Do online relationships actually work? Is it possible to fall in love with someone you’ve never met in person?
Have you had the experience of being super excited for a friend who just shared that they’re madly in love, until they tell you, “We finally get to meet in person next month!” Inside your head, you probably hear yourself say, “They’ve lost their mind!” It’s true that they have, indeed, temporarily lost their mind… But not their heart.
The most common response from friends is to feel concern. Meanwhile, love experts, therapists, and relationship coaches say that it’s not possible and that the love is a fantasy — an illusion or a projection. Bust that belief, right here and now! The good news is, loving someone can happen at any moment, even online, even if you’ve never met in person, and even if they are 10,000 miles away. If someone tells you differently, expert or not, they are absolutely wrong!
First things first, let’s describe love.
This is critical because there are almost as many definitions for love as there are people. Defining love is a huge trap. Nothing gets us into bigger trouble nor creates more sorrow than when we put a definition around love. Most of us have read slogans like, “You are loved!” or, “You are love!” These often pop up in bathrooms, taped to a mirror. They’re sweet reminders, but also so much more than that. They are profoundly true.
Love is not outside of you — you are love.
And to fully understand how love can exist between people who have never met, you must understand that love is within you. Love is your lifeforce. It’s why you’re breathing. It’s an undeniable source of your existence, even if you feel crappy, depressed, and as though the world is overflowing with insanity. Love exists within you and always will.
So, if we are love, then what does it mean when we proclaim that we love someone or something? What is truly going on when someone tells us that they love us? This is especially important to know when you’ve never met the person you love face-to-face. The answer is simple — and it’s also a bit of a game-changer.
What is truly happening is that the person with whom you’re connecting — in their ability to hear and respond to you — reflects your own ability to love. This may be something that happens often in your life but is rarely described in a way that’s fully appreciated.
When you feel love, the person you’re connecting with ignites you with an awareness of the love that already exists within you.
Your heart opens up. Your body may even respond with hormones, which feel like chemistry. The greater truth is not that you love them, but who they are will remind you of how powerful your own love can be. We may not feel love for all people, animals, or things, because who or what they are or how they show up does not resonate with us.
There’s no reflection because there’s no connection. Or, maybe the connection is challenging or disturbing. Instead of our hearts feeling full from the experience, we feel depleted. For example, you see an adorable puppy and exclaim, “I love this puppy!” What you’re really saying is that this cute, cuddly furball makes you feel so happy and alive (because that’s what puppies do), that you let loose this huge expression of love.
Someone new shows up in your life and their kindness, expression, and ability to talk and connect with you feel amazing. You feel amazing. You are amazing. You find yourself telling them you love them. You genuinely love the person, the moment, and the thing because your heart and soul are ignited with the truth of your existence. So, can you genuinely love someone you’ve never met in person? Absolutely! That’s great news. Give your heart a high-five.
However, there’s a caveat, here. Before accepting a long-distance marriage proposal, sell your car, pack your bags, say farewell to your friends, and move across the globe to be with your heartthrob, know that love is not enough. It never has been and never will be.
You need more than love to make a healthy, prosperous, and long-lasting relationship.
Love certainly helps. It’s infectious, seductive, and just flat-out feels good. But you need more in a successful and healthy relationship. Many people confuse love with an activity or a personality trait. He’s so kind and giving. He’s funny. He sends love letters and flowers. His eyes are only on you. He tells all his friends about you. He introduces you to people on social media. He’s a good listener.
These are all wonderful attributes and each one can make a great relationship. But these are characteristics — not love. You need both love and great characteristics and behaviors to work. And the best way to give yourself the freedom to feel and see both is to separate love from behaviors. Most people make the drastic mistake of qualifying their love by the behaviors people show them.
When you love someone, you must realize that it’s them who powerfully reflects back to you your divine nature and beauty. Appreciate that fully. Then, put on life — get dressed, with all your belongings, goals, aspirations, and values, and see how it feels to be with the person you love. Do they meet you there? This is a critically important exercise that’s too often overlooked because your heart is making all the decisions.
You must include your head and your heart in this discussion.
If you haven’t met in person, make it happen. Spend time doing life with them. See how it feels. Does the experience flow or is it bumpy? Do you feel comfortable and energized, or do they wear you down? There’s so much to learn about each other and that best happens in person. The love is there. Now, in the most self-respecting way, explore the rest.
You may discover that there’s plenty of love, but no way can you make a life with each other. Or you may discover that this person is awesome and the love you already have just made it even better. Most importantly, be prepared and courageous enough to embrace either outcome and take actions that are the healthiest in the long-term.