Long-distance Relationships: an Internet phenomenon and challenge
By Tom P Blake Finding Love After 50
Note from Tom: This article first was published October 25, 2002. It has been updated in 2016.
I'm amazed at the number of Orange County singles involved in long-distance relationships. Most but not all meet on the Internet, where finding singles in other parts of the country is easy.
Several singles shared their long-distance relationship experiences and thoughts. Gordon, Anaheim, California, corresponded with a Scottish woman named Anne. When Anne came to the United States to live with Gordon, they had never met. Gordon said: “Long-distance romances can work if you're honest during the correspondence phase. Now, 56 years, five children, 10 grandchildren and three great grandchildren later, we are still happily married.” They met during World War II.
Note from Tom: I advise people in 2016 to meet in person before one of them moves to live with the other. In Gordon and Anne’s case, this obviously worked for them, but considering the war-time conditions, their chances of success were likely higher then than now.
In July, 2002, I wrote about Mary from Modesto, who used the Internet to meet an Orange County man. Over time they established trust and promised to build a life together.
She said, “I gave up my job, my two beautiful cats, an apartment and a lot of friends.” Two weeks after she moved in, Mary found out he was corresponding with other women and confronted him. He threw her out on the spot. Mary says: It took me nine months to rebuild my life. Don't trust what someone says online. If they're so good, why are they looking out of their area for someone? I saw no red flags, because all seemed so normal.
Patrick of Laguna Beach said: “Long-distance relationships work well for people who don't want to get too close and only want a limited commitment. If one party has to move, a new dynamic of having to fit it in comes into play. For long-distance relationships to work, one of the parties will have to move, and that's a huge consideration.”
Giselle, 61, of New Orleans, divorced four years, said: Visiting for a few days or going on trips together is no substitute for staying a minimum of a week in the home of the person where you'll be moving. Skip the fancy dinners and parties during that time and do day-to-day stuff. If the man is still working, he shouldn't take work off. That will show what you'll cope with. I fell in love with an image. Instead, I got a man who lost his temper and was frugal to the point of insanity.”
Mary, San Clemente, said: “Long-distance relationships cloud reality. You spend so little time together that you overlook a lot. That works until you make it permanent, and then all the things that were previously hinted at, manifest.”
Monica considered herself to be the queen of long-distance relationships. Three years ago she met Greg on the Internet and moved from Mission Viejo, Calif., to Gulf Shores, Fla.
Monica’s advice regarding long-distance relationships
“Try to meet in person within a month so you won't invest a lot of time, money and emotions into someone who may not be right for you. Face-to-face chemistry is unpredictable and often doesn't materialize.
“Before moving spend several weeks with the person at different times of the year and meet and spend quality time with his family, friends and children.
“When you initially meet, have a backup plan to stay at a hotel or return home sooner. And when you move, have another backup plan in case the move doesn't work out. Make sure you can return to your old life if you need to. Don't join assets until you're in a committed relationship.
“Don't be in a long-distance relationship with someone you can't trust. Always wondering if he's telling you the truth will drive you nuts.
“Try not to go weeks without spending time together. People can change in that amount of time, and you may not be able to recognize the change via the phone or computer.
“If you decide to move, discuss expectations beforehand.”
Most long-distance relationships don't work out. Gordon’s World War II long distance relationship and Monica’s 2002 long-distance relationship worked out. They are the exception.
If people follow Monica's advice, are honest and move slowly, they'll improve their chances of ending up in a happy relationship together. Success can happen in 2016 and beyond, just follow that advice.