Perils of online puppy love

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I met my boyfriend, life-partner, what-have-you of three years online. My first attempt at a reply was so impersonal sounding I made it a weblog entry: Oh, so you think you've met someone special online?

I've decided to do the same with my actual reply:

Charles is nelly, socially aggressive, skinny. My erotic response started the first time I heard his voice on the telephone. When we met I found that I enjoyed being with him and was happy to do whatever he wanted, go wherever he wanted to go; I just plain enjoyed being with him.

Since you two haven't actually met neither of you can really know how you feel about each other yet. There are too many inexplicit, subtle little bits of each other you've yet to experience. (I'm sure you really know this but I think the most I can do in my answer is help you clarify what you've probably already considered yourself.)

I'd also thought myself having great self-control, Charles certainly proved that a lie.

Judging by myself you have lots of inner changes in your future when you are young (and in the later years if you are an interesting person). Not that I'd let that deter me if I had your feelings for someone. (Certainly not if I were your age.)

I'd say that actually meeting has to be your highest priority. (I empathize with you there, the neatest gay men online were always too far away for me to meet.) The reasons are twofold. Until you two are in the same place you can't begin to know about how you feel about the individual instead of the loveable person on the other end of an instant messaging client. The longer you wait the more idealized your feelings for each other may become. That might make it harder to accept reality when it is met.

I usually met people for coffee as soon as mutual interest was expressed. Mostly it meant that coffee we would ever share. Got that out of the way quickly. But with over a thousand miles between you . . . I don't know a thing about either of you guys' freedom of movement or ability to find the case to arrange a meeting.

Evelyn Waugh said "Never apologize, never explain." Not really good practice if you aren't a world famous novelist.

There's nothing wrong with 'puppy love.' Love begins as many things, foolish tenderness, lust, a smile that makes you a sucker. It isn't an experience you can program.

I've tended to be calm and logical and do many illogical, sometimes silly, even dangerous things.

Calling myself a dirty old man is just a joke. Partly it expresses relief that I didn't grow up to be a pedophile (which I was when I was very young). And it is meant as a self-deprecating statement of my appreciation of where my age puts me.

Don't apologize for emailing me.

Or for writing a long email.

Or for saying that you like what I've written about my life with the guy I love.

Hope you don't mind that I'm going to make this a weblog entry. (One reason I've carefully kept places and names out.)

No matter what you do I don't think you can escape having your heart broken a few times. Only people I can think of whom never have were too timid (although they may imagine themselves hard) to take the risk of a relationship. And there are plenty of straight people who if their heart wasn't 'broken' secretly half-wish they'd never given birth to the child that has held them in a marriage they regret.

I haven't a clue if this is helpful or not but it is what I thought of to say.

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I think you’ve offered solid advice, Richard.

The 2-1/2 year relationship between me and Mike started with online contacts a little over 3 years ago, and wasn’t face-to-face on a daily basis until 9 months ago. We would have liked for things to come together geographically much sooner, but various things got in the way. Now that we’re together, Mike’s getting transferred and I’ve shifted to free-lance work, so we’re moving together.

In my book, long-distance relationships can work especially if both people are good communicators by phone, chat or email. It also helps if both are reasonably self-sufficient emotionally. (Conversely, not a good fit for those who don’t trust each other or need to know and/or have some control over their loved one.)

It’s also a relationship mode which relies on mystery. I think all good relationships have some mystery anyway, but the distance means that it takes longer getting familiar with the idosyncracies of your loved one. After 9 months face-to-face (not a terribly long time, I know), I’m still learning plenty about Mike day by day.

Transitioning from long-distance to shared-space can be a challenge, too… ya gotta give that some time and patience.

Awareness of the risks is key, too. I’ve known a few folks who uprooted themselves only to find that the relationship washed out after just a couple weeks. Before making a big move, it’s smart to figure out whether there are good reasons for making it even without the relationship in the picture, and think twice about it if the only back-out plan is scurrying back home.

And, absolutely, the face-to-face meeting is important. Stop and think about odd habits that drive you absolutely up the wall (chewing ice or other crunchy stuff open-mouthed is one of mine) and ask yourself what you’ll do if/when this person does something that is enough to make you walk away from a stranger in a bar.

I think it’s all worthwhile, though. I like thoughtful, verbal people, and Mike’s writings still turn me on. In me he found someone unlike anyone he’d met before. We’re pretty damned happy together.

Your feelings?

Please share your feelings about Perils of online puppy love.

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