Expert advice and tips for your online dating and relationship issues

Are you having an online (dating) relationship?

If you need help with a relationship that is not online, but in the physical world CLICK HERE for a list of relationship advice articles.

Are you looking for online relationship advice - as in: you are dating someone online, are having a long-term online relationship, are in love and you are having problems?

If so - I hope to help you here with advice on how to deal with the most common problems with cyber dating and relationships. I'll conclude with tips to help you make your relationship work.

Online relationships can start after meeting someone in forums, game-rooms, on a dating or social media site. Your intentions at the start of your relationship matter, so - how and why did you meet?

  1. You have a common interest, you became friends and then fell in love
  2. You were looking for an online dating relationship hoping to find a long-term partner
  3. You set out to get into a relationship whilst already being in a committed close couple relationship In this case - hop over to my page on surviving infidelity.

(The search engine could have misinterpreted your search. If so, Click Here for live chat for online relationship advice.

10 Common problems with online dating and long distance relationships

Here are the kinds of thoughts and questions you may be troubled by - I am going to help you with advice on each point further on:

  1. I'm beginning to be suspicious - unsure if I can really trust this man or woman
  2. I'm wondering if long distance relationships can ever work
  3. I'm deeply in love with my online partner, but there's no chance we'll ever meet in real life
  4. I'm in love, but my online partner is becoming increasingly distant
  5. I was in love, but I now I don't know how to end this relationship
  6. Is this a truly mutual loving relationship or an imagined one?
  7. I'm being accused of being obsessed or infatuated
  8. I' dating online, but how will I know if we are truly compatible?
  9. I'd like to think it's a platonic relationship, but deep down I know I'm really having an affair
  10. I have been dishonest and now I feel trapped by my own lies

Read on for advice, guidance and tips on each point...

1.  Not sure you can trust your online friend or partner?

What you're being told doesn't 'add-up'? You keep having some niggling doubts? Trust your intuition! Read my pages on being catfishedonline dating scams and infidelity.

I really recommend you do some background checks too when you're dating online. It's so easy to accomplish these days, there's so much information already publicly available. And if it's not - you may need to worry!

2.  Can long distance relationships ever work?

The question you're probably asking yourself is: "Can my long distance relationship work?"

I'm assuming that you're in an online dating relationship. You've fallen in love and are totally absorbed in it. Naturally you're wondering if dating long distance can work out and lead to marriage.

Here's my take on it...

As human beings we are born with certain essential emotional needs. These need to be met in balance for us to become or remain mentally and emotionally (and physically!) healthy.

When we talk about dating long distance keep in mind that these innate needs include:

  • in-person friendships, fun and laughter
  • in-person intimacy with close physical and/or sexual contact
  • being part of a wider community with people who can be there for you in-person when you're in need of practical and emotional support and to share the joys of your achievements.

Of course you can have people around online who can offer all kinds of support. But they can't put their arm around you in such a way that you can feel their physical warmth.

In addition, an in-person close couple relationship involves intimacy that includes

  • seeing and observing someone in their everyday life, away from any screens
  • hearing them speak - not through a speaker
  • the ability to touch and hold them

So, online relationships can absolutely work, but if you're having a long-distance relationship, read on...

7 Point reality check

Your online long-distance relationship may offer you bundles of one of the most important emotional needs: the need to give and receive attention. That's seductive for sure! But is can this need be met in balance when dating long distance?

I don't think so!

The seductive nature of having all of your attention needs met makes it all too easy for you to ignore the fact that it's unlikely to have a long-term future.

Here is what may scupper your chances:

  1. You both live too far away to meet up often enough to build a viable relationship 
  2. There isn't enough time in your schedule to make it possible to meet
  3. You don't have the means to travel
  4. Even if you have the means and the time to travel, you wouldn't be able to do so often enough
  5. You may not want to permanently leave behind your family, friends, community, work, etc
  6. You may not want to carry part of the responsibility of requiring your partner to leave everything he or she has behind
  7. You've concluded that you're not compatible

Ultimately, you want to meet someone you could marry (should you wish to do so). And there shouldn't be any significant geographical complications that prevent the two of you to regularly spending 'real-life' time together.

3.  5 Tips for when you're unlikely to ever meet

You will know the reason you'll never meet, be that because you're having an affair, you're having a long distance relationship or any other reason. Whatever it is, my advice is unlikely to come as a surprise.

First off though - you'll have gained much, learnt a ton and had your attention needs met, so I wouldn't say: "You're wasting your time." I truly understand how painful this must be for you - oh, your poor aching heart!

However, I hope you see the value in my lovingly spelling it out for you:

  1. All the while you're investing in dating long distance you're diminishing your chances of meeting someone closer to home
  2. A long distance relationship makes it hard for you to meet all, or a good majority, of your inborn emotional needs (see above)
  3. You're spending valuable resources with a very limited return
  4. If you're deeply in love, make sure you don't fool yourself by thinking you could remain friends after it ends. You would so pain yourself and diminish your chances to get over it
  5. Don't draw out the ending - be brave and bold - your future happiness is at stake

4.  8 Potential reasons why your online relationship may be in trouble

Any idea why?

Here are some potential reasons from my perspective and for each one there is a solution:

  1. Have you been arguing lately and you're unable to resolve your differences?
  2. One of you has been abusive
  3. One of you has been using any of the communication spoilers on this page
  4. They perceive you as too 'high maintenance' - too demanding of his or her attention
  5. You're in a long distance relationship with no hope ever of getting married (see above)
  6. He or she has met someone closer to home
  7. They have several online relationships and someone else has become more important
  8. They are simply not getting out of the relationship what they were looking for - don't take it personally

Whatever has happened - your relationship is likely to end, but your partner may find it difficult to be direct. That could be because they fear your reaction or they just don't know how to do it. No excuse, I know, but the only control you can exercise over this is by ending the relationship yourself.

5.  How do you end an online relationship?

Privacy is a problem online and it's often all too easy to discover the contact details of someone. This may be particularly easy for people who routinely have access to databases with people's details, who may resort to stalking.

I have a number of articles on ending relationships - Click Here and scroll down to find articles with tips, strategies and advice on how to end a relationship.

6. Is it a truly loving relationship or are you fooling yourself

Image and text: Online dating, good odds and odd goods

Oh yes - you could really be fooling yourself!

Scroll back up and read (again) the section about whether or not you can trust the other.

Because there's often so much information missing. Even if you're not actually being catfished, here is what you may not have heard about:

Older, younger, body modifications, tattoos, unemployment, debts, abject poverty or great wealth, longterm or terminal illness, a never talked about spouse or partner, children that weren't mentioned, etc. None of these are inherently 'wrong' of course.

The lies are though.

The problem is that when you're in love, you're wearing rose-tinted glasses. You have a vested interest in being able to believe what you're told: you may want it all to be true. You can be - I'm very sorry to say - an easy target, in particular when you have little experience in online dating relationships. And we haven't even talked about online scams with disastrous financial consequences for the victims.

When you're in an online relationship, my advice is to talk it over with a good friend, who can spot when you are 'projecting' what you really want onto the other.

In other words, when you're assuming he or she has certain - for you, personally desirable - characteristics, beliefs and attitudes.

7.  Is it love or an infatuation and obsession?

Well, that's a bit mean! It's totally normal to, at least in the initial stages, be totally infatuated and obsessed by the object of your affection.

  • Have you stopped doing much of what you usually do in terms of entertaining yourself with hobbies, studies and interests in 'real' life
  • Are you neglecting your in-person relationships? You may do this too when you've fallen in love with someone who is physically near, but if all is well you're also likely to meet new people. Not so with a cyber relationship.
  • Are you stalking the other person? Are you hacking into their accounts? Or are you being stalked?
    This is where the real danger lies. Have a look at my page on the signs of an abusive relationship.

8. How do you know if you're truly compatible when dating online

You won't know if you do not have sufficient opportunities to meet - simple. Consider getting my relationship compatibility test to become clear of what information you might want to get from your potential long-term partner.

9. Is it a friendship, a platonic relationship or an affair

Only you know the answer!

It can be so easy to initially feel comfortable with the idea that you're developing a 'special friendship'. Whilst that may indeed be the case, at least initially, there comes a point at which you overstep the boundary and you are in fact cheating on your partner.

10 Signs your online relationship is highly unlikely 'just' a friendship

  1. Are you using a secret email account?
  2. Are you using a different app than you normally would with your partner?
  3. If your partner was to ask, would you show them what you're writing?
  4. Have you stopped leaving your phone where you're partner could see it?
  5. Have you changed the security code on your phone?
  6. Are you using different passwords than you and your partner normally use (if indeed you share passwords)?
  7. Do you talk about your partner in derogatory terms (Yes, I know this isn't necessarily a sign, but look at it in context)
  8. Would you feel embarrassed if your children came across your conversations with this 'friend'?
  9. Have you been 'sexting' or had cybersex? Does your spouse or partner find you 'turned on' when they might not normally expect?
  10. Have you been keeping your phone with you, rather than having it on the table?

Don't be hard on yourself - it's all too easy to fall into that trap, particularly when your primary relationship is not as satisfying as it used to be. You'll have to take action and address it tough. Have a look at my page on Surviving Infidelity.

10. You have lied to your online mate

Whatever the reason you lied, you're going have to own up for your own sake. If you have read this far I know you care about building a solid deep and rewarding relationship. Don't let a lie stand in the way of that. Don't damage your own self-worth by continuing to lie. Be bold and courageous - tell the truth.

How to have a healthy online relationship

I used to write down the following sentence for my clients and asked them what it meant:

"Where were you last night?"

What does it mean to you? Have you noticed that it has at least 5 different meanings?

You have every chance of building a really strong and rewarding relationship through online dating. Many of my clients had met online. These days it's a normal way of starting a relationship, despite the inherent difficulties.

Here are some tips to help you make it work:

10 Dating tips to start and maintain a healthy online relationship

  1. Write clearly making sure that your message can't be misinterpreted (see box above)
  2. Make good use of emoticons, but don't overdo it. If you start off by using three hearts your partner may not be ready and you may misinterpret their one heart.
  3. Don't fret immediately when your partner doesn't get back to you. You both need to 'have a life' outside of your relationship!
  4. Don't immediately take it personally if you perceive their response to be hurtful. Always check first that you've understood what was meant, because you may have totally misinterpreted.
  5. Be positive in your writing - if there is a problem, instead of complaining talk about possible solutions
  6. Read How to Stop Arguing, How to Be Romantic and The Secrets to a Happy Relationship.
  7. Spend more time 'listening' and asking questions, showing an interest in the other person than 'talking' about yourself
  8. Avoid gossiping at all cost. You online partner will only conclude that if you diss others, than at some point you'll do the same to him or her
  9. Don't be a 'drama queen' by deliberately eliciting supportive responses just to get some sympathy, and be suspicious of anyone else who appears to do that. You may feel flattered and needed, but it may not make for a healthy relationship.
  10. Don't rely on the online relationship to meet the majority your essential emotional needs

Related articles

Facebook Problems
Nonverbal communication
Interpreting body language
Do Long-Distance Relationships Work?
Have You Been Catfished?
How to Avoid Internet Dating Scams

Other helpful links

Online dating and relationships facts and figures


"Catfish, the TV Show." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 05 Apr. 2014.

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