I used to have this pen pal who lived far away. We’d send each other encouraging emails from time to time, and just enjoyed exchanging thoughts on life.
Then we agreed to talk by phone one Christmas night.
It was like suddenly the possibility of being “more than pen pals” donned on both of us at once; and what was communicated very indirectly (but in both directions) was: “Hey, are you feeling this too?”
We started messaging daily after that. I’d even save all our message conversations and read them over and over.
I’ll never forget the feeling of lying awake in bed, totally unable to fall asleep because of words repeating non-stop in my head: “Well, she said . . . and I said . . . but I should have said…”
This went on for months.
I decided I’d try to pull off this big romantic gesture and sell all my stuff, buy a plane ticket, and fly across the world to go be with her.
It ; she was back with an ex a few weeks later.
So, just with my own example in mind, I’d like to share some problems you might face when you develop feelings for someone before you meet them in person; but I also want to share why I believe developing feelings before meeting can actually prove to be a good thing—both for the relationship, and for each of you as individuals.
Here’s the problem:
Through only text and voice, you can be whoever you want to be. You can build up the relationship to be whatever you hope it could be.
Once you meet, the edges of reality you’ve been so passionately dedicated to blurring quickly get real sharp.
This can be quite an awkward, frustrating shock.
The relationship won’t ever have the chance to follow the traditional arc of meeting, getting to know each other, gradually letting each other in, and then choosing whether to face or flee from any unpleasantness or challenges that crop up in turn.
Instead, your hearts first get deeply connected to the very best versions of one another; then you’re thrust into a world where each hidden worst is suddenly released to ravage and attack from within.
But here’s where that can be quite beneficial:
In having the freedom and space upfront to construct and communicate your ideal selves and relationship, you’re essentially setting your standards in stone (text).
Who you each hope to be, and how you feel you should treat each other, becomes impossible to ignore.
Hopefully you can be inspired together by these benchmarks to rise up as people and act better (instead of letting every distance you see from your standards tear you apart).
A final warning about projecting an ideal image from a distance:
If you’re not that confident in yourself, it can be easy in any relationship to feel like you must always try to please and accommodate the other.
Their opinions, tastes, and preferences become yours . . . or so you try to show.
And since relationships that start before meeting in person are all about projecting ideal images anyway, the ease with which you can disappear into the other in order to feel acceptable is greatly magnified.
So just make sure that those perfect pictures you’re painting in text are of who you actually want to be, and not just who you think will be approved of.