- Gender and Relationships
Can you fall in love with someone you have never met?
Falling in Love
"Some people say that they know right away, sell you love on a cloud for a lullaby." - The Bodeans
Read the companion article to this hub: Ever After: What Happens When You Finally Meet the Person You Fell in Love With)
In a certain way, it seems you have to fall in love with someone you've never met. When you get to know someone, how can you know you're in love unless you've already come to love certain characteristics that you find irresistibly attractive?
You have to know what it is or who you would fall in love with before you meet. If you don't know that, you won't have whatever it is that will trigger the falling in love.
Romantic love is romantic because it's based on an idea. The idea of the ideal person - someone who completes you, someone who you feel naturally matches your heartbeat and your very breath. Someone who is very different from you but complements you perfectly. Someone who makes you feel entirely like a woman - if you're a woman, and someone who makes you feel like you're a true man if you're a man.
You want your completor, the rest of your identity, that person who feels like your own heart and soul to you. But you cannot know these things unless you have formed that ideal in your mind and have pursued it. Then s/he walks in the room - you just know, you just know because you can't go wrong.
Meeting Someone Special
But the other side of the story might burst your bubble. There is no "someone" unless there IS. In other words, there has to be a real person, one you actually can or have met, one who is actually in your life to be the person you love.
What I mean is that it is easy to feel like you've fallen in love with the star of a movie you have never met, but that might not only be hopeless (since you may never meet), but also an enormous let down if you did. All you really do when you "fall in love" with an actor or person you haven't met is to shape the ideal of what it is to be in love.
It can be amazing how love works some times. There are people who've met, known each other for years, and only truly fallen in love after they never thought that would be possible.
How does that happen? Well, in part, it's because falling in love is about your life. Truly - it shouldn't be about what you hope your life should be but never becomes, it should be about what really is.
Falling in love doesn't have to be an experiment that if it doesn't work, you try an alternative - falling in love can be a wonderful process of finding, getting to know and bonding with the right person.
But that bond doesn't have to be some romantic lottery game, with sparks and endless thoughts of what might be - you can and probably should be good friends with someone for a long time, maybe even before you realize the sexual attraction is what it really is.
Of course, you want to have a tremendous sexual attraction - after all, it's hard to think of being in love without it. But you can definitely have the sexual attraction on a physical level, without having it on a much deeper level.
I have tried online dating fa few times and it has taught me some interesting life lessons. It seems to work out for some people, but it can also be very disappointing and unrealistic.
There are always plenty of people to meet, but once you met, the story may be very different than the profile - and often is. I often felt like I had been getting to know a different person than the person I actually did meet. That said, I did meet a girl online who I fell in love with very deeply, but even in that relationship, the challenges of you can't actually say in an online profile were very heavy indeed.
If you just meet people in ordinary, organic ways, you can feel a lot more sure that you are getting to know a real person, with a real life of their own - not a romance story or a fantasy idea of the perfect mate.
The Perfect Match
I have to admit that years ago, when I was first divorced, there was a time when I became enamored of someone I met online - and we never met. She was overseas. I was aeager every day to read her messages, and as often as I could. I wanted to hear her voice and I wanted to know everything I could about her.
I dreamed about her - and the dreams were very vivid and seemed real. Sometimes I would wake up and go through much of the day thinking about my dream as if she had been with me the day before and left, and felt like I was missing her. Like you might be wondering now, I questioned whether this was healthy. Now I realize I was at a point in my life where that was all I could have - and while I would never go back, I needed it at the time. it helped me get over a very difficult time in my life.
When she and I wrote, I often thought I was communicating with my lifemate. Then when I moved from Georgia to Michigan, I took a month or two, as I told her I would, and got settled, before I started thinking about how we could finally actually meet each other and be together.
I finally got back to writing her, but she wasn't there. Her emails bounced back. To this day, I'm not sure what happened. No, this wasn't a situation where she asked or I gave her money, nothing like that. (Frankly, I would've had had none to give at that time if she had asked.) I have had a woman ask me that one time, and as soon as I said no, she lashed out at me. To my surprise, she tried much harder after I said no - but it didn't matter then, I didn't trust her motives. Maybe that question about trust is a good one for anyone dating online?
But back to the first girl - the one I thought I feel for. Did she meet someone else? Maybe. Did things change in her life in that time otherwise - I doubt if I'll ever know.
But the even more curious question is what if we had met? Then what? My later experiences taught me to think it might not have been everything I thought it would when we were just writing and talking. No, I can't be sure. But, you know, another thing is that all the things I thought I desired about her - I'm not sure I would want that now - or that I ever really did. Sometimes, unanswered prayers are the best kind.
It's just that there was something about the sense of unattainability - or a real challenge in attainability of our relationship that made it so intriguing. If I had met her at a fun event and got to know her, would she have seemed so special? Maybe, but not necessarily someone I would have fallen in love with. In fact, I think now the odds are pretty slim I would have ever fallen in love with her, but of course, I don't know.
Already Met, But Far Away
Funny thing, though - to a guy, one of the most attractive things - at least when it comes to "falling in love", is a bit of unavailability.
I don't mean that in the sense of playing games. I also don't mean it in the sense of unattainability. - probably better referred to as a "challenge". If someone is at just enough distance, is making their own, independent life important - and is still charming, approachable and, at the right time, can be touched as well - that seems like the ideal circumstance for falling in love - but that isn't about unattainability - it's about timing, and "due diligence".
Which makes it something quite different than the online type of relationship. How? In an online relationship that sense of unattainability can either be easily overcome by a meeting at a coffee shop (which can spiral into dizzying romance and passion), or it can't because of distance and other factors. I find that the harder that is to overcome, the higher the stakes, and the more a person is invested when that meeting occurs. But if that is the first meeting, instead of thinking about what you like about that person, you are thinking you have already made a big commitment.
When you meet organically instead, you can just access from that safe space - eye to eye, one on one conversation, without any pressure to go to the next level. Online dating raises the stakes -
- in several ways. You can't meet someone online without having the sense that you are in a competition. Who else are they communicating with? Who else are they having that one hour date with? What do I have to do to "win"? It's crazy. Love shouldn't be a competition with a third person - it should be a competition with yourself. It should be that thing that helps make you want to be the very best you can be, motivated not so much to please the other person but rather to be the best you that you can be in that relationship - and that the pleasing of him or her will naturally follow.
So, back to where we started...
Can You Fall in Love with Someone You've Never Met?
Maybe it depends on what you mean by falling in love - is it something that sparks the attraction and the effort to give it a try? Then the answer is yes. Or is it something that means you could spend the rest of your life with this person? If so, I would say it's much less likely you can fall in love with someone until you HAVE met them and spent time together. In the end, it has to take sight, touch, movement, etc. that comes with actually meeting someone, finding the real attraction, and letting the mystique of "getting to know" each other work its magic.
At the same, I won't sell short the romantic idea of thinking about the ideal of that interesting stranger you've never actually met either. Surely off in the distance somewhere, at some time...don't you think?
Can you fall in love with someone you've never met? I don't know, but I do know this - approach it with care, your heart is a precious gift to give - when you give it, give it with care.