Ask Wendy

Does Long Distance Matter for Online Dating?

Tuesday, August 1, 2017
two hands and a heart
Hey Wendy,

Some guys online don’t respect my boundaries around the distance. I state politely that I am only interested in people that are within an hour from my house. They come back with “distance doesn’t matter…blah, blah.” Well, in fact, it DOES matter to me.

But then I think, “What if he’s THE ONE!!! Aren’t you being too critical?” How do I handle the distance?

Artie B. - Los Angeles, CA

Hey Artie,

Distance matters. A lot! Thank you for recognizing that and being the voice of reason. You will most likely have to push through a lot of “give love a chance” noise. Here’s the thing:

If you can’t travel to see each other three times a week and not be tortured by that commute, it’s not that workable if you really want to know someone well. You just won’t have enough information about each other, even if you are both actively working at transparency, communication, and all that fine stuff.

Long distance works best with people who already know each other. For example, they had a relationship when they were both in the same city, and now distance is just a circumstance to overcome. But trying to get to know a stranger long distance can be downright dangerous at worst and will give you a slightly inaccurate perception of each other at best.

I was good friends with Seattle Nate for years. I’d go to Seattle for the weekend, he’d come to California for the weekend, and we talked on the phone every day for about three years. We were not romantically involved—ever—so we weren’t on our best behavior for each other. It wasn’t until a two-and-a-half-week trip to Europe that we really got to “see” each other, and by the end of that trip, our friendship broke up. You just can’t see everything you need to see about a person if you’re just on the phone or video chatting, and then maybe spending occasional holidays and weekends together.

I’m not saying never make an exception. Dave was definitely out of my 20-mile range at 45 miles away. But there were mitigating circumstances at play: 1) he was amazing and I knew it, 2) he wanted to move to my area as soon as he sorted out his newly single life. So never say never, but if you can help it, don’t pick someone so far away that you really can’t know them well within a few months.

Good luck!

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