Dear Dr. Lovemonkey,
I met a man on the Internet about six months ago. At first we sort of both were irritating each other but, after I while, I fell for him. He's 42 and I'm 31. He has told me that he has three children, two with one ex-girlfriend and another with a more recent girlfriend. He's not involved with either of them anymore, but does have a presence in his children's lives. He also has acknowledged to me that he has communicated with other women over the Internet. I appreciate his honesty in all of this and, recently, he has told me that he thinks he's falling for me. We live about 700 miles away from each other but he also says that he wants to come and visit this summer. I am very interested and, at the same time, very confused. I don't want to have sex with him right away, yet I'm intrigued. Should I let him visit? Am I acting dangerously?
Confused but Interested
There is good reason for you to be confused. There is always danger with Internet "relationships" because, first of all, they aren't really relationships but rely heavily on extended fantasies. Basically, you don't really know this person. People can say anything about themselves via email and you have no way of being able to confirm the truthfulness of these claims. Obviously, you will discover a lot more about someone if you meet them face to face, witness their body language, watch how they act, and assess their honesty and integrity up-close. This is not, however, without danger. If you choose to meet this guy, I would suggest that it be in a public place and with perhaps one or two other good friends there as well. (Their input as to what they think of this guy might be of value, too.) I can't tell you what to do, but can only remind you that there are a number of risks associated with such a move. Something about the line "being a presence in his children's lives" weirds me out.
HARDLY GETTING OVER IT
Dear Dr. Lovemonkey,
I am 22 years old and, from the time I was 19, I have only gone out with one guy. When we broke up about 11 months ago, I was devastated. Since then, I've only gone out with one other guy, but I have to confess that the whole time I was with him, I was hoping for my ex to come back. Presently, I'm not seeing anyone, but every time I travel through the part of town where my ex lives, I look for his car and other signs of him. I don't know what to do!! I don't seem to be getting over this and I don't have any realistic hope that he'll be coming back to me. (He is involved with someone else now and it appears that they are happy.) What can I do?
Heartbroken and Unhappy
When you've loved someone, those feelings never totally disappear but they do fade, with time. Because you are holding a torch for your ex and refusing to fully accept the reality of what has happened, you are inadvertently prolonging your misery. Here's something that you could try to do. I'm assuming that your ex was not perfect and that there were things about him that you did not always like. Make a list of those things and study it carefully. Whenever you're feeling like you're missing him, check out the list. And, while you're checking out the list, think of other guys you know who do not manifest these negative qualities. Know that there are a lot of people out there who you might click with. Try to get involved with other people (not in a romantic way — you're not ready for that yet) and other activities. Time is your friend.