Meeting a longtime friend in real life. How do I alleviate family concerns?

I agree that the no picture thing is the strangest part of the whole story. I can’t imagine that in 7 years there were no events in either of your lives that weren’t captured and that you wouldn’t want to share. Either she’s a friend or she isn’t; but the lack of a single photo would give me pause.

I have a good friend I’ve only ever chatted with online. I’ve known her for 5 years and never seen a picture of her. She says she has issues with photos in general (not just of her) and I’d guess she’s also shy/uncomfortable with how she looks. Very few people I know online have ever seen a picture of me either, and I’d bet I’ve had a lot more online “friends” than the vast majority of people here. So I’d say it’s unusual but not in any kind of suspicious way. She’s probably just uncomfortable with her appearance, or how she looks in photos at least.

But you’ve never flown across the Atlantic to meet her. If you’re planning on doing that, you should at least have a photo.

That’s incredibly odd. Way more odd than anything else in this scenario, but you are both apparently cool with it so OK. Honestly the while scenario is a bit weird re the going to England specifically to see an online buddy you have never even glimpsed an image of.

People who do something like this that involves this level of dollars and commitment to see their online friend are in “hopeful romantic” hookup scenarios the vast majority of the time.

I hate having pictures of myself online, and I have very few. If you’re not counting school postings (where I’m required to post a photo of myself as part of my grade) then I don’t have ANY that are posted by me, and of the ones posted by other people, most of them have kindly “untagged” me at my request.

I don’t like the way I look, so I don’t want pictures out there of me, and I like the anonymity of the internet when there’s nothing but my words to go by. I have never had an “online friend” the way that **Divey **does, but I do work with a few people online. We’ve worked together for going on two years now, exchanging emails at least three or four times a week, and they’ve never seen what I look like. I wonder now if they think I’m a freak or an axe murderer…

Eh, I don’t think there are any photos of me in existence that weren’t taken a minimum of five years ago. Have a nice trip! :slight_smile:

Just don’t watch Catfishbefore you go, or at least make sure your family doesn’t.

Nobody? Ever? :dubious:
FWIW, I agree with you about the level of danger, but I don’t think you’re helping your point. Plenty of people recognize that going home with a stranger is plenty dangerous, and make safety plans accordingly (letting a friend know where you are, planning a check-in call, etc).

Or a shared interest. I once traveled from Boston to North Carolina for the Outer Banks Marathon and rented a house with a bunch of people, most of whom I had only met online. My husband was plenty freaked out about my safety, I’ll grant you that. But I had been chatting with these people for years and had met some of them and felt that I knew all of them.

The lack of photos is a bit unusual, I agree. I never think to exchange photos of myself with online friends, but most people do. After a few years, you usually end up sharing a few photos. My closest online friend (of six years or so) and I mostly send each other pictures of food or our families. Maybe this would be a good time to share a picture?

If and when I do that I’ll get a photo of her, but likely not until the last minute. There has been no photo yet, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be one.

Anyway, the point I was making is that it’s especially unusual for online friends to never exchange photos, as some people in this thread have said.

In WoW, I have a couple of guildmates who I know a lot about but who absolutely refuse to share their pictures online (they’re a long-distance couple). I think they’re both overweight and self-conscious about it, for one. Also, they’re both techie types and very paranoid about sharing personal information online–photos are treated the same as private bank information to them.

They’re weird, yes, but really nice and cool folks who I wouldn’t hesitate to visit. They’re going to be getting married in the next couple years (he’s in Iowa and she’s in Canada, so they need to get the immigration thing ironed out first). I would absolutely go to Iowa for their wedding, sight unseen, because I already know so much about them.

It just depends on the people involved. Yeah, it’s a bit weird to refuse to share pictures online, but I don’t think it’s a dealbreaker to friendship. If it were a romantic relationship, though, it would be.


I have a friend I made online (we talked about books a lot) and that I met after about five years of friendship. We mostly interacted through our blogs, on which both of us mostly talked about books and neither of us posted pictures of ourselves, so we had no idea what the other looked like. Recently I had a business trip to where she lived, and we made arrangements to meet for the first time and have dinner.

I started describing myself in some detail in an email when we made plans to meet, and my friend was all “uh, here’s a picture of me.” I was flabbergasted at this simple solution! What will those kids think of next! So I sent her a pic, we recognized each other when we met, and all was well (and we had a great time).

OP, is there any reason you can’t exchange pics through email now?

Re: not sending pictures. It wasn’t a matter of not wanting or being able to send pictures on either of our parts, it just never came up. We’ve exchanged pictures of other things, like pets or something-- but none of ourselves. I think it’s because we’re both introverts who are protective of our privacy; I don’t have myself as my profile pic on Facebook and, like Lasciel, I don’t have any pictures of myself online that someone else didn’t take and post; in fact, there’s only one, taken of me back in 2000, when I was in high school.

And again, there’s no romantic interest on either side, only multiple common interests.

As for her sending me pictures, she says she had the same idea to swap pictures before the trip. I asked for one, and she sent three. I’ll send mine tonight.

Am I the only person who thinks that this is actually the part that is a bit odd?

It’s not necessarily bad, but it does seem incredibly intense, especially for someone you’ve never met in person. The only person in the world that I have that constant a relationship with is my husband, and if I’m traveling and we don’t talk for a few days it doesn’t bother me.

Perhaps not nobody ever, but it seems rare to me. I don’t know, I’ve never done it, but it seems like it’s no big deal to most people, and yet these same people get really paranoid when meeting over the Internet.

I’m currently visiting a friend I originally met online on a small, horse-centric message board. We knew each other online for 8 years before we met in person, and I was the one to travel to her. I drove 20some hours, with my truck and horse trailer & horse, to go stay at her house and take part in in a riding clinic. That was 10 years or so ago, we hit it off immediately and have remained good friends.

I say give your family some platitudes about staying safe, have some contingency plans in hand, and go and have fun. It may be a disaster but I doubt it, I bet you’ll have a great time.

Oh, and I don’t think my friend and I ever deliberately shared pictures, but I don’t really remember. It certainly wasn’t a concern of mine.

I suppose it doesn’t necessarily have to be long emails. When I was in 8th-9th grade I had a pen pal that I met through the fan forum of a band I liked (still like) and we’d email pretty much every day, but just little short emails. Come to think of it, I have no idea what she looked like, we never exchanged photos of each other although we did of pets and I sent her pictures of my fashion show designs. I bet some of that had to do with parents potentially being upset about sending our pictures however. I never did meet her in person and we gradually lost touch.

Along the years I’ve met half a dozen people in real life I’ve met through the internet, often with either me or the friend flying to live with the other for a week or so. Everybody has been pretty much as I expected and all the meetings have gone well enough. If you’ve kept contact daily for 7 years, you know your friend already. I bet everything will go just fine.

Of course, it is hard to convey to relatives the fact you know your friend well enough at this point. That shouldn’t stop you, though.

The good friend I only know online who I mentioned earlier is someone I (until recently) chatted with every day. It’s easier to have a relationship like that with someone if you’re not actually in the same room with them. It seems much less intense, anyway.

It depends a lot on the person. I think actual conversations with the same person every day is a bit unusual. Emails every day are normal even if not common, especially among women. On the other side of the spectrum is you, if you’re happy to not talk to your husband for a few days. I think most people would at least want some phone calls, or at least texts/emails in that situation, but it’s still not terribly odd.