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Long Distance Dating: Romantic or Frantic?

It sounds like something out of a fairy tale. She's in Los Angeles: he's in New York. They met through an online dating service, started with e- mail, moved up to phone chatting and now they're sure they're in love. Only problem is-they have never met in person.

But they can both tell it's the real thing. It must be love-how else could the talks they have on the phone be so intimate and make them feel so close? Sure, it will be difficult and expensive to get together, but hey, this is true love! And sure, if they are to be together that means one of them has to give up their whole lifestyle-family, friends, work, etc.-and move thousands of miles away just to be with the other.

If you've never been in one of these long-distance romances you might wonder why in the world anyone would try to start a romance with someone who lives so far away. Ask any pop psychologist and they'll tell you it's a perfect set-up for people who are afraid of commitment. The long-distance lover gives you a place to focus all your romantic fantasies of having the perfect person to love, without any of the romance-dampening realities-like discovering that they yell and throw things when angry, or they hate being around your friends, or that they see nothing wrong with a drink or two before noon.

When you have just broken up with someone or when you have been on an endless merry-go-round of dates that go nowhere or when it's been months and months since you met anyone to date, you can become vulnerable to the lure of long-distance romance. I may seem very opinionated on this subject, but that's because I'm trying to save you from the heartache of another relationship gone bad.

Let's get one thing straight-this is dedicated to people who want a serious, long-term, committed, monogamous love relationship. If you just want to play, then you might find long distance dating exciting and fun. But if you want to find the right kind of partner and develop a real love relationship, you are going down a dead end road if you get involved with someone who is too far away.

What's Too Far Away?
What's "too far away"? It actually has more to do with time than with actual distance in miles. Based on my experience I'd say that if it takes more than an hour's travel time for you two to get together, that's too far away. I tried it with several good prospects that I met dating online who lived over an hour away and it was just too difficult for us to get together on any kind of regular basis. Sometimes two or three weeks would go by before we could get our schedules to mesh well enough to see each other.

Believe me, all it takes is a few nerve-wracking 90-minute drives through Southern California traffic to take the luster off your budding romance. And that's if they are only 60 or 70 miles away. As a relationship develops you want to spend more and more time with the person. You can put up with the travel time at the start when everything is new and exciting, but it gets old rather quickly.

So now you should know what's coming next. If I'm telling you 60 miles is too far, what do I think about hundreds or thousands of miles? That's relationship roulette-and the house always wins! Okay, I know you've heard stories about one of these long distance deals that did work out. They flew across the country to see each other, it was instant chemistry and they got married and lived happily ever after. What are the chances that it will happen that way for you? Pretty close to zero. (I'd bet that lovely couple in the story is no longer together a year or two later.)
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The One Hour Rule
So here's the bottom line: long distance dating is DUMB! Don't do it if you want a real love relationship with a real person. Make up your mind right now to put the One Hour Rule into effect. There are many people that are a good match for you within one hour from your home (except maybe if you live in the Australian outback or Alaskan wilderness). We all have many more than just one soul mate on the planet at any given time.

I used to live 6,500 feet up in a little mountain town of 6,000 people where I could not find any men I wanted to date. So I got on the net and did a search for men within 40 miles and dozens of profiles popped up. One of them was my future husband, living right at the bottom of the mountain. There he was, but how would I ever have met him without the online dating service?

It took about 45 - 50 minutes for us to drive to one another's homes, and by the time we'd been dating for 6 months or so we were really tired of all the driving. But that was long enough to determine that we wanted to get engaged, move in together and eventually get married.

You must want a great long-term relationship or marriage if you've read this far. So develop a rock-solid resolve deep in your heart that you will not be tempted into starting a long distance online flirtation with anyone, no matter how cute their photo is or how perfect they seem in their profile. It is an utterly futile pursuit and will NOT get you to your goal.

The best thing to do is to clearly state your "No long distance dating" preference right up front in your profile and then stick to your guns. Some lunkhead that lives four states away will still try to contact you and you can just ignore their message or send a blank reply with NO LONG DISTANCE RELATIONSHIPS or NOT INTERESTED in the subject line if you want to give them the courtesy of a reply.

Advanced Search Options
The better dating services have advanced search options that let you choose a geographical category according to zip code or number of miles. You know what the average travel times will be in your home area and can figure out which zip codes or how many miles will keep you in the under one hour category.

When you first do your own searches restrict them to people 20 - 30 minutes away. Most people will find plenty of prospects in a nearby geographical area. If you're not having any luck expand your search criteria to 45 minutes or 60 minutes at the most.

There may be times when you feel lonesome and bored, when you haven't met anyone really interesting in a long time. That's the time when your resolve will be tested. You'll start to think "Oh, well?here's a message from someone who's only 3 hours away. Maybe I'll just check out their profile." This is dangerous thinking that could very well put you on the road to disaster. Remember that while you are fooling around with the wrong person, you are not available for the right person when they do show up.

So now you're thinking, "Boy, this lady is tough on us poor singles!" Yes, I'm being tough here for a good reason. People like you and me who value and cherish the idea of having a great marriage have to be tough enough to say NO to situations that have little or no chance of producing the long-term relationship we want.

I'm glad that I instituted the One Hour Rule for myself and stuck to it, no matter what. That's why I was able to find my great guy living close enough so we could really get to know each other. And that's why that great guy and I are happily married today. I sincerely want the same for you! The One Hour Rule will help you get there faster.

Barbara Wright Abernathy is the author of Venus On Top: Women Who Are Born to Lead and the Men Who Love Them. Read FREE chapters and get your FREE report-3 Biggest Mistakes People Make While Dating at

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