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Can Our Relationship Work If We’ve Never Met?

You feel like you’ve met the one. They’re cute, they’re funny, and you feel like you can both talk for days straight. You finish each other’s sentences and you love the same books and movies. You both have similar goals in life. If things look rosy, you might even see a future with this person.

There’s just one thing—you’ve never met them face to face.

There might be several reasons why you haven’t met them yet. It could be an issue of cost, timing, or restricted travel thanks to COVID-19.

So, even though everything is wonderful now, you may be worried if what you’re experiencing with this person is real, and if it’ll last.

Short answer? I think a “never met” situation can certainly work…but you’ll probably find more happiness if you plan to see each other at some point.

How many long distance relationship couples have never met?

Credit: Charles Deluvio

A courier company called ParcelHero conducted their own survey of long distance relationships. They claim that 6% of their respondents have never met face to face. (You can find more long distance relationship statistics here.)

So, “never met” relationships are out there, but they’re definitely in the minority.

The link doesn’t offer any reasons why, but the obvious one is that physically bonding with your partner is a really important part of your relationship. If you really do feel a solid connection with the other person, odds are you’ll both make an effort to meet face to face.

I know, you’re reading a blog about long distance relationships. But the end goal of a long distance relationship to be physically with your partner for good!

There’s nothing wrong with starting out as a couple that has never met before in person. That’s the whole basis of online dating, after all. And when you feel ready and the time is right, you can take that next step of paying them a visit in person.

But a relationship—any relationship—needs that physical aspect. Dr. Gary Brown sees physical touch as a “fundamental human need”.

Online chat makes things easier, but be careful

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It’s easier than ever to connect with strangers online. Whether it’s via online forums, social media, video games, or dedicated dating sites, you can instantly reach out and say hi to someone with the press of a button.

Finding friends online usually involves some kind of shared interest, as well. Striking up a conversation about woodworking with someone online, or bumping into the same player on your favorite MMORPG can lead to a great friendship, and then possibly something deeper.

It can be really exciting to learn more about this mysterious person on the other end of the chat window. You might both become comfortable enough to gradually share more and more details about yourselves. You may find yourself chatting in private sessions. Perhaps you’ll even progress to an audio call…and then (gasp!) you might share a real-life photo of yourself.

(If you’re looking for tips on starting a long distance relationship, you can check out my post here.)

While you’re connecting with your new friend and potential soulmate, just be careful that it’s very easy for someone to mask their identity online. Enjoy your new found relationship, but just take everything with a grain of salt until you know for sure that who you’re talking to is the real deal. 

As the proverb goes, “Trust…but verify”.

Do what works for the both of you

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There may be circumstances where you both simply can’t meet each other. If you’re reading this in 2020/2021, you’ll likely be in smack bang in the middle of a global pandemic. Social distancing requirements and government mandates to close bars, clubs, and restaurants can really make it hard to date traditionally.

If you happened to meet someone online, but realized that you’re both thousands of miles apart from each other, obviously you can’t just meet each other straight away. It’ll take some careful planning and a real motivation to get some plane tickets and visit someone in a foreign place.

Go at your own speed and don’t feel pressured to see each other straight away. If you both want to meet, that time will come.

And apart from all that…maybe whatever you’re doing just works. I said earlier that physical touch is important in a relationship. However, what if you and your partner are perfectly happy having never met each other in real life and would rather keep your relationship virtual? You might be perfectly fine connecting and doing activities 100% virtually…and that’s okay.

As long as you’re both genuinely fine with that, then pursue your own happiness and live your best life.

When it comes to sharing, be selective

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While you may be excited to talk about this great person you’ve met and want to let everyone know how special they are to you…be choosy when it comes to who you share this news with.

Some people can be pretty judgmental when it comes to relationships that go against the grain. And while online dating is a much bigger thing than it was a decade ago, revealing that you’ve never met your partner face-to-face after several months can raise eyebrows.

So be sure to share details only with your innermost circle of confidants. And while you’re at it, keep an eye out for potential candidates for your own long distance relationship support network.

Plan to meet, but take care doing so

Credit: Jonathan J. Castellon

If you’re both comfortable with each other, you’ll eventually both want to take your online relationship to the next level, and that is to meet in person.

It can be really exciting to finally meet this online persona in real life. However, it also comes with a certain degree of risk.

As I mentioned before, the internet makes it easy to craft an online personality that is appealing and attractive. However, when we communicate online, we have the ability to carefully craft our message and project the image that we want.

When seeing someone you met online for the first time, be cautious. The Virginia Tech Police Department has a helpful list of suggestions. I’ll repeat some of them here:

  • Always trust your instincts.
  • Before agreeing to a date, make sure you know as much about the other person as possible.
  • Take your time to get to know someone. Don’t be rushed. A patient person will be happy to wait until you are ready to meet.
  • Always tell a good friend where you are going and who you’re meeting.
  • Always meet in a well-lit public place.
  • If possible, step away and call a friend during the date to confirm that you are safe.
  • Always make your own travel arrangements to and from a first date.

Prepare for change afterwards

Credit: Nathan Dumlao

When you meet someone in real life for the first time, you may find the dynamic of the whole relationship changes. Hearing their voice in person, seeing their mannerisms, touching them, and kissing them will immediately change how you see them and the way you interact with them.

I felt this every time I saw my partner in person…and I had already dated her for a year and a half before we started doing long distance!

Whenever we met, we’d have to relearn all the nuances and the physical parts of our relationship, from holding hands to making love. It didn’t take long to adjust, but there was still that period of becoming familiar with each other again.

The transition from being an online-only couple to having met each other is a big one. You may find that whatever image you had of them in your mind doesn’t align with reality. Or you might discover something new about them that was never revealed when you were both chatting online.

(If you’re looking for tips on a successful life after long distance, I talk about my experiences in this post.)

Give yourself the time and patience to process all this new information that you’re getting. Reconcile that with what you do know, and the feelings you had for them before meeting in person. Do they still make you happy? Can you see yourself continuing this relationship? Does this change your plans and your outlook on life?

Closing thoughts

Being in an online relationship without having met your partner in real life may seem uncommon (and the statistics seem to back that up). But we’re living in an ever connected world that maintains an online presence, and being in a “never met” situation is becoming more common than ever.

As long as you both exhibit honesty and are genuine with each other, you too can have a happy and fulfilling relationship.