In a Relationship for Over a Year with Someone I Haven't Met in Person

Published: January 03, 2017
Dear TeenHealthFX,
Dear TeenHealthFX, I've been in a relationship with this guy for over a year. Even though he lives in another country, we communicate very well. Though we haven't yet met in person, we are starting to get comfortable with one another. He recently joined the military and has to go through basic training. So during this time, we can't communicate. I don't know why, but I've had doubts about our relationship blossoming. It's tough on me since I can't talk with him at the moment and there are other guys around that might find me attractive. So I can't imagine what would happen when he serves his time. I can see myself with him in the long run, but at the same time I don't want to limit myself to just him when I have plenty of time to think about relationships. I just don't want to break his heart if I find someone who interests me more. But I also don't want to miss out on a wonderful guy. Sincerely, Seeds Of Doubt
Signed: In a Relationship for Over a Year with Someone I Haven't Met in Person

Dear In a Relationship for Over a Year with Someone I Haven't Met in Person,

TeenHealthFX has some concerns about your being in a year-long relationship with someone you have never met in person. For one thing, people can easily have different reactions to people they are in contact with online and people they meet in person. It often happens with online dating that people will feel positively about someone during online interactions, but then not feel romantically inclined towards that same person after meeting them in person. Second, the longer we wait to meet someone in person, the more likely it is that we form all kinds of fantasies about the person, rather than meeting them in person and seeing the realities of who they are. Online dating experts often recommend that people not have too much prolonged contact with people they meet online before meeting in person for this very reason. Third, FX is concerned that there is a lot about being in a relationship that you are not experiencing and learning about because you have no face-to-face interactions. You are limiting your dating opportunities and experiences by staying so connected to someone who lives in another country who you have never met. Dating people where we have face-to-face contact is part of learning about ourselves and the kind of person we want to be with.

FX recommends the following:

  • Consider dating people you currently have contact with where you can have face-to-face interactions. Perhaps you could date people you have met at school or through extra-curricular activities.
  • It is important to be very careful when it comes to meeting people online. People are not always who they seem when it comes to meeting online. There are predators out there and other ill-intentioned people who will use online connections to lure in teens and younger adults.
  • Never, ever meet someone you have met online without discussing it first with a trusted adult. A trusted adult will be able to assess if it is even safe to consider meeting up, and, if it is, how to ensure a first meeting is as safe as possible.   


If you find that something makes you uncomfortable about having a relationship with someone where there is face-to-face contact, then perhaps you are simply not ready to date and need to hold off for a bit. If you feel there is more to it than age and readiness, consider speaking to a therapist about it. A reputable clinical social worker or clinical psychologist can help you to better understand any ambivalences you may have about developing a close relationship with someone else.

If you live in northern New Jersey and need help finding a therapist you can call the Access Center from Atlantic Behavioral Health at 888-247-1400. Outside of this area you can log onto the US Department of Health and Human Services Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website for referrals in your area. You can also contact your insurance company to get a list of in-network mental health providers or check with your school social worker or psychologist to get a list of referrals in your area.

Signed: TeenHealthFX