Digital relationships have been going on since before the Internet had graphics, so at one time most of us have had an online boyfriend (or two, or a dozen). It might be serious, or it might be an online fling with a married minister in Ohio… or maybe that’s just me. While online relationships can lead to happily ever after, a lot of them drag on way too long. How do you know when it’s time to break up?
1. You’ve never met him. This seems like an obvious one, but it’s actually the hardest issue most people face. I know plenty of friends who’ve had what we called “invisible boyfriends” (or “girlfriends”) for indefensible lengths of time. If the online relationship has been going on without a meet for months, or even years, it’s time to end it. Unless he’s a political prisoner in a foreign country, there’s no excuse for not getting together with you once you’ve started calling him your “boyfriend”.*
If you found each other on an online dating site, you should both be there for the same reason. Once you’ve exchanged a few messages, plan the date. If he’s too busy, or too shy, or any of a million other BS reasons, get out before you’re too invested. The guy is either playing around, or can’t handle a real relationship. It could also be something more creepy or sinister, as this gal on Yahoo! Shine found out.
2. He’s a GUD. My brother came up with this one: Geographically Un-Desirable. If you’re working part-time and living at home in Des Moines while you go to college, what future do you see with a guy who lives in Germany? How often do you really think you’ll see each other? Heck, even traveling a few hours every time you want to get together puts a strain on a relationship. Sure, in some rare cases your online boyfriend might move to be with you, but if you don’t see that happening it’s time to bail.
3. It’s all drama, all the time. Is he needy and jealous, constantly wanting to know where you are every minute of every day? Does he start a fight if it takes you a minute longer than usual to text him back? Are you losing sleep over how an online chat ended, and ditching work or friends so you can wait to see if he’ll message you back? This is probably the time your family is preparing to stage an intervention, and it’s definitely time to break up.
Think about how your life would be without all the drama. What are you getting out of an online relationship that has you on edge half the time, and miserable the other half? Trust me, once you realize how much time you’ve been wasting on a person who’s never going to be happy, you’ll see it’s time to end it.
4. You’re turning down dates in real life. Let’s face it, most of the time an online relationship is just for fun. You meet on a movie fan site, or in a role playing game, and your private chats get increasingly flirtatious. Maybe you share a few secrets, or have awesome philosophical discussions. It’s an entertaining way to spend a Friday night when you’re feeling lonely, but it’s not a reason to be celibate.
Don’t let yourself turn down a cute guy at a party or at the gym because you’ve got an online boyfriend. Unless you’re meeting up on a regular basis and have definite plans for a future together, there’s no reason to be exclusive. If he expects you to live with texts and emails only, then it’s time to break up. Life is too short to waste on a virtual boyfriend when there are so many great guys out here in the real world.
*And no, you shouldn’t believe him when he tells you he’s a political prisoner in a foreign country.
Read more from Valerie David:
Is Putting Your Hand on Your Man’s Inner Thigh Appropriate in Public?
Chicago Date Night Ideas
What You Hate About Your Man’s Morning Ritual