What about the long-distance romances that turn ugly?

Here and in many parts of the internet I’ll hear stories about people that met online, often far apart (in different countries, sometimes). The stories I always hear are positive ones, people that corresponded for a long time, eventually met, moved in together, and so on.

But I’m curious in the trainwrecks. Ever met someone online from far away and have it go really really awkward? I have.

Five years ago I was depressed and insecure. I always felt like the people I was meeting online were much less into me than I was into them. I met a lot of people online, primarily through dating websites. Most of them were driving distance, and I had told myself I wasn’t willing to try to develop a relationship that was a plane ride away- too hard/expensive to see each other frequently, too many things that could go wrong.

I was on shudder Craigslist and started talking with this woman from LA. From her pictures and conversation she seemed like just the kind of person I was looking for- worked full-time as a History teacher in High School, had a Master’s degree, owned her own home. She sounded like somebody balanced and interested in a relationship. After talking for several weeks, she expressed interest in meeting in person.

Now, at this point I wasn’t interested in flying out to LA to meet someone I potentially might not care for in real life. No matter how pretty and normal she seemed like online I didn’t want to have an awkward situation potentially happen. She was willing to fly up to see me, so I decided to have her spend the weekend with me (big mistake, in hindsight). I drive to the airport to pick her up…

…And she is far less attractive looking to me than she was in the photos. Its like an episode of ‘Catfish’ except I’m in this awkward situation where I’ve suddenly realized that the last couple of weeks have probably been bad judgement. And like any person with questionable decision-making abilities in moments like this, I double-down on the bad choices. I decide that maybe looks aren’t everything, maybe she has a great personality and if I find her really fun to hang out with in spite of her appearance maybe it can work (bad idea). We go back to my apartment, watch a movie, have sex, and go to sleep. Strangely enough, in spite of not being physically attracted to her, the sex was good, which made me decide to really give her the weekend to see how I felt about her.

The next day, we go out and I show her my hometown, we go see a play and I take her out to dinner. Through the day, I’m finding that things I thought I wanted were not what I wanted. In talking to her and observing her body language, I found her to be very insecure, needy, and cynical. When we got back to my apartment, she knew something was up and I admitted that I wasn’t as into her as she was into me. She was understandably upset, but at the time I was desperately hoping she felt the same way- that we were just two lonely desperate people that hooked up and decided, “That was fun but nah, not feeling it”. It turns out she really thought this was going to be a Super Serious Full Blown relationship, in spite of living hundreds of miles apart and only knowing each other for a few weeks. She at first seemed like she wanted to go straight home, and I offered to call her a cab if she didn’t want to be around me anymore, but she changed her mind and decided to stay the night, where more awkward dysfunctional sex occurred. I drove her back to the airport the next morning and the following day she blew up my facebook and email talking about what a horrible deceptive piece of shit I was before unfriending me in huff.

Because of her age and her lifestyle I had been under the assumption that she was mature enough to take the risk. If you are willing to fly hundreds of miles to meet someone, you are willing to risk the possibility that it doesn’t work out. I repeatedly told her online I’d enjoy having her over for the weekend but that both of us needed to be realistic that there may or may not be chemistry. After the weekend, she accused me of leading her on into thinking I was interested in a relationship, when on my end I was trying to get to know her better. The whole reason I wasn’t willing to fly up there was because I knew the risk it might get awkward and didn’t want to take it. I assumed because she was so eager to fly to me she’d be able to handle the possibility that we wouldn’t click.

You should have been the one to go see her, then you could control when you exited yourself from the situation. Never had anything like that happen to me.

Have you ever met someone online that had to take a plane flight to meet you? What would you have done if they turned out to be far less attractive/interesting than you originally thought? Peeled out of the airport and left them :confused: at the terminal?

You do have a point that by going there I would have some control over removing myself. But she had the same control. She could have called a cab, went to the airport, and took a redeye back to LA. Or just took a cab to a motel nearby and flew back when she originally planned.

I have a friend who’s become completely obsessed with this guy from Sweden. They had an online relationship and met once when he came to the states for business. That meeting went well, but she wanted him to seriously commit- as in moving to the US or her moving to Sweden and he was not ready for that. They broke things off about a year ago (after two years of talking online) and pretty much all of her posts on Facebook and Twitter are about how horrible this guy is, how he’s a loser for not committing to her, blah blah blah. She also thinks he is sending her secret messages and she sends him “secret messages.”

She is currently in therapy, but so far has been unable to admit that she is acting irrationally and frankly, I think she’s also delusional. I’ve distanced myself from her on social media and unfortunately have stopped reaching out to her in person because she’s just not interested in anything but this guy (and taking selfies of herself in expensive designer clothes despite claiming to be broke). I’m not exactly sure how her other friends feel about this situation, but someone did confront her about enjoying the drama and my friend’s response was “we will never experience the romance she has.” Right.

I sincerely hope she gets the help she needs, but after trying to be supportive and her continuing to refuse help, I need to step away.

He said he wasn’t interested enough to do this.

IMO and I’m no expert but I know several people to have done this kind of thing.

I think most people get into these long distance romances for the same reason women marry men who are in prison.
It’s a way of having a relationship without really having one, like having an imaginary lover. You get the romance, the talking, the feeling of something special but the truth is, its not real. It’s safer than having a real relationship, you can make it be whatever you want it to be.
I think it’s not so bad if the people involved aren’t ready for a real relationship and it’s a temporary fling. Its when one or both think it’s something real, think they are in love and start living in a fantasy world, wasting years of their life when they could be out having a real relationship with a live person.
I know people who have spent years being ‘in love’ with somebody online that they have never met and probably never will meet.
The reality is, you have no idea who is on the other end of the connection. Pictures don’t mean anything, even phone calls don’t mean anything. There are scammers who do it for fun, and some who do it for profit as well.
Like I told a friend one time, you think you are cyber sexing with some cute 26 year old brunette and for all you know it could be with an overweight, balding, toothless 80 year old man.

There was even a case of a murder. where one man (Thomas Montgomery) killed his rival (Brian Barrett) for a woman (Mary Sheiler) neither had even met in person. Turns out the woman they were fighting over wasn’t even who she said she was, she had been using her 18 year old daughters photo.

I think it’s just craziness to think its real or to take it seriously until after you have met in person and have really gotten to know each other. I can understand having an attraction and hoping that it might lead to something good, but to expect anything more than that is delusional.

Men and women are different. It’s quite possible she assumed you were into her simply because you had sex with her. Then you told her you weren’t into her, but you had sex again.She even stated on Facebook you were “deceptive”. Many women believe sex equals attractiveness, desire, chemistry, fireworks, possible relationship, love…etc
Stupid question,but why did you have sex with her twice knowing you weren’t into her?

Because I was dumb? And that I figured even if we didn’t click, we could still have a hookup over the weekend. I don’t think men and women are that different; both are willing to have one night stands. And when people are lonely and insecure, they’re desperate enough to take what they can get.

The change from long-distance to living together is difficult. That’s where the “horror” is.

I have a friend who I lived with in college named J, and she got into an online relationship with a guy in california. She flew down to meet him, said it was the most awkward experience of her life, and he was completely different than how he interacted online. They had done lots of live webcam chatting so it wasn’t an issue of being deceived physically.

Later on, she did the same thing with a boy from Illinois, and they have been happily together, and married, for quite some time now.

I’ve had a couple. Long-distance makes it difficult to judge things that would normally be obvious in person, like whether the other person is feeling it way more/less than you are. It usually ended when I found myself thinking ‘hey, you’re cool, we can chat a lot and when you’re in town we can have in-person date fun’ and he decided to start a conversation about ‘so, I’m thinking of moving many thousands of miles to be with you’. Uh. Not a good idea. :smack:

That was about a decade ago. I’ve since gotten much better at figuring out when one of us is on the wrong side of the Just Not That Into You divide.

You are presenting this scenario as an unfortunate, unforeseeable circumstance. Taking the 20,000 foot view …a woman willing to travel a long way to come meet you and have sex immediately, despite it being the first time she has met you in person, is desperately wanting you to like her and is carrying wheelbarrow full of expectations you could see her hauling in from a mile away. There is almost no way that a person desperate enough to present herself to you like this was going to shrug her shoulders and say “no harm no foul” if you rejected her.

You guys should have just had a date to two. The immediate sex is really what made everything awkward.

I’m currently in a relationship that started long-distance (Illinois to New York). I moved out here to live with him, and it’s going great. But I was involved in two trainwrecks prior to meeting him.

Back in college, a guy from one of those tiny eastern states (Connecticut maybe?) came out to spend a week with me. It wasn’t a disaster, but we were both depressed and mostly just played computer games and hung out. We stayed friends afterward, but both tacitly understood that neither of us was in a position to pick up and move cross-country. So a relationship just wasn’t in the cards. I wouldn’t say it was ugly as much as a waste of money for us both.

A few years later, I flew out to Nevada to spend a week with a guy. I was very (and ultimately too) enthusiastic about it, because I had dropped out of college and was working a shitty retail job while living with my mother. The intent was to see how well we meshed, but in retrospect I was fantasizing that he would rescue me. It was a fucking disaster. We were both pretty mentally dysfunctional, he sent mixed signals all week, I was too clingy. He wanted nothing to do with me afterward. I felt frankly broken for awhile after that trip, but ultimately that’s the relationship from which I learned the most.

The relationship which led to my marriage started as long distance. We weren’t dating at the time – we were just friends who had mutual friends in an online forum (not the Dope, btw), and he was moving back here for a job and didn’t have time to look for a place to live, so I did his footwork. When we finally met, there was no instantaneous romance. It just developed gradually.

Oh…bad stories? Another online romance, same forum where my husband and I met. Had no idea what a mess the guy was because, of course, he didn’t present himself that way. He’d call me a couple of times a week and we’d IM the rest of the time (he knew my work schedule and was unemployed at the time so he’d just wait to message me the minute I got home).

I think I was so smitten with his attention that I overlooked the unemployed bit, but that’s getting ahead of the story. Like others have said, at that point in my life I was bored, lonely (it had been a couple of years since my last relationship) and my place of employment wasn’t exactly teeming with single men.

Eventually I saved enough money to fly out to meet him. We had discussed logistics, we exchanged photos so we’d recognize each other at the airport yadda yadda.

I flew out. He was waiting at the gate…and I deflated when I saw him. I don’t know how to explain it other than, you know how sometimes a photo looks better than in person? The photo he’d sent me must have been over ten years old…OTOH he was over the moon with me and there I was trying not to cringe.

The other thing? He had no money except to take me out to dinner at some hole in the wall diner. I paid for us to go the movies. Otherwise we just drove around, my paying for gas.

We didn’t sleep together. I was just not attracted. He finally got the hint. Somehow we managed to be civil to each other until I caught my flight home two days later.

What I found out afterward: He was in the middle of a divorce. His soon-to-be-ex and their son lived two buildings away from where he was and knew I was there. I also wasn’t the first woman he’d romanced online because other women had preceded me.

Sounds like it to me. Casual hookup sex is fine and dandy, but is only going to work if both parties are aware that’s all it is.

A Canadian friend of mine met a guy from Australia and he ended up spending a week with her during his vacation in Canada. She didn’t feel much of a connection, and found him pretty annoying after a day or so, but she was happy for a shot at some have casual no-strings-attached sex. Unfortunately, he was crazy about her and took her sexual interest as a sign she was just as into him. It turned into a horribly awkward time.

My own long-distance relationship worked out wonderfully, but I’m aware that my story is far from the average.

I dunno if the OP just wants bad stories, but I met my wife online and the funny thing was when we met it felt like we had already been in a relationship. It has certainly been rewarding, hard too but it wasn’t that big a deal to me.

Maybe if you’re a real weirdo or nerd like me and you click with someone, I’d say go for it.:smiley:

EDIT:Oh yea for years before we met we never spent more than 24 hours without speaking for hours, usually nightly until we both left. Oh and bluetooth and VOIP makes for some interesting teleprescence possibilities even when you’re both on other sides of the world.

Maybe. But being that this woman was older than myself, had previous relationships and hookups, and was flying out to meet me to see how we feel about things, I guess I assumed she knew how it might possibly turn out. After all, I wasn’t willing to fly down there. This woman wasn’t a naive child, and I hadn’t promised her anything specific- it was more of a ‘lets see how things go’.

I met a longtime Doper for lunch ages ago (just a lunch between fellow board members who realized they weren’t too far apart, nothing at all romantic behind it- a teeny-tiny Dopefest if you will). The person was nothing like their board presence, and spent most of the lunch making horribly disparaging remarks about various long-time, beloved posters and the board in general.

What’s funny is this person was fairly low on the Dope totem pole back when we met up, and not long after became a much-beloved board member (though hasn’t been around in a good while). Every now and then their name will come up, and I’m always like “Folks, if you ONLY KNEW…”

My current relationship, OTOH, began as a long-distance online deal, and resulted in a move on my part. Almost three years and going strong!

Oh, shit. There’s a totem pole?

Ok, guys, honestly* tell me: how am I doing?

*Unless I’m really low. Then lie to me.

Who are you again?