet her in person for almost 2 years (I flew to Ohio for American Thanksgiving and it was great!). She’s busy working on her PhD so we don’t chat as much these days but I love her dearly ๐Ÿ™‚

    I met my current boyfriend online, but we went on our first date in person after only 5 days of emailing. We’ve been together going on 3 years now!

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  • katie December 4, 2012, 1:19 pm

    i think the big difference is having the internet as the meeting place vs. having the internet as the relationship space.

    ive met people from DW- there awesome and i would count some of them as real friends, real people who i would call up and meet for happy hour or something… so i just feel like we met “through” DW. like wendy was the friend who was having some cool party and invited us both and we bonded over the snack table.

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    • Anna December 4, 2012, 1:28 pm

      Yeah same here…I’ve met 4 DWers from my area and they are all terrific women that I feel lucky to have met.

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      • Taylor December 4, 2012, 5:04 pm

        Hurray NEO DWers! I think we should have another meetup post-holiday madness.

      • Anna December 5, 2012, 12:32 am

        I’m all for that! If you have Facebook find me http://www.facebook.com/anna.martin2. I’d love to have another meetup. Seeing as how 2 out of 5 NEO DWers are now pregnant I sure hope it’s not contagious! ๐Ÿ˜‰

      • Anna December 5, 2012, 12:34 am

        I don’t know why that link isn’t working.

    • Moneypenny December 4, 2012, 5:03 pm

      Same! Haha. I’ve met a few DW’ers, and all of them are awesome ladies and I’d definitely hang out with them again! I feel like DW has brought a lot of people together.

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  • Anna December 4, 2012, 1:27 pm

    I don’t count it as a “relationship” but it’s a funny story so I’ll just entertain everyone for a minute. When I was about 14, I started online chatting with a (supposedly) hot blonde surfer guy from South Africa. We talked on AIM and emailed every day and called each other boyfriend and girlfriend for maybe a month or so before we randomly stopped talking. It seems really silly now but his emails really brightened my day. Now, as a much wiser 28 year old I wonder if it was really some 40-year old dude sitting on his mom’s computer in Detroit or something. lol. And I have not done any online dating since I started real life dating.

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  • GatorGirl December 4, 2012, 1:31 pm

    My only online friends are the DW crew ๐Ÿ™‚

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  • theattack December 4, 2012, 1:34 pm

    There’s not an option on here for “Yes, and we’ve now met, and our relationship has been successful.” The only option after meeting is failure.

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    • Guy Friday December 4, 2012, 1:52 pm

      Yeah, I would have chosen that if it were an option.

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    • Franny December 4, 2012, 2:14 pm

      “I do online dating, but the dates are actually in person” would be the correct category for you both!

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      • MJ December 4, 2012, 2:31 pm

        Well, yeah, but not anymore! TheAttack is engaged, GF is married, and I am in a serious committed relationship. So we aren’t “doing” online dating. We did it and got what we came for!

      • theattack December 4, 2012, 4:03 pm

        Nope, not the right category for me. I’ve never done online dating. I carried on a full-blown relationship online for a few years. The dates were not in person.

    • LK7889 December 4, 2012, 2:54 pm

      Same here. I met my SO online. Six years later and we’re still together and still love each other.

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    • va-in-ny December 4, 2012, 4:25 pm

      I was going to comment on the same thing! 3 years and still going strong!

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  • AKchic_ December 4, 2012, 1:34 pm

    I’ve got a ton of friends that I met online. mIRC was awesome (thank you #alaska channel, circa 2000) for meeting people. They helped keep me sane during my 1st divorce. Then, when they all started finally “growing up” and getting adult jobs, I was there for them. Now, we don’t chat on mIRC anymore, but we see each other, chat on facebook, email, etc. Our kids play together, and in some cases, we’re semi-related (one girl is the adopted out half-sister to my oldest son’s biological father. Oddly enough, her adopted older brother is married to a close friend of mine).

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  • lemongrass December 4, 2012, 1:40 pm

    I would vote “I love the internet.” Just sayin’

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  • mandalee December 4, 2012, 1:53 pm

    Ah, I don’t know if it counts as an online relationship, but when I was in 9th grade, I was “dating” some guy I met on AIM who was 17 when I was 14. I lied about my age and sent him a picture out of magazine. I wasn’t really trying to mislead him with the picture, but trying to protect my identity on the off chance that he was a total creep. Well, my group of friends chatted with some of his friends, one of which WAS a total creeper and he ended up using her IP address to track down where she lived and showed up there randomly one day. He ended up being 23 and was somehow pissed that we sent a misleading picture, and kinda missed the creep factor of him lying about his age to a bunch of teenagers. WH

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    • lets_be_honest December 4, 2012, 1:56 pm

      Did the girl in the magazine look like you?

      Ok, read the rest and yikes that is SCARY! I am never letting my kid use a computer. Ever.

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      • mandalee December 4, 2012, 2:28 pm

        Well we both had brown hair and hazel eyes, but obviously she was a magazine model and I was not lol But overall, the age and measurements were close enough that I wasn’t exactly as apologetic when some creeper come knocking.

        Yeah, I finally told my parents right around college graduation, when we were discussing all those “ha ha wasn’t a crazy teenager” moments. Even though it was 8 years later, they were very, very pissed at me.

    • Copa December 4, 2012, 3:46 pm

      WOW. This is super creepy! I didn’t even know any average person could use an IP address to do that. (I “get” what IP addresses are, but the one time I tried to “stalk” myself by seeing what my IP address conjured up on an IP tracker, it told me I live not-at-all near where I lived at the time.) Going on that alone I feel like creepin’ was that guy’s day job!

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      • lets_be_honest December 4, 2012, 4:17 pm

        My SO is a tech person and has warned me of that. Apparently photos posted online will also show where you took the photo. Very scary stuff.

      • Chaotonic December 4, 2012, 6:54 pm

        Soooo I actually do this stuff for the military and what your SO is talking about is that most smart phones imbed the latitude and longitude of where the photo was taken in the photo data itself (remember everything is all just 1’s and 0’s). When you text, email, upload or whatever you want to do with the photo that data is still imbedded in the photo to whoever you sent it to. Most smart phones such as Android, Galaxy, iPhone, automatically put the coordinates into the photo data.
        Yes this can be a super bad, scary idea when you have a stalker, but Computer Forensics personnel have used this type of data to track down missing persons, killers, child predators, and other bad guys who have used their own or stolen smart phones to take pictures of their crimes or every day life.

      • lets_be_honest December 4, 2012, 8:10 pm

        Wow chaotonic. Impressive job! Good point about good coming from it too.

      • AKchic_ December 4, 2012, 4:18 pm

        It’s not hard to trace an IP address back to a specific address. I’m not a hacker, but I have hacker friends and they taught me how to do it easily so I could find out where my 1st husband was emailing/IMing me from (and violating the restraining orders I had on him).

      • kare December 4, 2012, 7:27 pm

        Any of your hacker friends know how to check to see if someone has a record with Interpol? Or mafia connections of some sort?

  • SweetsAndBeats December 4, 2012, 2:17 pm

    I’ve had two relationships where we met in person but were long distance, so we developed our relationship until the guy moved to be closer to me. Neither relationship worked out.

    And TrixyMinx and I have a blossoming spinster friendship thanks to DW ๐Ÿ™‚

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  • parton_doll December 4, 2012, 2:18 pm

    I met my husband online, but we eventually met in person. If the person that you’re talking to online is making excuses about how they can never meet you and won’t send you updated pictures or skype or whatever, I think you have to be smart and take care of your feelings. Especially romantic relationships. The thought of people putting their lives on hold for people that they meet online and “fall in love with” who deceive them and take advantage of their feelings really makes me sad.

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  • Addie Pray December 4, 2012, 2:43 pm

    I was just about to say “nope, never!” but then I forgot about my online DW friends. So I guess I am guilty of having online relationships with people I have never met. Though if I ever find myself in Argentina, I’m gonna find you, JK.

    The only other online “relationship” that I’ve had is with a guy I met in a bar in a small town in France in 1999. We hit it off with my limited French at the time. But I was only in town one night. So we exchanged emails and continued to email back and forth every so often over the years. But we weren’t “dating” or “in a relationship” or anything like that, and it wasn’t sexual. It was just “getting to know you” emails and talking about this and that. When we met we realized we both liked this one Italian movie director and Arnaud had never met anyone that knew of him so a lot of our emails were about movies and politics and stuff. Anyhoo, I found him on Facebook a few years later so we still keep in touch with emails every year or so. Does that count as an online relationship?

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    • JK December 4, 2012, 4:08 pm

      Youยดd better, AP. ๐Ÿ™‚
      If you need any convincing, just think of the wine. And the meat.

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      • lemongrass December 4, 2012, 4:16 pm

        You’re from Argentina? That’s awesome. I may just hunt you down some day! I have a family member who lives in Brazil and SOME day I will travel down there and tour around.

  • Copa December 4, 2012, 2:47 pm

    I’ve never had an online ROMANCE, but when I was 16 I met a gay guy through a forum I used to frequent. My family had been living overseas and when we moved back stateside, I was really lonely at my new high school; I was painfully shy so making new friends with a year to go before graduation was really rough for me, so I sought that “community” feel through a forum of a shared interest. Somehow, we started talking all the time on AIM after being joke-y on the forum. Our conversations would get longer and longer. To date, I have no doubts in my mind that he was/is who he said he was (that being 13 years my senior). It sounds creepy when I tell people about it, so I usually don’t, but I honestly have no doubts about him. It was never creepy, and I think we both realized that our surpsingly genuine (all things considered) friendship was a bit of an anomaly, so while we talked on the phone on occassion, we never met in real life. (At the time, I was young and “danger aware” so I actually lied to him for a long time about where I lived (never to dupe him or anything) before we eventually exchanged phone numbers years down the road.) We kept in touch from 2002 to 2008, by which point I was a senior in college (though it was VERY infrequent by then — we’d mostly stopped incessant talking by the time I was done with high school). We found one another on Facebook in 2007 after getting back in touch after a couple year hiatus, but never added one another. (He really, really is who he always said!) I check his page from time to time because oddly enough, he was very important to me when I was 16 — enough so to warrant my internet creepin’ because I still like to know that he’s doing well on a rare “check-in.” That friendship would probably never happen now, and it defied a lot of norms, but he was (and this sounds fairly pathetic) the person I considered my best friend when I was struggling with a big, BIG move/adjustment to a homeland from which I felt estranged. Our conversations were genuine and funny, and I got to know him surprisingly well.

    THAT SAID, I do think you can forge a genuine connection on the internet — but as for romance, you’d want to meet up in person eventually. My experience is a bit different because I was never IN love with this guy (but I did/do feel some sort of big brotherly affection toward him) and never would have wanted to meet him in person (the idea would have horrified me as a teenager), but I don’t doubt that you can grow to care about a stranger in unlikely ways through the internet.

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  • Fabelle December 4, 2012, 2:49 pm

    I had such a crush on Nev when I saw the documentary. UGH he is gorgeous.

    But um, anyway. Now that that’s out of my system– no, I’ve never had an online “relationship”. I used to do the find-a-buddy thing on AIM, & talk to random people (there was this one guy who seemed cool & “real” but it never was anything but a friendship)

    One of my friends “dated” somebody she met online when we were like, 13? I used to sit by her on the computer while she talked to him, & he seemed like a total creep (& definitely not our age). She used to call him from a pay phone (this was in like, 2000?) so her parents wouldn’t find out. I think eventually they got in a “fight” (in quotes because nothing about this relationship was real) & she blocked him. So…happy ending!

    We also (sorry for the long post, this is bringing up memories!) used to have sleepovers with our other two friends, find guys on AIM, & trick them into sending us dick pics (why? why did we do this? I don’t know). We would take turns typing, pretend we were 16 (seems better than 13?? Now that I think about it, WHY DID THESE GUYS SEND US DICK PICS) & we’d be all “yeahh, there are 4 of us at a sleepover right now, & we ALL have DDD boobs & are super hot! & naked!) So the guys would send us pictures, & when they asked for one in return, we’d sign off & start talking to somebody else.

    I think we were just curious about guys & their bodies, but…did Google not exist in the year 2000? Thinking back, it seems like the only thing my friends & I knew how to use was AIM. Holy shit.

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    • parton_doll December 4, 2012, 2:59 pm

      I agree … I thought he was really cute too. Distractingly so, lol.

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    • SweetPeaG December 4, 2012, 3:26 pm

      Nev is gorgeous… and he has such a kind personality to boot! I am not sure if the documentary and now tv series would work as well if it weren’t for his charismatic ways!

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    • Copa December 4, 2012, 3:27 pm

      Who WOULDN’T get all reminiscent about good ol’ AIM? ๐Ÿ˜‰ So, I have a Twitter account that I don’t use, but I log in every once in awhile solely to check up on two twitter-ers (I don’t even know the jargon haha): Shit Girls Say and Your Away Message. The latter is a bunch “away messages” that always make me laugh because some of them are eerily close to what I KNOW I would’ve said back in the day.

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    • lemongrass December 4, 2012, 4:21 pm

      My friends and I did stuff like that around that age too. Although we used yahoo chat rooms. It totally is just kids being curious about bodies and now they just have the internet to use as a tool. I plan on being very careful about how I let my kids use electronics. Basically, not in their rooms at all. And after 8 or 9 at night all electronics be given to me (phones, laptops, even tv turned off) and they can be in the land of the living. At least, this is my ideal plan for the child that is but a squirm in my tummy so we’ll see how it all plays out.

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    • Anna December 5, 2012, 12:42 am

      I completely agree…Nev is a hottie!

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  • Diablo December 4, 2012, 3:14 pm

    Sorry, too old. I was last “out there” in 1988, prior to the existence of the net. That being said, I doubt I would do so. I’ve pretty much given up on Facebook. Never much liked talking on the phone. I’m an “in person” kind of guy.

    Since her divorce, my sister has had several, leading up to her current long-term fella. He’s a good guy, so the net can’t be all bad.

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  • GirlOnFire December 4, 2012, 3:53 pm

    I wish there was another option in the poll, I couldn’t pick any of them. I met my now fiance online. We met in real life a year and a half later. We became friends first pretty quickly, which led to talking on the phone all the time etc. I guess most of that year and a half “relationship” wasn’t really online, but on the phone. lol. My aunt and uncle also met online and have been married almost 10yrs now.

    I don’t think there was ever a time we doubted the other one was who they said they were. We weren’t looking for romance or a relationship when we found each other online. We just became friends and then it grew from there.

    I actually really like how our relationship started. You get to know each other on a deeper level faster and easier online (if you both allow it and are honest), because you never have to deal with being shy, embarassed, nervous, awkward, any sexual tension etc when it’s online. It’s just an easy, no pressure way to get to know someone. I loved staying up til 6am just talking and picking each others brain. You become bonded to the person first…I guess the mind, the heart first, with no physical stuff getting in the way. Then when you finally meet its either, “hey I’m just as attracted to you physically!”, or “I guess we peaked at friendship, so let’s just keep going.” and you walk away with atleast a best friend. Either way it can be great.

    We’ve been together a total of 5 and a half years now (including the online relationship time), and 4 years in person on the 18th of this month, and we’ll be getting married next year ๐Ÿ™‚

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  • Eve Harrison December 4, 2012, 6:01 pm

    I hate a relationship online— my only “relationship” ever, ha. It was when I was 11 years old, which was an extremely horrible time for me. I was dealing with child abuse from my mother and getting bullied at school. I honestly had no chance to socialize but I had no friends, and my mother was extremely controlling, so the internet became my safe haven for community support and outreach. It still sort of is, but through reading articles instead of online communities like GaiaOnline.

    The only relationship I had was unhealthy for him because of… me. I was extremely sad and lonely and he was the only person other than my sister of whom I looked forward to seeing. I actually used to send him 10+ private messages per day. Eventually he dumped me but was nice and extended friendship, to which I threw away because I was so angry.

    Obviously my experience was compounded but a lot of depressing things, so online relationships where you never meet [in my experience], weren’t the best for this reason. I cared about the fantasy of him, and used this dude as an outlet for a world I was never a member of. If you ever do it, please be careful! I have had multiple experiences of the partner refusing to meet me, for some “mysterious reason”.

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    • Eve Harrison December 4, 2012, 6:02 pm

      I had* — my apologies! My apologies for the incorrect grammar; I am having a terrible week without sleep.

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  • Ammie December 4, 2012, 7:42 pm

    I meet guys online when I’m not running across anyone interesting IRL… I’ve met and dated some nice fellas that way. But it’s basically gotta be a “talk online for 2 weeks to reassure me that you’re fairly normal, meet in person asap after that in a well-lit location to be even more sure that you’re pretty much as you represented yourself, and carry the relationship forward as normal from there.” I’m an out-of-sight, out-of-mind kind of person. If we’re not connecting in person, I have a hard time developing feelings for someone.

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  • quixoticbeatnik December 4, 2012, 9:37 pm

    None of the options apply to me! I had kind of an online relationship back when I was in middle school. Actually, I had two – one was with a girl who was in my brother’s grade (two years ahead) who had wanted to talk to my brother on AIM because of a mutual friend, but ended up talking to me instead. So I became really good friends with her online and then, a year later, I started talking to her younger brother online who was a grade above me. I talked to her for three years and him for two. I finally met them when I started high school and she was a junior at the high school I went to. She did switch to a different high school that year though, and being friends in person was harder than it was online. It was just different, so the friendship kind of fizzled out. I still think of her fondly though, and my brother is very good friends with her, so we stay updated on each other that way.

    Her brother I met that same year as well, at her softball game. The first time we met was REALLY awkward. We ended up going to homecoming together, along with my best friend, and then that friendship kind of fizzled out. We stayed in touch sporadically over the years (including one time on a cruise – his family and my family were on the same cruise because of our siblings being friends – and it was a little strange) but I haven’t talked to him in a long time.

    So, the online friendships weren’t shams at all, but they weren’t super successful either. However, it wasn’t like these people were total strangers that I met in some chat room. My brother’s best friend (and one of mine back in high school, too) knew these people and was friends with them. So there wasn’t any element of danger, just two really great people to talk to.

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  • RMM0278 December 5, 2012, 10:10 am

    I saw the documentary [SPOILER ALERT], and it was easy to see what was coming. In the first 15-20 minutes, you can see Nev getting his hopes up over this girl. He started attributing things to their relationship that you simply can’t get without meeting in person first. Sure he ended up being duped, but she was playing into exactly what he wanted to hear, know, and feel. He wanted the girl and the relationship so bad that he forgot about reality.

    Unfortunately, that’s why I think Wendy gets these LWs that tell her they’ve never met their boyfriends.

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  • fast eddie December 6, 2012, 10:11 am

    I have a few online friends that I’ve never meet and value the non-romantic relationships greatly. In a (thankfully) few instances some have attitudes that are abrasive. Even then it was fun for a while.

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    • MsMisery December 7, 2012, 12:52 pm

      Aw yeah, Fast Eddie’s back!

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  • MsMisery December 6, 2012, 1:24 pm

    Back when I used to date, I met several of my boyfriends online, but we always eventually had in-person dates and met each other’s friends and family, etc. I also have a lot of really REALLY good friends that I’ve met through the internet but never met in person. Sometimes that seems weird to me, but they all live far away, so I guess I am glad for the internet (specifically MySpace before it imploded) for bringing us together.

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  • Michelle December 7, 2012, 9:44 am

    I’ve had one online romance with a person from a different country. I guess I could call it an emotional affair, as I was not yet divorced at the time (but on my way to). We talked about meeting up, but we both knew it was very unlikely. We talked on IM, skype, videocalls and even texting and phone calls for a few months. I think I could say I was really in love, which was surprising for me since I didn’t believe in being in love with someone you haven’t actually seen in person. In time we went cold tho, but stayed in touch further. After i finished my divorce, we were still in touch but eventually I started a serious relationship and we stopped talking, permanently. It was a very interesting experience and I remember it with pleasure.

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  • Colloquielle December 12, 2012, 11:24 pm

    I chose “Yes, and we plan to meet soon.”

    “Soon” meaning “a vague point in time most likely after I graduate and actually have a source of income to spend on a trip across the country”.

    It has been about two years. His personality and appearance match with his profile on Facebook, no one’s called him by different names or tagged him in photos that are suspiciously different. So there’s a good chance that honesty is strong.

    I’m choosing to be optimistic about this.

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