Dear Miss U,
I have a long-distance relationship with the most amazing man in the whole wide world. We met online about 4 years ago, and have been dating for a year. He lives in Saudi Arabia and I live in Mexico. Distance is a big issue for us.
In this year, I’ve had some bad times and have had a series of life changes. He was my rock through all of that; he helped me, he motivated me, and he stood by me a through all of it. I wouldn’t have been able to do it without him.
He has only one flaw: he’s very self-conscious and I always have a hard time making him Skype with me or send me pictures. He could send me pictures of everything and everyone around him but himself. For some reason, he has always been afraid I would leave him because he’s not “handsome enough” for me. I must admit he’s not very handsome, but he is very good looking. And besides, I love him, there’s no one else in the world I would rather be with.
So, with him being like that I’m losing all hope in ever actually being together. If he doesn’t want to Skype with me, then how would I ever get him to jump on a plane and see me? He travels a lot to Europe for work, and I’ve told him I’ll meet him there, but he just doesn’t feel ready. But with his issues, he makes me paranoid, especially with all the movies and stories you hear about not trusting people online. But it’s been years!! And I know him, and I love him…
So, should I just keep going with the hope that maybe one day we’ll be together or should I just stop?
Long Term Issues
Could you just stop though? Is that legitimately an option? Is that even truly possible at this point? Because for me a big part of how long distance relationships turn into near-proximity life partnerships is because there’s no other option. No choice but to persist and triumph. That mindset is one I have carried on into marriage too. Going back or giving up are just not options, and so we persist. We work with each other’s quirks and flaws. We support each other, draw each other out and have patience.
Obviously, I don’t know this person and I can’t vouch for his character, but I can say I relate to him. It took me more than three years to talk to Mr. E over voice chat, and I’d booked a flight to his country before I got in front of the webcam. When I did use the webcam, I couldn’t handle it AND talking at the same time. It was one or the other. Voice but no picture, or picture and typing. Sometimes he would talk and I would type responses. I’m not shifty and it had nothing to do with him, save that he was the only one I would have even tried to overcome my anxieties for.
I knew he’d see me in real life, but somehow that was less terrifying. With webcams you know your partner is staring at you, taking in every detail. They might ask you to adjust the camera so they can see better. You might feel stupid or embarrassed about your lack of familiarity with the software, or that they can see from whatever is in the background that you’re poor, or messy or somehow not good enough. For some people, that’s terrifying, even if it doesn’t logically make sense.
I could talk on the telephone with my guy (for $1 a minute, ugh) but I couldn’t bring myself to have the same conversation using a headset. (On that note, though, you can buy USB old-style telephone receivers now.)
Of course, you can’t wait forever and it isn’t fair for him to expect you to. You are ready and financially able to meet; I can only imagine how painful it is to think he doesn’t want to. I wonder if you’ve told him how you feel on this issue.
What you can do is lower your expectations about how the meet will go. I know it’s hard to conceive of getting on a plane for just a coffee date, but that might have to be where you start. Brunch in a nice, safe, public place, with a set end-time in mind so he knows how long he has to be there and doesn’t feel trapped. Chances are he will feel much more at ease with you than he thinks he will, but even if he doesn’t it will help you both gauge if this is worth it.
Talk to him too about how much longer you are willing to wait and your life-goals overall. Make a plan for your future together, even if it’s a little on the optimistic and fantastical side. Show him why he wants to take this risk and meet with you and ask him what you can do to help him be comfortable proceeding.
Have faith in his ability to succeed. We all need someone who believes in us and gives us that little motivational push in the right direction. (I’m not talking nagging or full-on manipulation here, just firm encouragement.)
With all that said, you will know if the time comes where this is a lost cause. You will feel it and you will recognize it in your interactions with him; in the way you speak to him, think about him and begin to plan without him entering your mind. If it’s over for you, you will know. Until then, hope and patience are beautiful.