Online and far away

Did everybody see Brownie Husband on "Saturday Night Live"? Tasty.
Meredith, I'm not sure how to start this letter to you. I have never online dated before. I never really believed in it, nor did I ever know how much I could connect so much with one person. I met, let's call him James, on a local networking site through a friend. Basically we commented on the same update post, he befriended me, and we started chatting. It all sounds very silly I know, and I had never done this before and was of course a little skeptical. I also trust our common friend. There was an immediate connection. It was funny, and witty, there was flirting and deep thoughts. We talked online, we began to email, be started to call. We sent pictures. We would write the same thing/say the same thing before the other did. I was amazed at how long we could talk .We talked almost every day for five months, for up to four hours. I was blown away by the connection that we had. But I knew that I couldn't make a real assessment unless we actually spent real time together. He was the one who started to mention that we should meet, but I told him that I wasn't comfortable flying across the country to meet someone He understood. (One of his girl friends offered for me to stay with her, but I still declined.) I was going to the West Coast where my sister lives for the Thanksgiving holiday (it had been five months now), and that’s where he went to college and met out mutual friend. So he offered to meet me in Los Angeles. I was comfortable with this. I was staying with my sister and he was staying with his friend. We met. It was amazing. We continued to talk after that, but it died down. He got a girlfriend, I got hurt. But I understood. We met again during a trip I made to his city. I stayed with a friend. Again it was amazing. Although this time he had a girlfriend. Even though she did not live there, it still hurt me. I ended communication after that. We both did actually at different times. We always ended up talking again. We have recently (now it’s April) started talking the same way we used to. He is still with the other girl (who does not live there ether) but says he still thinks about me. There is no denying our connection. We cry, we laugh, and I feel like I know him so well. But I also know that the distance and the fact that he is with someone else ultimately will hurt me. I have dated other people while we have been talking. But not seriously and have found it hard to find a connection as strong with anyone. I miss him often. He often misses me. We both live out our daily lives but always love talking with each other. We have even fought. It feels like a real relationship at times. Do I have to let this one go? I can't be the internet "girlfriend" while he has a real one? I feel like I need to move on if there is hope for me meeting someone else. But I must tell you, I have tried. And I always go back to thinking about him. Any Advice?

– 9 Months of Loving Someone Over the Internet, Boston

9MOLSOTI, I don't know if this thing is real. Neither do you. It seems like it could be. Maybe. And for the record, I think that the way you two met is sort of great. Really, you met through a mutual friend. And you got to know each other in an old-fashioned way, despite the fact that it all happened online. There's only one way to find out if this thing has potential: commit to finding out. If you're obsessively thinking that some guy on the other side of the country is the lid to your pot (notice I didn't say soul mate), you have to sign on to have a relationship with him. You have to visit as much as you can and make plans for one of you to relocate. Grown-ups often have to choose between love and geography, romance and work, children and career, family and travel. We live with the loss of one thing for the gain of another. You and James are trying to move on with your lives with other people, but you're failing. Decide whether you want him. If you do, tell him. And if he feels the same way, see if he'll ditch this new woman and make some real plans. If not, well, you can start the process of minimizing him in your life. But, if he's open to this, take the risk. Readers? Am I being too romantic about this? How can James be dating someone but thinking about the letter writer? Is he just keeping her on the backburner or is he waiting for her to sign on to this for real? Can you make a big leap with someone you've barely seen in person? Discuss.

– Meredith