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Online relationship not the same in person

DEAR AMY: I am 24 and have never been in a "full" relationship, but I have dated quite a bit. I live in a small rural town, which makes it difficult to meet new people, so I decided to try online matching. I started talking to a guy who lives an hour away. He traveled to see me a couple of times. He went to South America for a month and we kept in touch the entire time he was gone. When he returned we went out and things seemed a bit off. We stopped talking for a few weeks and then started up again. He asked me to be his girlfriend and I truly thought I had found someone special. We text often but when it comes to talking on the phone and Skype, sometimes we really can't make conversation. It's like we lose the connection the second we part ways and go back to our separate lives. However, we have yet to spend more than a day together, let alone experience everyday life with each other. We wonder if we really have a connection. We both love everything about each other and we have physical chemistry and similar interests. I think he is marriage material, but it would be very sad if you can't even make conversation with your significant other at the dinner table. Are we living in a fantasy?

-- Concerned

DEAR CONCERNED: We live in a semi-virtual world, where relationships start and are expected to thrive online, and yet for most people it is still necessary to actually spend time together in order to see if a relationship can take root, grow and thrive.

According to accounts in author Daniel Jones' book "Love Illuminated: Exploring Life's Most Mystifying Subject (with the Help of 50,000 Strangers)" (2014, William Morrow), many couples your age report that they connect well virtually, but don't know how to interact when together. In your case, texting conveys a different sort of intimacy than voice and Skype communication. You may feel less vulnerable, exposed or shy when you're typing.

You live only an hour apart. The only way to determine the extent and importance of your connection is to spend time together. If you are serious about each other, then you should try to see each other as often as possible. If you don't want to see each other frequently, then you have your answer -- this is not meant to be.


DEAR AMY: Quite some time ago, before we were married (but when our relationship was serious), my husband engaged in a flirtatious weekend with another woman in our social circle. He eventually admitted this to me, after it had been gossiped about far and wide. The story was that on a weekend trip with several of our friends there was heavy drinking. A flirtation (with no physical contact) developed. She has told many people that he made a genuine pass at her and she refused. Everyone that was there refutes this, but my husband admits he may have been so drunk that he did it and doesn't remember. We have addressed the drinking and disrespect, and it has caused major turmoil in our relationship, which is otherwise wonderful and perfect. Since finding out, I have questioned everyone who was there and had countless conversations with my husband. I have sought counsel with people who I respect. However, I still think about it all the time and feel angry when the woman's name is mentioned and immediately think about it when anything related comes up. My husband loves my children from a previous marriage and is everything I ever hoped for in a partner. I have truly forgiven him, but I can't stop torturing myself. How do I let it go?

-- An (un) happy Wife

DEAR (UN) HAPPY: Soliciting the version of every other person who was present and asking them to judge your husband's (and this woman's) behavior is not helpful.

This long-ago incident has obviously called up some deep issues for you; perhaps you were burned in your previous marriage and your suspicion is heightened. But one sure way to introduce a toxic element into your current relationship is to double down and make your husband pay for the accumulated sins of another.

You have not forgiven your husband. If you had, you would not continue to punish yourself.

I suggest you ask him for a sincere apology and a guarantee that this will never happen again. Then you should mutually agree that this matter is now closed. Lock eyes, shake hands, hug it out, and turn the page.

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