Often times, an online romance leads to nowhere, not because it had no chance of developing into a real relationship, but because one or both people get all caught up with the “idea” of the other person. The feelings are real and strong, but these strong feelings may be for an imagined person who does not exist.
When they meet the real person, they are devastatingly disappointed that they spent so much time and emotions loving someone who doesn’t exist. They were tricked by their own mind.
How do you make sure your mind isn’t playing games with you (again)?
There is no fool-proof way and there are no guarantees — same as in all relationships. But there are two important things you can do to reduce the risk of having your heart broken by an online romance.
1. Make genuine effort to really get to know the other real person is.
If you set out to find a partner based on some Hollywood romantic fantasy, you’ll be disappointed when fantasy meets reality. This is a 100% guarantee you can take to the bank.
Don’t let your romantic fantasies, unrealistic expectations and fears try to find love for you. Instead spend time getting to know the other person; not the person you wish they were but the person they really are. This requires curiosity, genuine interest in what the other person is communicating and a sincere effort to seek and find all the barriers and defenses they have built to protect themselves.
Listen to what they verbalize but pay even more attention to what is not being said; the “words” in the silences. And do not be afraid to ask if there is something they need to share. Your objective should not be to discover information about them so that you can use it as a weapon of control and manipulation (most people can sense your intentions and emotionally shut you out), but rather gather this information so that you can honour their fears, accept their actions, and really see the person for who they really are.
2. Be completely honest with yourself and with the other person right from the very beginning.
True love requires us to be emotionally honest not just with others but with ourselves. To be completely emotionally honest is to expose our most vulnerable aspects. Many of us find this difficult to do because we have been trained from childhood to be emotionally dishonest with ourselves and with others. We have this inner sense of how much emotional vulnerability we can risk and how much love we can give to get love.
This imprint of quantitative measures of affection or love based on childhood lessons shapes our behaviors, beliefs, and expectations of all our relationships. Because we (erroneously) believe that our words, actions, efforts or contributions are always going to be measured and judged by others in this quantitative way, we do things in ways that we think will give us a favourable score: exaggerate those qualities that we think are more favourable, gloss over those we think will bring down our favourability score or simply hide away the “ugly” truth altogether.
You can never be truly loved if you are not truly known. So, if you want to experience true love, you must allow yourself to be truly seen and known. Only and only then can you be truly loved or feel truly loved for who you really are.
And don’t be shy about finding out just how much the other person really knows you. I have had experiences with guys who after knowing me for only a few weeks told me they knew instantly, from the minute they met me that I was the woman they had been waiting for all their lives. When I asked them what it was about me that made them so sure, they described the woman that they’ve been dreaming about. The woman they described wasn’t me at all. They were often women these men wanted me to be. They either had not been listening to who I told them I was or listened but had somehow managed to convince themselves they knew me better than I knew myself. As it turned out, they didn’t know me well enough or didn’t know me at all.
If you’re confident that you’re a great catch and believe that you have great qualities, taking the risk of finding out whether a man or woman who says they loves you, sees you for who and what you really are, is well worth it. Your long-distance heartthrob or online crash might actually ace the “love test”. How oh-so romantic is that?!
In short, if you’re considering dating from a distance or are in an online relationship, make sure:
1) You are not obsessed with an imagined person who does not exist and
2) You’re giving the other person the opportunity to really get to know you and soak in the beauty of your spirit and personality. When fantasy meets reality, they’ll remember all the things that gave them so much hope and happiness.