If you had initially met someone in person prior to becoming geographically separated, then you would have some foundation from which to build your relationship by staying in contact virtually. However, if you instead met someone online first, then you need to be aware of the potential that dating virtually, i.e., via the internet and telephone only, can lead to the creation of a "pseudo-intimacy." So here are a few tips to help you get the most out of virtual dating prior to meeting in person.

After exchanging a few emails to determine if you want to pursue the relationship, I suggest that you graduate to talking on the telephone pretty quickly. Once you feel the relationship is progressing, it's important that you discuss when you're going to meet in person.

If meeting in person isn't possible for a number of weeks or months, then I suggest that you make a schedule as to when, and for how long, you'll talk on the phone. You can supplement your phone calls with email or instant messaging, as well as with snail (postal) mail. Attempt to discuss current events, rather than "what it'll be like when we're together," or bemoaning your separate geographical fate. Creating and maintaining this type of structure over your virtual contact should help you to feel more in control and comfortable in a situation where there really is no structure.

Now I can better explain what I mean when I say that dating virtually can lead to a "pseudo-intimacy." If you haven't met in person, it's difficult to know if the chemistry you feel over the phone has any basis in reality. After all, you really only have a picture and voice to go on! Unfortunately, the internet and the telephone lend themselves to create environments where it is easier to let down your defenses, and say things without knowing how your message "lands" on another person.

My advice to singles who meet virtually is to ALWAYS do whatever it takes to meet in person, and as soon as possible. This way, you give your feelings a chance to "check in" with your dating partner in the real world, which is where you're going to live together eventually anyway, right?!

© Copyright 2005-2008 Janice D. Bennett, Ph.D.

Author's Bio: 

Practicing as a psychologist for over 22 years, Dr. Janice has treated many singles looking to get married, but who had become depressed and demoralized by the dating process. Living in New York City with her husband and three children, Dr. Janice now uses her skills and experience to help healthy singles overcome the obstacles preventing them from attaining the relationships and lives they really want. Janice has been quoted in Us Weekly and Cosmopolitan Magazines, writes the "Love Coach" advice column on http://www.JMatch.com, has a free e-newsletter and gives teleclasses, lectures and workshops. Check out her "Get Your Love Right!" blog, read other dating-related Q's&A's and articles, and sign up for a complimentary 40 minute telephone coaching session by visiting her website at http://www.DoctorLoveCoach.com