Here’s the funny thing about email romance: It’s taken us back to medieval times, when noble-born swains and damsels would correspond for months, or even years, before one of them hopped into a waiting carriage and rumbled off to consummate the long-arranged marriage. Writing endlessly back and forth to is a great time killer, sure, but all virtual lovers eventually have to meet, and preferably sooner rather than later. Here are some clues that it’s time to push yourself away from your computer and flag down a cab.
1. You’ve stopped talking to other people
Monogamy in real-life relationships is admirable; monogamy in virtual dating is, perhaps, insane. If you’ve spent entire weekends instant-messaging your online flame whilst scented mash notes from eager and willing suitors pile up on your doorstep, you might want to reconsider your priorities. And if you’ve rushed home from a wild party chock-full of other singles just so you can check your email, you might want to consider seeing a psychiatrist.
2. You live two blocks from each other
It’s one thing if you’re an advertising VP from New York and he’s a sheep rancher from Montana; it’s another if you’re both from the same ZIP code, and using the safety and anonymity of email to avoid the messiness of real life. Keep in mind, too, there’s a small but genuine possibility that once you finally contrive to meet you’ll wind up loathing each other; do you really want to keep bumping into this guy (who knows your deepest darkest secrets) at the corner grocery store?
3. You’ve already involved friends and family
Not everyone is as understanding of virtual relationships as those of us plugged into the cyber age. If you start telling mom and dad, your pals at work and random people on the street about this great gal you’ve met, their joy for you might be somewhat compromised by the revelation that, well, you actually haven’t met met, but she writes well and sure has a nice phone voice. It’d be nice to ask a flesh-and-blood person out for dinner with friends, not a wireless network connection.
4. You suspect something isn’t quite right
That still, small voice deep inside you isn’t necessarily your conscience. If you have a feeling the guy you’ve been corresponding with for the past year is a) married, b) 20 years older than he lets on, or c) possibly not a guy at all, it’s a natural protective response to not rush headlong into a face-to-face rendezvous. On the other hand, if you’re concerned your virtual pal is playing fast and loose with the facts, why the heck are you still writing to him?
5. You’ve picked out the china pattern for your wedding registry
Talk about putting the cart before the virtual horse — you haven’t even met yet, and you’ve already named your children? Before this fantasy spirals completely out of hand, try to arrange a quick tete-a-tete, if only to figure out which guy in the aisle is your prospective husband and which is only the best man.