Met someone online -- how to avoid the fantasy

Hi. I recently began corresponding with a man I “met” through a website for Catholic singles. I’ve spoken with him on the phone once, and it was a lovely conversation, which he ended with prayer. Seems like a good man.

My friends are telling me to meet him as soon as possible to avoid creating a “fantasy relationship.” While I agree that it is easy to create all sorts of things that aren’t real about a person I’ve never met face to face, this man and I have the reality of living over 500 miles from each other. Therefore, meeting in person, should we ever choose to do that, will be a rather significant commitment of time and money.

So, what are your recommendations for keeping this real? I think we should only talk on the phone once a week at most. What sort of topics would be appropriate for two people who are little more than strangers, but who are seeking God’s will for the relationship?

I’ve spoken with and/or met a few men in my area who I met on the same site, but this is the first one who is not from my area.

Thanks for the advice.

I think the advice to meet soon is good advice. Once you know enough about him to know is that he is keeper material, and you’ve spent enough time on the phone to know that you have a rapport, then it’s definitely worth it to invest the time and the money into meeting in person. It’s a lot better than to invest the time and the emotion into opening up to someone, just to have it lead to nowhere because you aren’t “real” to them. I think that is where the fantasy aspect of it comes in. I think women maybe are more able to feel like they are really getting to know someone by talking to them and finding out about them online or on the phone; whereas, with men I think it is more like you aren’t really real to them as a person, as a woman, until you’ve spent some time together in person. I think women are more capable of falling in love while getting to know someone from the inside out, and men are probably the opposite.

My first reaction was to say sure meet him soon. Then I noticed on your signature that you have a 4 year old and red flags signaled for me. Personally, if I had kids when I was dating, I would take it slllloooooowwwwwwwww. Really slow to make sure this is someone you trust enough to have around your kid.

IMO, I’d say talk daily but just for short time. Ask how was his day, see what he’s like when he’s having a bad day, etc. But please be cautious. Many people have met and things went great and then you read to news and someone met off craigslist and was killed. Just be careful. Maybe bring your friend with you to meet. Even better, make him come to you!

God bless you on your journey and may He keep you and your baby safe!

My advice is not to put any sort of artificial “rules” on your relationship. I wouldn’t put a timetable on meeting. I wouldn’t try to ration talking on the phone, emailing, etc.

I, instead, would let it become what it is meant to be. Discern together through prayer.

I met my DH on Ave Maria. We began emailing in August, and began talking on the phone a few weeks later. We talked on the phone every night for about 30 minutes, sometimes less and sometimes more. We met in person in late February (although we started talking about meeting in late December and planned the timeframe). So, we talked on the phone for 5 months before meeting.

I don’t think there was anything “fantasy” about our relationship just because it was long-distance and we didn’t meet in person until 5 months into it.

And, 500 miles isn’t that much-- we were farther apart than that.

The Internet is part of real life. Since it is quite new we are still working out the rules. It is very hard to know if someone is telling the truth through text, for instance.

Make sure that you both agree on what a relationship should be like, If he wan’t to meet you in person it will come up naturally.

I’d always recommend that, until you are actually engaged, a boyfriend or girlfriend has no status whatsoever. You can’t cheat by seeing someone else. However most people don’t agree with this and think that there are rights to have an exclusive relationship unless you “break up” to terminate those rights. If you don’t agree with me, think hard about what rights you are ceding to this man.

Before the internet, people used to just shake hands and start talking in person, without typing lots of little mesages to each other.

THAT is real. Meet as soon as possible. Then you can decide whether or not to continue.

I would develop a relationship by phone first. I would take it slow…especially if you have a child to think about. You have no idea what this person is about or not…I would take it slow, before investing money flying back and forth, etc. Just my thoughts…good luck though…It would be nice if you found love with this person.:slight_smile:

Thanks to all for your thoughtful input. I am definitely putting my energy into prayer and discernment. My son and I end our prayers each night asking St. Joseph to protect us as he cared for the our Blessed Mother and the Child Jesus.

And thanks for the recommendations to be slow and careful for my son’s sake. I know my vocation is mother, and I will joyfully remain single for his sake if God shows me that’s what’s best for him.

Bless you all. If anyone else has more thoughts to add, please feel free.


To avoid fantasy, you should probably avoid “roleplaying”, you know - /me does this, /me does that. May be hard to do. And long-distance relationships are almost by definition hard to do anyway.

The man you met online may be a fine man. There is some danger that he is not, that he might pose some danger to you and your child. How can you find out about him? In the past women would only even talk with someone with whom they were introduced by a friend who knew the man. The introduction said, I know this man and he is ok. Then it became acceptable to develop relationships with strangers that seemed attractive. Wierdos can be charming. How can you find out more about this man, not from him directly, but from another source? If I were an employer I would check references and look at a resume to check qualifications and character and background. It seems it would be prudent and practical to look into whether what you know about a person you met online is the real story.

I’ve done the internet singles thing. Several times. So I speak from some very hard-won experience.

It is almost invariably bad news. Fewer than 1/3 of the people I met turned out to be who they actually said they were. And this was via a large “Catholic” singles site.

While I like to travel, the whole LDR (long distance romance) thing is fraught with temptation and danger. That is because when you meet, someone has to travel such a long distance, overnight stays (presumably at a hotel) will be required for someone. And the "host, will feel the need to essentially dedicate 100% of their time to the out of town guest. The frequency you meet will be sharply limited so the idea to “make the most of it” may lead to some, well, poor decisions.

But if this person seems intriguing, and you think you can handle an LDR or the person lives locally, I would encourage you to spend a good deal of time speaking on the phone. While I think you should meet in person sooner rather than later, I think it is important that you know the person as well as possible.

There are a lot of creeps out there, both men and women. There are also a grerat of good and well-meaning people. Be cautious until you know which category the person falls into.

And one last thing. In the case of an LDR, the man must make the first few out of town trips. He stays in a hotel and gets his own rental car. You do not have him stay in the spare bedroom nor decide to use your car. The lady needs an “escape route” if things do not turn out well. Also, no money or expensives gifts should be exchanged. Gifts maybe later, but never money, not until you are married to the guy!

Finally, all this is based on the assumption that both of you are free to marry. That is both of you are never married, widowed, or have an anullment **in **hand for all previous attempts at a marriage. Never start a relationship with anyone who, in the eyes of the Church, is still married, not matter how certain it seems their anullment will be granted.

Taking it slow is probably the worst advice you could possibly be given. That will only cause feelings and emotions to build, to the point where the fantasy gets so extreme that neither of you will be able to compete with it if you ever finally meet in real life.

As someone who has done the whole internet dating thing, I need to caution you. We will automatically fill in the blanks how we want. I once met a woman online who I was practically ready to marry. I spoke to her on the phone constantly, and saw over 25 pictures of her. When we finally met, it was a tremendous let down, not just the fact that she looked better in all 25 pictures than she did in real life, but that she was less open with her emotions, and was able to hide certain relevant personality traits from me online, that would be deal breakers, had she been upfront with me.

As the old saying goes, you need to either (you know) or get off the pot. Meet him, or end things. Don’t have your child with you when you meet him, as he may be a vicious murdering sociopath, but meet him, the sooner the better, or choose to totally end things and sever ALL future communication. Otherwise, you are setting yourself, your child, and this man up for tremendous heartbreak. When it comes to online dating, it needs to be with someone local who you can meet within the first 2-3 weeks of talking. Otherwise, it is not worth the time and emotional energy.
This is NOT speculative. This is from someone who has been through it TWICE. (You would think I would have learned the first time.)

Wow, I had no idea this would be so complicated. I hadn’t really thought this whole thing out before I signed up on the Catholic singles site.

I am a woman of prayer and will continue to use this time to draw closer to God. We’ll see what He has planned in His time.

No, I will not expose my son to any of the men I meet until I am well into a courtship and everything about the man “checks out.” How to check him out is the question. I do have a friend who works for a company that she said could do a background check for me. What little I know has checked out so far.

But honestly, I’ve been talking this over with friends, and I’m seriously wondering whether I should even be considering dating in the first place. My son’s needs come first and foremost, as that vocation is quite clear. Marriage as a vocation is something I’m still discerning, like walking to the door to see whether God has locked or unlocked it.

Dating is much more complicated than I thought, but I trust in God’s plan.

Thanks for all your input. I will continue to pray about this. And again, feel free to add any further thoughts you may have.

Gertie (not my real name, but I like it)

I hadn’t meant to discourage you from dating or even from dating anyone you met online. Even though your son’s needs need to be a real priority for you, that doesn’t mean that you dating would be a bad thing for him, provided it is something that you are up for.

I mean, God didn’t plan for us to be solitary independent creatures. Marriage could be very benficial for you, which could in turn help you be a better mother to your son. I know first hand just how deeply lonely being single can be. Staying permanently single should hardly be considered as an ideal. Your son could benefit from having a positive male role model in his life too.

You are wise to consider though that finding a suitable man to have a relationship with is an especially important decision for you to make since it will influence your son’s life as well.

Meeting someone online does give you the chance to evaluate them on a more objective level before you decide to get to know them well enough to have feelings for them. I think a lot of times when you are meeting someone face to face first, you are led more by whether or not they seem nice, rather than whether or not they are objectively a suitable choice for you. There are a lot of personal things I would want to know about someone before I would consider dating them. I think that might be hard to get that kind of information before you started dating someone. That’s why I have sort of shied away from men who seem friendly to me in person, because I have no objective way of evaluating them.

Going slow emotionally with someone you meet online is a good idea, but I do think before you really start to invest emotionally, you should go through the time and expense of meeting in person.

if it were me, I would meet in person. How can you possibly know how you feel about someone before you meet? And with a child, you have to be extra careful. Good luck with your search. I’ll keep you in my prayers.

You didn’t discourage me in the least. But I have been considering my vocation and listening for God’s will. I have good friends so I don’t often feel lonely. And I was in a Benedictine monastery for two years, so I don’t have any fear of living single for the rest of my life. I know God will use my life married or single. But I would like to be married, so I’m thinking that this may be God’s will for me.

I was surprised by the number of people who recommended this, both here and among my friends. I hadn’t seen meeting face to face as something to do until we felt sure we wanted to be “serious.” But how could we know that if we hadn’t yet met? Duh. We have been talking about meeting, and in the meantime we have been chatting online and planning to talk on the phone again when he returns from a trip.

This whole process has been a serious time of learning and growth for me. The questions have been very useful.


Probably none of my business, Gertie, but my position is…
If you have a kid, especially one so young, than you should be putting 100% of your time and energy into the kid.

I understand it would be good for a child to have a father, but without knowing the future or how it will work out, having men come into an out of her life would not be beneficial.

Right now your energies should be devoted to the child and nowhere else. I have always told myself that if something ever happened to MY wife (I have an 11 year old daughter) I would expect to remain single until my daughter was on her own.

If you could predict the future with 100% accuracy, and know for sure that this man would be the one, and you would marry him and adopt your daughter, that would be fine. But you can’t know.
You can’t risk hurting or confusing your daughter at all.

I am sorry, but I just cannot agree with any of this. Joe, I do not believe you understand what it can be like to raise a child on your own. Nor do I believe that you understand to frustration of being alone or lonely, with the weight of the world on your shoulders. I am sorry, but I think this is not very constructive, whether it be from a secular or Catholic perspective.

I disagree. Whether you are married or single, you should never put 100% into your kids, because then there is nothing left for you, and if you are married, there is nothing left for your spouse. You can’t be an effective mother if you aren’t investing in yourself, and if you are married, your marriage is going to suffer if you don’t invest in it. In turn, that will cause your children to suffer as well.

I’m new to being a Catholic, so I could be wrong, but I don’t think that motherhood is a vocation. Marriage is a vocation, and motherhood comes from marriage. Ideally your priorities should be first to God, then to your marriage, and then to your kids. I say that ideally because if you are in a situation where you are married to someone who is a threat to your kids, you can’t follow that order, and if you are not married that order is already broken. However, I think when you consider looking for a spouse, you need to find one who can fit into that order. If you find a man who is spiritually and emotionally balanced, investing in him will in the end lead to a better investment for your child than what you could provide on your own.

:thumbsup: :thumbsup: :thumbsup:

The best way to love your children is to love your spouse. If you do not have a spouse, love yourself enough to attract one who will love you and yor your children! :slight_smile:

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